On the precipice of spring—as the weather begins to warm and the promise of new life appears all around us—Byredo is releasing a new scent. De Los Santos, out today, is a bright, balanced, earthy offering that works beautifully to transition you from winter to spring, if seasonal scents are your thing. Inspired by loss instead of life (like traditional spring-friendly notes like citrus and florals), this fragrance can also serve as a reminder of what you left behind in past seasons. Or it can just be a nice fragrance. The scent was meant to encapsulate ceremonies of remembrance across cultures, like Día de los Muertos and All Saints’ Day, which are, in their own way, also celebrations of life.
Fittingly, the hero of this fragrance is incense. Used all over the world in rituals and meditations, the note immediately evokes a sacred reverence to those who smell it, no matter their background. I love incense in perfume, but it can quickly become overwhelming. Byredo, however, incorporates the note into their existing collection in a way that elevates each scent as a whole, rather than pulling focus and dominating the fragrance. Their scent Oud Immortel, for example, uses incense to add depth and warmth to the woody fragrance. In Reine de Nuit, incense pairs with rose and patchouli to ground the scent and pull the florals in an unusual, dark, mysterious direction.
On the inspiration for De Los Santos, Ben Gorham, Byredo’s founder and creative director, says, "Over the past year, I started to explore how different cultures approached the idea of loss in order to shift my personal perspective. I didn’t want to ‘move on’, or ‘move forward’, because that implied forgetting. Instead, I wanted to create a way to celebrate my memories, to honor the beauty of life, and to translate that into scent."
While I think the scent interprets his inspiration beautifully, I don’t agree that moving forward or moving on imply forgetting. We carry the past with us into our future, and all of it—even the hard shit like loss—shapes us into something new.
Rituals and ceremonies like Día de los Muertos and All Saints’ Day, which were the ideas behind this fragrance, serve to make sure that we remember. Their whole purpose is to observe the loss, give reverence to the hurt that we still carry, and ensure that we are honoring the ones we love whether they're still with us or they've passed on.
Perfume, too, is a ritual. Whether you wear it daily or on special occasions, for yourself or for someone else—the act of spraying perfume, quick as it may be, is a way to celebrate the life you’re living in the moment. It’s feeling the present and setting the stage for the future.
While an earthy scent like De Los Santos isn’t my first idea for a great scent for spring, thanks to the green notes that balance the incense, it proves itself to be just that. When it first touches the skin, musk and sage set the tone with a foggy green opener, the musk pulling much fresher here than usual.
Amber adds a soft, muted sweetness and rounds out the incense a bit, while the whole thing is anchored by iris root and mirabelle, a plum-like note that is equal parts sweet and tangy. The mirabelle pulls through the fragrance adding a zesty, juicy angle that Byredo does so well in their fragrances like Mixed Emotions and Pulp.
If all the talk of incense and ritual seems to make this scent too heavy, both in concept and in the scent itself, think again. De Los Santos is surprisingly fresh and vibrant. It’s smoky and sweet; like drinking a McDonald’s Sprite in an old pickup truck on a hot summer afternoon. I haven’t been this surprised by a scent like this since Incense City by AllSaints in 2018.
The Bottom Line
Perfume is also a way to be remembered. Scent and memory are tied in a way that, once a connection is made, it can’t be undone. Whether it’s the scent of your grandmother’s house or the scent of your lover’s t-shirt, scents have a way of imprinting themselves.
We use scents in rituals to bring back old memories, and we use perfume as a ritual to create new ones. Maybe Byredo is flying a little close to the sun with their concept that dances between ceremony and scent, but regardless, De Los Santos is definitely one that's hard to forget.