Byredo 1996: 'a fragrance so moreish, I’m morphing into a monogamist'

Byredo 1996 (Lydia Silver )
Byredo 1996 (Lydia Silver )

Like any self-respecting ’fumehead, I am olfactively promiscuous. Get outta here with that ‘signature scent’ folderol — I contain multitudes and so does my fragrance wardrobe. I wouldn’t want to wear the same perfume every day any more than I’d want to eat the same meal or listen to just one song for rest of my life.

Out of my ‘tightly edited’ collection of around 50 favourites, I’ve usually got five in high rotation. Cues for selecting the day’s scent include: aspiration, manipulation, delusion, confusion, horniness, violence, self-belief, self-relief. And the season.

Autumn’s darkening chill demands comfort and sensuality, which is why now I’m reaching regularly for 1996 by Byredo. 1996 is a tough but tender almost-gourmand that smells like lickable leather, at once dry and wet, bitter and sweet, cold and hot, green and purple.

It opens on spiky pepper and crisp juniper, before speedily billowing into a chalky-on-the-verge-of-dusty iris root. The effect of iris is luxe and contained, like well-manicured hands folded into each other, a signet ring on one aristocratic pinky. Here iris’s restraint is played against the syrupy thickness of amber and patchouli, resulting in an arid viscosity that beguiles.

Smokier and puffier the longer it’s on, 1996 becomes a diffusive halo that announces my arrivals and ennobles my departures. I love it, and this has become a problem for me. It’s so moreish, I’m morphing into a monogamist.

BYREDO 1996 eau de parfum, £140 for 50ml (