Byredo Flowerhead ~ perfume review & quick poll

Byredo Flowerhead ad visual

..this project was sparked six years ago when I gave away my cousin at her Indian wedding, which was my first traditional Indian wedding. This fragrance was about capturing the idea of an Indian bride, rather than just the wedding and I called it Flowerhead, because it was really the fictional memory that I can imagine from my own Indian wedding. The idea of marrying someone you don’t know was very interesting. There’s anxiety and excitement, and I described this person as a ‘flowerhead’, because the bride is completely covered in floral hair arrangements. — Ben Gorham of Byredo1

Flowerhead is the latest from niche line Byredo, not a brand known, I don't think, for their florals, although they've done a few, including La Tulipe and the newer Inflorescence. Flowerhead got my attention in particular because it's centered on rose, jasmine and tuberose, three floral notes I adore. Plus, the Flowerhead visuals are lovely, and the idea of a fragrance inspired by flower garlands at an Indian wedding, what's not to like? So I tried not to be dissuaded by Gorham's statement that it was "done in a modern way" in contrast to most floral fragrances which are "old-fashioned and not modern and smell like grandma"2 — not exactly words to warm a perfumista's heart.3

Fear not, Flowerhead is modern, but it's not too modern. It starts big (almost big enough for grandma), with a burst of tart berries and citrus (the notes: angelica seeds, lingonberry, lemon, sambac jasmine, green notes, rose petals, tuberose, suede and ambergris). The opening floral notes are loud but not heavy; it's dewy and greenish and pretty, and very springlike.

As it settles, it quiets significantly, especially after the first 30 minutes or so (by which time the berries have gone their way as well). And it warms slightly, but never more than that: Flowerhead stays very much in springtime territory. The rose adds some fullness without calling attention to itself; the jasmine (at center stage) and the tuberose (off to the side) are done in a middle-of-the-road sort of way: this isn't a scrubbed-clean floral like La Tulipe, but Flowerhead is hardly a hothouse diva either. I did not find it even slightly indolic, but of course you might, depending on your tolerance for skank.4 The base is pale and mild and woody-musky, with just the vaguest suggestion of something like suede.

Verdict: Flowerhead is lovely. It's modern enough, but doesn't go so far as many modern florals (i.e. it doesn't smell like a dryer sheet or air freshening product). If you've never found your perfect spring floral, do give it a try. It's not going on my buy list simply because I've got this genre pretty well covered in my collection already. Still, I'd happily wear it if I had some.

If you want something modern but with a bit more floral punch, you might try Septimanie Perfumes Pavillon des Fleurs.

The poll: name a pretty spring floral you think everyone should try.

Byredo Flowerhead bottle

Byredo Flowerhead was developed by perfumer Jérome Epinette. It is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($145 / $220). For buying information, see the listing for Byredo under Perfume Houses.

 1. Via Cosmetics Business. The description at the Byredo website: "Flowerheads are strung together on giant leis, including Jaimala garlands which are exchanged between bride and groom as a token of mutual respect. Couples are often showered with petals by the groom’s brother for spiritual protection. Flowers are abundant; from the mandap wedding canopy, which is entirely covered in exotic blooms, to the spiritual pooja rooms and verandahs, the explosion of colour is wildly celebratory and the scent is overwhelming."

2. Via Q&A: Byredo’s Ben Gorham on His New Scent, Smelling Strangers, and More at New York Magazine.

3. Or at least, perfumistas like me, who are hoarding their last precious drops of vintage Diorissimo and fearing the day when all we'll have left is modern florals.

4. More than once I've said something wasn't indolic, only to be told in the comments that I was crazy. My tolerance is pretty high. If yours isn't, try before you buy. You should always try before you buy anyway, right?

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72 Comments

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  1. Coumarin says:

    Sounds lovely and I can’t wait to try it. That said, my answer for the poll, Jour d’Hermes, probably fills my fresh floral shelf all by itself.

    Also, I wonder how these compare to By Killian’s light, fresh florals, which didn’t suit me despite their beauty.

    • Robin says:

      Hmmm. I find this more interesting…the By Kilian florals mostly leave me cold, even though they’re beautiful. I think the only one I’d like to own is the Prelude to Love. But bet lots of perfumistas would disagree :-)

  2. thegoddessrena says:

    Pretty spring florals everyone shouldtry –Pretty Machine and Opardu and my current minor obsession Or et Noir

    • Robin says:

      Oh, I’ll vote for Pretty Machine too (that’s Kerosene, for anyone who wants to know).

    • galbanumgal says:

      Really like Opardu, but it only lasts about 10 mins on me. Funny, because their Antonia scent is extremely long-lived. Suggest Chamade for spring, and though I don’t have the fortitude to spring for a bottle, Cradle of Light (CB I Hate Perfume).

      • Robin says:

        I need to go look up Cradle of Light, I know I must have tried it but can’t remember a thing about it.

  3. Lise says:

    My favorite springtime floral is Frederic Malle En Passant. Very, very pretty lilac.

  4. ringthing says:

    Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleillé is a pretty spring floral everyone should try, because it’s lovely, very well made, not found in major department stores and reasonably priced. All my opinion, of course. I need to try Pretty Machine, the pretty floral side of my collection is lacking and I’ve been impressed with the Kerosene scents I’ve tried.

    • Robin says:

      I’m sorry they stopped making Pretty Machine in the lovely new bottle — it was such a great match with the scent.

    • mals86 says:

      Jour Ensoleille is wonderful, but I wouldn’t call it springy – it makes me think of autumn sunshine. :) Might be personal references, though.

  5. songeuse says:

    I would guess most perfumistas have already tried these, but two fragrances I love that remind me of spring are Le Temps d’une Fête and Chamade.

    • Aparatchick says:

      Yes, “a pretty spring floral you think everyone should try” says Le Temps d’une Fete to me, too.

    • solanace says:

      Those are my two picks, too.

    • Robin says:

      Parfums de Nicolai & Guerlain respectively, if anyone wants to know :-)

    • egabbert says:

      I only just, finally tried Chamade this past week. The drydown is SO PRETTY!

      I also like Paco Rabanne Metal in spring.

      • Holly says:

        Yay for another Metal fan! Thanks … I need to pull this one out.

  6. floragal says:

    Oh boy, I see a not insignificant order of samples in the works from this poll. Got my pen & pad ready ;)

    Love the name Flowerhead!

    • Robin says:

      Yes, fantastic name.

    • Holly says:

      I know! I’m feeling simultaneously thrilled and dismayed …

  7. missionista says:

    My vote for pretty spring floral is Annick Goutal’s Matin d’Orage.

    • Robin says:

      And actually, AG has lots of them! Including Folavril, perfect for today.

  8. Zazie says:

    I suppose by “spring florals” most people expect pretty and green tinged bouquets of fresh flowers – the only perfume I love in such category is Kai…
    But I suppose I have my seasons mixed up- I never understood Chamade as a spring scent (it smells so much like fall to me!!lol!), and am happy wearing Fracas in the hottest days of summer…
    I have smelled only two perfumes that make me think “spring”, none is particularly floral: Ninfeo mio and herba fresca (is the latter a perfume or a smell? ;))
    Honorable mentions go to une fleur de cassie and carnal flower – they lean slightly towards spring to my nose, albeit a rainy and windy kind of spring…

    • Robin says:

      Yes, it’s all personal: Kai, Ninfeo Mio & Herba Fresca are all summer scents to me!

    • kayparis says:

      Rainy and windy spring :) I like to think of spring as daffodils blooming out of fresh earth and fresh cut grass. In my neck of the woods it’s been fluctuating between morning frost and full on summer with bugs and humidity, so I haven’t gotten to enjoy that this year.

      • Zazie says:

        yes to daffodils blooming out of fresh earth and cut grass!!!
        …especially if the package comes without allergies from my part!!! ;)

  9. mals86 says:

    Just tried DelRae Wit yesterday and found it absolutely spring-perfect. Gorgeous. Might have to have a bottle.

    I see some people have mentioned Le Temps d’une Fete, which is *almost* a year-round favorite for me since there’s never a time I don’t adore it. There’s something about the floral heart in Wit (jasmine and narcissus) that reminded me of LTdF, though it doesn’t have the green notes of LTdF, or its woody drydown.

    Mary Greenwell Plum is another one wonderful for spring, and Chamade is terrific too. I’m really looking forward to trying Flowerhead.

  10. Abyss says:

    My favourite early spring floral is L’Eau d’Hiver. Then Diorissimo later on.

    What I’m yet to find is a perfect summer floral!

    • Robin says:

      That is harder, if we stick with white florals. Most florals that actually smell like summer to me are in fact too heavy to wear in summer (Diptyque Olene comes to mind).

  11. Undina says:

    Spring florals from me: Jo Malone French Lime Blossom, Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley and Guerlain Champs Elysées.

  12. Holly says:

    I can’t get enough of Sous le toit de Paris, so I’ll continue to wear it into the spring with the excuse being the violet note. It’s not what I would call fresh, but I find it charming and mutable, like spring.

  13. Rappleyea says:

    Great review, Robin, but sorry, I can’t forgive Byredo for Pulp! ;-)

    I’m fourthing or fifthing Chamade for Spring floral. I also love Jicky and Philtre d’Amour, which might be the “prettiest” of the group, although I *think* it may now be discontinued.

    • Robin says:

      Ha, whereas if I could have just one bottle from Byredo, it would be Pulp. But even I know that’s ridiculous :-)

  14. poodle says:

    Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain and After My Own Heart by Ineke.

    • Robin says:

      Does Jardins still smell the same? Would think it was reformulated (or twice) by now.

  15. Oakland Fresca says:

    Lots of great sniffs mentioned… but I want to add another Annick Goutal–Grand Amour. Perfect spring floral. Love it!

    N.A. For a time I had it mixed up w Quel Amour!, which I don’t like at all.

  16. annemarie says:

    That is a really strange image in the Flowerhead ad. It took me several glances to sort it out. Front or back of head? Is it meant to be a face formed in the flowers? Ack … need more coffee …

    A lot of my spring faves have been mentioned, but today I’m wearing Hermes’ Osmanthe Yunnan and I think it could work as a spring floral, though it’s autumn where I Iive. It’s such a happy, refreshing fragrance.

    • Robin says:

      It is odd, but fits with the idea of marrying someone you don’t know, maybe? Or of the ritual overwhelming individuality? Or whatever you want to make of it :-)

      And yes, one of the happiest fragrances.

    • PetronellaCJ says:

      I feel very prosaic, but I get Ronald McDonald from that picture ;). No Indian wedding at all.

      The fragrance sounds lovely though. Light florals often turn sour on me, but it’s always nice to try a new take.

      The other day Thierry Mugler Cologne connected perfectly with my spring feelings :).

      • annemarie says:

        Yeah, didn’t seem all that Indian in style to me.

  17. AnnE says:

    Currently, my vote goes to two Serge Lutens: Bas de Soie and de Profundis. I have no idea, other than the chrysanthemum note, why the latter should be associated with funerals. To me it is just the opposite – a lovely, uplifting, springy floral.

    • Robin says:

      Interesting, would not have thought of either!

  18. hajusuuri says:

    Spring florals for me are:

    Tauer Reverie au Jardin
    Tauer Zeta
    Puredistance Opardu
    Prada Oeulet No. 2 (I probably butchered the spelling on this one)
    Serge Lutens De Profundis

    (Hmmph, for someone who prefers gourmands, I may have too many florals in my collection)

    • Robin says:

      That’s 2 votes for de Profundis, which I never would have thought of.

  19. Joe says:

    I’m really curious about this one, Robin. Immediately, I wonder how similar it might be to Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs, which actually seems to have a slightly dirty/indolic vibe to it even though the scent itself quiets down fairly quickly. I find that one to be interesting because I definitely clearly smell aspects of all three of the flowers: tuberose, jasmine, rose.

    I like several Byredos, and I actually love La Tulipe. I find it more delicate than “scrubbed clean,” as that description to me means something very laundry musky. I actually have La Tulipe lotion on my buy list.

    I always think of AG Grand Amour as a terrific spring floral, probably because it contains hyacinth, though I gave my bottle away in favor of a large decant of Tom Ford Ombre de Hyacinth.

    One last thing: I can’t believe Ben Gorham actually said “smells like grandma.” Oh well…

    • Robin says:

      This one is both more ‘blended’ and also far lighter on the rose. I like the base of this one better — 3 Fleurs is really pretty but I just didn’t love it. But should try it again, don’t think I spent much time with it because it wasn’t love at first sniff.

      Wish L’Artisan would bring back their Jacinthe des Bois, but not likely!

  20. kayparis says:

    ::Something Different::
    Three perfumes come to mind… And since I’m not a huge fan of florals they might seem off base to you true perfumistas(oes? Masculine form?)
    1. Tea Rose from Perfumer’s Workshop: cheap, cheerful, and only rose. Fragrance disappears off me quickly, so I can handle more than 1 or 2 sprays, but many people find it too strong for any kind of warm weather, just fyi.
    2. Stiletto Musk from Sula: unfortunately discontinued, but lovely for those of us who like musk and florals. One of my year round favorites. Also great layered with tea rose to freshen it a bit.
    3. Crushed by Tokyo Milk: I just got a sample the other day and it’s very woodsy/ earthy. Very light on the florals, but the visual I get is tiny wild flowers blooming out of a fallen tree. Almost smells like you’ve been gardening without any of the sweat that might create.

  21. nozknoz says:

    Early spring is tricky, because it’s still cold or cool. As you observed above re summer perfumes, florals that exemplify spring are too light. This is when I tend to wear green chypres and other bracing perfumes, such as Jean Patous. I like missionista’s idea of Annick Goutal, since AG florals have enough richness and depth for this weather.

    The floral I’ve actually been wearing that I think everyone should try is L’AP Seville a l’Aube. It’s almost seasonless, but works very well now. Of course, the night in Semana Santa (Holy Week) that inspired it would have taken place in spring, I think.

  22. bookgirl says:

    Un Coeur en Mai by Parfums MDCI is a gorgeous spring scent (if a bit pricey). Also love FM En Passant.

    I haven’t been all that charmed by the Byredos, to be honest, but I do find Flowerhead interesting. I may have to sample it at some point this spring.

  23. Omega says:

    So many on here making my test list!

    I will throw in Flora Nymphea by Guerlain.

    • Omega says:

      And Robin, I did end up really liking that Pleasures Flower bottle I complained about, lol..once I saw in person, I really liked it…too bad the juice was pretty blah to me.

      • Robin says:

        Oh good! I haven’t even smelled it yet, I’m behind.

  24. Rosewater says:

    Hi, Robin. You mentioned having the genre covered in your collection — which scents are those and any favorites among them? Thanks.

    • Robin says:

      Nobody mentioned one of my all time favorite spring florals: L’Artisan Chasse aux Papillons — I own that along with La Chasse Extreme (and Jacinthe des Bois, another perfect spring fragrance). And Jour d’Hermes for a more modern sort of spring floral. For muguet, Delrae Debut & vintage Diorissimo. For honeysuckle, Goutal Le Chevrefeuille.

      On the jasmine front but not necessarily spring-like, it’s still hard to beat Serge Lutens A La Nuit.

      Also true though that my collection is just so large that I’m only rarely tempted to add to it at all.

      • Omega says:

        May I ask how many are in your collection? You don’t gotta answer!

        • Robin says:

          I honestly don’t know. It’s more than a hundred but almost certainly less than two hundred, which is terrible (to me) but WAY less than many serious collectors. It’s all relative!

          And I’ve been giving stuff away, so it’s probably in the lower end of the range. But ideally I would like it to be closer to 50-75.

          Decants, who knows, I have a gajillion. But they go bad so quickly, frequently I go to wear something & it’s spoiled.

  25. dominika says:

    I don’t really do pretty spring florals… I don’t think I’ve got many in my collection. I did finally get a big bottle of L’Ombre dans l’Eau recently, which is probably the first perfume I’ve ever been tempted by that I’d consider light. I think it will be beautiful for spring. I’ve been wearing Terre d’Hermes a lot recently, too, which is a vetiver bomb on me that I’m really loving :D

    There isn’t much of the notion here where I live (in Egypt,) that spring or summer fragrances are better off being light and sparkly. I smell sweet amber, sandalwood and oud quite often on Cairo’s streets even on humid and hot days, and somehow they don’t feel that oppressive. Maybe it has a bit to do with culture – what we consider appropriate and fitting for each occasion. Though I do know a lot of Westerners who wear orientals in hot weather, and they can work if used sparingly.

    And, I love Pulp.

    • Robin says:

      Love L’Ombre :-)

      I don’t think I change my perfume wardrobe with the seasons as much as some people do — spring florals are more what I wear when I want to feel like spring, or remember spring, than to actually match the current weather.

  26. ErinK says:

    Great review, Robin! This sounds like something I will want to try! I love the color palette of the ad, but the name, although adorable, reminds me of the very disturbing film, Towelhead.

    Pretty spring florals: I am really enjoying Brit Rhythm, which I sampled – then bought – after reading your review, and which actually reminds me quite a bit of Prelude to Love.

    Another I love in spring is Bottega Veneta Eau Legere. (And Diorissimo, which goes without saying.)

    • Robin says:

      I have never heard of Towelhead & now I’m afraid to look it up ;-)

      Interesting comparison — will have to try them together.

  27. turbovivi says:

    I am sad to report that it smells exactly like a dryer sheet on me. Pretty but a little too pretty, bright and a little too bright. Snuggle the bear comes to mind.

    :(

    • Robin says:

      Oh, so sorry! So much for that, then…but money saved, right?

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