Bibliothèque by Byredo Eau de Parfum Review
Bibliothèque is a complex, nuanced composition - with a couple of surprising twists. It's the personal-perfume version of the house's most popular candle bearing the same name.
The scent manages to convince you at first that, yes, a library can smell of overripe fruit - like a yellow golden apple that's bletted forgotten on a book shelf for days on by an absent-minded student - and no less absent-minded librarians. You take in an explosion of natural-feeling aldehydes, straight from the fruit surrounded by impressions of ink and paper...
When you smell fruits like apples, pineaples or peaches, they can smell like that, perfumey, aldehydic. The brand lists peach and plum; these do not smell like your usual juicy incarnation of themselves. It's their more mature part which has been isolated. This is a very adult rendition of fruitiness, both pulpy and chemical - it is surgically removed fruitiness.
The composition also tells you that a library can smell as if it were going to be sacrificed on the bonfire of vanities; as if it could be a statement on the impermanence of books and papers which are so fragile next to fire, while deemed a threat by totalitarian regimes, which can decide to burn them down cf. "Fahrenheit 451" by François Truffaut. The danger that is smoke for paper filters through the door of the library.
After this perplexing intro, the perfume smells more like old papyrus and ancient Egyptian scribes - with a hint of mummy. It smells dusty, sweetish, vanillic. With the latter nuance, we are in a territory explored by the science of both book aromas and mummy smells. They both hint at archaeological vanilla, a result of decay.
The composition lingers on as almost the scent of dusty stones. It is lightly mineral-like. The perfumer Jérôme Epinette has made use of a finely-tuned violet note, which rather than to smell of violets, smells of old, dusty paper. You could look at Bibliothèque as a warped violet perfume - and certainly an edgy one.
By adding a leather accord, the perfumer has even managed to convey the scent of leather-bound books in full skin, with its slightly fatty, tallow-like aroma. In the drydown, it makes the scent smell, yes, amazing.
What you did not expect is that the eau de parfum would smell at one stage of fresh white violets transforming your surroundings into a cool oasis full of delicate soapiness and ice-cold powder. What you hardly anticipated is that Bibliothèque borrows the rose-papyrus-patchouli structure of Lancôme La Nuit Trésor, a perfume with a je-ne-sais-quoi to it, which visibly has attracted the admiration of the nose. You discover here its translation into the niche codes of perfumery. The long drydown smells of a delicious, subtle raspberry scent enveloped in smoke, which is reminiscent of yet another under-the-radar gem of a designer perfume, Givenchy Hot Couture. So much for the great divide between niche perfumery and designer perfumery. We have always been agnostic about it.
Past your stroll through the library imagined by Byredo, Bibliothèque smells plain delicious and delicate thanks to finely calibrated effects. The book-worm in you will be pleased by the geekiness of the first part of the scent, which makes you feel like one of those people who love to walk around with a Gallimard book or philosophy tome in hand carried like a minaudière to show off their impeccable reading taste and intellectual mettle. The second part, which in fact contains two sections, is about being simply sensual.
There you have it in a nutshell: Bibliothèque is a quintessential French perfume in the values that it reflects. It is both intellectual /bookish and sensual/ Epicurean. To be worn at all café terraces.
Notes: peach, plum, peony, violet, leather, patchouli, and vanilla