The official list of notes for Byredo's Seven Veils doesn't tell even half the story: carrot, pimento berries, Tahitian vanilla flower, laurier rose, tiger orchid, sandalwood, and vanilla bean. It's obviously an oriental, but as soon as one tried Seven Veils for the first time it's clear that the main story here is spice. Lots and lots and lots of spice.
I like the idea of carrot as a perfume note. There's not enough of that around, and Seven Veils only gives a hint of cold and earthy carrot before Byredo cooks it into a dense and spicy tzimmes. Not that there's anything wrong with roasted sweet and spicy glazed carrots (serving suggestions: add just-cooked potato gnocchi to the sauce/glaze), but I find the result somewhat overwhelming. I smell lots of nutmeg, clove, allspice, powdered ginger, and pepper, and it's all cooked in a vanilla syrup and served over a chunk of creamy sandalwood that melts into some musk, while maintaining the strong spice rub. I can't believe I'm saying this, but even in small quantities this is just too much for me.
The more I wear Seven Veils and try to like it, the more the combination of orchid and nutmeg stands out to me as the culprit. It's hard to explain exactly why, but something there becomes cloying and refuses to settle into a manageable level. I know that people really enjoy the animalic oriental facets of Seven Veils and I can appreciate why: it's sultry, original, and very warm. But on my skin this tzimmes smells overcooked and has caramelized to the point of no return.
Byredo- Seven Veils ($110, 3x12ml EDP in the travel spray format) is available from Luckyscent and Barneys.
Photo: Rita Hayworth as Salome, 1953.