For the most part, perfumery is about imagination – the conjuring of a long-forgotten memory, the invocation of a fantasy realm, or the provocation of some longed for desire. But what if perfumery were instead about capturing something real, something tangible? What if perfumery were about capturing a particular moment in a specific landscape? What if it could sweep up that day, that hour, those plants and bottle it? Would it be beautiful? Would it retain its wildness? That is the question that adventurous house, Bravanariz, are asking.
The vibe of Bravanariz can adequately be summed up in one word: landscape. These are wild scents, brave scents, the scents of fleeting moments in fragile places. There is nothing urban or mundane about the brand and they call to the slightly feral, undomesticated part of those of us who love the outdoors and who love to walk in the woods and hills of whatever part of the world we come from.
Spanish brand Bravanariz employ an interesting and unusual method to produce their perfumes. They walk into the landscape they wish to explore, carrying their equipment with them. Then, fully immersed in the environment, they harvest local plants, distilling and mixing them into the final scent. If this resulting fragrance is a true olfactive representation of the place they visited, they reproduce it using the first capture as a reference, to ensure that it is scaleable and reproducible.
As well as the main line of fragrances, which we explore here, Bravanariz also have a line of Olfactory Digressions. These essays are musings around a particular note or material such as pine, for example. We hope to bring you more on these in the future.
Bravanariz will also visit you to capture the particular landscape that you are in love with, be that the Scottish highlands, the Yorkshire moors, or somewhere else entirely. As such, the possibilities as to what might come from this house next are boundless. These captures form a very limited edition and unique collection of scents.
Density is a common theme with all the Bravanariz scents. They wear slowly, unfurling in their own time, with solid projection and longevity. The scents are all unisex, 100% natural and all designed to capture a landscape in an olfactory experience.
Listed notes: oak moss, juniper, rosemary, mastic, pine, sweet orange.
Bosc means forest in Catalan, and Bosc the fragrance captures the scent of the woods of the Les Salines Mountains. It opens thick and bitter with the astringent, pithy scent of orange. The orange is bracingly tart and evokes more the oily rind of the fruit rather than the succulent flesh within. Alongside the pine, juniper and oak moss there is a very cool tone to the start of the fragrance. It feels like something very powerful is slumbering, something which may awaken at any moment.
If you’ve ever walked in a forest and suddenly had the hairs on the back of your neck rise, every had that creeping sense of being watched when but moments before you were blissfully unaware of the sensation, that is the sort of electric anticipation Bosc conjures. It isn’t a threatening sort of scent, more a connection with a sort of animal sense of alertness and wariness.
Underneath the citrusy opening there are layers of green, wet woods and dense vegetation. The pine shows itself, bark-like with hints of sweetness, the oak moss has a green and almost leathery tone, and the juniper studs the scent with little herbal nuances. There’s a dampness too about the fragrance, not really an invigorating shower of rain, more the dampness of ground which hasn’t seen the sun for a while, of earth which is kept saturated by the branches of the trees, murky and fecund. The facets of the fragrance do very much feel like the layers of a forest canopy. The wonderful thing about Bravanariz though is that this doesn’t just feel like the layers of vegetation, it really is the layers; overlapping, higgledy-piggledy, non-conforming to any urbane sense of neatness. In wearing the scent you are thrust into this tangled underbrush with no compass or map. For some this may feel disorientating, unstructured, but for many it will be an exhilarating adventure. We found ourselves very much in the latter camp, and yearning to be out in the wild.
Bosc was our favourite from the Bravanariz line. The enticing orange coupled with the woody depth really called to us.
Listed notes: chamomile, rosemary, Spanish lavender, immortelle, cypress, rockrose.
If Bosc is Winter in the mountains then Muga is the river that connects the mountains to the sea. Just because this is the river’s habitat though, don’t be surprised that this isn’t a typically aquatic rendition of a river scent. This is much more about the vegetation that accompanies the water as it wends its way to the coast, than it is about the water itself.
Muga opens with chamomile which feels uncharacteristically brazen in its volume. Chamomile, so often associated with calming, watery drinks before bed, is here empowered and turned up in volume by combining it with the lavender. The two together are soothing, but at a volume which is louder than you would expect they could muster. Muga feels a little like thrusting your whole head into a heap of drying hay. It’s delicious and bucolic. The rosemary adds a sunny, almost savoury or herbal tone and undercutting the hay-like vibe is the cypress backbone which really seems to hold the whole thing together beautifully.
The blurb about this scent aside, Muga really does feel like laying in a pasture at the point where the forests give way to farmland, on a warm and sunny day at the end of summer as the hay is drying. It calls ‘just one more moment’ as you relax into its embrace, and thrusts the office, the commute, and the 9 to 5 just about as far away as is possible without actually being in a field.
Listed notes: fennel, samphire, cypress, pine, rosemary, rockrose, sage, mint.
Cala is a strangely riotous scent which explodes out of the bottle in a melee of notes and tones. At first it is hard to make sense of what it is trying to say, so patience is required with this one, but it does eventually slow down and start to open up as it wears. The overwhelming impression of Cala is a kind of herbal mix; the sort of scent that would happen if you chopped loads of herbs on the same wooden chopping board and then sniffed it. But, with a little time and quiet observation, the fennel, sage and mint all show themselves individually. The fennel has a delicious, slightly numbing aniseed tone but is green too. The sage adds a warm and comforting familiarity. The mint adds the burst of cool invigoration, but is never too predominant in the scent. Instead it’s like a cool breeze just wafting across the surface of the fragrance. There’s a leathery saltiness lurking in the background of the composition too, perhaps brought by the samphire.
In the blurb for Cala, the scent is described as ‘deliciously contradictory’ and indeed that very much feels like a good approximation of what the fragrance is. A salty sweetness, rough textured alongside musky softness. Wearing Cala, like wearing any of the Bravanariz scents, is a wild ride into an unexplored landscape. The only question really is do you want to start by the mountains or the sea?
It’s very different to much of the perfumery on the market today, a little rough around the edges perhaps but we would argue all the more charming for being so.
There’s something wonderfully solid and real about the fragrances Bravanariz have captured. Their method, of going out into the landscape and harvesting the plants they find, yields fragrances which are as wonderfully bountiful and frenetic as nature herself. This method makes the Bravanariz scents very different to much of the very carefully composed perfumery on the market today. If a well composed scent is the metaphorical equivalent of a beautiful garden, then Bravanariz fragrances are the ancient forests and wild landscapes which pre-date horticulturalists creations. Yes, that might make them difficult to understand at times, even a little rough around the edges, but they are no less beautiful for retaining a piece of that wildness within them. The forest is no less beautiful than a garden, just very different.
Bravanariz scents will appeals to people who like to be outdoors, to the walkers, the mountaineers, the explorers and the campers. Wearing Bravanariz is a wonderful way to remind yourself that you are only partly domesticated, to remember a wildness you might have forgotten within.
You can also buy Bravanariz from their web boutique.
I received no-strings-attached samples from Bravanariz whilst visiting their stand at PITTI Fragranze in Florence, September 2019.