The relationship between a fragrance and its name is more complicated than I’d realized. A fragrance’s name, you see, is it’s introduction. Its first impression. And, like all elements of scent, it’s highly, spectacularly subjective. For avant-garde perfumer, Ben Gorham, the founder and skillful nose behind Byredo, a name presents an opportunity to link a scent to a memory, and etch it into some kind of olfactory permanence.
Typically, Gorham himself creates each Byredo fragrance (many of them cult-favorites: Gypsy Water, Bal D’Afrique) through words, creating the profile that perfumer Jérôme Epinette then transforms into an actual product. “With fragrance being completely subjective these names spark the imagination of the perfumer and finally the customer. They each experience the fragrance even before they smell the ingredients in the bottle. We still find it fascinating that people interpret our fragrances in so many ways,” Gorham explains.
For Byredo’s latest launch however, a celebration of the brand’s tenth anniversary, he’s allowing his customers to do the naming. Explained by Gorham, this allows the wearer to choose a name meaningful to them. It’s a call to creativity. The notion is to allow the scent itself to infiltrate the customer’s mind, first, before any preconceived notions brought upon by a name can do it for you. If, for example, you hate rose, you may not try a fragrance bearing the flower in its name. As for the scent itself, its top notes include pink pepper and gin accord, which then settle into orris stem and lush violet, and finally, are anchored by a tree moss and fir balsam base.
This is all in celebration of the label’s 10th anniversary. The new fragrance comes housed in Byredo’s typically minimalist-chic bottle, baring no name and a set of stickers for customization.
Finally, to complete the anniversary event, Byredo has unveiled an accompanying website UnnamedPerfume, on which you can play around with naming your own fragrance and even creating an accompanying campaign. The website scrolls into infinity with shared creations, which combined create a sort of public art space online.