Byredo’s New Perfume Captures the Experience of a Roller-Coaster Year
Tumultuous times often lead to creative new measures. For Ben Gorham, founder of the luxury brand Byredo, the drama of 2020 was the perfect muse for Mixed Emotions, a new unisex fragrance made to evoke the bewilderment of a roller-coaster year. A spritz of it starts out with the strange, intense scents of maté and blackcurrant, then relaxes into warm, familiar notes such as black tea, birch, and papyrus—an elegant olfactory interpretation of life as we’ve known it, and as we hope it soon becomes again.
To bring the scent into other sensory realms, Gorham asked London-based filmmaker Fenn O’Meally to create a cinematic ode to the many facets of feelings for the spray’s launch last month. The resulting short, titled Tall Are the Roots, blends footage of dancers moving through the stately Syon House mansion and its grounds in Middlesex, England, with excerpts from conversations with singer Alewya Demmisse, dancer Deneille Percival, choreographer Abdourahman Njie, and poet-activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal, whose poem “It Knows (Even When You Don’t)” bookends the movie. Each interviewee expresses a blend of anxiety and optimism, with the past year’s pandemic and protests left unmentioned, but implied. Like O’Meally’s film, the perfume transports viewers away from the uncertainty of the daily grind, yet its genius lies in also embracing the reality of our complicated era.