Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scent Systems

Some of you may have been familiar with Scent Systems from the days it was a posh niche perfumes retailer in London that included custom scents as part of their services. A few years back, the company underwent a shift and became a perfume house that uses only natural building blocks in their perfumes, and the bespoke fragrances are also 100% natural. Scent Systems was founded by Hiram Green, a Canadian that followed his dreams and ended up on the other side of the pond. He now works with George Dodd, a perfumer and a renown fragrance consultant and researcher in the field of fragrance and psychology. His book, His book “Fragrance: The Psychology and Biology of Perfume” (co-edited with S. Van Toller) includes some of his researches as well as other researchers (including the infamous inventors of the Colour Rosette Test), which were key to understanding the impact of fragrance on human beings. He now operates from a small studio in the Highlands of Scotland, and his connection to this landscape is reflected in the choice of some of the aromatics used in the floral collection he designed for Scent Systems, such as heather absolute and Scottish bog myrtle.

Last week, Scent System’s coffret of the 5 floral perfumes arrived in the mail. While the five are quite different from one another, the line has a style, and it’s as if there is a thread that connects them all. Each is named after a flower, and that note is distinct and present; yet they are far more complex and rich to be categorized as soliflores. Aside from the natural perfumery staples, the line uses some rare natural essences that even I am not familiar with (i.e.: heliotrope, basmati flower and heather absolutes), and also some natural isolates (i.e.: aldehydes that occur in plants rather than synthesized from an unrelated source). The perfumes are all dense, rich, and have a slightly oily opening (which I’m guessing is the aldehydes) that reminds me of the scent of blood, yet not in a disturbing way. The line is intriguing and original, yet has a solid foundation in classic perfumery principles and the perfumes have an interesting evolution and are long lasting.

I intend to give a full review of the scents soon, but would like to use this post to give them all a first-impression introduction:

Jasmine - the freshest of them all, and slightly grassy jasmine, paired with herbs (basil and verbena) overtop vetiver base.

Rose - opens overly fruity and ripe with spicy, turmeric-like after-note and rose isolates dominant and sharp, but softens into more complex rose territory after a while. The dryout reveals a patchouli and curry-like base.

Wild Violet - I found this to be more spicy than I expected, rather than a fragile, powdery floral. An opoponax note comes forth right away, than replaced by roses; and only later on the iris notes glide in and create a more violet-y impression.

Tuberose - I thought I would love this one the most, as it smells most delicious from the vial, but it ended up very different than the opening. Starts off as a creamy, heady and slightly juicy, and reminds me of Miller Harris’ Noix de Tubereuse, which I like, but once the tuberose subsides it’s not as intriguing.

Oeillet is by far my favourite of them all, and is a dusky, dark seductive green, herbaceous and spicy oriental. Sage is the key note though, in my opinion, and having grown up surrounded by sage this might explain why I’m partial to it.

Full reviews will be posted over the next couple of weeks after I wear each a few more times. If you have already experienced Scent Systems' floral collection please do comment :)

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