.ROOTS: The Scents of a Childhood
The world of perfumes is a world of mystery and romance, that can sometimes be seen as really classical and serious. Ben Gorham proves it is not and that only imagination rules this world. This tattoo-covered 6.5 foot former basketball player and Stockholm art school graduate has the look of a rock star. And the truth is… He is a rock star who found his way to success when he created Byredo in 2006.
Byredo (or By Redolance) had the idea of translating memories into perfumes as a purpose. It is such a perfect idea! A scent can contain a lot of childhood memories and it is wonderful to think we can find them again in a fragrance. But from where did this idea come? Even if Gorham is Swedish, his mother comes from India and he started being interested by the close relation between scents and memories after travelling into his mother’s hometown. At the time, Gorham did paintings, photographs and sculptures but wasn’t predestined to perfumery, the only art that could help him develop his idea.
Luckily for our noses, the french perfumer Pierre Wulff convinced him to give it a try. And Byredo was born. Gorham is one of the rare perfumers who never had a formal training. That makes him a real outsider in the world of scents but doesn’t stop him to develop more ideas everyday and being highly recognized for his success.
‘We built the whole nature of this company on this idea that smell is completely subjective —there is no right and wrong,’ Ben Gorham.
In 2016, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Byredo released an unnamed and genderless fragrance in collaboration with the nose Jérôme Epinette that invites you to remember your roots. It is a perfect reminder of why Byredo was created and the idea of a genderless perfume perfectly matches in today’s world. The bottle is colourless and juste has simple details, just like a blank page, the consumer must dive into it and give it the sense he or she wants to. The adhesive letter included with the package reinforce this idea and give the consumer the right to write his or her own story and title to the fragrance. This playful approach is definitely different from everything already existing about the world of perfumes.
The unnamed fragrance contains fresh and simple ingredients, and when it was released, Ben Gorham refused to give the ingredients to the consumers. For him, the ones who couldn’t identify the ingredients were ‘the lucky ones’. The fragrance being an experience lead by our own emotions, it is better to play the game and give it the meaning we want to.
More than a perfume it is a memory game that can remind the same person of different things, as well as many different people of the same thing. What a perfect way to illustrate Gorham’s idea on a strong connection between memory and scent! For the people who are playful and want to try to smell their roots again, Byredo will allow them to do it by releasing the fragrance on January the 31st. But be careful, it is for a limited time only.
Because Gorham is a seeker for perfection, he didn’t restrict Byredo to fragrances. During the Paris Fashion Week in September 2017, he proved again he was a real outsider by releasing a collection of leather bags and small leather goods. To make it even more Rock’N’Roll, the bags were inspired by one of Gorham’s friends and collaborators, the photographer Craig McDean’s and more specifically, his 1999 book I Love Fast Cars about the drag-racing culture. Gorham made then the choice to create and release a larger variety of products. The brand sells now high quality blankets, sunglasses and horn combs for example.
Ben Gorham just seems to never stop creating. His next step is a collaboration announced in 2017 with the Swedish giant Ikea for 2019. The content of the collaboration stays a surprise, the only things we were able to know is that it will be a limited edition affordable collection and that Ikea’s famous cinnamon rolls might be an inspiration…What a delicious surprise!
Mélusine Estebe-Brunault and Chloe Williams