Six by Byredo: Two Perfumistas’ Impressions

Undina: When hajusuuri who went to the recent Sniffa event had approached me suggesting a joint post about Byredo scents, I immediately agreed: since our tastes match, by my estimate, 80-85%, I was curious to see how we’ll do with testing the same perfumes almost at the same time.

hajusuuri: Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2016 was but a memory, but the goodie bag samples live on!  This year we got a bonanza of manufacturers’ samples with lots of extras for sharing.

Undina: I was surprised when I realized that I hadn’t previously tested on skin five out of six perfumes hajusuuri offered to share even though I probably saw them all at a store and maybe even smelled from the bottle.

hajusuuri: In this episode of Weeklong Test Drive we’ll share our impressions of six Byredo perfumes.  These are not reviews, just first impressions.

Byredo Samples

Undina: I rarely can smell any specific notes in perfumes, whether I read them or not, so I wasn’t too strict about when I looked up the notes: for some of the perfumes I did it while testing, for others – later, as I was adding them to my database.

hajusuuri: Since my method of perfume application is spray and walk into the mist, having small atomizers presented a bit of a challenge for a proper wearing.  I decided to develop my impressions through the speed testing method – two sprays on each forearm, 5 minutes apart.  I wrote my impressions after 15 minutes of wear. I did not look up the notes prior to testing so be aware that I wrote down what each perfume smelled like to me and what I smelled may not necessarily match any of the “official” notes.

Ben Gorham founded Byredo in 2006.  He was inspired to create fragrances from a trip to his mother’s hometown in India.  With a fine arts degree but no training in perfumery, he collaborated with perfumers Oliva Giacobetti and Jerome Epinette to compose his fragrances.  In 2013, a private equity company, Manzanita, acquired a majority stake in Byredo.  You may recognize some of the companies in Manzanita’s portfolio, including SpaceNK and Diptyque.

Perfume and official notes hajusuuri’s impressions Undina’s impressions

Top: Black Plum, Pink Pepper
Heart: Leather Accord, Magnolia, Osmanthus
Base: Dark Woods, Sandalwood, Sensual Musks

Review: Chemist in the Bottle

Woody pencil shavings, almond, slightly sweaty, plasticky Play-Doh If I had liked this perfume a little better, I would have run one of my déjà vu  posts: I swear Bullion is a slightly more masculine version of Annick Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cheri, par Camille. Plum + leather aren’t my thing in either of them

Top: Angelica Seeds, Lingonberry, Sicilian Lemon
Heart: Dewy Tuberose, Rose Petals, Wild Jasmine Sambac
Base: Fresh Amber, Suede, White Rose

Review: The Scented Hound


Watered-down Frederic Malle Carnal Flower with tuberose and jasmine; has a grating chemical woody base (“Byredo base”) A lot of jasmine but it’s less pleasant than in Dior‘s Grand Ball, only comparing to which I can smell tuberose in Flowerhead. It gets more pleasant in a couple of hours of development but not enough for me to want to wear it.
Mister Marvelous

Top: Mandarin Leaves, Neroli Flower
Heart: Bamboo, Green Lavender
Base: Black Amber, White Cedarwood

Review: Cafleurebon

Initial blast of pepper, then lemon, then an unrelenting bitter artificial sweetener smell; has the Byredo base.  Unisex, despite its name I put it on: citrus. I put my wrist under my vSO’s nose: “It smells like a cleaner” he says. In my head it immediately transforms into the jingle “Mr. Clean! Mr Clean!”
Oud Immortel

Top: Cardamom, Incense
Heart: Brazilian Rosewood, Papyrus, Patchouli
Base: Moss, Tobacco Leaves

Review: The Non-Blonde

Leans masculine.  Starts fruity minty nutty woody with warmth threaded all throughout; has the Byredo base The opening blast of sweetness was even pleasant but it disappeared quickly and the remaining medicinal scent was what I usually do not like in agarwood perfumes

Top: Bergamot, Blackcurrant, Cardamom
Heart: Fig, Red Apple, Tiare
Base: Cedarwood, Peach Flower, Praline

Review: Now Smell This

Juicy Fruit, sugar, yuzu. Fruit cocktail run amok As I previously wrote, I don’t think I can tolerate Pulp‘s rotten fruits anywhere but in Hawaii where it felt just right
Sunday Cologne (previously released as Fantastic Man)

Top: Bergamot, Cardamom, Star Anise
Heart: Geranium, Incense, Lavender
Base: Moss, Patchouli, Vetiver

Review: What Men Should Smell Like

Leans masculine, smells like Oud Immortel but much thinner and then devolved into Lemon Pledge Opens very citrusy but then I smell some wood and resin. I think it’s a little too masculine for me but it smells nice and I wouldn’t mind smelling it on my vSO – too bad he didn’t like it when I asked him t smell it

Undina: I have two Byredo decants – Pulp and La Tulipe (for those of you who weren’t reading my blog five years ago, I promise: it’s a cute story) and I think I might eventually get a couple more – Bal D’Afrique and Black Saffron. But even with these four I do not see a bottle in my future and the rest of the line that I tried left me cold. And I don’t like their standard bottles and labels: they don’t spell $150 perfume to me (it seems Rusty on the picture below can’t believe it either).

Rusty and Byredo Samples

hajusuuri: Overall, based on first impressions, I found none of these interesting enough to pursue further; however, I do have a decant of Gypsy Water that I enjoy.  Do you have any favorites?  Which perfumes from Byredo should I try next?  I generally enjoy amber, benzoin, birch tar, heliotrope, iris, tonka and vanilla.

Undina: Would you like to try these six perfumes? hajusuuri is still in a sharing mood, and she has an extra set of six samples to send to one randomly selected winner (with all usual disclaimers on either of us being responsible for anything that happens after samples are sent). You do not have to do anything other than confirming that you want to be entered into the draw, but I will appreciate if you share a link to this draw on FB, twitter or any other place where it’s done these days.


Images: my own

The draw is closed now. A winner will be announced in a separate post soon.


69 thoughts on “Six by Byredo: Two Perfumistas’ Impressions

  1. Great to see your and hajusuuri’s takes on the same groups of perfumes. I love how you rope your vSo into the occasional sniff test. Please include me in the draw. I’ve shared your post on facebook.


    • Hi Juli! You’re in the draw (#1).

      I usually ask innocently what he smells, without pushing for an opinion. Sometimes results are entertaining or unexpected enough to share them here.


  2. Please DNEM, but this was fun to read. I do like Black Saffron, and have a bottle, and a small decant of Pulp, but on me there’s no rotten fruits, it’s straight up cranberry juice. The one I *really* want, however, is 1996. It’s warm and inviting and smells to me like pancakes and syrup. :)


    • Thank you, Sun.
      I thought 1996 was very pleasant but I already have a decant of Jeux de Peau, which, for me, is in the same gourmand area, and I do not see myself wearing too much of them.


    • Oooh, pancakes and syrup? Yes, please :-). I’ve probably smelled 1996 several times but will have to try it again. Also taking note of Black Saffron as it had been mentioned several times AND it is on Undina’s list for a decant.


  3. This was an interesting post!
    I smelled Pulp once and literally laughed out loud. It’s so over the fruity top that I find I actually find I like it. Gutsy.
    I like Bal d’Afrique. People describe it as sunny and I agree.
    Of the Byredo line that I’ve tried 1996 is my favorite. I bought a bottle in January 2015. It’s in my top three favorite winter perfumes.
    Please enter me in the draw. Thanks!


    • Suzy Q, I’m glad you liked the post.
      When I smelled Pulp for the first time I had exactly that thought “so over the fruity top.” But I really like it in hot weather.

      You’re in the draw (#3).


    • Suzy Q, you and I have similar tastes and you were my first swapper so thank you for leading me gently through the rabbit hole of swapping! I really have to re-try 1996.


  4. Interesting post. Sometimes a perfume should be trid without looking at notes! immediate impressions are interesting. Hannah (daughter) has a decant of Pulp which suits her well enough. I’m not keen on any of them. 😄


    • Scuse typos. Sheesh. No glasses, no caffeine, overuse of “interesting”. And Undina, months ago you won the Gri Gri frags on APJ. You want them? Hugs from a now awake friend. ❤️


      • Reading/answering without caffeine is a heroic action, if you ask me ;) And “interesting” – isn’t the worse word to overuse while commenting on somebody else’s post :)

        I responded to Portia with my new mailing address in a timely manner, and she promised to forward it to you. But I’ll send it to you directly now.


  5. I love that format of quick reviews. My favourite Byredo is Black Saffron, but I don’t have a full bottle and will settle on a decant or travel spray.


  6. Heya you two intrepid explorers. Loved this post so much.
    The Byredo base and I get along pretty well and I currently have bottles of Accord Oud, Seven Veils, Black Saffron and Gypsy Water. Black Saffron is my favourite because it starts out all fruity wet girly sunshine and then become a weird cold metallic thing, it’s an excellent ride and smells good to me all the way through.
    My BFF Kath wears La Tulipe and smells like I’ve put my head in a florists fridge.
    Portia xx


  7. What a great idea for a post, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Interesting that hajusuuri identified the house base and that you weren’t that impressed with Flowerhead which is the one I thought you might stand a chance with.

    It’s funny you used the expression “left me cold” because that’s what this line does to me generally. I thought I might click with Black Saffron or 1996, but not at all. Rusty does not look comfortable even being near those Byredo samples and is having to stare into the middle distance and think of his happy place in order to cope :)


    • Thank you, Tara.
      I was surprised that Rusty didn’t want to play with those samples. I tried to seduce him rattling one of them next to his paws – nothing.


    • I have to wonder if 4 spritzes within a short period is too much? Anyway, with so many perfume launches in a year plus the thousands of not recently released perfumes, I usually end up judging a perfume based on first impressions.


  8. Great idea for a post to write impressions to compare with someone considered as you scent twin.
    I generally dislike Byredo. Their perfumes don’t appeal to me much and the number of releases they to
    throw at us makes my opinion on this house even worse


  9. I greatly enjoyed reading your parallel reviews and am with you on your stance on Byredo, though five years ago the house did used to excite me and I would always check out the display (near the window in the original Les Senteurs branch in Belgravia) for the latest launch. I also came across these in their homeland of Sweden, and in Dresden I think, but it is funny that I didn’t even bother trying the newest half dozen or so when I was in Liberty’s last. They seem to have gone a bit weird without smelling as niche as they used to. I think the turning point for me was Mink, which was the worst kind of detergent scent.

    To answer your question, I do *quite* like Bal d’Afrique, Gypsy Water and Pulp, also La Tulipe, and would like to sniff Black Saffron again, which Portia famously picked for Angela Merkel at the PLL talk in Jan. ;) I did like the rose one too, but have forgotten what it smells like!


    • It’s interesting that your “likes” covered both hajusuuri’s and mine favorites from the line. I should test Gypsy Water again :)
      I liked the name of the “rose one”, but when I smelled it on paper I wasn’t interested enough to try it on skin.


  10. Your side by side responses to these Byredo scents are delightful to read, definitely fun for sharing (via Facebook). And it’s always fun to hear how scents are applied. I must walk through the cloud more often.

    I have not tried any of these and would love a chance to sniff samples. I’ve thought about seeking out Flowerhead as I love jasmine flowers, but jasmine in fragrance can turn raspy on me. I hear people say they enjoy La Tulipe and Gypsy Water more than other Byredo scents.

    Rusty is adorable. (=^‥^=)


    • Tiffanie, you’re in the draw (#4) – and thank you for sharing.

      Rusty will get a treat for your compliment (and for the “suffering” he had to endure while posing for the picture of something, in which he had absolutely no interest at the time :) ).


  11. Hi Undina. I liked this format too but I’m just not drawn to Byredo perfumes at all – the packaging is too clinical / designy for me and puts me off. Saying that I did try a few a while back in a store and quite liked Bal D’Afrique and think Flowerhead sounds like it might be for me.


    • I see that we see the bottles similarly. I know it would not have stopped me had I loved the scent but with all those “nice but”s it’s hard to look past these small “dislikes.”

      I assume you do not want to be entered into the draw but please correct me if I’m wrong (since the set does have Flowerhead sample).


  12. How fun. I loved this post. As for Byredo…I LOVE Flowerhead. It wears beautifully on me. The hub is a big fan of the line with Gypsy Water and Mojave Ghost being two of his favorite. You do should do more of these in the future! Loving the Rusty pic too!


    • Thank you, Steve. As soon as we come across something else to test in parallel AND find time to do it, we’ll do it again. Too not-a-reviews for the price of one!
      Giving the fact that hajusuuri didn’t get samples for most of the more popular scents mentioned by others in this post (Black Saffron, La Tulipe, Gypsy Water, Mojave Ghost or Bal D’Afrique, I wonder if they had an abundance of samples for less interesting perfumes in the line-up just for that reason that nobody really liked these and wanted to test/wear them from samples? ;)


  13. On a cruise, an officer was wearing Bal D’Afrique and wearing dress whites and we talked shop: He loved Mr Marvelous, I kinda like Gypsy Water and Seven Veils. First met Byredo in a dark Barneys underground when they were shoved in a corner. Seemed so strange at the time that those frangrances cost so much. Maybe it’s time to resniff…I’d love some samples.


    • Princess Tonk, you’re in the draw (#5).

      If you look at today’s perfume prices, Byredo isn’t that extravagant in that respect any longer – who would have thought?..


      • Who would have thought…that is beyond true. Plus, we become immune (until we get our monthly charges). Also, I love Rusty. So discrete, so loving, so graceful. And his thoughts are always so deep.


      • I believe so – there is a Malle Room and then Serge outside of it? I don’t think I went beyond those two except to try to sniff Olafactive Studio Lumiere Blanche. Honestly, I don’t remember what the Byredos smelled like, at this point. Maybe that’s why I buy blind!!!


        • I don’t do blind buys anymore, just LARGE samples :-). Yes, there’s a FM room (I like to call them “cubby-room” since they are open on one side and have no doors) , but they got rid of those Smelling Tubes (I forgot what they’re really called but you’re supposed to be able to simulate the dry-down almost immediately after application. The Byredo cubby-room is right next to the Serge Lutens. For some reason I didn’t think Lumiere Blanche was available at Bergdorf but I could be wrong as that came out…3-4 years ago?


          • No H — this was at Barney’s that I tried the Lumiere Blanche, not Bergdorf. I haven’t been sniffing at Bergdorf in ages. Actually, I really have most of everything I want and will be just drooling over what I have for quite a while. Except for samples. (We’ll see how this works)


  14. Please enter me in the draw; thanks! My favorite Byredo, from the ones I’ve tried, is Rose Noir (despite the name). A nice, complex, spicy rose. I actually do like their bottle/label! I think they’re cute.


  15. I own a decant of 1996, which I am quite fond of. My former officemates detested it though (they told me I smelled like a dumpster when I wore it). On the bright side, if I smelled like a dumpster I probably didn’t smell like Lemon Pledge!!


    • The worst I’ve ever got from a co-worker was a “bug spray” – and I wasn’t wearing that perfume at that time, we were sniffing it at my place during lunch. “Dumpster” is a little harsh though :) But I like your silver lining outlook ;)


  16. First visit your your blog! I enjoyed the no-nonsense reviews, very down to earth. Will be visiting again and regularly! I’d love to be included in the draw if it’s not too late and I shared on the Facebook :) Thanks!


  17. This was a great post…I always assume my unsophisticated nose doesn’t “get” certain brands (this being one of them as I did try a few and wasn’t impressed enough to shell out the large sums of money for full bottles)…nice to read that I wasn’t that far off the mark :)


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