Kirsten 1996
Kirsten 1996 by Inez van Lamsweerde an Vinoodh Matadin

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).

ARTSNIFF - Scenting Lady Gaga
ARTSNIFF – Scenting Lady Gaga

“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”

No celebrity needs more perfume assistance than Lady Gaga, especially after the massive disappointment that was her debut fragrance ‘Fame‘ and it’s safe to say that because of this her taste level perhaps isn’t where it should be. Fame’s crime wasn’t that it was a dreadful fragrance (general consensus was that it’s decidedly ‘meh’) but the fact that it was frightfully generic and captured only the pretentious element of Lady Gaga’s personality without any of the talent.

Love her or hate her it’s hard to deny that Lady Gaga is indeed talented. Yes, a lot of her ideas are derivative and she does have a tendency to bang on about how what she does is ‘art’ (her upcoming album is annoyingly entitled ‘ARTPOP’) but all-in-all she’s an exciting and provocative voice with a brand of pop that is satisfyingly addictive.

With this edition of the Scent a Celebrity Series, I have picked four perfumes that accurately capture the weird and wonderful persona of Lady Gaga – a woman who has sported fashions made from Muppets, beef and bubbles, to name just a few. Amongst them, these scents embody a spirit that seeks out the weirder odours and isn’t afraid of perfume that is challenging, confrontational and darkly beautiful.

Hothouse Flowers by Steven Klein for Vogue January 2013
Hothouse Flowers by Steven Klein for Vogue January 2013

It surprises me that this is my first review of a Byredo perfume. I haven’t tried everything they have to offer but most of what I have sampled has been well made, if not rather interesting (it’s hard to ignore the genius of the tinsel-esque M/Mink and Solero-esque Pulp). Still, my laziness as a blogger has resulted in the brand not being featured and for that I shall have to give myself a large slap on the wrist.

That was until a sample of the latest Byredo fragrance – ‘Infloresence’ – arrived on my door step. They pretty much had me at the name, but it was the brand’s description of the scent that got me;

“to celebrate the beginning of spring, nature’s perennial and powerful rebirth, Ben Gorham (Founder and Creative Director of Byredo) envisaged a wild garden and a floral scent that would capture the strength and beauty of its blossoms, just as they reach their dramatic peak.”

It didn’t take much more than that to get me salivating! According to my good friend Wikipedia, inflorescence means; “a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches” [1], and this is entirely in keeping with the fragrance’s theme of a bouquet of intensely aromatic flowers.