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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