Discovering Byredo: it makes perfect sense to select a signature scent slowly and wisely...

One does not need to see you or hear you in order to smell you, so without stating the obvious, you will all agree with me that it is important to smell 'nice'.  This alone, however, should not be the only factor when selecting a fragrance.
Why is it that I instantly screw up my face if I get a whiff of a man wearing Joop!? I remember one of my ex-boyfriends... who I would rather forget.  Shortly thereafter a woman wearing Clinique's Happy will hopefully walk past me, reminding me of fun times in high school spent giggling uncontrollably with my friend until our stomachs hurt.  Ergo, I cannot confidently wear Victor & Rolf's Flowerbomb because I now know that I "smell like the woman at work"...  These were the words unceremoniously uttered by my boyfriend the first time I wore it. (We have since agreed that I will not wear this fragrance in his presence.)
Smell, emotion, behaviour and long-term memory are all supported by the limbic system in the brain.  It is no wonder then that scents can trigger memories and strong emotions almost instantly.

It can also be inferred from the stories above that a person's scent is a part of their identity.

I can count on one hand the fragrances that I have worn regularly throughout my adult life.
  • Ralph Lauren Blue during my university studies and when I first started working in my profession. I still own a bottle but I'm pretty sure that it has gone rancid.
  • Giorgio Armani Onde Mystere during the middle of my career. A sophisticated fragrance I wore well before I was sophisticated.
  • Chloe Eau de Parfum Chloe for the last five years as an evening fragrance and for day if I feel like it. (It seems as though that every woman and her cat owns and wears this perfume.)
  • Chloe Eau de Fleurs Capucine, a gorgeous green floral that I splash on for work because I know it's not overpowering. I'm at the end of my bottle, but I'm opting not to repurchase as it is not particularly long wearing on me (and a limited edition).
All of these fragrances have two things in common - they have made me feel good at the time and they have not irritated or overwhelmed my senses throughout the day.

Just recently, I bought Diptyque Philosykos. I sprayed it on myself many times when in Mecca Cosmetica and I loved it.  So when I walked into the Diptyque boutique on Rue des Francs Bourgeois in Paris, I knew that it was exactly what I wanted. I know that I will enjoy wearing it until the last drop. This is the hallmark of a fragrance that is essentially "you".

Notwithstanding everything I have written about fragrance being a part of one's identity, owning just one 'signature' fragrance is a bold statement indeed and Philosykos is a little too recognizable to be it. I've been thinking that I need another that is a little more unusual and complex.  I came across Byredo whilst trying to settle for another Diptyque fragrance to wear. I thought it might be interesting to explore what this other niche fragrance house has to offer.


Stockholm based Byredo is the brainchild of Ben Gorham, a Fine Arts graduate of Indian and Canadian heritage.  With no formal training in the olfactory arts, he decided to throw away his paint brush and to create fragrances instead.  He engaged Olivia Giacobetti (diptyque, Guerlain, L'Artisan Parfumeur) and Jerome Epinette (Decennial, Nest, Atelier Cologne) to create the scents that he articulated to them. What results is a collection of perfumes, lotions, gels, soaps and home fragrances, fusing art and design with its artisan’s ethnic roots. 

Like I sprayed Diptyque's Philosykos on multiple occasions, I have been going back to Mecca Cosmetica daily to experience Byredo on my skin. 

Gypsy Water – This is one of Byredo's most popular fragrances. Based on the description on the Byredo website: “the scent of fresh soil, deep forests and campfires” I imagined that it would be my clear favourite. In the end the fragrance did not connote the outdoors like described and instead on my skin it settled down to its vanilla base note very quickly (which I don't usually like). Eventually what lingered was quite pleasant but very soft and almost undiscernible. Maybe this is why it is so popular?

Bal D’Afrique – Another of Byredo's most popular, I really like this one on my skin after some time, albeit it is a little sweet to start with. The citrus of the lemon shines through the floral sweetness of the flower petals, resulting in a sweet lemon curd kind of smell. 

Inflorescence – This is a clean green fragrance.  It is what I imagine running though a field of lilies in the rain would smell like. Sadly, the fragrance soured on my skin within two hours.

La Tulipe – This fragrance is a fresh floral. It smells like a bouquet of flowers which settles down to faint but pleasant "freshly laundered" smell. I cannot imagine that this very soft and feminine fragrance would offend anyone as it is quite conservative.

Pulp – I knew that I would not like this one based on the description on the website: "a dramatic composition focused on the idea of ripe, sweet, shapeless mass of fruit." I tried it anyway. It’s literally a fruit explosion in the nose. It’s a powerful fragrance not the type to calm the senses, but rather to energise.  In the beginning it reminds me of a Summer pool party, where an abundance of fruit on platters is served. After a number of hours it smelled like the clean up the day after... After the remaining fruit had been sitting in the early afternoon sun. It is not offensive but extremely ripe - not for the faint hearted.

Flowerhead - This is Byredo's newest fragrance. One does not need to be a genius to work out that it is a floral. As soon as I sprayed it I had the feeling that I have smelled something similar before. I didn't not like it, but its familiarity put me off a little. 

There are of course other Byredo fragrances that 'sound' like I might like them, but unfortunately they are not available in Adelaide so I can't test them. 

After my little experiment, I could easily buy Gypsy Water, Bal D'Afrique and La Tulipe, but a whole wardrobe of fragrances to select from daily does not appeal to me. It makes perfect sense then to select a signature scent slowly and wisely. Maybe a few more trips to Mecca Cosmetica are in order!

Use these tips when shopping for a signature fragrance: 
  • Spray it on your skin and walk away.
  • Smell your forearm often throughout the day to see how the fragrance develops and settles on your skin and whether it lasts.
  • Do not buy before you try. Every one has a different skin chemistry - don't assume that a best seller will work for you. 
  • Ask your partner if they like the fragrance on you - there is a small risk that the scent will remind them of someone they would rather not be reminded of daily. You don't want that.
Now to extrapolate these meticulous thoughts when buying shoes and clothing...


  1. I've seen Byredo before and the packaging has sold me- yet to purchase though. How fab are the Comme des Garcons bottles at Mecca! And yep, fig= Diptyque, but hey it's popular for a reason!

    I love perfumes but don't wear a lot. I'm not a bottle collector though- I think I prefer to collect unusual scents that I love. Every time I travel to Melbourne (fellow Adelaide inhabitant) I head down to a shop called Kleins Perfumery on Brunswick St and they have the most wonderful collection of perfumes. There's a great brand out there called CB I Hate Perfume with such interesting blends and names, and have a look at Etat Libre d' Orange perfumes and L'Artisan Parfumeur- this one is one of the oldest fragrance houses with very great scents. One of my signatures is called 'Bois Farrin' which is so strange- it has a creamy rose woody scent. Fabulous! Penhaligon's is a classic, but I am not a fan of the ever popular Bluebell- very grassy!

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      I visited L'Artisan Parfumeur when in Paris... but I honestly find sampling fragrances when I'm traveling overwhelming. Just to sample 6 of the Byredo fragrances properly has taken me over 2 weeks. So maybe the next time I'm in Melbourne I can do some research beforehand so I know what to spray.

      This 'Bois Farrin' sounds right up my alley!

  2. Thank you for introducing me to a whole new world of fragrance.

    1. No worries... they were all lined up next to the Diptyque and the minimalistic bottles grabbed my attention, so I thought why not :)

  3. I love Byredo - Bal d'Afrique is my favourite. They're such lovely scents.

    1. Bal d'Afrique is probably my favourite out of the ones available in Adelaide... Decided today that Gypsy Water too vanilla for me. I'm keen to try some of the others in the range... when I'm in Sydney in July :)

  4. When I was buying my Diptyque perfume (Do Son - I didn't like Philosykos at all surprisingly!) I ended up spraying all the Byredo perfumes on to test strips. Needless to say, the chemical scents were so overpowering that I couldn't stand it and I haven't gone back since to try and test any further. While I think the scents are nice, I think there are plenty of others out there which are just as good that don't have such a large price tag attached to them (I did a double take paying for Diptyque that's for sure!) but that's just my opinion. I've been considering Si (Georgio Armani I think) which has proven to be rather long lasting judging by the fact I can still smell the scent on my wrist!

    1. I found Flowerhead, Pulp and Bal D'Afrique to be the most confronting on paper initially and yes found both Flowerhead and Pulp to be quite strong and almost chemical.

      I haven't tried Si yet - maybe tomorrow :) I'm not surprised that it has long lasting power, I remember Onde Mystere to be long lasting too.

  5. Have you thought about using two perfumes at the same time to create a new scent combination? I know they recomend it at the diptyque stores, just a tip to create a unique perfume ;)

    1. What an interesting suggestion! I have seen that Diptyque recommend some scent combinations for the candles, but not for the perfumes. I'll look into this :)