Today’s article is brought to you by Ann. After buying a set of Scent on Canvas samples, she was so excited about the perfumes that she asked me if she could share her favorites with you. Ann is a seasoned perfume lover, and she has been wearing fragrance ever since she was a little girl. Pine scented bath beads, Prell shampoo (circa 1970), and her grandmother’s 4711 Eau de Cologne were among the first scents Ann remembers. As a teenager, she began to venture beyond her stash of samples and hand-me-down perfumes to her own flasks, sometimes owning as many as three at a time. Then a couple of years ago, Turin and Sanchez’s “A to Z Perfume Guide” crossed her path and she stumbled upon perfume blogs… and so began her uninhibited daily adventures with beauty and art just an arms-length away.
If perfumes tell stories, then why not illustrate them? New niche perfume company Scent on Canvas has set about to do just that with their five fragrances, Rose Opéra, Brun Sicilien, Noir de Mars, Ocre Doré, and Blanc de Paris. “Our aim is to unite the arts of the perfumer with a pictorial creation,” says owner and perfumer Béatrice Aguilar-Cassarà. On the website she explains that fragrance notes were given to artists, who in turn created art to match the scents, which were then named after color pigments in the paintings. Next, a color engraving was made of each work for reproduction in a limited number of boxes in which the perfume is packaged.
I was drawn to the multimedia nature of the project that combined art and artists, perfume and perfumers, and business and marketing. However, when my package of five samples arrived from Barcelona along with charming scents strips in the shape of paintbrushes, I decided to just focus on the scents without the distraction of the companion art. It turned out to be an adventure with some unexpected turns.
Rose Opéra’s ensemble opens with strawberry and rose. Although the ripe fruit is infused with saffron, nutmeg, and cardamom, at no point does Rose Opéra tilt into gourmand territory. Its creamy blend of bergamot, vetiver, and bitter greens keep the perfume from becoming too sweet or too edible. Rose Opéra is my favorite among Scent on Canvas’ offerings. The saffron throws the fruit and flowers delightfully off kilter.
Rose Opéra is an extrait de parfum created by Jórdi Fernadez. Its notes include Calabrian bergamot, wild strawberry, jasmine, Turkish rose, Spanish saffron, nutmeg, pink pepper, cardamom, mace, tagetes, Artemisia, cyperus scariosus , Javanese vetiver oil, mastic, patchouli, Virginia cedar, and incense.
Another top favorite turned out to be Brun Sicilien, a sexy, vintage leather scent infused with dusty jasmine, and peppery spices. It is so evocative that when I first sniffed it I immediately went to compare it with an old pilot’s jacket I bought for my husband nearly 20 years ago. For a moment I am transported to an ancient wooden library with floor to ceiling leather-bound books. But when the scene passes, I am again wearing the well-worn jacket, scented with the memory of someone’s vanilla cologne, and a small packet of ambery pipe tobacco in one of the pockets.
Brun Sicilen is an extrait de parfum created by Alexandra Kosinski. Its notes include white flowers, jasmine, Sicilian mandarin, gaucho leather, cardamom, black pepper, suede, amber, birch, Indonesian patchouli, and Madagascan vanilla.
Noir de Mars
Although the most traditionally masculine among the Scent on Canvas fragrances, Noir de Mars blends the gender boundaries sufficiently to smell delicious on anyone. It’s an oud-centered scent that opens on a smoky, leathery note, but whereas some ouds slap, Noir de Mars embraces. The rich drydown of sandalwood, vanilla, and coffee feels cozy and warm. It’s the perfect partner for woolen sweaters, crackling hearths, and hot, spicy drinks.
Noir de Mars is an extrait de parfum created by Jórdi Fernadez. Its notes include Laotian oud, guaiac wood, sandalwood, cyperus sclariosus, leather, myrrh, gurjum, Haitian amyris, and amber.
The first time I tried Ocre Doré, I was tempted to wash it off immediately. It opened with a strong, herbal smell that reminds me of organic food stores. But there was something intriguing about the fragrance, and the second time I was much more patient. The strange prelude lasts briefly, but the rest of the perfume is a vignette of tree bark, fallen leaves, and rain-drenched soil. Rich in patchouli and amber, Ocre Doré takes me on a walk through a golden autumnal forest.
Ocre Doré is an extrait de parfum by Shyamala Maisondieu. Its notes include Iranian galbanum, dried tea, mate, white truffle, oakmoss, undergrowth, guaiac wood, Paraguay wood, Virginia cedar, Indonesian patchouli, and labdanum resin.
Blanc de Paris
Blanc de Paris is a bright floral tempered with zesty citrus peel. The scent shimmers on skin, moving from bergamot to rose and then to rooty iris. The drydown is elegant and pretty, but for me a little too safe, too timid, too predictable.
Blanc de Paris is an eau de parfum designed by company owner and perfumer Béatrice Aguilar-Cassarà. Its notes include green mandarin, Murcia citron, Calabrian bergamot, iris, Bulgarian rose, white flowers, white musk, sandalwood, and benzoin.
All five fragrances are available for purchase at the Scent on Canvas website. An extremely generous sample pack, at 3 ml each, is 10 €, including shipping.