On the Nose
Byredo’s New Fragrance Smells Like the End of the World, in a Good Way
No one knows for sure what the end times are going to look like — but Ben Gorham, the man behind the fragrance house Byredo, has some thoughts about how they might smell.
His new fragrance, Eleventh Hour, is described as “an exploration around the smell of things ending, a journey to the end of time, the last perfume on Earth.” It’s name even feels like a reference to the Doomsday Clock. In an email, Gorham told Gear Patrol that he drew inspiration from the idea that rising sea levels and flooding might mean “that the last place on Earth would be the highest place on Earth, which brought me to some of these raw materials that I based the fragrance on.”
“Essentially, what making a perfume in that region solely would smell like,” he said.
That region is the Himalayas, and the fragrance that resulted from Gorham’s exploration of it is earthy and peppery without being overly sharp. It includes ban timmur (a pepper that grows in Nepal), carrot seeds, wild figs, tonka bean and cashmere wood, among other ingredients.
And while Gorham isn’t exactly a doomsday prepper, he did collaborate with a handful of outdoor brands on a few products to sell with the fragrance, which debuted in a pop-up shop in Paris this weekend. There, you’ll find specially branded Leatherman multitools, Stanley insulated bottles and lightweight titanium cookware from Vargo. (There are also sleeping bags, hiking boots and other things you might want to have on hand if civilization ever collapses.)
If it doesn’t? That’s OK too. Gorham told us this project was, in part, born from the gloomy narrative that’s taken hold of the world over the past few years. “But it’s also very much connected to this idea of nature as an escape,” he said. “I think my travels and interests have brought me into some pretty amazing places. And I would say that Eleventh Hour is really a combination of these two ideas.”