Suzanne's Perfume Journal

July 28, 2010:

Byredo Green: The Scent of Self-Assurance,

Impeccably Groomed

Back in the nineties, when I was working for the development office (development being professional speak for  fundraising ) of the local university, I had a boss who confessed to me on a couple of occasions, “I just love it when you wear your blue power-suit.” This suit was very blue indeed: an electric blue, made out of incredibly fine wool, its intense hue demanding I keep everything else low key. (For suavity’s sake, I paired it with a sleek black turtleneck and black high-heels.) Hearing it referred to as my “power-suit” was quite funny, because nothing about my persona suggested I had any real clout, nor did my actual job: I had landed a position a few notches above my previous one of staff assistant—just high enough that it required me to attend some officious monthly meetings where I was expected to rub elbows with my fellow development officers across the university and basically rah-rah (without too much gusto, but in that cool academic way) as a microphone was passed around the ballroom and we announced the progress of our multi-million-dollar goals towards the capital campaign.

Since I dreaded these meetings and the hobnobbing with higher-ups that was expected each time we went, I suppose the blue suit did function much like a power-suit. I purchased it expressly so I could feel a sense of dapper confidence in such settings, and I have to say, it delivered.  There were three other expensive suits that I rotated among for these meetings, one a tweedy Ralph Lauren with a fur collar to die for, but none could hold a candle to the daring sense of assertiveness that the blue suit gave me. Nice threads really do make the woman; I don’t care what anyone says. Sure, they’ll never replace that rock-solid foundation known as self-esteem, but they are wonderful props that can bolster a less-than-robust ego and deliver a sense of ownership for the short-haul.

Perfumes are that way, too. If I had to suit up and go back to that office today, I certainly wouldn’t be returning in my blue power-suit, but I would be donning some Byredo Green. (Especially on the days of the Big Meeting.) Notes of orange petitgrain, sage, jasmine, rose, honeysuckle, violet, tonka, almond and musk deliver a green fragrance that reminds me of crisp, well-tailored clothes and the kind of tranquil self-assurance that trumps power plays. Byredo Green is not an intense green scent, as the name might lead you to believe. It comes across as being as “white” as it is green—something I’d describe as an old-time Wimbledon style of green, where emerald tennis lawns meet pleated-white tennis skirts, and both are impeccably groomed. In other words, this is not the kind of fragrance intended to draw a picture frame around the great outdoors, but an urbane green with just enough of a suggestion of the outdoors to make it smell sporting and evince a feeling of the casually formal.  (“Polo, anyone?”)

Byredo Green gets off to a sparkling start thanks to the bitter-citrus lift of petitgrain, its inherent green properties combining nicely with the austere note of sage. Where petitgrain leaves off, jasmine and honeysuckle chime in, adding their own lilting qualities to the greenery, keeping it buoyant rather than dense, yet never going so far as to convey sweetness. Always there is enough astringent sage, cool violet (and grassy galbanum, methinks) to effect a reined-in, almost above-it-all aloofness to the whole affair.The clean musk at the base of Byredo Green, while not usually my cup of tea, works well here. Sillage is of medium strength, leaning towards the softer side of medium, making it office friendly. I should note here that Byredo Green elegantly evades gender issues; my husband wears this fragrance often and every bit as well as I do. In fact, the literature that accompanies Green suggests that it was created with a masculine figure in mind—not that I pay these things any mind of my own, and why should I?

I once wore a suit to work. Now I work at home and wear whatever suits me.

Byredo Green eau de parfum can be purchased at Barneys.com, $195 for 100 ml. I bought my bottle from the Byredo boutique in Stockholm. 

Image, top of page, is a detail of the print (above) by the amazing Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen (1886-1957), taken from his fairytale book In Powder and Crinoline, published in 1913.  I'm a huge Kay Nielsen fan, by the way.


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