In 2006, Ben Gorham launched maverick fragrance house Byredo, which immediately made an impact with the in-the-know crowd. As the fragrances’ tendrils have spread, shops have popped up across the globe – and although Paris is home to Byredo’s head office, London has been honoured with its European flagship, opening on September 17.
Fascinated by the heady spices and incenses on a trip to his mother’s hometown in India, Gorham knew he wanted to become a perfumer, despite having no formal training. Today, his scents – clean and modern, made with the best of ingredients – are created by top noses. As so often with outsiders, he pushes boundaries, attracting a cult following for fragrances like Bal d’Afrique, with rich, fresh florals over 1920s-style wood and amber, or Gypsy Water, inspired by the scents of soil, forest and campfires. More recently, leather goods have been added to Byredo’s range, from neat travel perfume cases to understated yet distinctive handbags, as well as a selection of homewares such as cashmere-mix blankets and handmade zebu-horn combs.
Byredo already has a small store in Stockholm and a flagship in New York, but Gorham says London – and Soho in particular – appeals “because of its authentic feel”, although finding the spacious corner site on Lexington Street took three years. Inside, limestone terrazzo and wide-board wooden floors support sculptural marble tables and aluminium-framed vitrines, while a floating staircase curves round like a Möbius band. Cowhide sofas invite lingering, and the whole space is lit by rows of modern-day strip lights that dim from forensically bright to romantically soft.
To celebrate the store and Byredo’s commitment to quality and craft, a unique version of its top-selling Blueprint bag has been crafted in glossy deep-burgundy alligator (£18,600). Both ladylike and achingly cool, it is the understated trophy bag of the year.