If Gorpcore has a preferred fleece (Patagonia) and a celebrity style icon (Shia LaBeouf), it now also has a scent. Byredo’s newest perfume, Velvet Haze, is inspired by the gorpiest-core of sports: Rock climbing. WSJ Magazine’s September Jared Leto cover featured him dangling off a cliff in a Gucci jumpsuit. GQ magazine’s much-maligned rock-climbing photo shoot showed National Geographic photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin in a $3000 Givenchy vest. And Byredo tattooed founder and tastemaker, Ben Gorham, who has been bouldering (rock climbing without harnesses) for years, created a perfume inspired by ’60s cragmen.
“I climb a lot and I started fantasizing about climbing movements and people who came up in the late ’60s,” said Gorham. He created a mood board for the fragrance with photos of “super macho climbing legends in cut-off jean shorts on the big walls in Yosemite” Earth tones, purples, reds, browns were part of the color palette, and later incorporated into the perfume’s campaign image featuring Kiki Willems (and her bright red hair) and shot by Craig McDean.
Gorham isn’t literal enough to make a rock-climbing-inspired scent smell like stone, dirt, or even stress-sweat induced by a fear of heights. And despite a weed strain with the same name, it’s not even kush scent-derived. Instead, Velvet Haze is what perfumers might call a “skin” fragrance, containing lots of musk that gives it a soft, midly soapy, laundry-ish quality. “It’s quite soft,” said Gorham. The name of the scent is “very much about the texture.”
Perfumer Jerome Epinette added a little amber, patchouli (which nods to the ’60s reference), along with coconut water (“It smells like a coconut,” Gorham replies matter-of-factly, when I ask what that smells like). All-in-all, the perfume smells brisk yet intimate, a bit like the cold air you might experience on the top of a mountain mingling with the scent and texture feel of a freshly laundered, nubby fleece. Perhaps more evocatively, perfume bloggers have said that it reminds them of “a faded memory of the 1960s.”