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Byredo Bal D’Afrique – Universal Adapter

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I keep trying to write about Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique but it’s hard because it keeps coming out more as an apology for liking it than an actual review.

I have always had an aversion for things or people that are too widely liked. Anything that seems to receive universal approval fills me with suspicion and the desire to avoid it at all costs. Ugg boots sure look comfortable but I’d gnaw my leg off with a dull incisor rather than put one on. The very notion that so many women fantasize about George Clooney makes him as attractive to me as a used tissue. I very nearly un-coupled my husband when he bought our son a fidget spinner. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique

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I’ve been thinking about Bal d’Afrique for a long time now. Sometimes it is one of the most interesting fragrances I’ve ever tried. Other times I am bored before I hit the dry down. After many, many samplings, I’ve begun to develop a more consistent view of this fragrance, which I will offer to you today:

Many Byredo fragrances are not my style, as their creative elements seem to embrace an aesthetic that is nowhere near mine, as I prefer more classical, austere fragrances. Byredo is certainly more avant-garde than my preferences would demand, and Bal d’Afrique is more different. KEEP ON READING

The Smell of Learning: Byredo Bibliothèque & Other Stories

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Like most people, I love the smell of books. But my search for that book smell in perfume form has proved a problematic and often frustrating one.

Part of the challenge has been figuring out what it is that I want, exactly. Do I want to smell literally like a book? No, as it turns out, I don’t. Perfumes that smell literally like paper or ink are too on-the-nose for me. The best perfumes are those that bring you only 50% of the way, like those mood rings that require body heat for activation. A perfume that does all the heavy lifting for my imagination is no fun at all. KEEP ON READING

Beauty and the Beast: M/Mink and Teint de Neige

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M/Mink by Byredo

A while ago, I wrote an article for Basenotes on the top ten niche fragrances that every beginner should sample. I got one comment from a guy that I must repeat here because it is (a) very funny, and (b) kind of indicative of how people perceive my, or other people’s taste. The comment read as follows:

“I don’t agree with the entirety of this list. It is not well-rounded at all. It seems this amazing writer has a fetish for burning rubber, smoking resins or charred flesh/leather with squirt of stale urine. I’m pretty sure there are some amazing niche fragrances that are on the more comforting, clean, snuggly, socially appropriate and less “trying so hard to smell like I don’t try (or shower) at all.” KEEP ON READING

Dans Tes Bras: Thanks, but No Thanks

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I admit that I was rooting for Dans Tes Bras to be a winner even before I’d smelled it, because it’s considered the edgiest entry in a brand that focuses on giving us the most super rich, but straight-forward versions of single notes or styles. I kind of like the idea of the quirky one in the bunch being a soul match for me. I had smelled it briefly on a trip to Brussels and in a flurry of twenty other fragrances all competing for nose space, its pale, violet-tinged reticence intrigued me. But when I ordered a sample to investigate further, I discovered certain problems with it. KEEP ON READING

[New Fragrance] Byredo’s Super Cedar – bottled Scandinavian Style?

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If you’ve ever been to Sweden in summer – no matter if you are male or female – I am sure you will have seen those blondes in their shiny white sundresses. If we translate this vision of loveliness into perfume, I guess most of us would think of soft skin fragrances, often flowery, musky, powdery and sheer –  perhaps like En Passant by Frédéric Malle, L’eau by Serge Lutens or Teint de Neige by Lorenzo Villoresi. However SUPER CEDAR, the brand new Byredo fragrance, also works just as well. SUPER CEDAR calls to mind images from Midsummer celebrations, late at night, when people express all their happiness and gratitude for the warmer days and a late sunset. Whilst a light flowery or sheer skin scent could capture the mornings and days of a Swedish summer, SUPER CEDAR is the late evening representation of this special time – socializing, whittling the hours away pleasantly and at complete ease, that feeling after the exuberant party as you cool down in the dying warmth of a summer night – simply, it is bottled Scandinavian style. KEEP ON READING

Byredo Bal d’Afrique- A comforting love affair in Paris

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Bal d’afrique changed it all for me. I remember like it was yesterday, I was strolling through the streets of Paris and to my delight, there is some kind of fragrant store on every street corner. I think I started on Boulevard Haussman, spending a whole morning and part of an afternoon in Galleries Lafayette and Le Printemps (mind blowing experience) . Wandering, on a fragrant journey with no expectations or final destination, my nose had finally made it to the Mecca of perfume. I sniffed every Guerlain, Kurdjian, Nasomatto, Chanel Exclusif and everything else within arm’s reach. Unbeknownst to me, Colette would be my final destination. Grace to their crappy customer service, I had ample, uninterrupted time to give the more than hyped houses of Le Labo and Comme des Garcons a shot. Nothing. They all fell flat, maybe, it was my worn down nose, my beat energy or my running-thin patience. Then, a glimmer of hope, a slither of heaven and ray of sunlight beckoned me and it came in the form of Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique. KEEP ON READING

Sampling Thoughts: Byredo’s Mojave Ghost

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Byredo’s Mojave Ghost:

What is the smell of the desert? Does it smell of spiced amber, like in Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain? Or is it balsamic and smoked with incense, like Tom Ford’s Sahara Noir? Must there be rose and leather and oud? What is the smell of the desert?

Joshua Tree

For the perfume connoisseur, the desert is an underrepresented climate. The fragrance market is swamped with various Jardins Sur Le Whatever and citruses named after a plethora of Italian cities. The coastline and the ocean also feature prominently in perfumeries, giving consumers options between oceanics, aquatics, and semi-aquatics. Forests too can be found everywhere, as can orchards and groves. But why – why, pray tell – is the desert so underrepresented in modern perfumery? KEEP ON READING

In Praise of Mainstream Pleasures

in Thoughts by

Right now, I’m a little bit tired of perfume. Well, not perfume per se, but the interminable rounds of testing of niche fragrances that I seem to have gotten myself into. With niche, you feel like you need to put extra effort into ‘reading’ the intentions of the perfumer behind it. Your brain is constantly in analysis mode rather than simply enjoying it for what it is. Then there’s the worry that you’re the only one Not Getting It. I think I’m a little burned out.

A very kind Basenotes friend sent me some O’ Driu samples and the little bag of them has proven to be my own personal Waterloo – they sit there on my dresser, each morning saying, hopefully, “Today?” KEEP ON READING

Black Saffron: Fruit Leather with Volume Control Problems

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Black Saffron by Byredo

Black Saffron is not what I expected at all. In fact, when my nose was hit with a burst of fruit syrup notes, I had to check the box that my sample came in twice. Yep – the words “black” and “saffron” were definitely there. But before I even had a chance to reach up to scratch my head in puzzlement, the scent did a crazy volte face. What I smelled was….. wood shavings in a heated, covered horse-riding arena. How odd! This eventually settled into a fine dusting of sawdust that coated the main accord of the scent – fruity violet leather – giving the entire fragrance an unusual kind of musky, ashy “mouthfeel”. Although I assume the dustiness is due to the saffron, I was unable to detect any of that spice’s usual medicinal aspects. In fact, despite the presence of both saffron and juniper berries, I was unable to pick up much spiciness at all. Here, they seem to manifest themselves more as a textural component (ash, dust) than as a flavoring agent. KEEP ON READING

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