Byredo Parfums is anything but a run-of-the-mill fragrance brand – and once you learn more about its founder, the charismatic Ben Gorham, you understand why.
Born in Sweden to an Indian mother and a Canadian father, and with a background that includes a fine arts degree and stint as a professional basketball player rather than any formal fragrance training, Gorham’s uniquely personal approach to scent has won Byredo a cult international following.
To celebrate the launch of Byredo at Lane Crawford – including the brand’s stunning new perfume, Rose Of No Man’s Land, inspired by the life-saving selflessness of World War I’s nurses – we sat down with Ben to understand more about his creative approach to beauty.
I had just graduated from art school in Stockholm when by chance I met a perfumer – Pierre Wulff – for the first time. We were at a dinner and he started talking about how scents engage people. Before that I don’t think I‘d ever been interested in scent but that meeting opened up a part of my brain I’d never explored before. Suddenly this entire olfactory field became as rich to me as a palette of colour, and I was able to express my emotions through perfume. To me, smell is all about memory; when I founded Byredo, the idea was to translate memories into smells.
What sets Byredo apart from other fragrance brands?
I think part of our success can be attributed to the fact that we are meticulous when it comes to quality – I believe people are much more knowledgeable and demanding in terms of the products they buy. Since founding Byredo, I’ve learnt my ability to evoke emotions through the work I do and for that I’m very grateful.
How do you create a perfect scent?
All my inspirations for creating a perfume are connected to personal memories – places from my childhood, specific moments of my life. I then work closely with a perfumer to translate my ideas into a fragrance. Developing a fragrance always starts with a briefing: some pictures, some raw materials I imagine, poetry, or a quote I like. It's very personal.
How would you define your vision of beauty?
Unique, impeccable, modern.
What upcoming beauty trends do you foresee making a mark in the future?
I feel people are starting to understand that our notions of what is gender specific comes from marketing and commercial programming that leads us to saying something is for men or women. To me the idea of gender-specific smell is as absurd as gender-specific food. I also like to tell people that they should look for perfumes that have a reason for being beyond commercial gain. These are usually the perfumes that evoke emotion because they are tied to real ideas.