At times, the more I smell, the more desperate I become for something different. The sameness seems to drag like an endless grey day when the only hope for salvation from the misery is the fall of the night.
Occasionally, however, on a lucky day, the miracle happens: I come across a rare gem, totally pristine, untouched by corporate hands; a perfume house living the art of perfumery the way it should be lived. It comes from a place unknown for fine perfumery and gives the fragrance capitals a harsh lesson in authenticity, creativity and humility. Without an air of haughtiness, it deliver beauty, sophistication and joy. The gem I was fortunate to find is Carner Barcelona.
Carner Barcelona is a small niche perfume house based in Barcelona, Spain. It was founded in 2009 by Sara Carner. The vision behind the line was to create fragrances that not only smell unique but also that “evoke memories, share experiences and transmit emotions”.
To achieve her vision, Sara Carner worked with the perfumers Sonia Constant, Christophe Raynaud and Daniela (Roche) Andrier. Together, they created four unique fragrances: Cuirs, D600, Rima XI and Tardes.
Each one is quite different and similar at the same time. All four scents share a signature wood note and carry an understated elegance and nonchalant presence. They are contained in minimalist design bottles, which very much reflect the vibe of the scents.
Sara comes from a family with strong traditions in the leather industry in Barcelona. Cuirs is a dedication to her heritage and celebrates the craftsmanship in creating fine leather products.
As Sara says, creating a great perfume follows the same principles as creating a great piece of leather product: high quality ingredients and careful attention to detail make all the difference.
Cuirs is a raw leather fragrance that opens with cumin and saffron. Off the top, it reminds me of Tom Ford‘s Oud Wood. Unlike in Oud Wood, the oud note is much subtler in Cuirs and is not the centre of attention. Cuirs also lacks the sweetness Oud Wood has. It is a much drier, more bitter fragrance, balanced with gentle wood accords.
Cuirs, as suggested by the name, is leather-centric. It recreates the experience of being in a leather shop, where you have the aromas of raw leather and wood mixed together.
What makes Cuirs different than many other leather fragrances is the balance of the composition. Raw leather is predominant but it is well balanced by wood and spices. It is much more refined and wearable than some of the more popular raw leather fragrances on the market.
D600 is dedicated to modern Barcelona. It represents the modern lifestyle in a historic city.
The name of the perfume, D600, is very modernistic itself. It stands for the address of Carner Barcelona: Avenida Diagonal 600. My research shows that it is a prime location, right next to Plaça de Francesc Macià.
D600 is the scent I like the least from the line. Nevertheless, it is composed masterfully. I get a vibe of a classic men’s perfume (maybe the cardamom and iris?) and something cosmopolitan.
From the very beginning I get soft spices and iris. Cardamom and iris are the main characters here. As it dries down, the iris becomes more powdery and soapy. It doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients but it is definitely present throughout the life of the scent.
Certain aspects of D600 remind me Chanel‘s Bois des Iles but in this composition, the iris is not as pronounced. Overall, D600 is a soft composition with a definitely masculine lean.
It is “an intense floral spicy perfume that evokes the seductive, defiant, inaccessible”. Rima XI refers to a rhyme by the Spanish poet G.A. Becquer:
“…Yo soy un sueño, un imposible,
vano fantasma de niebla y luz;
soy incorpórea, soy intangible;
no puedo amarte.
- ¡Oh, ven, ven tú!”
“…- I am a dream, an impossible;
vain ghost of mist and light;
I am bodiless, I am untouchable;
I cannot love you.
- Oh, come, you come!”
Rima XI is the most unique scent of Carner’s collection. It is hard to describe and compare to anything else on the market. Rima XI definitely has a floral-spicy vibe. It is a mix of feminine and masculine qualities making it a definitely a unisex fragrance.
The duality of Rima XI is created by mixing spicy notes typical for masculine scents (cardamom, black pepper, mint), which are juxtaposed by traditionally feminine notes: cinnamon, vanilla, jasmine, sambac. The result is something truly unique, which is best to try than read about.
Tardes defines beauty in feminine fragrance for me. It starts with intoxicating Bulgarian rose, geranium and almond, which possess a very sheer quality. As notes, rose and almond can be very heavy and sweet. As they are used here, however, they recreate the environment around almond trees in a rose field.
Tardes sweetens up a little with notes of plum, tonka beans and musk, however, the overall composition remains determinately floral.
Before smelling it, just by reading the description, I imagined Tardes to be more of a citrus-based fragrance. Something you would smell in a Mediterranean garden after you have taken a 2-hour siesta. Instead, I got a gorgeous floral, which, unfortunately, may be too feminine for me to wear.
Tardes evokes emotions of happiness and feel-good mood. It achieves it without trying too hard and without being cliche or tacky. It is nonchalant, not boastful about it. It is as casual as a late afternoon stroll down the main street of a small seaside village. The warm air is cooled by a soft breeze and the only way you can feel in that moment is content and full of exciting expectations for the evening to come – great food and wine with friends and family. Absolutely gorgeous. Congratulations, Sara Carner, you have created a masterpiece.
I invite you explore Carner Barcelona’s line up and if you have already shared some of the fragrances, please share your thoughts. It is rare to come across a line with all solid fragrances. I am definitely looking forward to more great work from Sara Carner.
What Others Say about Carner Barcelona:
Chemist in the Bottle: Craftsmanship, Carner Barcelona Cuirs
Chemist in the Bottle: Lazy Afternoon, Carner Barcelona Tardes
Olfactoria’s Travels: A Ghost Poetic – Review: Carner Barcelona Rima XI
Bonkers about Perfume: Carner Barcelona Rima XI Review