There are clearly few limits to the creative juices of Roads’ founder Danielle Ryan. The niche perfume label, which also counts a book-publishing arm and documentary film production house under its umbrella, recently unveiled a quartet of fragrances inspired by Africa, each accompanied with a specially commissioned piece of art that decorates its packaging to boot.
Aroma-wise, Roads’ African Edition fragrances each incorporate naturally derived ingredients from the continent. For Big Sky, an ode to the expansive canopy over the continent’s dense landmass, zesty citrus, lemon and orange flower dry down to an earthy mix of patchouli, papyrus, oud and myrrh. It’s art work, a graphic photographic piece by Dylan Culhane, who’s based in Cape Town, is equally dynamic and stepped in realism.
On another front, I Am Dance evokes the symbolism and expressiveness of dance (specifically a type of street-dance called Pantsula) in African cultures, with sparkling hits of mandarin, pineapple and lavadin that also boasts a woody heart. The Tanzanian illustrator Lynnie Zulu is behind it visual counterpart – a colourful and graphic portrait in shades of blue, pink and yellow.
The third fragrance, Past|Present takes a more serious note. It was inspired by the strength and conviction present in Nigeria’s literary scene, as best exemplified by writers such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka. In fragrance form, these qualities are translated as bergamot, smoked black tea and jasmine, with brooding tonka bean in its base. A detailed art piece by Yaw Tony, the illustrator/designer/artist based between Toronto and the UK, uses a motif reminiscent of graphic Ankara fabrics.
The collection’s last piece is a tribute to modern Africa. Named Afropolis, the perfume is an unabashed muddling of gin, spearmint and oakmoss, iris, ebony woods and amber. Its accompanying design is created by the Parisian artist Elise Hannebicuqe, who has created bodies of work dedicated to Africa and Nelson Mandela in the past.