Every niche perfume brand thrives on its evolved aesthetic. When they want to color outside the lines their recourse is to release a new collection. In 2015 Byredo creative director Ben Gorham wanted to make a set of perfumes which had more presence in an extrait de parfum concentration. The Night Veils collection was born. Byredo Tobacco Mandarin is the seventh member.
Much of Byredo’s general aesthetic is built on a more expansive scaffolding. What sets the Night Veils releases apart is they are much more compact. That leads to fragrances which feel like a more personal experience from the brand. Perfumer Jerome Epinette can translate the aesthetic he has helped build with Mr. Gorham into something which simmers. Tobacco Mandarin is a riff on the spiced citrus style popular in the fall. M. Epinette wraps it in tobacco and oud.
The spiced citrus is the titular mandarin along with coriander at first which gives it some initial life. That doesn’t last long as cumin comes around to blunt that. The cumin here carries that dirty sweat scent profile. With the fruit and coriander it forms a slightly odd version of a clove orange. I smell the cumin and coriander when I pay attention, but they also do a creditable imitation of clove when I’m not focused on it. The tobacco comes next in its extraordinarily rich narcotic form. It must be this way because the spicy citrus needs an equal to stand up to it. To give the dried leaf some support M. Epinette tunes an oud accord towards the slightly medicinal profile of oud. A resinous woody base comes through olibanum and sandalwood.
Tobacco Mandarin has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Tobacco Mandarin was a great choice for me to wear on these early chilly mornings. The spiced citrus accord and frost on the pumpkin seem made for each other. There is also that contained feel which is quite appealing as well. Tobacco Mandarin feels like a perfume equivalent of a comfy wool sweater, one that is a little scratchy.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Byredo.
Byredo has been one of those niche brands with a very consistent aesthetic. Creative Director Ben Gorham and perfumer Jerome Epinette have collaborated successfully in creating that distinct brand identity. For that reason, I was interested when in the Fall of 2015 Byredo announced a collection of three extrait de parfums called the Night Veils collection. The concept was to focus on three separate floral notes in an extrait formulation. This is noteworthy because the main Byredo collection has a very expansive opaque quality to it. Extraits are the opposite of that as they are much more closed up and wear very close to the skin.
Ben Gorham (photo: Andreas Ohlund via Wall Street Journal.com)
The three perfumes released were Casablanca Lily which is a plum and lily focused perfume; Reine de Nuit explores the intersection of rose, saffron, and blackcurrant buds. Both were nice but neither really intrigued me enough to wear them for a couple of days. The third one, Midnight Candy had me from the beginning as it combines four of my favorite floral notes; orris, jasmine, violet, and osmanthus into a sultry seductive stunner of an extrait.
Midnight Candy felt unlike the other two Night Veils releases because M. Epinette worked each phase of development in well-chosen pairs of notes. I particularly like when M. Epinette does this because at its best it adds unique harmonies to notes. In Midnight Candy it is all made into a creature of the night.
The first pair to be noticed is a rooty duet of carrot and orris. This has been used before but in this case M. Epinette does accentuate the rooty quality of both ingredients. The vegetal sweetness of the carrot keeps the powdery nature of orris well in hand. In the heart violet come to the fore with jasmine hurrying to catch up. In all of the Night Veils extraits each phase builds and encapsulates the previous one. In Midnight Candy it means that the orris and carrot provides a candied aspect to the violet. This is them given depth with the late arriving jasmine. In truth I was already thrilled with Midnight Candy. M. Epinette added a figurative cherry on my fragrant sundae with osmanthus as the final floral. The leathery -apricot quality provides a faux animalic effect which is sweetened a bit with vanilla. Once this all assembles it feels like a candied violet rooted in the ground at midnight.
Midnight Candy has 12-14 hour longevity and low sillage.
Midnight Candy has provided a successful departure from the perfumes which have defined Byredo for the last nine years. I have enjoyed its dark take on violet immensely.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Barney’s.