Byredo’s concept as a brand never stuck with me as anything particularly noteworthy. The image of the brand is easy to disregard, with the scent itself becoming my focal problem.
There are enough blah scents on the market, and for a niche output to offer unexceptional creations with artsy names and less-than-clever compositions (which have been seen before) makes for ultimately disappointing works.
Despite this, La Tulipe was a surprising work. Instead of producing novel accords, Byredo happens to rehash niche trends and styles several months too late. The result: exhausted noses which belong to disappointed individuals with a penchant for identifying and comparing patterns between multiple fragrances across different brands. These Byredo fragrances offer nothing in the form of reinvention; it isn’t reduction either, but rather diminution. For instance: Chembur plays with transparent vetiver, incense-wash (Sycomore; Timbuktu) yet ultimately feels hollow; and Bal d’Afrique, a gourmand vetiver, roasted and toasty à la Vetiver Tonka.
What makes La Tulipe interesting is that it offers adequate reinvention on a theme I love, merging it with a theme I am not so certain of. Gently easing a circular building block through a square mold produces reinvented tension. By pushing the crisp spring floral category through a series of filters: pallid and funerary, funky and aquatic, and through the musky heliotrope eau chaude (Read: here and here), facets of the original are brought forward and revealed, in itself becoming novel and interesting as a fragrant subject.
Photo by Byredo
The tulip flower does not have an overly pronounced scent. At best, the tulip is subtly sweet and crisp: a honeyed watery dew. Not quite as high pitched as lily of the valley nor as earthy as violet. The tulip in La Tulipe is a scent with curved edges, washed in an off-white and grey cocktail of woody vetiver, cashmeran, and heliotrope with a persistent and thin green line through rhubarb and peppy freesia. This warm grey and off-white hue adds a strong abstract bone to La Tulipe, diffusive yet dense, apparent yet totally alien. Pulling the herbaceous floral crunch down into a pillow of soft grey.
La Tulipe is adequately quiet yet shrill in that it moves the register of the note downwards, reminiscent of a blushing pallid face. Melancholic yet hopeful with stifling funeral aspects, and somewhat expected (I am reminded of Kenzo’s Flower), moving quickly, departing with an aquatic overtone and crunchy, woody green mint.
A scent with a short yet clear trajectory, familiar but unexpected. In other and more direct words – not an egregious mess, feeling and smelling like a work not seen before but wonderfully predictable. Non-transformative, painfully linear and completely unpretentious with an array of themes going on.
Subjective rating: 3.5 / 5
Objective rating: 3/5