Whenever I go to London I inevitably end up paying a visit to Liberty. The place is like a fairytale, I tell you. Housed within a mock-Tudor building built using the timber from two ships (HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan), Liberty stocks a wonderful array of treats, ranging from silk scarves in beautiful Liberty Art Fabric to exotic nicknacks, not to mention their impressive perfumery which houses classic and contemporary brands aplenty. It’s London’s most unique retail destination and it epitomises everything that is great about Britain: quirkiness and higgledy-piggledy-ness.
Swedish fragrance house, BYREDO, who have a space within the store, have just launched a fragrance exclusive to and inspired by Liberty. It’s called ‘Heliotropia‘ and it’s described as a “heady infusion, in turns virginal and narcotic” that “carries the mind to a dream like place, a higher state of illusion.” Much like Liberty the store, Heliotropia the fragrance is a fantastical experience that beguiles, fascinates and amuses. One may not enter it expecting to make a purchase, but they will leave with something that money can’t buy: a sense of bewilderment. How’s that for a headline?
Anyone who has been within an inch of this blog or my Twitter feed will know that my latest obsession is Byredo’s 1996. Never before has a perfume so quickly made its merry little way up to the very top of my wish list, leaving me drooling and lusting after it so badly that my long-suffering partner had no choice but to gift me a bottle for Christmas. For his sanity you understand?
So yes, I was very pleased with my bottle of 1996 and even more so when I found a little sample of a Byredo scent I’ve not smelled accompanying it – Black Saffron. Launched in 2012, this supposedly dark take on saffron, where the golden spice is merged with violet and leather to create something entirely unexpected, is a rather interesting scent indeed. Byredo describe the inspirations behind it as follows:
“Saffron is holy to all Hindus, is the colour of Buddhist robes and has become a symbol for India. It has always been a part of Byredo’s founders upbringing in both smell, taste and colour. Black Saffron is a fragrance inspired by this very idea of sublime unity.”
Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin – more widely known simply as ‘Inez and Vinoodh’ – are world-famous fashion and art photographer, renowned for snapping pictures for the likes of Björk, Lady Gaga, Vivienne Westwood and Vogue, just to name a very small few. They are highly respected for their versatile approach to photography and are, in their own way, quasi-celebrities within the art world.
Not content simply as a twosome, Inez and Vinoodh collaborated with popular niche brand Byredo to create a “private edition” fragrance to serve as a Christmas gift for beloved friends and clients. Rumour has it that the fragrance was so well received that they simply had no choice to release it for the hoi polloi to enjoy – thus the wide release of Byredo’s latest fragrance, ‘1996’.
Inspired by the photo ‘Kirsten 1996’ (see above), 1996 is described by Byredo founder Ben Gorham as “an olfactory snapshot not only of the image but of our emotional response to it” and it stands as a unique offering where an image is used to be evocative of a perfume rather than the other way round. The scent intends to create “a visual language, for perfume and, like all great collaborations, shared sentience” (make of that what you will).