The In-Tray


Fragrance fans rejoice—Ben Gorham, the alchemist behind cult Swedish brand Byredo, is set to tempt your senses again with his latest release, the 1960s-inspired Velvet Haze. Gorham has been seducing the style set since launching his first fragrance in 2006, Green, created in homage to his father. In the same year he also released the blockbuster scent Gypsy Water which tops bestseller lists across the globe including here at MECCA.

Clearly fragrance was his calling but it almost didn’t happen. This modern perfumer was a star basketballer in his 20s, competing in professional ranks across Europe and the US. But following a chance meeting with perfumer Pierre Wulff, at a dinner party, Gorham decided to hang up his boots and follow his nose. “I had this idea to translate memories into scents,” he recalls. And aren’t we lucky he did.

On the eve of the launch of Velvet Haze, a heady mix of patchouli leaves, wild musk and coconut water, Gorham sat down with TMM to chat about music, his mum and why the alchemy of fragrance is an emotional journey.

TMM: Your latest fragrance Velvet Haze is inspired by 1960s music and the cultural freedom at the time. What do you love about that era?
BG: “Everything—being born in the late 1970s I never got to experience it, but I have a real fascination with the movement of that time. Hendrix was a cultural icon from the period that inspired this fragrance, I would definitely include him as an influence.”

TMM: Your Gypsy Water perfume topped MECCA’s bestseller fragrance list this year. Why do you think it has such a cult following?
BG: “I’m hoping it’s the smell, but I also suspect most people have the soul of a gypsy.”

TMM: What is your favourite fragrance in the collection?
BG: “They are a bit like children, I love them all equally.”

TMM: You went from professional basketball player to perfumer, that’s quite a leap. What do you love most about the perfume industry?
BG: “I never really consider it as an industry but Byredo became a way for me to express myself and I am grateful for that.”

TMM: Tell us about the process you go through to create a fragrance?
BG: “I write a brief for Jérôme Épinette—the perfumer, which sometimes takes forever. I can have an idea about something that smells interesting, and then it kind of lingers and grows and changes shape. At one point, it becomes a tangible brief. I take that to Jérôme and I try to convey the emotion that I feel. Then the perfumer creates the first version and if it captures the idea in any way we engage in a process of modification. This is the tedious part of creating a fragrance—especially because it’s an emotional process.”

TMM: You released the Unnamed Perfume to celebrate your 10-year anniversary. How much pressure was there on you to create a memorable scent to mark the milestone?
BG: “There really is no pressure on me when I am creating scents. I try to make sure our work has a reason for being and its unique—that’s the formula that has worked well for us.”

TMM: What was the one lesson you have learnt by taking a leap of faith to change career?
BG: “The same thing my mother always told me when I was growing up, that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

TMM: What three words sum you up?
BG: “Competitive, kind (ish) and curious.”

TMM: What is your favourite note?
BG: “Incense.”

TMM: What have your daughters taught you about life?
BG: “A true measure of time.”

TMM: You have said you would never create a fragrance for your daughters—why?
BG: “Because I created one for my wife and she never wears it.”

TMM: What achievement are you most proud of in life?
BG: “My children.”

TMM: Finish this sentence—fragrance is to me…
BG: “What basketball was.”

Story by Anita Quade.


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