There is no language dedicated solely to the world of smell, arguably our most primal of senses. Instead we opt for words associated with our other senses – taste, sight and feel, to describe something that is for the most part, intangible. Colours, textures and flavours pepper our descriptions and allow the realm of the fragrance to move from the intangibale to something more palpable, combining together as the language of the senses to tell a scented story.
The “joint perception of the senses”, specifically the relationship between colour and smell, is the theme for Swedish niche brand, Byredo’s latest fragrance. The scent is a collaboration with Oliver Peoples, a California-based eyewear brand, and it accompanies a series of exclusive frames, and lenses that have been created and inspired by the fragrance. Housed within a choice of bottles shaded in either indigo, green or champagne, Byredo x Oliver Peoples aims to capture the Caliifornian landscapes through lenses in different colours, each of which highlights a new facet or nuance. This is a Californian life through a lens, and it smells/looks good.
“The conception of the collaboration was achieved through Byredo’s master perfume perceiving the sights of Los Angeles through different coloured lenses, and translating them into various smells, therefore producing a multi-faceted fragrance. This unique effort has resulted in an original frame designed by Oliver Peoples, through which the color of the lenses will correlate with the aroma of the custom blended fragrance by Byredo”
– Byredo/Oliver Peoples
Top: Juniper Berries and Californian Lemon
Heart: Orris Butter and Patchouli Fraction
Base: Musks, Warm Sand Accord and Helichrysum
How Does it Smell?
Byredo x Oliver Peoples opens green and fresh. There is a spiky, verdant quality to it in the opening moments that is evocative of wild brush growing in an arid landscape. This greenery is accented by the aromatic and herbaceous tones of juniper berries which, despite their prevalence in alcoholic beverages, seem to only strengthen the overwhelming sense of dryness that carries through most of the composition’s development on the skin. As dry as it may sound though, the subtlety and low-key volume of the scent make for a pleasing, rather than harsh experience.
A soft and metallic patchouli note moves front and centre in the heart. Somehow it manages to blur the lines between the aloof dryness of the top notes and the warm resinous accords of the base. The patchouli, with its sour and earthy nuances, which are sanitised slightly here, it must be said, acts as the bridge between the two different shades that dominate the top and base notes – it is the indigo that links the green of the opening to the champagne of the dry down.
In the base, Byredo x Oliver Peoples settles to a wisp of woods and transparent amber. There is a warm, grainy feel to it that must be the ‘warm sand accord’ as promised in the notes, and the relaxed demeanour of the whole thing only supports this, and the idea of a Californian life style. The base also displays a light, mineral-like air that, without feeling marine-like, gives the impression of a soft breeze a few miles away from a beach. It’s simply golden.
I like Byredo x Oliver Peoples and I think the three bottle colours (indigo, champagne and green) perfectly match the three stages, or tones of the fragrance, and support the overarching theme of “joint perception”. Do I think it’s Byredo’s most interesting work? Possibly not (I’d give my vote to 1996 or M/Mink). That said, the fragrance is well executed and comfortable to wear, and the concept is sound (which in itself is a miracle these days), but the fragrance perhaps lacks a unique identity that would really elevate it to be something quite special.
Byredo x Oliver Peoples is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £105. The limited edition sunglasses (£315) and box set (£400) are available exclusively at Selfridges. The retail space can be found on the ground floor in Selfridge’s beauty hall.
Sample, notes and quotes via Byredo. Image 1 via caisa.damernasvarid.se. Image 2 my own.