Nine years ago, ITG asked perfumer and Byredo founder Ben Gorham where he thought he’d be in five—Gorham couldn’t say for sure. To be fair, who could’ve anticipated that just under a decade later the perfume and candle brand would have expanded into leather goods, sneakers, fine jewelry, luxury combs, sunglasses, T-shirts, silk scarves, and cashmere blankets? Now, Gorham adds one more to the list: makeup.
Continuing his trend of tapping industry renegades for forays outside of fragrance—Charlotte Chesnais collaborated on the jewelry collection, while design studio M/M (Paris) helped out for the home goods—Gorham brought on avant-garde makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench to make color products that have no rules. The Colour Sticks Ffrench created for Byredo are sort of reminiscent of the MAC Paint Sticks she mentioned in her original Top Shelf, at least in format. But they’re different from those, and pretty much every other makeup multistick on the market, because of the finishes (dewy or dry-cream, with or without shimmer or a metallic sheen), totally unexpected shades, and the way Ffrench poured her expert technique into each tube. With such a range, you’re bound to have your favorites—we certainly have ours. Here’s how they currently stand:
16) Destroyer: A creamy, semi-glossy black. The chubby stick format makes it difficult to get close to the lash line and it blends out to a sickly, not sexy, gray—unless you’re Taylor Momsen, probably skip.
15) Vienna: A (basically clear) yellow-y nude. What is the point of this shade? At best, all you get is a little bit of gloss, and at worst, a weirdly sickly highlight.
14) Chin Of Gold: A really pretty shimmery Champagne! Seriously! It’s lovely! It just… could be from any brand, you know? You probably already have something that looks like this.
13) Ultramagnetic: Swatched on the hand, this deep plum blue with turquoise sparkles will definitely take your breath away. But the dark shade is difficult to pull off across a whole lid, and weirdly, blended out just looks so glittery.
12) Sauce: Like copper with the volume turned UP. It has a metallic finish and very fine coppery glitter, but you should know it reads a lot more orange than your run of the mill penny.
11) Sick Pink: A matte hot fuchsia with blue-ish undertones. It takes the least amount of mental gymnastics to see this shade as a lipstick, although the powdery formula doesn’t wear too comfortably.
10) Medium Blue: The frosted ‘70s blue of your dreams! And surely someone else’s nightmare they’d rather not revisit. This smooth, metallic finish is definitely the best out of Byredo’s options, though.
9) Babi: A matte papaya shade that got points for versatility (it’s equally good, if not better, on cheeks) but lost some for patchiness.
7) Flower Play: A sheer pink that’s shiny but not sticky, so it goes where your favorite lip gloss cannot—namely eyes and cheeks, where it leaves an oh-so-subtle rosy flush. Boring, but good.
6) Purple Stinger: A medium periwinkle with a glossy finish. Fun! Playful! A little bit different, but the sheerness and shine make it more wearable.
5) Mesolithic: A surprisingly wearable metallic fuschia. (We said what we said.) The blue flash looks particularly stunning on darker skin tones.
4) La Scène: Byredo describes this as a bronze, but it’s really more of a dirty copper. It’s a super smooth, molten metallic without being shimmery, and gives a real lit-from-within look.
3) Great Sands: A sheer, glossy, milky brown with a bit of a mauve tint. It stands out among the dewy sticks because of a sprinkling of teeny tiny silver glitter—wonderful, but not juvenile. It’s an everyday winner.
2) Ancient: Yes, it’s a shimmery brown. But not just any brown—a very special brown between chocolate and burgundy that other brands just can’t get seem to get right. Byredo did. Smudge it out for sex appeal that is as effortless as it looks.
1) Kumato: Have you ever seen a piece of jewelry made from green gold? It’s an alloy of yellow gold just like rose gold is, but far less overplayed. You might say this smooth as buttah metallic green gold is a darkhorse for top spot. But it’s wearable and still completely unique, which is exactly what you want from Byredo makeup. Why is it still in stock?
Photo via ITG