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Ben Gorham on evoking a city in a scent: Byredo’s Mumbai Noise

Ben Gorham on evoking a city in a scent: Byredo’s Mumbai Noise

10/19/2021 5:02:00 PM

Ben Gorham on evoking a city in a scent: Byredo ’s Mumbai Noise

In an exclusive interview, Byredo founder Ben Gorham discusses his Indian heritage, translating that personal history into scent, and why he feels it is important to champion the work of young arti...

 – and to champion the work of up-and-coming creatives.Now, Gorham has just launched one of his most personal creations yet: Mumbai Noise, a scent inspired by his childhood trips to visit his mother’s family. And while theis an intimate portrayal of Gorham’s own life, like all Byredo launches it also has a broader aim.  

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Ben Gorham on Mumbai: memories and modernityTo create the launch campaign, the brand enlisted the young photographer Ashish Shah to offer a vision of Mumbai’s creative subcultures and contemporary youth movements, scenes that tend to receive little exposure in mainstream Western culture. 

Here, Gorham discusses his Indian heritage, translating that personal history into scent, and why he feels it is important to champion the work of young artists. Wallpaper*: Why did you want to create a fragrance that expressed your Indian heritage?  headtopics.com

Ben Gorham:There are many of my memories and odes to India woven into our collections, but Mumbai Noise perhaps has the most overt link to my childhood trips to [the Mumbai suburb of] Chembur. It was a place I went to spend time with my grandmother and the memories are vivid. Mumbai hits you the minute you get off the plane, it’s a sensory overload. The smells and the noise and the motion of the city as it moves at this intense pace. It has an overwhelming sense of place that you just can’t escape. 

W*: Why did you want to work with Ashish Shah on this campaign? BG:I was drawn to Ashish because of the modernity and reality of his work and his distinct lens on his home country. Beyond the scent, I wanted the campaign to capture the hearts and minds of contemporary India. Mumbai has evolved at an astounding pace – it changed drastically in the years that I didn’t visit – yet the way the rest of the world continues to depict India remains so clichéd. 

The narrative has been stuck on poverty and mysticism for eons, yet when you visit, the city is brimming with young creatives, fashion designers, drag artists and contemporary dancers. There is a vivid counterculture and these are the people that Ashish photographs, this is the community he embodies in Mumbai. And that’s what I wanted to capture and share with the world. Mumbai in all its fragmented modernity, never escaping its rich traditions but always evolving, always with its strong sense of place.

W*: What memories were you replaying in your mind as you made this fragrance? BG: These are very warm memories, laced with a childlike haze. Mumbai will always be an experience rooted in family for me; time spent with my mother, my grandmother and my aunts. [Yet while] it was familial and welcoming, I felt small in this bustling metropolis, completely overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and headtopics.com

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and rain and colour. I wanted Mumbai Noise to capture that tension – tradition and innovation, familiarity and the unknown. W*: What are the specific scents you used to translate those memories into a fragrance?  Read more: Wallpaper* »

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