Ashish Shah's campaign for Mumbai Noise by Ben Gorham
Crowded with contrasts, Mumbai Noise, the newest fragrance from Byredo from founder and creative director Ben Gorham, presents a picture of modern Mumbai. "From a young age, almost as soon as I was born, I would often travel to India to spend time with my grandmother in Chembur, Mumbai,” says Ben. “I have very vivid childhood memories of my experiences there-and, after she passed, it wasn't until my 20s that I returned. When I did, it looked extremely different, but still felt extremely familiar. With Mumbai Noise, I wanted to express that idea: to present an exploration of the city today, anchored in my memories of its past." The launch of Mumbai Noise is accompanied by a campaign by renowned Indian photographer Ashish Shah.
A native Swede, born to an Indian mother and a Canadian father, Ben Gorham grew up in Toronto, New York and Stockholm. His original dream was to play Basketball professionally, but shifted careers to the arts, enrolling in art school in Stockholm. Upon graduating, a chance meeting with a perfumer convinced him that he’d rather express his creativity through fragrances than paintings. With no formal training in the field, Gorham sought out the services of two world-renowned perfumers explaining his olfactory desires and letting them create the compositions. As an outsider in the beauty industry, Gorham is somewhat of an anomaly and has been recognized for his personal style and connection to fashion and art in several international magazines.
Mumbai Noise, Eau de Parfum, 100 ml bottle, conceived by Ben Gorham and created by two world-famous perfumers, for Byredo
With Mumbai Noise, Ben Gorham reflects on the sensorial multitudes that characterize his childhood nostalgia for the city alongside the multifaceted milieu of its contemporary reality. The mesmerizing abundance of Chembur's streets-the smoky haze of incense and burning woods, interspersed with streetside coffee carts and cacophonous soundscapes-is refracted through a contemporary prism, paying tribute both to the city's cultural heritage and the evolution of its energy.
This city of contrasts is reflected through a scent crowded with its own vivid contradictions: of rich, warm woods, and amber blended with brightness; of plummy Devona positioned alongside leather; bitter coffee stirred with sweet tonka beans. "An overload of sensory experience is very much Mumbai-from the second you step off the plane, you know you're somewhere different," says Ben.
Mumbai Noise, the perfume from Ben Gorham, photographed by Ashish Shah
To mark the debut of Mumbai Noise, Gorham collaborated with Indian creative Ashish Shah, named in September by the British Journal of Photography as one of 20 photographers globally to watch in 2021. "The Western perspective of India is probably the same now as it was a century ago," notes Ben. "But Mumbai is a melting pot of modernity. Through Mumbai Noise, and Ashish's images, two perspectives meet."
Ashish Shah, who grew up in Dehradun, a city in the Himalayan foothills, travelled across Mumbai casting creatives who are championing change and shining a new light on the city.
From dancers and drag performers to activists, artists and architects-turned-models, the collaboration documents the dynamism of Mumbai today, from its subcultural tribes to its youth movements; the dreams and realities of a new generation.
"I wanted to photograph this campaign as a glimpse into the hearts and essence of young India. I am interested in the lives we are living, the conversations they are having, their dreams and their realities," says Ashish. "Taking in from my exchange of thoughts with Ben, his stories and memories of Mumbai, his home in Chembur and of his grandmother, I wanted to link together fragments of past (personal and collective) and of Contemporary India – to showcase how the present "us" has grown from our past itself."
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