When we stepped inside a pure white 40-foot shipping container at UNSCENT (Florence’s so-exciting annual perfume world show) – to discover 10 fragrances showcased against the backdrop of a film projected onto the container’s wall – it was instantly apparent: ROADS is something new, in perfumery.
Because ROADS – conceptualised by thirtysomething Danielle Ryan – is more than a new, exciting fragrance house. It brings together film and literature: part-publishing house, part-film-making company, and part- one of the most innovative collections launched in long time.
Danielle Ryan, who studied classical theatre at RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) is the granddaughter of Ryanair founder, the late Dr. Tony Ryan, and has clearly inherited his entrepreneurial spirit. After finishing her acting training, she founded the National Theatre Academy in Ireland, an idea conceived with her father, Captain Cathal Ryan; it opened in 2011, within Trinity College, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe, working in association with RADA.
But growing up in the Ryan family, Danielle was taught to follow her dreams, tenaciously, however ambitious they might be. And that dream was ROADS: a project which fuses different art forms – because yes, as The Perfume Society absolutely believes, perfume is an art form, too. (Albeit one we can apply to our pulse-points daily, delivering huge pleasure and enjoyment.) So under the ROADS umbrella, there are lavishly-produced art books, photography and culture, as well as classics of contemporary literature.
But we’ve a hunch that the dimension you’ll be most interested in is ROADS Fragrance: 10 scents, ‘dedicated to a new generation,’ as Danielle puts it. Ryan’s quest has been to invent a brand that isn’t limited by its own definition, ‘but can evolve with the customer’s desires, bringing together art, ideas, people and places.’
The name – ROADS – grew out of her passion for travel. ‘You constantly have to educated yourself and be inspired by seeing different things in different places. That’s how you grow,’ she explains. ‘Every time you take a decision, you take a road. A decision can be about where you want to travel to, how you want to express yourself, what books you want to read. So those are all roads and at the end of your life, there is a series of roads that you have taken. ‘ROADS is something of a philosophical idea and it makes you think about the paths you want to take.’
And what of the ROADS fragrances themselves, which were created with some of the most highly-regarded perfumers in the industry? ‘Each of our fragrances,’ Danielle explains, ‘is based on a specific theme. The theme could be a person, an emotion, a natural phenomenon, a geographical place, a state of mind or a period in recent history.’
Supernova, for instance, is designed as ‘a gigantic burst of life, full of expectation and possibilities’, alive with petitgrain, juniper berries, bergamot, lime leaf, with Cognac and ginger at its heart, on a bed of cedarwood, oakmoss and amber. The delightfully-named Cloud 9 is calm-in-a-bottle: ‘clean air, hot milk, comfort and lightness’, delivered via a fusion of notes that includes chamomile oil, geranium and jasmine, warmed by amber, musk and sandalwood.
Most thought-provoking of all, perhaps, is White Noise: ‘the static calm of white noise inspires a sense of stillness and reflection’ – and the notes chosen to deliver that include green apple, lemon balm, mandarin, iris, violet leaf, and white flowers.
In an interview she gave to the blog for Barneys department stores (where ROADS can be found in the US), Danielle shared some advice for anyone looking to choose the right scent, meanwhile. ‘I think the I approach to fragrance should be as playful and diverse as fashion. A different scent for a different mood, depending on the time of the year, time of day, event or country. Wear them like outfits. Also, when choosing a fragrance, people should try and focus on simply whether they like the fragrance and whether it suits their personality. More than anything, it should be fun.’
And, she adds, ‘perfume is a very artistic form of self-expression. It can create an atmosphere around you all day that gives a particular message to the people you meet. It might not always be noticeable, but it creates a strong subiminal impression.’
We suggest you explore, at your leisure, and let ROADS take your mind – and your senses – on a fascinating journey…
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