Byredo Pulp

I decided today (Sunday) was close enough to December to haul my Christmas decorations out and get my holiday mojo working.  We went to church first for some prayers and a dose of Christmas carols, then ransacked the attic for the balance of the day, with Rudolph in the background and a break to bake sugar cookies.  If you are looking for a quiet, tasteful display of elegant ornamentation, conveying the true, simple spirit of the holiday, then by all means don’t come to my house.  (Don’t go to Patty’s house either — I wonder how her butt-shaking motorized Santa survived the winter snows?)  I’ve gotten the Cheese to come around on this, sort of.  His mother was the kind of woman who thought putting a single string of white lights on the tree was gilding the lily.  In my house growing up we decorated the tree until I couldn’t find another square inch of artificial branch to dangle a seahorse or a handmade cyclops Rudolph from.

Today, in addition to setting out my parents’ ratty and beloved 1950s cardboard village (remember those?) replete with trees and one-armed, scary-looking elf revelers, we have a huge wooden, German-made, candle-powered spinning Christmas pyramid that fascinates my kids as much as it did me at their age.  We arranged my mother’s mantel nativity scene to which my children have thoughtfully added nativity elephants, snowmen, Chinese figurines, lions, a llama, a dinosaur, a Lego pirate and Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion.

Tonight I snuck out to see a flamenco performance, which fed the only parts of my soul that hadn’t been fed by a day of shameless holiday revelry with my kids.  The result is a quickie perfume post.  Let’s tackle Byredo Pulp.

When I first smelled Pulp, I thought immediately of Roald Dahl’s wonderfully lurid children’s book James and the Giant Peach, and the scene where the peach breaks loose from the tree, hurtles downhill and smashes those hateful aunts Sponge and Spiker  — thereby introducing millions of young readers to the guilty pleasure of schadenfreude.   Pulp is something like that giant peach in terms of aim and effect.  It has no steering wheel, no breaks, no catalytic converter, no emissions control, no airbags.  Consider carefully whether you want to throw yourself in front of it.

Pulp’s notes are bergamot, fig, blackcurrant, apple, tiare, peach flower, cedar and praline, combined to make “a sweet, green fragrance.”  I know, I know, that sounds disgusting.  But on Louise and on me, it’s much more tart than it sounds — on Louise it’s almost pure grapefruit with some sap notes, and on me it’s more a tart berry – lingonberry jam, maybe, or homemade cranberry sauce with very little sugar.  If it were a taste, your mouth would pucker and your eyes would water.  It gets a little sweeter as it dries down, but not much, so don’t let the word “praline” frighten you.  The fig is very green, more leaves/bark than fruit.

Honestly?  I cannot imagine wearing this.  It’s huge — insane sillage and longevity, and no volume control whatsoever.   It’s the sort of fragrance that would have me chewing my own arm off after a few hours just to get away from it.  But I admit it smelled divine on Louise’s wimpy-fragrance-killing skin.  I can’t think of anything really like it; if you like big green galbanum-laced meanies (Louise also mentioned Miller et Bertaux’ Green Green Green and Green, although Pulp is much more aggressive) this might be your sort of thing.   It’s got that in-your-face attitude.

As far as I know, Byredo Pulp is available in the US only at Barney’s, for $190, and I think a bottle would last you forever.

image, Alexandria’s library: the extraordinary illustrations of the original volume of James and the Giant Peach, which I’ve enjoyed inflicting on my own children; German Christmas pyramid much like ours,


  1. Oooh! I’m going to be at Barney’s late next week, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise….. (we’re in the midst of a mild blizzard so who knows…)

    this is now on my list to try, if only for the shock value!


    • Already? A blizzard? Our lawn and roofs across the great muddy are white. Not blizzard…but, oh jeez, should I check the weather website?

      Well, the weather matches the Bing Crosbey blaring through the house and scaring the cats.

      • Yep! Somewhere between 3 and 5 inches! And it’s that heavy stuff so one must be careful not to overtax the heart.

        March, I was thinking about maybe spritzing a bit on the wrist, with some Clinique #4 Toner on standby (you know how I rave about that taking nearly any scent off the skin – perhaps this would be the ultimate test of its powers? This oughta be fun! I’ll be ‘Mikey’ I’m feeling sort of daring these days…

        I’ll be baaaack!

    • Don’t overspray. /:) You might want to try it on a strip first. And bring a noseplug.

      Barney’s! Yay, a trip to the city!

  2. Well, dear March, in *our* house growing up, Thanksgiving evening was the night for pulling out all the ornaments and such. So, this year, I continued the tradition–although I think I have a total of five ornaments, all given by my ornament-obsessed mother. And the music is going strong (my fav from childhood? Alvin and the Chipmunks. That cd is the *best*, again a gift from Mom).

    Let the holidays roll. There’s just something about lights on a tree that cannot fail but bring forth a smile.

    • Heh heh. We have the Chipmunks too, only (like my parents) I can put up with it once before I insist on something else. My kids would just listen to it over and over. And I love your Thanksgiving tradition! For me it was: end of a four-day holiday. I started to say “no,” and then thought hey — what else is there to do at this point? We all had fun on a rainy day.

  3. I found Pulp to be what you describe: a violent wallop that just keeps on coming. An olfactory punching machine, if you will… Not for me.

    • Yes, great description. I kept waiting for the moderation. The die down. And eventually realized it was just going to keep going and going and going…

  4. No such thing as an over-decorated Christmas-time house in my book. Growing up as the only non-Christian family in the neighborhood has permanently marked me…the more tinsel and glitz, the better <:-p Ooh, can't wait to see your house! I had no expectations of Pulp, and found it not frightening at all. My "wimpy-fragrance-killing skin" seem to suck the scary bits outta it, and I really enjoyed the deep citrus vibe it had on me. I would certainly buy a decant...;)

    • Hey, don’t forget Wednesday, babe! I need to get busy on the rest of those Buxtons… I’ll try to get the icicle lights up on the porch before you come. :d

      It smelled really, really great on you. Not so much on me.

      • Me, forget? No way :d/ I only lose track of unimportant stuff, like paying bills and getting my teeth filled :o. Sniffing vintage perfume with you is way too significant to miss. You making the ~o)?

          • That’s tea in the cup, doll 😕 Life is plenty exciting without caffeine right now 8-}

  5. Still waiting for someone to come up with strings of little white Star of David lights that can adorn the entire house. So far, no luck. All I’ve found so far are huge multi-colored ones to stick in your window or gigantic tacky-looking menorahs, along the same lines. My mother was so envious of Christians that we celebrated Christmas as kids and it was hard to break the habit when I grew older.

    As for Pulp, one whiff and my eyes teared up. Interesting, thought-provoking, but a no-go for me. I would like to sniff it on Louise though. We do totally different things to fragrances and I like scary green fragrances on her, but not on me.

    • Huh, so your eyes watered just smelling it? Wow. And I cannot believe you can’t get a string of lights, how unfair is that? I think they’d be really pretty.

      You celebrated Christmas? Decor-wise? Did that shock anybody? 😕

      • I found a string of menorahs, dreidels and Stars of David (multi-colored, garish and over-priced) but not something that I would hang in my house. And yes, my mother insisted on a tree AND gifts. Christmas-envy. Noone was shocked because we didn’t live in a Jewish neighborhood and most of the relatives didn’t know. As for Dans tes Bras, I am madly in love with it. A lovely person is sending me a small decant and I will be on the hunt for more I am sure.

        • I looked in two places today determined to prove you wrong and I … failed. Honestly, that stuff is heinously ugly. What is up with that? I mean, a long strand of little stars seems so obvious. I did see those giant Stars of David and man, were they bad. It’s like they’re PUNISHING you for being Jewish at Christmas.

    • PS I really hope you got some of that Dans tes Bras, boy, that was lovely on you. Much better on you than anyone else I’ve smelled it on.

  6. Hey, no better scent to review thematically than one which offers wretched excess, right? 😉 I’ll be happy to sniff Byredo Pulp on a more likely candidate (Musette, I’m looking at you!). Louise has me thinking, though..:-?…I’ve been interested in checking out MB Green, Green, et Green for quite a while now. Is it going to take me over? >-)

    Love the book illustration.

    • Yeah, make Musette eat it first! That’s what I did with Louise — here, YOU try it! I figured (correctly) she’d tamp it down way more than I did. I put on like one drop and it wouldn’t go away.

      Green, Green is not my sort of thing but it’s really pretty. I like the Spiritus/Land one.

    • Well, I hope to see you this visit in so I’ll try to get a samp of it and we can shriek together! It’s on my list.

      xo Mikey/Musette>-)

  7. Christmas decorations and Roald Dahl, now that is a perfect combination. I married a man with a less-is-more philosophy of Christmas decorations, but my kids have a more-is-more philosophy, so guess who wins? Hint: Tinsel EVERYWHERE. I gotta admit, it’s not very tasteful but it is fun. Which kinda sounds like that Byredo to me.

    So happy that you spent the day having fun. It’s good to feed one’s soul like that, helps one to stay focused on what matters. Best wishes.

    • Real tinsel? I mean, the out-of-a-plastic-packet, under-the-couch-in-July kind? I banned that after one particularly explosive year … I admire you. 😡

      Your description of Pulp is perfect — not very tasteful but fun.

      • Yes, real tinsel, the kind you buy on the cheap at Target. Gold *and* silver. My kids love crafts, so the tinsel gets lost under the couch along with glitter and pom-poms, all stuck together to a glue stick that invariably rolls under there. Sure it’s messy, but what can I say, I’m a pushover. :”>

        • You’re a better parent than I am. I have … mess issues. The reason things like Play-Doh are banned in the house. OTOH I do things like let them trash the kitchen. Must be situational.

          • I’m sure I’m not a better parent, but I am a messier one!

            • My mom cured me of real tinsel because she/we had/have cats. Bad news for the intestines if they eat it…
              …but I have all sorts of fake tinsel–aluminum, glass–and oodles of garish garland…

  8. Haven’t yet had the opportunity to try any of the Byredo’s, but boy does your Christmas tree ever ring those bells :d We still celebrate it every year with my parents, who still have every ornament our family has accumulated since the year they married. Each of us kids on our own has attempted some sort of “theme” throughout the years, which has since been incorporated into the family tree. The result is a tree which is barely visible and we all love it insanely 😡 It’s like a once-a-year time capsule.

    • Yep — the Theme being “Total Chaos.” I truly think that at this point we could split all the ornaments up among the kids and they’d each have a plausible tree. I don’t even put them all on anymore, we rotate boxes every year. :”> To be fair to me, I inherited most of them, I’m not completely insane, but having inherited them I’m reluctant to part with them, they’re history, as you say. Some of my favorites are the tacky ones that are actually dated, like a big, ugly Champagne bottle with 1979 painted on it.

    • Yeah for barely visible trees! With all the tinsel and garlands and ornaments we heap on ours (including Mr. Snowman, the lumpy play-do ornament I made in nursery school), I swear we could stack up cardboard boxes in a pyramid and decorate that instead of getting an actual tree. More is more, and too much is just right!

  9. Your Christmas decorations sound fantastic! 🙂 I think that if you’re going to do Christmas, the only way to do it is full throttle – joyful exuberance and warmth seem to me what the season should ideally be about. Elegant restraint just doesn’t work w/ my idea of the feeling of Christmas. And I can’t tell you how much I love the idea of a Lego pirate and Kuan Yin being included in the nativity scene. 🙂
    So far I’ve only dabbed on a tiny bit of Pulp. Don’t think I can even imagine it being sprayed and also can’t imagine ever needing to fork over $190 for a full bottle.

    • Buckethead demanded his Lego pirate back. It doesn’t look quite the same. 🙁

      I was sort of hoping you’d tried Pulp just so I could hear what you thought!

  10. March, I love Pulp! I bought a mini, unsniffed mind you, from sniffapalooza for $35 and have not regretted it.

    Hugs and love!

    • Well, now, there you go. Clearly there is some kind of skin this crazy puppy works on. It smelled so amazing on Louise. Is it more citrusy on you? Jammy? Not too sweet, i guess?

    • I smell the figs, the coconut from the tiare and the sugar cane. My husband says it smells like a Christmas tree…go figure! I say it smells wonderful!

      • Oooh, I want what you got! Even in the far, far, far drydown (and I kept sniffing) it never sweetened up like that for me. Your description sounds lovely.

  11. How did I miss this one? I think I completely missed the whole line, and I was at Barneys paying my bill yesterday (I wish they’d have online payment; maybe it’s to lure us into the stores?)

    • Def. to lure you in. And there’s a whole line of them, I’ve never seen them but I think there are five? Don’t know anything about the others. I just knew about Pulp because people keep saying things like, wow, you don’t smell THAT every day. 🙂

  12. I guess I might qualify as one of those ‘elegantly restrained’ holiday decorators; I used to have quite the Christmas ornament habit. Nowadays I pick my colors or theme (last year’s was crystal and silver, this year looks like red and burgundy), and do up the house accordingly. However, the crystal tree last year was dripping in real crystal, as was the gold tree 2 years ago, so the decorations at our house look very nice, but are less than kid/cat/dog friendly. I made my own tree skirt last year to keep with the theme, and trimmed it with chandelier drops, which ended up being not so fab an idea once they got walked on while gathering presents!

    • Wow, it’s not exactly the way we do things around here 🙂 but it sure sounds beautiful. Can I come visit? I like the kid-unfriendly part.

    • Sure–the SO and I love visitors! We’re having a thing on the 13th; if you’re interested send me an e-mail.

  13. Hey, Pulp is BIG, but I really like the darn thing. It doesn’t last forever on me, i seem to eat it, but it does last a good amount of time, and I swear I got a lot more rhubarb than anything else. It was tangy and I just kept resniffing. I’m thinking… it may be a good combo.

    I need to drag my tree up this week. I’m not sure I’m anywhere near nodding distance of tasteful. I like my tree to be beautiful, and my outdoor decorations to be menaciningly tactless.

    • Rhubarb. That’s a good descriptor. In fact I think Robin/NST got rhubarb. Mmmm, I could go for a piece of strubarb pie right now … yeah, is THIS the year I get the giant rotating light-up carousel inflatable with the fake snow blowing around inside of it? Or the sno-globe version? 😕 Cheese would be really psyched to see that on the lawn when he returns.

  14. I have yet to encounter Pulp, but since I tend to like big smelly attitude scents, it’s surely worth a try.

    There is nothing remotely elegant or decor-driven about my Christmas decorations. Everything we display is homemade. I have decorations my mother and father made as children, I made as a child, my husband made as a child, and my son made as a child. Some were even inclusions from childhood friends. All of them are loved and carefully preserved. Our look may be chaotic and primitif, but we derive endless pleasure from retelling the stories that go with each of the decorations every year. In a way, it’s an oral history of our family preserved through holiday decorations.

    • Ah, I love your tree. In fact, those are some of the most precious ornaments I have. I have a gold-painted walnut that was literally the only ornament my mother had from her childhood tree. They were too poor to buy them so they made their own. You can imagine how precious that little painted walnut is to me. And I have an ornament or two my 86-year-old father made, and some I made as a child. And of course, those my children made. An all-handcrafted primitive tree is a beautiful sight. 😡

  15. HA — but I’d go through a bottle in no time, in fact, I drained my big spray sample pretty quickly because it just made me smile! And the perfect antidote to gray winter weather. That said, I don’t know that it’s what I’d think to put on before leaving the house.

    • Clearly some of us are having a more civil relationship with Pulp than others. :d I dabbed literally one drop on my arm and found myself wishing hours later that I hadn’t. But on Louise it was strong but not overwhelming, and a really fabulous grapefruit with a hint of berry.

  16. I spritzed Pulp on myself at Barneys two weeks ago and it didn’t kill me. It was very potent fig and something tangy (rhubarb? cranberry?), and it lasted ALL DAY. The SA actually told me he recommends people spray it on themselves and wear it for a day before buying, because it is so strong and persistent, not to mention weird. I will not be purchasing, but it was interesting. The only other one I tried was Chamfur, the incense one, but it was meh. Rather light and watery for an incense.

    • I would have liked a little more of the dimension some others are getting, specifically the coconutty bits of tiare, but still not sure I could make it work on me. :”> It is, as Tim Gunn says, a lot of look.

  17. I think I need to try this, because tangy, tart fruit sometimes sounds good for those days when I need an extra shot of PEP, and especially if there’s rhubarb in the mix (loved CdG Rhubarb, even though that has a creamy vibe). Winter might be the perfect time for this scent, no? (And yes, I’m dealing with Southern California winter, but winter nonetheless.) I believe a small decant is going on the wishlist…

    • You know what? This would smell awesome on a guy. Not to generalize, but it seems to me that men often tone down some of the more extreme fragrances. I think you should try it if you get a chance, let me know how it works out!

      • With all the buzz, I’ll surely be getting some Pulp before winter’s over. Also, my skin does eat up perfume: with most scents I’m part of Kevin’s “10-Spritz Club.” (God help the world if what I’m really experiencing is olfactory fatigue and I’m dousing myself outrageously — but the officemates haven’t complained yet.)

  18. Seriously, you find this tart? Lingonberries?? I think it’s something like a sweeter, heavier, louder, more obviously tropical kissing-cousin to the golden nectar of Bois de Paradis… Quite nice, but yes, a bit too much. It’s a fruity fragrance I could actually wear, though, and that’s saying quite a lot.

    • Reading these comments there are clearly folks who get the more creamy, coconutty aspect of tiare, which Louise and I and others definitely didn’t. Something that might have made the ride a little smoother, although at that volume it’s hard to say. Yeah, I’m not a big fruity fan either.

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