'Words make scents' explores synergies between poetry and fragrance

Seven Scent sponsors initiative matching perfumers and poets

Kate Williams (left) and Odette Toilette (right) explore the language of scent



Fragrance company Seven Scent has sponsored a project matching perfumers with poets to explore the language of scents and inspire new fragrance commissions. Words make scents, co-organised by Odette Toilette, founder of Scratch+Sniff events, and poet Claire Trévien, founder of Sabotage Reviews, brought together a dozen perfumers and an equal number of poets to encourage both professions to seek inspiration from the other.

At the event, which took place on 12 June, poets including Tori Truslow, Lindsey Holland and James Webster shared works inspired by both classic and modern fragrances (ranging from Caron’s Narcisse Noir to Topman No.16), while perfumers including Kate Williams, Penny Williams, Steve Pearce and Nicolette Perry unveiled fragrances based on poems by those artists involved.

“This was a completely different style of brief from our usual marketing led commissions,” said Kate Williams, creative perfumer at Seven Scent. “Poetry can be highly emotive and encompass all the senses, and we must bring this complexity to life through a carefully formulated fragrance.”

Williams was partnered with poet Lindsey Holland. Commenting on her perfume-partner, Holland said: “I was struck by her intuition and by the speed at which she works. Her process is different to mine in that she writes very little down, certainly initially. It’s more of a physical process: pulling bottles from shelves, imagining which scents will be needed and trying them together… I think we both work with images though, whether visual or olfactory. At their essence, poems and perfumes both emerge from thoughts, senses and experiences so I suppose there’s an overlap in the processes of creating them.”

All the Words make scents poems are available in an anthology called Penning Perfumes available from http://penningperfumes.tumblr.com/. Meanwhile, Williams and Holland will present their respective creations at the IFRA UK Fragrance Forum on 18 October at the Royal Society.

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