For Danielle Ryan, founder of Roads Group, creating a fragrance is not unlike building a home. Ryan supplies a central theme with its essential qualities, whereupon her architect, the perfumer, executes the vision.
For the fragrance White Noise, which is based on “the powerful silent presence” of 21st-century technology and “the constant hum of computers,” Ryan wanted a scent that would evoke electricity, which, it turns out, she says with a bemused smile, smells something like iris.
In partnership with some of the world’s best known perfumers, Ryan creates fragrances that evolve over the course of a year-long artistic process: Ryan’s original “brief” with its various components is fine-tuned to produce a complex and multi-layered scent.
The division’s latest fragrance collection is the four-flacon African Edition, which was recently launched in New York at a dinner co-hosted by Barneys at the Core Club. Art maven as well as entrepreneur, Ryan commissioned four artists with African roots and influences to create artworks that complement the fragrances, details of which are printed on the fragrance boxes. The scents include Big Sky, I Am Dance, Afropolis, and Past Presence.
For Afropolis, Ryan sought to capture the modernism of the ancient continent with a fragrance redolent of juniper and spearmint complemented by blond wood and oakmoss – and iris, that scent that evokes electricity for Ryan. Cashmere musks and vetiver ground the fragrance in a heady mixture that honors Africa’s “dynamic and multicultural cities.”
“The enormous presence of the African sky” was the launching point for Big Sky, a fragrance with citrus top notes, and heart notes of oud and patchouli. A base of myrrh and sandalwood evoke the fragrance’s African heritage.
Desirous of highlighting the strength and beauty in the works of Nigerian writers such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, Past Presence is redolent of smoked black tea and tonka bean, with heart notes of jasmine.
Since the 2013 inception of Roads Fragrances, the first ten fragrances have sold in excess of two million dollars in boutiques and department stores around the world, including Barneys New York, Galeries Lafayette, and Selfridges.
Based in Dublin, Roads Group comprises three distinct and interdependent companies, which include Roads Fragrances, Roads Publishing and Roads Entertainment.
With a focus on artists in the vanguard, Roads Publishing has produced a series of special limited editions of monographs on Alice Maher, Lucy Williams, paparazzo Elio Sorci, and Los Angeles photographer Ryan Schude.
As pleasing to hold as they are to read, Roads Classics editions include some of the world’s best-known literary works, such as What Maisie Knew, The Good Soldier, Madame Bovary, Tender Is the Night, and Venus in Furs. A testament to the publishing house’s good taste and aesthetic vision, Roads Classics editions provide a sound foundation to a personal library – and it’s very easy to envision these paperbacks lining the bookshelves of a country home or beach house.
The popularity of the series has engendered the Roads Children’s Classics that includes titles such as The Secret Garden, The Jungle Book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and others, including Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince – all available in stylishly colorful paperback editions.