Wednesday, November 30, 2011

redolent byredo read

 [Ben Gorham in bed, image via Into the Gloss]

Woah, I loved this Into the Gloss interview with dreamboat Byredo perfumer Ben Gorham. Lengthy (by internet standards), but worth reading in full, the piece is bursting with insights into the process of a perfumer obsessed with memory and storytelling (the best kind of perfumer, in my estimation). His thoughts on developing a vocabulary for scent are so encouraging: 
For me it was about awareness. If I took you in the lab for two weeks, and showed you a spectrum, you would probably be able to show me things that remind you of specific memories. You would be able to develop your vocabulary to create a perfume. And that was the first phase for me, trying to understand the possibilities. Now when I walk down the street I can smell a lot more-dirty laundry, etc. I don't think it's a heightened sense of smell, it's just awareness. 
I too have been curious about how a place maintains its smell over many years and much change:
If I had to pick a favorite [from the line]--I don't know, they all have a special place--but I did, quite early, a fragrance based on a place in India where my mother was born and raised. It's outside Mumbai, it was a place that was very green, I remember visiting it as a child-it was a picnic spot. And when I came back, semi-grown up, it was massively developed, but it smelled the same. So I became very intrigued, I thought--how is this possible? What has changed, what hasn't changed?
I'm not especially familiar with the Byredo line (in part due to the lack of samples at my local Barneys), though I would have purchased Oud Immortel on impulse (a rarity for me when it comes to perfume) had it not been beyond my budget. After reading this piece, I'm itching to get to the Byredo counter and smell everything--especially Green, the fragrance inspired by the "green bean essence" of Gorham's absent father, and an upcoming scent that inspired the exchange "More goat...less goat."

I understand completely what one of the commenters said about liking reading about perfumes as much as smelling them--I felt that way reading this article, imagining milk on skin, what Mexico smells like, and why Gorham's girlfriend rarely wears perfume, and I even feel that way reading lists of notes, the promise in those simple lists, so like musical chords in their potential to be new again each time.

26 comments:

Elisa said...

The Byredo line is one of those I'll never buy a full bottle from -- just too expensive. But I have sampled them and really enjoy Pulp, Bal d'Afrique and Baudelaire. It's been a while since I smelled Gypsy Water but I remember that one being promising as well.

nosy girl said...

I recall liking Bal d'Afrique, too, Elisa. But I've never smelled Pulp, and the commenters over at Into the Gloss make it sound super appealing. It looks like the line is going to introduce travel sizes (in luxe leather cases)--perhaps we will find ourselves in a By Kilian refills-esque situation?

Elisa said...

Pulp is *intensely* fruity, but if you like black currant and fig it's a must-smell.

nosy girl said...

Yes, yum! I love eating both of those things, and generally gravitate towards figgy smells--though I can't say I'm as familiar with a black currant note in perfume. And even though I tend to find myself in a fruitier mood during the summer, it has been like 65 degrees here this week (but nearly winter!), so a fig-bomb might be just the ticket.

Elisa said...

Black currant is one of my favorite-est notes. It's bitter green at first and then gets all tangy.

nosy girl said...

who knew? luckyscent lists it as a note in liaisons dangereuses, so maybe i'll see if i can sniff it in that beauty. what else, in your collection, is it in?

Elisa said...

It's a big component in L'Ombre dans L'Eau (Diptyque), and to a lesser degree Moschino Funny. Oh! It's also in Angel and Innocent.

Britta said...

E: I know I'm biased, but COME ON! This: "lists of notes, the promise in those simple lists, so like musical chords in their potential to be new again each time"?!?!?!?!? Gorgeous. I might need to steal it as an epigraph for a poem or something. Or just post it to my mirror.

Britta said...

And also: DREAMBOAT, hello, um, yes.

nosy girl said...

tell me about it! i tried not to objectify him too hard, but his beauty must be acknowledged. sans beard, too: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/beauty/2010/04/ben-gorham-of-byredo

Britta said...

Man, I just read his whole interview/article, straight through (so, so great), spent about 10 minutes just looking at his picture, and then looked at my bank account so see if I could afford Oud Immortel, Palermo, or M/Mink. Nope. Still broke. Dying to smell these! Thank you for passing this along--this has awakened me!

Britta said...

Okay! End of my comment string. CHECK IT: http://theperfumedcourt.com/Products/Byredo---Sampler-Coffret-of-All-Seven-Fragrances__BYREDOSAMPLERCOFFRET.aspx

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