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On the hit BBC America show Killing Eve, the assassin Villanelle (she’s the one doing the eponymous killing) repeatedly uses a perfume named after her. It’s called La Villanelle, and the character tends to use it as a sexy way to taunt her target (that would be Eve).
Naturally, fans of the show wanted to find out whether a La Villanelle perfume existed in real life and was available to purchase. It turned out it was — sort of.
Kamila Aubre is an independent perfumer based in Belgium and specializes in all-natural fragrances. And as it happened, back in March she created a scent called Villanelle, inspired by the Keith Douglas poem “Villanelle of Spring Bells.”
In early May, she noticed some unusual statistics on her website. “The first thing I thought was that it might have been a beauty blogger or someone like that who bought some of my perfume samples,” Aubre tells Racked over email. “But it was really hard to track the source myself.”
It wasn’t until she received an email about Villanelle from a potential customer that she thought to ask. “She told me there is a popular series on these days and there is a perfume called La Villanelle, and she just Googled to learn if a real perfume exists.”
Technically, it doesn’t — the perfume referenced in the original Luke Jennings books on which Killing Eve is based is fictional. There is, however, a similarity in that they both have somewhat dark origins: The fictional version was said to be the favorite scent of the Comtesse du Barry, and “the perfume house added the red ribbon after she was guillotined in 1793.” Meanwhile, Aubre writes of her Villanelle perfume: “there is something dark hidden between perfume notes. ... Think of May storms, when day light changes into darkness, the overcast sky creates a dark mood, something is going to happen.”
Though she’d never seen the show before because she’s “not a fan of killer stories,” Aubre ended up watching nearly the whole season out of curiosity. “The irony is that the word ‘villanelle’ does not represent anything dark and vicious,” she writes. Indeed, it actually refers to a 19-line poem, but in the context of the show, the word sounds like a term relating to a female villain.
Aubre says the coincidence was indeed a happy accident: Though she’s based in Europe, she’s seen an influx in customers from the US. And there’s another benefit: “For some people it might be a chance to know more about organic and natural fragrances on the market.”