Scent on Canvas : Perfume Reviews

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 OpéraBrun SicilienNoir de MarsOcre 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

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.

Brun Sicilien

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.

Ocre Doré

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.



  • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Ann! Another great writer on BdJ. I almost can smell the perfumes, your descriptions are so vivacious!
    I think Rose Opéra is the one for me: I love tagetes, artemisia and other bitter greens. And I love opera (Verdi is my favourite, the ardent opera’s of young Verdi as well as the mature masterpieces). December 26, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

    • Ann: Hi Cornelia,

      Thanks for your comment! I have to say, I had a lot fun with the Scent on Canvas’ samples. I enjoyed Rose Opera so much, that I now only have a few drops left… which leads me to inevitable question: to full bottle or not to full bottle?

      I’m a bit of a dilettante when it comes to opera, but I love Verdi too. I gave my father-in-law a terrific CD collection of live radio broadcasts of Verdi performances at the Metropolitan Opera going back to the 1930s, that is on my own personal wish list (once we recover from our holiday extravagances).

      I hope you had a super holiday. December 26, 2013 at 11:44am Reply

  • Jillie: Thank you for telling us about Scent on Canvas, Ann. It’s a great concept.

    I think I would probably be like you and choose Rose Opera, which features some of my favourite notes; but, who knows, the Ocre Dore sounds so intriguing and I would love to try that! December 26, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

    • Ann: Hi Jillie,

      Like when you buy a new car and suddenly start noticing that there are dozens on the street just like yours, since I road tested Rose Opera, I keep learning about other saffron tinged rose fragrances and strawberry notes… The strawberry in RO is tart and fizzy, a great nose tease. I had the hardest time with Ocre Dore… a bit of woodland animal in the opening….I think it must be the truffle note. Although I love fresh shaved white truffles (NOT something I eat very often!), truffle products like truffle oils, essences, or flavorings send me running for the hills. Then again, the freshness of OD’s forest humus is really interesting! If you try it, please please let me know what you think. December 26, 2013 at 3:16pm Reply

  • annemariec: Thanks for the lovely reviews. You make them all sound so good! I’d even try Blanc de Paris even if it is the least interesting. Those are the sorts of scents you may find yourself reaching for the most often, while the masterpieces sit on the shelf. Simple is very hard to do well, as we all know.

    But at 130 euros a bottle, it’s out of my reach, especially with international shipping added. Think of the 30 ml Nicolais you could buy with that! December 26, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Ann: Hi Anne Marie,

      I agree that for 130 euros you need to really feel it… however the sample set for 10 euros is a steal. Each spray is quite generous and the packet of five is fun to explore even if you decide not to by a full a bottle of any the fragrances. I’ve paid much more for samples that were so small I lost the scent on the way from my wrist to my nose.

      Blanc de Paris is actually very elegant–just not particularly challenging. I suspect it has the widest appeal of the SoC scents. December 26, 2013 at 5:42pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I agree with Annemariec, € 130 is a lot of money. On the other hand, it is 100 ml. — that is a lot of perfume too! I will try to find that Opera here in Amsterdam–if I am lucky I can find a sample or a tester.

    Now Christmas is over, Ann, what did your son say on seeing the kitten? December 26, 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

    • Ann: So sweet of you to ask!

      It was wonderful. He could not believe his eyes. Last night around 11 my son came downstairs in tears to say that he couldn’t sleep with Harry (initially he was Tiger, then Harry Potter) because the kitten was jumping all over his bed. I went and sat with them until the kitten was fast asleep in my son’s neck. When I checked on them again at 2 AM Hawkeye (third name of the day/night—still sticking so far) was in a ball on my son’s chest and they were both deep in the land of nod. A gift to me as well as my son! December 26, 2013 at 8:27pm Reply

  • nozknoz: Ann, are you Oakland Fresca on NST (wondering based on your gravatar)?

    This is such an intriguing concept, and I’m glad you took this line on. There are simply so many new launches that I wonder how many of them ever really get a chance. December 27, 2013 at 1:19am Reply

    • Hannah: I don’t think so because people always act like Bottega Veneta is the only good release since 2010 began and they even forget about good releases by well-established brands.
      Let’s see everything “wrong” with this release: it is a new niche house, there are multiple releases, they’re trying to be artsy so that can only be a gimmick, the fragrances list notes like oud, saffron, pink pepper, white musk, strawberry (FRESH strawberry of all things)–fragrances aren’t allowed to use that notes anymore. So how is anyone supposed to take this release seriously unless if they’ve had 10 cups of coffee??

      Noir de Mars and Brun Sicilien sound the most interesting to me. I wish the names were in Spanish or Catalan though.
      I also think 130euro could be an ok price if they’re really good (considering the perfume price inflation these days), but they should at least start lower. December 27, 2013 at 4:29am Reply

      • Hannah: well, it is actually wild strawberry.

        I’m glad your son liked his gift, Ann. What does the kitten look like??
        Thank you for the reviews. December 27, 2013 at 4:32am Reply

        • Ann: How right you are! Shakespeare wrung his hands at this very problem with his “If there be nothing new, but that which is… [sorry, skipping the meat of the sonnet!]… the wits of former days to subjects worse, have given admiring praise.”

          It is hard to admire something new and obscure! It looks like the fragrances were about 110 euros a year ago. By keeping the sample pack price so reasonable, it seems that Scent on Canvas has faith that its fragrances will speak for themselves once people try them. That in itself is refreshing. On the website, the business’ owner says she weighed starting her business in France or Spain, and ultimately decided on Spain. The names are standard paint pigment names, but I agree with you that it would have been nice to have Spanish names.

          Kitten (still “Hawkeye” as of 10 AM this morning) is a black, grey and white tabby. He has black and grey stripes along his back and tail, a white belly, and a very rose-pink nose. He is either racing around madly after real and imagined friends and foes, or fast asleep in a heap of vibrating purrs  December 27, 2013 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Ann: Hello Nozknoz:

      Yes! That’s me. I created my gravatar a while ago and on NST I show up as Oakland Fresca. Hi there!

      From the news articles on Scent on Canvas’ website it looks like the fragrances were introduced to a wider public about a year ago. Looking at the art and reading about the artists associated with the brand, it is easy to get caught up in perfumer Béatrice Aguilar-Cassarà’s enthusiasm for art—visual and fragrant. I cannot help but appreciate the thought that went into them and into creating a small artistic moment for each consumer. It will be interesting to see if the idea, and the products, have wings. December 27, 2013 at 1:01pm Reply

  • RenChick: Hi Ann! You’re descriptions if these fragrances were so lovely and inspiring I immediately went to Scent on Canvas’s website and purchased the sample set. Thank you for the beautifully written reviews.

    I find the multimedia presentation and inspiration for these scents to be quite intriguing as well. The story behind them definitely appeals to the artistic and creative side of me. 😀 January 5, 2014 at 12:35pm Reply

    • RenChick: Oh for an edit button! That was supposed to be “Your” not “you’re”! LOL January 5, 2014 at 12:36pm Reply

    • Ann: Hi RenChick,

      You took the plunge. I know that even if none of the fragrances winds up on your full bottle list, you’ll have fun trying out the sample pack. If you have the time, please write back and tell me what you think of the scents and whether the art on SoC’s website enhances your enjoyment of them (or not)!

      Best wishes to you in the New Year!!

      Ann January 5, 2014 at 3:11pm Reply

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