Young Rose is an ode to their perennial restlessness, a not-so-private diary of a generation energised to create something unlike anything before. On previous visits to China, Byredo’s founder Ben Gorham was struck by its creative vibrancy. It mirrors global sentiments, as the young everywhere fervently search for their place in that muddled intersection of what is gone and what is to come.
“The next generation have an emotional obligation to cultivate new versions of what the previous one did, it's their job to take that fearless dive, to find the next iteration. Young Rose salutes this spirit.” - Ben Gorham, founder & creative director, Byredo.
TOP NOTES: Sichuan Pepper, Ambrette Seeds
MIDDLE NOTES : Damascena Rose, Orris
BASE NOTES : Musk, Ambroxan
The story is interpreted and captured by another true artistic collaboration - Leslie Zhang. Leslie Zhang’s photographs are touched by a nostalgia for the past, even in his most modern pictorials. An inimitable photographic voice, he places cultural identity at the foreground of his art. Guided by an eye for beauty and worldly memory, his precise, detail-driven photos—often marked by pops of bright colour—revere both China’s past and present, resulting in images that are hard to forget.
Keep reading to hear from Ben Gorham himself about his latest creation:
Can you share with us the inspiration and story behind Young Rose?
Young Rose is about the dichotomy of the past and the future. Wanting to respect age old traditions and saviour nostalgia but also wanting to adapt them to the world we are living in today. Progress, restlessness and the fearlessness that the next generations always seem to have to create new iterations.
From your point of view, what kind of existence is this generation of young people born after 1990 and 2000?
What a question – there is even a big difference between 90s and 00s I think. Watching my kids sail into using technology, communicating and absorbing information from all over the world – it is amazing for them to be able to connect with people outside of our physically community. It can open their minds and provide the tools to really make a difference and be informed with it. The opposite is also true, so much choice and so much information can also create a false unrealistic reality.
But the truth is – every generation has their version of this – travel, newspapers, radio, TV, internet, gaming, social etc as technology progresses each generation adopts it and forms a new iteration of the generation before. I am constantly inspired by the dynamism of the younger generations – it keeps me on my toes.
What do you see as the most outstanding characteristic of the younger generation (in China)?
To me they are fearlessly creative – in everything. Expressing themselves through fashion, music, art, culture – it is very vibrant. At once with a deep emotional respect and obligation to their heritage as well as desire to create and celebrate new versions of this heritage. I am also inspired by how proud they are to be the caretakers of this progress.
What do you think is the relationship between inheriting tradition or classic while creating a new and strong personal style?
We are all informed by our upbringing and our surroundings – some people will adapt and adopt that heritage others will go in a different direction. It is something so very personal and kind of private too – each family unit has their own traditions, and some traditions are born through the family you make through friends and experiences. All of these elements become part of our own personal style consciously or not – it’s the nature of humanity.
As we learnt from your story, you were grown in a very multi-culture environment. How did such a diverse upbringing affect your style, personality and creativity?
Byredo is founded on the principle of translating all of my own personal memories and emotions into tangible products. I feel very lucky to have had so many references to be inspired by – from reading my Dads diaries of his life in Africa to create Bal d’Afrique, to new makeup colours that remind me of my mother and her sisters watching Bollywood films, or my life in Sweden with my wife and our kids that inspired Blanche – I have so much to draw from, and I will always be thankful for that. Being a failed athlete too has also instilled a competitive nature in me – trying to do better than before and always driving ahead.
When you travelled in China, what’s the impression this country made on you? Can you describe it with scents? Or were there any smell memories happen to you?
I want to travel and see more of China, I have mainly been on business trips – but standing on the streets, or drinking in local bars in Beijing, or travelling on the high-speed trains – I am in absolute awe of the sheer organization, and order and also friction of so many people, colours and smells. It really hits me hard – so vibrant. I always feel light with excitement when I am there – it’s like travelling to the future.
Fresh, woody and floral smells that mimic the nature and the cities too. I remember being on the Bund in Shanghai after a dinner, watching the boats carry coal – against the two back drops of old and new. The contrast existing all at once is what inspires me most.
When people talking about China, the first things come to their mind are something like red color, dragon, phoenix, hotpot etc.., do you think people and brands have a relatively rigid understanding of Chinese symbols?
I think we all have the opportunity and responsibility to learn and understand more about other cultures now – the information is there for us. I hope people have a real respect for the Chinese Symbols as they have so much heritage and meaning that come along with them. And now the next generation are adapting them to what life is today. It’s important to me that we acknowledge this – understand and adapt.
We find what Leslie did for Young Rose campaign is quite different with the traditional impression of love and rose in China, are you mean to break the stereotype of conventional cognition?
Leslie’s work speaks to me in that he has an implicit understanding of nostalgia and contemporary references – which is the inspiration of Young Rose. It is important to note that this is our global campaign – we are prelaunching in China for 520 – and we want to tell the story of the fragrance, the emotions of the positive tension traditions and progression. This campaign was a collaboration with Leslie, he interpreted the fragrance in his very authentic way – as is true to byredo its not about dictating or breaking anything – its their to be inspiring and for people to interpret it how they wish.
Why partner with Leslie Zhang this time? What qualities do you value most in his work?
See above – Leslie has that beautiful balance of respect for the past and one eye on the future. This is what I value the most from his work
In your opinion, what is the scent of ‘oriental’ and what is the scent of ‘global’?
This is not something I would ever label – a scent is a scent. It shouldn’t be gendered or restricted by geography. Smell is something so very personal and open to interpretation – what I interpret or feel in a smell will be different to what you or Leslie feel or interpret.