Perfume Review: Byredo Flowerhead

flowerhead-by-byredoI’ve had this decant for a couple of months now, but I haven’t reviewed it yet. That’s partly because I needed a break from blogging, and partly because I was wearing it the afternoon that we took Hayley to the vet, never dreaming that she wouldn’t come home with us. But I pulled it out to retry today, and I am writing with a pic of Hayley-dog on the screen, so I think I will be all right.

This is a truly beautiful floral, centered on tuberose-jasmine-rose. I don’t think Byredo has done many florals, other than La Tulipe (mixed spring bouquet) and Inflorescence (a muguet). Byredo is very much an art-directed outfit, very visual, and typically the notes lists/art inspiration for their fragrances don’t encourage me to purchase samples. What I remember Byredo for is the sticky, melting, frozen-fruit-bar of Pulp, and the Blanche sample a friend sent me, which was fresh-air-and-clean-laundry to my nose (and I even like aldehydes. Oh well).

This one, as most fumeheads probably know by now since I’m months behind the curve on reviewing it, was inspired by the visual of an Indian bride adorned with a floral headdress. Byredo’s creator, Ben Gorham, is half Indian and had a large part to play in the wedding of his cousin, and was inspired by the vision of her with flowers for a head.

The six-year-old girl in me is RUTHLESSLY DELIGHTED at these bridal hairstyles. But they don't say "flower head" to me.
The six-year-old girl in me is RUTHLESSLY DELIGHTED at these bridal hairstyles. But they don’t say “flower head” to me.

Well, okay. Whatever caused Mr. Gorham to decide to focus on the natural glory of blossoms, I don’t really care much; I’m just here for the tuberose. And the jasmine and rose. Hand over the flowers and nobody gets hurt, okay?

The tuberose does tend to dominate, in my opinion, not that I’m bothered by that. It’s kept very fresh by tart berries, angelica and green notes, and I have to say this is one of the loveliest floral openings I’ve ever smelled, a glorious explosion of blossoms with the sharpness of cut stems and leaves. I love it. It’s almost like sticking your nose in a big bouquet – that’s one of my favorite scent experiences, by the way. The only thing missing from the bouquet is a “wet” dewy note. The visual for the fragrance features marigolds, and Ben Gorham has stated that he and perfumer Jerome Epinette attempted to include marigold but weren’t able to integrate it successfully. The tart berries and sharp herbal accents, to me, seem to take the place that marigolds would have taken, and I do love that effect.  In fact, the opening reminds me very much of Arquiste’s wonderful Flor y Canto (tuberose and marigold), and it’s gorgeous.

Half an hour in, it calms down a bit and the berries retreat, and there’s a wonderful tuberose-jasmine duet. The rose flies under the radar for me, and I can only pick it up occasionally, as a counterpoint to the white floral blend. There’s a fair proportion of natural materials in this, and it smells very fresh and gentle. I wish, to some degree, that the fragrance would stay loud, but the initial blast does calm itself down to a smaller sillage. This middle stage lasts three to three and a half hours, respectable for a floral fragrance on my skin.

Gradually it begins to fade away to a very quiet drydown. The official drydown notes are “suede and ambergris,” but I’m really smelling a quiet, dry woody musk rather than anything *I* would call ambergris. It may be, as a reviewer on Fragrantica suggests, Iso E Super there in the drydown. I am not sensitive to Iso E Super myself, can barely smell it at all; what I’m getting here is a soft, barely-there presence that simply helps to extend the florals. This stage lasts about three further hours on me, so that I get about 7-8 hours of wear from one goodly spritz. I would not choose the “spray until wet” method for this one (as I typically do for lightweight fragrances like summer Eaus and Annick Goutals), since Flowerhead’s initial sillage is so big.

Notes, according to Fragrantica, include lemon, cranberry, angelica, green notes, tuberose, jasmine sambac, rose petals, suede and ambergris.

Flowerhead is a really lovely fragrance. The straight-up floral is one of my favorite genres of fragrance, and I enjoy wearing it. One reviewer on Fragrantica says that it’s “too floral,” but I say Nonsense! No such thing! The more flowers the better!  Know your own tastes, I always say, and Flowerhead suits mine very well.

I could wish that the sillage would stay at the same level, or only gradually taper off, rather than dropping drastically half an hour after application – that was my frustration with DelRae Coup del Foudre, for example. At $220 for 100ml and $145 for 50ml, it’s probably outside my price range, but I will use and enjoy my 5ml decant.

Other reviews: EauMG, The Scented Hound, Robin at Now Smell this, Grain de Musc, Patty at Perfume Posse (brief), Colognoisseur.

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12 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Byredo Flowerhead”

  1. Lovely review,
    You probably already know this but I have trick for fragrances that start out big but calm a bit much for my liking: Instead of applying with the spray till wet theory a respritz at the 1 hour mark can extend the life and projection size beautifully for soft florals.
    I too love to push my head into bunches of fresh flowers. YUM
    Portia xx

  2. OK this one does sound enticing, and I’ve stayed out of the Byredos so far. But yeah, my only worry is will it smell like bad tuberose on me? Bought a bottle of NO 1 from the fleabay the other day and it was vile tuberose (decaying iron supplements, overcooked hamburger THAT tuberose) and I had to slather myself in Caron Tubereuse in order to accept the note again.

    So I’d try this but am putting my foot on the tuberose express very gingerly!

    1. No. 1… what, the PdN? I barely remember that one, and can only call up that I didn’t like it.

      Don’t know if you’ve tried the Arquiste, or what your take is on Carnal Flower, but it’s THAT kind of tubey. The greenish, less fleshy kind. Not Fracasy. And not the synthetic stuff (which always seems to strike me as feeling sort of “blocky,” in that it has… I can’t explain this… edges, sharp ones).

  3. I have read mostly good reviews of Flowerhead and your evocative description has merely fuelled my curiosity to try it, born again white floral lover that I am!

    1. It really is very beautiful, I think. If you can make it through the first blast (if I remember, you don’t like big sillage), it does calm after that and sink closer to skin.

  4. Hello there Mals. I’ve been unusually busy lately. Well, for most of the summer actually for some reason. So anyway, I saved your review and finally read it this morning. The floral category is not my usual thing (the only ones I can think of that I like a lot off the top of my head are EL Tuberose Gardenia, Amouage Dia, Amouage Gold and Tom Ford PB Fleur de Chine), but I am intrigued by this one thanks to your review. I would hope that the rose note is a little more prevalent on me as well as that “suede” accord. Hope your summer is going well!

  5. Hello! I’ve bought Flowerhead yesterday. I asked the shop assistant for a warm floral perfume and she made me try Flowerhead first and Fracas of Robert Piguet then. I chose not to try other perfumes to avoid being confused (coffee beans sometimes do not work to me if I tried too many fragrances). I think she picked those two since the tuberose typically characterizes warm floral fragrance. And it’s true that I prefer warm fragrances than fresh ones… but I don’t always appreciate tuberose. I excluded Diptyque Do Son because it has (in a second phase… i don’t know how to say) scent of a green riverside garden… I don’t like that scent of cut grass. I ve also excluded L’Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubéreuse because I already tried it in the past and I didn’t like it. However I regret having chosen Flowerhead instead of Fracas. Yesterday when I tried Flowerhead for the first time it looked to me so nicely complex and modern, tonight that smell disturbed me while I was sleeping. It’s not as much warm as I needed. Fracas is too classic but I would like it more because it’s more sensual and warm. I need your advice to choose a better one next time. I still remember that the best fragrance I tasted in my life was a combination of vanilla perfume from L’Artisan Parfumeur and a tuberose scented oil ( from an other company whose name i forgot). I think the most close to my taste would be Van Cleef Orchids and Vanilla but that perfume does not last and it’s not strong enough for me. It does not have enough character. So I may choose Carnal Flower or Fracas or a mix two different perfumes (tuberose or orchid and vanilla). Any suggestion for me? Malù

    1. Welcome, Malu! I did like Flowerhead very much. But Fracas is also a classic big floral, an excellent choice that does seem to last longer on my skin. I really think the best way to pick a fragrance you like is to use the tester bottle (most shops have them so you can try each fragrance they have for sale), spritz on the ones you think you might like, and live with them for several hours to find out if you still like them later. People just like different fragrances, and what I like might not be what YOU like!

      I think Carnal Flower is glorious, but it does have a green note to it, especially in the beginning, and you say that you don’t enjoy that. So it might not be what you want. It is not a very “warm” scent in my opinion; I would call it a cool one. If I might suggest a different one to try, how about Dior Poison? It’s an older fragrance now, but still for sale. It is a warm white floral with plenty of tuberose and some dark, elegant fruit, very powerful. I used to dislike it, but it is really quite beautiful if not overapplied.

      I liked the Van Cleef Orchidee Vanille but I thought it was very soft. If you want a strong one, that’s not it. I don’t know where you live and if your perfume shop has access to Honore des Pres fragrances, but if they do, you might want to try Vamp a NY, which is another warm tuberose fragrance, with balsams and vanilla. The only other orchid scent I can think of, besides Tom Ford Black Orchid which does not smell of orchid to me, is LeLong pour femme, which you might also not have access to – I’m sorry I can’t help more with suggestions for an orchid fragrance. Good luck, and I hope you can find something you love.

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