During Paris Fashion Week, Abigail Gurney-Read met with the enigmatic founder of Byredo, Ben Gorham, as he prepared to launch his Eleventh Hour Pop-Up store in Le Marais.

"What I try to do is to make people feel things... It’s always been that way."

Ben Gorham is coming to the end of a whirlwind few weeks. In just one short month, the brains behind Byredo has established new bricks-and-mortar spaces in both London and Paris, and is now preparing to launch his Eleventh Hour fragrance and concept Pop-Up in the latter of the two. In fact, it’s because of this, that Ben and I are sat in a makeshift camping emporium in the beating heart of Le Marais; think untreated wood, stainless steel Stanley tools-of-the-trade and traditional mid-American banjo music that would seem alien to the locale were it not for the walking boots and hefty sleeping bags that frame the walls like trophies. "I’ve spent a lot of time in Californian camping stores," Ben tells me. "They don’t really look like this!"

As with everything that Ben does, Eleventh Hour is an all-encompassing concept. His creative process is lateral rather than literal. It morphs into a kind of therapy or catharsis – much like writing an autobiography – which is completely immersive and instinctual, as Ben explains. "I’ve become more aware of my surroundings. Whatever that moment is – whatever ‘it’ is – I kind of deep-dive into ideas."

Ben’s is an untraditional approach to perfumery; and Byredo itself, a wholly untraditional perfumer. From an initial intention to pursue professional basketball ("I played it for most of my life... And then failed miserably! Imagine that. This was the one thing that I was supposed to do!"), his journey into scent meandered via fine art, from sculpture to architecture.

Nowadays, each inter-disciplinary reference continues to play a part in the fruition of Ben’s fragrances, and Byredo’s latest London space at Lexington Street dedicates an entire element of its floorplan – an exhibition area named ‘access: no access’ (sprung from a building sign that hung during the project’s installation) – to their continued pursuit. "Influence and inspiration comes from everywhere," Ben muses. "What I try to do, is to make people feel things. It’s always been that way."

It was out of this starting point that Byredo’s latest narrative was born – a ‘prequel’, Ben explains, to the brand’s already-existing candle Apocalyptic. "Some of these stories go forward, some go back, some are fictional... I think that the idea of the Eleventh Hour is something that people could relate to. Maybe I’ve become more aware of my surroundings. There’s something beautiful about this gloomy time."

For the time being, Ben’s Eleventh Hour dystopia is based exclusively in Paris – and yet, the storytelling for which Byredo is notorious, is continuing to make waves elsewhere in Europe. When we talk of London, it’s immediately evident that Ben feels a kindred energy between the Capital and his own creative output. I ask him why this was the location for his first European flagship. "We were looking for cities that it made sense," Ben replies. "London was probably at the top of that list. London has a melting pot vibe. Especially in terms of diversity, it’s just gotten farther than most European countries. It took a while to find the space, but I’m super happy that we waited."

Both geographically and personally, Ben – and consequently Byredo – have come a long way. "I’ve essentially been able to steer the creative vision of this company for eleven years," he explains. "I’m still at a place where it’s very personal."

Such is the elegance of a brand that ranks neither tradition nor ‘classical practice’ high on its agenda. Ben’s fluid approach means that the future of Byredo is open to movement and available to opportunity. "It’s an organic process and relates very much to my life," he describes. "My background is life."

The Eleventh Hour Pop-Up Store can be found at 11 Rue Debelleyme, 75003, Paris. The Byredo London flagship can be found at 40 Lexington Street, W1F 0LN. Discover the world of Byredo and shop the range here:

In case you missed it, Abigail met with Haeni Kim of KITRI at her new store in Soho.