Byredo Animalique and Black Saffron

Hang on to your hats, there’s an actual niche perfume review today!

I stopped by Cos Bar downtown with a friend to browse the makeup – I’ve gotten back into it a bit, which will probably wind up as a separate post. In the meantime, I’d forgotten they carry several lines of fragrance in their store; there’s Tom Ford, MFK, Jo Malone, some other lines as well.

But today we’re talking about the new Byredo, Animalique, and an older one, Black Saffron.

I have a soft spot for Byredo. I sniffed it early on in my perfume mania, when I was still being gobsmacked by what fragrance could be if you browsed outside, say, Sephora at the time. I was either in New York City or L.A. and I thought Byredo was interesting in a quieter way than, say, Serge Lutens (which I love but Serge can be a lot, particularly the classics). I remember being particularly taken with Gypsy Water and Bal D’Afrique.

Animalique was launched I think earlier this year? It’s pretty new, anyway. And of course I had to try it given that name.  Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Suede, Violet, Mimosa, Amber, Sandalwood, Tobacco Leaves.  Here’s some of the blurb from their website: “Animalique plugs into the common element in all humanity: our authentic essence and primal instincts …  the fragrance takes its final plunge into the feral atmosphere of suede, amber and tobacco leaf.” Uh, okay, Byredo! Calm down.

If you’re expecting something animalic, and I was from the name, you’ll need to shift your expectations. To me there’s nothing remotely raw or feral about it – it’s a longhaired, floofy cat of a fragrance rather than a tiger. It starts off with almost a splash cologne vibe, and the violet is so prominent it’s the note I picked out immediately. I thought “huh, that’s … not what I was hoping for,” and went back to browsing and considering trying another fragrance or three.

Over the next few minutes, though, it shifts, and for awhile it’s violet and suede and an earthy amber, and that’s my favorite bit, it’s lovely. It’s a soft comfort scent, a cashmere sweater of a thing. It’s cozy but also luxe-smelling (which it should be at $290 for 100ml.)  It’s more than a skin scent but so quiet I think you’d have to be pretty close by to smell it on someone else. It’s the sort of scent I’d want waiting for me if I buried my face against the neck of someone I loved. On me it dries down eventually to a tobacco-suede with something sweet (probably the mimosa) in the background; longevity is decent rather than incredible. The very nice SA made me a little decant so I could try it over several days.

The other decant I got was Black Saffron, which came out about ten years ago when I was in the middle of getting divorced and my attention was diverted from perfume. I love saffron in fragrance, and I couldn’t remember this one at all, so the SA sent me home with some of that as well. Notes are Saffron, Juniper Berries, Grapefruit; Leather, Black Violet; Raspberry, Cashmeran and Vetiver.

They were an interesting juxtaposition. Black Saffron starts out considerably sweeter on me, all citrus and violet and just a wisp of saffron, which I admit disappointed me. That bit’s over fairly quickly and then it shifts in a more unisex direction, all suede and woodsy, spicy musk. Oddly, I can smell the saffron more prominently then, although maybe that’s just my nose finding it again after the fruity-floral top fades a bit. It gets almost bitter on my skin after an hour or so. I wanted to love it, and I … did not. Or maybe it just didn’t love my skin.

How do you feel about Byredo? I know some folks are not fans and that’s fine! I do think it’s nice that they’ve kept (as far as I can tell) their original line-up and aren’t d/c’ing things all the time.


  • Patty says:

    Oh, another thing about Byredo. I grabbed one of their Christmas candles, Choco Mascarpone or something like that. I’d never tried it, and I lit it and went to work captioning a Jets game and about 30 minutes in, I’m thinking WTH is that? I’m not sure if I liked the smell or not. I was also burning a Glasshouse candle too (love those), knew that was all wrong. Well, I was committed, had to get it to do the burn level before I could extinguish. Three hours later, I finall blew it out before I went to bed, and my house reeked of that smell. I did not hate it, ti was like a bitter chocolate with a little dash of cheese. I’ve decided I like it, but the throw was incredible. Are all of their candles like that? If so, I need to investigate further. it was just an incredible with how much it stunk up the joint!

  • Patty says:

    I was surprised at how much I liked Animalique. Expected feral but got all cozy inside of my expensive suede purse instead. I need to revisit Black Saffron, I always overlook it and am not sure why. Probably just doesn’t seem very defined? So I just can’t remember it!

  • taxi says:

    When Byredo was in infancy, I bought Oud Immortelle because it smelled good at Barney’s. Later, it seemed to masculine for my taste & also had a whiff of tobacco which I don’t like. Later I bought La Tulipe. It’s nice but not a knockout & doesn’t have much longevity on me. I haven’t sniffed any other Byredos & none of my local stores stock the brand.

    • March says:

      I was surprised to see it, it’s not a brand I run into (I think Barneys had it?) I think Tulipe is lovely but agree it doesn’t last all that long.

  • SpringPansy says:

    Hi March, I own and love both Gypsy Water and Bal d’Afrique. I also found Pulp quite interesting but ultimately I wasn’t comfortable wearing it — it’s a big bowl of overripe fruit on me.

    The other one I really like that I think is a little bit under the radar is Palermo. It’s a fresh bitter orange musk. It’s light and (at least according to Fragrantica), some people feel it’s not worth the money because “it doesn’t last.” But I prefer to wear perfume close to the skin, and I always thought it lasted just fine. Now I think I’d like to try Animalique as well.

    • March says:

      Pulp! I remember how wild that was, and I loved to spritz it on in a store but never wanted to own it. I don’t think I’ve tried Palermo, I can’t remember if it’s at Cos Bar. It sounds delightful, if they have it I will sniff it.

      • Tom says:

        Pulp! That was the one that I really liked, if only for it’s giggle-inducing opening of stabbing a ripe mandarine with an orange popsicle. But olfactory humor didn’t make me want to spend $295

  • Dina C. says:

    The only Byredo I remember loving was La Tulipe which has that florist shop, stemmy green Spring scent that I’m so fond of. I’m so glad to hear your nose is working better, March. Thanks for the nice reviews!

    • March says:

      I totally forgot about La Tulipe! I was very fond of that one … I need to look at their website, I wonder if they still make it. Cos Bar only had a few of their scents.

  • cinnamon says:

    I’m not a huge fan of Byredo, though I definitely test things when somewhere the line is available. The idea of a cashmere sweater just sounds wonderful for this time of year. I would test the first one on that basis alone.

    • March says:

      Cashmere sweater scents are lovely this time of year! I have two kinds of comfort — the foody/sweet scents, and sweater scents.

  • Sarah says:

    Super Cedar. Old scent? Layer it with lots. Or huff it on my husband. 2days in is best.

  • Maya says:

    Not a fan.

  • Tara C says:

    I like a few of their scents, but none of them are truly great, and several are so gratingly synthetic I can’t bear to be near them. Animalique didn’t work on me, actually nothing since Bibliothèque has really worked. Black Saffron smells like Tom Ford Tuscan Leather on me.

    • March says:

      Oh that’s interesting, I can’t remember what Tuscan Leather smelled like at all, I’ll have to compare them (Cos Bar has it as well, I’m pretty sure.) Love Bibliotheque.

  • Musette says:

    I remember trying like a lima bean to love Byredo – but NOPE! Not even ‘ew’… just… nope. Mojave Ghost was the closest I came to liking one of their perfumes – but even that was a middling ‘okay’


    • March says:

      Hey, to each her own! I mentioned it below but I sniffed a fragrance on a random guy recently and it turned out to be Mojave Ghost. He smelled fantastic.

  • Sun Mi says:

    I actually really love Black Saffron, though I’ll probably never get through the big ole bottle that I have, haha. Animalique sounds nice, though. I struggle with headaches with a lot of fragrances, so quiet scents are a-ok for me!

    • March says:

      I’m glad you’ve found some fragrances that work for you — those headaches are no fun. I wish Black Saffron loved me more.

  • Tom says:

    I like the. But somehow never enough to actually buy a bottle. Probably the price point? It’s not super high (for these days) but I have to draw the line somewhere..

  • Sarah B. Patton says:

    I love Bal d’Afrique! And also Mojave Ghost grew on me over time.