Each year in West Africa, the dry and dusty wintry wind known as the Harmattan blows in from the Sahara, creating a mystical haze not unlike a dense fog.
Eyes closed, the air is redolent - and in the case of the Roads fragrance eponymously named for the fabled trade wind, what you smell is a field of lavender swept into a gale laden with vetiver and oud.
Harmattan is one of ten eaux de parfums from the Roads Fragrance collection, which is a part of the Dublin-based Roads Luxury Group. A lifestyle brand that also includes a publishing house and a film production company, the international company is founded and operated by Danielle Ryan, scion of the family behind Ryanair.
For her fragrance line, Ryan worked with a world-renowned perfumery to develop a collection of ten eaux de parfums, each inspired by a specific place, memory, person, experience, or emotion.
Launching in the United States in the spring of 2014, all ten Roads fragrances are created and manufactured by hand in the United Kingdom.
The only Roads fragrance with oud, Harmattan evokes the romance amidst the Sahara sandstorm that engulfed the protagonists of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. The ground roiling and moiling, the air is filled with the scent of spices: pepper and saffron, followed by a floral whirlwind of tuberose, rose, and ylang ylang.
In the thick of the Harmattan, the haze obscures vision, releasing instead a flood of memory. Ondaatje’s Count Almásy uses Herodotus to recall the voice of his beloved who read aloud the words of the Greek historian.
When the wind passes, Harmattan settles into the warmth of sandalwood and tonka bean, frankincense and patchouli. By the glow of the campfire, outside the “cave of swimmers,” night falls on the Sahara. A bourbon toast – to the winds of time.
The original Roads Fragrance collection will be supplemented by an annual release of a new eau de parfum, as well as a home fragrance line to be launched in September 2014.