Barcelona: a city that may have been founded by one of Hercules’ ships; a city which is steeped in history, in legend and in romance; a city which is as vibrant today and as vital as it was more than 2000 years ago. A city like Barcelona deserves a fragrance brand, and a scent dedicated to its beauty. D600 attempts to be that scent.
Black pepper, bergamot, grapefruit, cardamon, iris, jasmine, cedar, vanilla, vetiver.
Barcelona is a wonderfully characterful city, full of contrasts. Whether that be the contrast of the seafront with the urban sprawl, the fascinating old streets full of tiny shops versus the posh modern boutiques, or the energetic nightlife set against the more sedate pace of history, Barcelona is a city with much to fall in love with.
D600 by Carner Barcelona opens with a sharp blast of black pepper and grapefruit. It is woody and piquant. The black pepper’s piquancy is so stimulating in this fragrance, you can almost feel molecules of scent pinging around your head like a cloud of mosquitoes but nowhere near as irritating. It’s invigorating, almost bracing. D600 will definitely get your senses going!
It was interesting that the perfumer chose to represent Barcelona in this way, because in many respects, the city is piquant to the senses. It’s busy, bustling, restless, old and new all at once. If you were suddenly transported to Barcelona – almost at any time of day or night – you would find the place full of energy and activity: dancing, drinking, art, love, architecture, ice cream, history, seaside, modernity, shopping, passion. To represent that with the opening of black pepper is a good metaphor for the frenetic pace and mass of people that the city houses. It is almost overwhelming, but like any good city you just have to go with it, find the flow of the place and you settle into your own groove.
A spicy cardamon comes forward as the black pepper recedes. Cardamon, which smells so enticing, draws you into this scent with a less frenzied energy than the pepper, but a similar sort of tone. It’s less sharp, less energetic, and slows the pace slightly to a hum rather than a buzz. The two spices work together to draw a line from the start of the scent onwards, into the heart of the fragrance.
The spicier elements turn more towards woods as the scent matures, but the woods are just scaffolding to a beautiful floral vein which emerges as jasmine in the heart of the scent. Coupled with the lingering spice it becomes really heady and intoxicating, almost too much, but it just manages to hold back from tipping over into headachey, just at the right moment. It didn’t feel like it was too much of a stretch to read this as a reference to the balmy, heady summers that settle over the city, cocooning it, heating the city until passions and desires and tempers almost reach boiling point, before the autumn comes and tips everything back the other way.
A lot seems to happen in a short space of time in D600. The progression through top and heart pass at a fair clip and we arrive at the slower, easier base before very long.
A papery, watery orris washes over a warm, sunny vanilla whilst the barest hints of vetiver lurk in the background. The white florals give a slightly sultry fullness to the scent and they linger right through to the end of a wear. The florals hover somewhere between petally soft and powdery, giving the best of both.
It’s very easy to imagine strolling down a sunny street on a warm morning, before the main thrust of the city has woken up. Perhaps you meander in the sunshine, drunk on the excitement of the evening before. Perhaps the scent of the bakery pulls you in and you stop for a pastry somewhere reassuringly familiar even though you’ve never actually visited before.
Whilst a lot of the earlier phases are energetic and buzzy, the base slows and relaxes – it feels as if the whole fragrance has just done a big exhale. It’s the moment that everything that has comprised the scent thus far comes together in a well-balanced union. The individual pieces of the puzzle now make sense. The slight wetness of the orris hints at a dampness being not too far away, whilst the vetiver conjures the deep shadows cast by the tall Barcelona buildings – not threatening shadows, but shadows that shelter from the heat of the sun. The vanilla adds a cosy sweetness which is partnered by the white florals and humming atop them all is the fuzzy memory of the spices.
If you have to choose though, the vanilla is the star of the base. It oozes between and beneath all the other ingredients, insinuating itself into the cracks and crevasses that they leave behind, much like the golden Catalan sunlight washes over the city of Barcelona itself, finding chinks between shutters and doors that it can sneak under. There’s something passionate and romantic about D600, like there is about Barcelona. It isn’t a perfect scent, nor a perfect city, but it is right here, right now and sometimes that is enough.
The other stuff
D600 exhibits really solid longevity – eight to ten hours or so following an early morning application. It projects solidly too, to further than handshake distance, especially in the first half of a wear.
In terms of the gender of this scent, we felt that it could be worn equally well by anyone. The notes might make it sound as if it sits more towards the stereotypically feminine end of the spectrum, but it would sit very comfortably on a more masculine person too, because of the punchy use of spices.
D600 wears best in the cooler months of autumn and winter. This allows the gorgeous vanilla to really shine, but takes the edge off the buzzy spices and more floral aspects. If you wear it on hot days, these are really amplified and it can become a bit too heady – certainly for our tastes at the very least.
Carner Barcelona have been around for about ten years now, but lately have really ramped up releasing new scents. D600, from their woody collection, is one of their older fragrances, but one which we wanted to highlight because it feels like it gets a little overlooked by its showier siblings. It’s a really strong and solid scent and an excellent one to try if you are looking for fragrances which have a bold and true vanilla element.
The Carner family come from a tradition of Spanish leatherwork, and they bring this artisanal approach to fragrance making. We’ve previously reviewed Bo-Bo, Megalium, Sweet William, Latin Lover, Besos, Tardes and Palo Santo by the brand.
D600 is available from Bloom Perfumery London, where it is priced at £140 for 100ml EdP or £100 for 50ml.
We purchased a full bottle of this scent at our own cost.