Your perfume wafts me thither like a wind;Scent Systems is a company founded by Hiram Green specialising in all-natural fragrances, which were developped by professor George Dodd. Dr.Dodd has worked as a consultant for various international companies whilst at the same time pursuing an academic career at the University of Warwick (1971-1994). He can claim fathership of the electronic nose technology, since he established the UK’s only Smell Research Group at the University of Warwick in 1971, specializing in 'firsts' to create the worlds earliest electronic noses. He also founded the Olfaction Research Group (the only smell research group in the UK) and organized the world's first conference on the Psychology of Perfumery before moving to the Highlands in 1994. There, he established Aroma Perfumes and Aromasciences in a croft at Loch Awe in Wester Ross. In 2005, Dr.Dodd developed the Scent Systems bespoke perfume service and recently developed Scent Systems first ready-to-wear perfume collection.
I see a harbour thronged with masts and sails.
Still weary from the tumult of the gales,
and with the sailor’s song that drifts to me
are mingled odours of the tamarind,
and all my soul is scent and melody. ~Charles Baudelaire
The floral collection includes Jasmine, Tuberose, Rose, Oeillet (carnation), Wild Violet & Tuberose.
The Scent System fragrances are quite unusual and need to be approached with some apprehension: These are not intended to be a realistic approximation of the blossom baptism they got, but rather an interpretation of the idea of the flower in a manner which I haven't been accustomed to even in natural perfumes which have been featured on these pages. It's as if they're dawning from the pages of an old botany compedium with gothic images of stamen and chalice.
All-natural perfumes usually present an approach which necessitates time on the part of the wearer, contrary to commercial perfumery which utilises attractive top notes to grab you instantly. They usually begin on a very intense, thick and pungent aroma upon first sniff, then unfolding their complexity in billows of sensations that often remain on the blotter for days and weeks on end creating desire and longing. Indeed natural perfumes often gain complexity with time, because the natural maturation process continues in their flacon, advancing like a good millesime of Chauternes. "Once you taste a fine vintage wine, you fall love with its sheer richness of sensory experience, and you notice a lack when you indulge in a cheaper version; even though you have previously enjoyed this cheaper version. The same applies to fine perfume", as George Dodd confided to Sniffapalooza Magazine. Still, these fragrances at hand present their own little challenge and they are built on a clash of opposites which like passionate people argue and make up continuously, their prominent characteristic being texture.
For me, the most interesting in the lot was Oeillet. Carnation is a flower sadly underappreciated, often associated with funerals (alongside lilies) or used as a filler in a bouquet of more flamboyant beauties to cut down on costs. Yet its peppery, spicy aroma is having more carnal and earthy intentions than the afterworld to which we assign them. In ancient Rome carnations were referred to as Jove's flower, Jove being the God of Love, while I still recall the fiery flamenco dancers in Andalusia tucking one behind their ear as they clapped their hands to a frenzy to accompany their passionate dancing. I even recall how as a small child I was transfixed by the intensely, intoxicatingly fragrant white carnations we had potted in my bedroom's balcony and how often instead of the sword-like leaves I thought I was cutting for my night-stand, I came face to face with same-hued locusts in my palm! The pale shade of the blossoms, intensely so under the hot glaring sun, seemed at odds with the scent of the multi-petalled flowers that appeared prematurely wrinkled to my eyes, like a woman who has weathered life to become who she is. When some grain of another variety landed in my jardinière and "contaminated" the white carnations coming forth with a tinge of red at the outer ridge of the petal, somehow things seemed to take their proper meaning and fall into place puzzle-like upon finish of the last remaining bit. This was how carnation should look, a red-hot ribbon on the edge of cooler white volants! Little did I know that in the language of flowers it stands for unrequited love...
I have since long scoured classic perfumes for their almost arousing, erotic effect they provide thanks to their inclusion of a carnation note. The classic treatment of carnation in French perfumery is best exemplified by Caron, in which the allied forces of eugenol and isoeugenol molecules create the dazzling clove-y note which appears in Poivre extrait and in its Eau de Cologne Poivrée equivalent Coup de Fouet. The passionate aspects are also evident in Bellodgia, a multi-nuanced rich floral of epic proportions. Another direction is the smaller facet in Nina Ricci's classic and tender L'Air de Temps, given flight thanks to an overdose of salicylates. But while in those fragrances the peppery note of carnation is coming up like a jolt to tingle the nose naughtily, here in Oeillet by Scent Systems it unfolds under a camphoraceous and acidly green joli-laide impression that reminds me of the comparable treatment that Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake saved for tuberose in the agonisingly beautiful Tubereuse Criminelle. The mysterious effect is according to the perfumer due to a natural-occuring aldehyde which harmonises with the textural facets of the carnation note.
The quest for a natural carnation absolute is difficult since only a few manufacturers worlwide provide it and in some cases the crop essence is contaminated with tiny traces of some acetyl-pyrazine molecules which result in a nutty off aroma. In Oeillet George Dodd told me they source a special absolute from India, which as I attested through personal sampling, indeed unfolds differently than most carnation scents. Garlanded around it is a very spicy absolute from Basmati (another Indian and oriental scent note), the absolute oil from the ylang-ylang flower (quite different from the ordinary essential oil) and the absolute oil of rose centifoflia. The ‘heat’ aspect of oeillet is given by a blend of unusual spice oils including cardamom. The interstructural play of hot and cold is at the core of the fragrance and accounts for much of the charm of the atypical composition. The coda of the perfume is supported by an invisible warmth that melts on skin becoming cozy and soft like a soft pashmina put on chilly shoulders during an evening out in Kerala to harvest the humid night-air and its cornucopia of aromata.
Scent Systems are having a summer sale right now: "All full size bottles of our ready-to-wear floral perfume collection are reduced 20% percent for a limited time. We have also decided to extend this sale to include a reduction of 20% on our bespoke perfume gift vouchers and bespoke perfume refills. Our bespoke perfume gift vouchers have no expiry date; therefore, they can be purchased during the sale and redeemed any time in the future. Sale offer applies to online purchases from the Scent Systems website only. Sale ends June 30 2009 or until supplies last.". Click this link to claim your discount.
And a draw for our readers: Leave a comment for a full sample pack of the floral collection by Scent Systems!