If you go to the Basenotes website and enter Sweden in the search bar, a compact and inexpressive, like IKEA instruction, list of 16 brands will come out. You probably haven't heard of some of them. Let's say about Zlatan Ibrahimović: the former captain of the Swedish national football team released a couple of fragrances last year. Both - Myth Bloom and Myth Wood - were made by the masterful Olivier Pesho, the author of several good Diptyques, but his "zlatans" turned out, as the Swedes put it, inget att hänga i julgranen: not to hang on the New Year tree. Ibrahimovic was clearly inspired by the example of Bjorn Borg, the Swedish tennis champion - after completing his sports career, he undertook to make shorts (excellent) and perfumes (bad) and succeeded everywhere. But look further: Neotantric Fragrances … In Stockholm stores, their Kamasutra, Dirty Money, and Sex Goddess vegetate on bargain shelves, side-by-side with seasonal “limits,” and smell as bad as their names sound. But one of the names topping the list, you probably know, is Byredo, the brand that put Sweden on the perfume map.
This historic event for Scandinavian perfumery is the result of a series of accidents. Or Swedish immigration policy in the second half of the 20th century: the mother of the founder of ByredoBen Gorham is from a Bombay suburb and his father is half Scottish and half Canadian. Ben was born in Stockholm, but moved a lot: he finished school in New York, then moved to Toronto, where he dropped out of university for basketball. Everything was serious about sports. “I played in the Major League for many years and now, most likely, I would heal well-deserved arthritis, - says Gorham, - but here, as in an ancient tragedy, divine intervention occurred: there were problems with my Canadian passport.” Because of the documents, Gorham lost his contract with the club and decided to return to his homeland, and in Stockholm he showed himself to be one hundred percent Swede and did what everyone in Sweden who does not understand about their life do - he entered an art school. “One day at dinner, almost immediately after graduation, I was sitting next to Pierre Wulff, the only Swedish perfumer,who was then known outside Sweden, recalls Ben. “For some reason I told him about my father’s cologne - my dad left when I was six, but I’m still haunted by his smell, green and tart, like the pods of young beans.” Wolff suggested that Ben's father wore the popular 1970s Gray Flannel. Geoffrey Beene, and he, armed with a schematic pyramid, began experiments: he heated wax in the kitchen, added essential oils to it and poured it into simple glasses - in short, made scented candles with the scent of "Gray Flannel" according to instructions pulled from the Internet.
Gray Flannel, Geoffrey Beene © press service
The result with which he soon came to Wolff was not impressed, but Ben had already taken a bite at the bit. He liked working with smells. As a result, Gorham persuaded Wolff to introduce him to good perfumers - Jerome Epinette and Olivia Giacobetti, the authors of the future Byredo fragrances.
Today, Byredo is doing well: the brand's portfolio includes almost fifty fragrances, and global sales exceeded $ 40 million. An office in the center of Stockholm, in a historic building on Mester-Samuelsgatan, once owned by the Swedish Post. The board of directors met in Gorham's office - from them he inherited a fireplace made of emerald ceramic tiles and a ceiling with rabbits in medallions. But Byredo is rather an exception: apart from this brand outside of Sweden, only Agonist is known… I once asked its founders, Niklas and Christine Ludeen, why Sweden, which is loud in fashion, cinema and gastronomy, is so obviously silent in perfumery. “Our culture is distinguished by functionality and logic: they are characteristic of Swedish fashion, design, architecture, - replied Christine, - And the smell is a very abstract, irrational thing. Its functionality, unlike a pair of trousers or a roof over your head, is not obvious. I think the Swedes have considered perfumery an excess for a very long time. " “Sweden is a society of equals, in which it is not customary to stand out, and perfume is definitely a luxury item and a means of self-expression, something that, until recently, could have caused you to be suspected of arrogance,” Janne R. Vuorenmaa develops the idea. … (Here you immediately remember Ben Gorham, who seems to be the only owner of the Gelendvagen in Stockholm, a small town,where they travel on foot, on bicycles or on a skateboard. Ben definitely likes to stand out: he is completely atypical Swede). Janne is a Swedish perfume collector who is about to launch his own perfume brand and relies heavily on the international market. "The scent of other people's perfume invades the personal space that Swedes value so highly," he says. "This is partly the reason for the commercial success of 'anonymous' fragrances like Clean and Acqua di Gió in Sweden."This is partly due to the commercial success of 'anonymous' fragrances like Clean and Acqua di Gió in Sweden."This is partly due to the commercial success of 'anonymous' fragrances like Clean and Acqua di Gió in Sweden."
Acqua di Gió © press office
An interesting fact: most of the fragrances for Byredo were made by the French Jérôme Epinette. He also collected all the compositions for Vilhelm Parfumerie, a young brand created by the Swede Jan Allgren. Algren does not hesitate to say that he "spied" the perfumer from Byredo: "I liked the things that Jerome did for Ben (Gorham - ed.), And I thought: why look for something else?" - Algren told me during his last visit to Moscow. The same Epinette is listed as the author of the small Swedish brand Björk & Berries and the big one - & Other Stories … He is considered to have monopolized the entire Swedish perfumery market, which, in general, says a lot about national solidarity - or the desire to go in a common system. I ask Janne Vuorenmaa to whom he ordered the fragrances - perhaps Epinetta? Says other perfumers. But Janne is Finnish by birth, he can.
The best Swedish flavors
© press service
1) 1996 Inez & Vinoodh, Byredo
Dutchmen Ines van Lamsweerde and Vinood Matadin are fashion photography stars, a strong couple who enter the homes of Lady Gaga, Stefano Pilati and Lou Doyon. The couple is also friends with Ben Gorham, who even dedicated one of the best Byredo fragrances to their family contract - iris, frozen like an ancient bug in golden amber amber.
2) Dark Rain, Björk and Berries
Björk and Berries is another Swedish brand that loved the work of Jérôme Epinette. The perfumer collected most of the fragrances for her, including Dark Rain, a dedication to the rainy autumn in Sweden: wooden terraces are getting wet, warm earth is breathing, straw is blowing in fields in the southern provinces.
3) Silphium, Stora Skuggan
Stora Skuggan (which means “big shadow” in Swedish) was founded in 2015 by two self-taught perfumers. So far, two fragrances have come out, and Silphium - attempt number two - is worthy of all praise: named after Sylphium, a valuable plant that was exterminated as a result of overfishing back in the first century A. D., it shimmers with all shades of green - galbanum, geranium, tarragon and forest grass.
4) Blue North, Agonist
Here is the official plot of Blue North: you wake up in the morning in a country house, the cold pulls out of the forest from the window, but it's warm under the covers, and you absolutely don't want to get up. The "North" manages the main thing - to convey the contrast of temperatures with the help of chilly mint and warm, enveloping flower powder, and the rest - vanilla haze, green cardamom dust, rosemary - details of morning sleep.
5) Dear Polly, Vilhelm Parfumerie
Built around a noble tea accord: capital Polly - the wife of the brand's founder, Swede Jan Allgren - loves black tea, preferring it to morning coffee. Here is a wonderful "Earl Gray" with lemon and fragrant bitter honey, and in the base - amber with warm and lively, very nice musk.>