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.