[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.