What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I thought it would be good to start today's post with a little bit of information about the orchid whose photo is shown in yesterday's post. One of my favorite hybrid orchids is Laeliocattleya Netrasiri. This plant is not much to look at in the summer, just a bunch of big, sprawling, succulent stems and leaves, but it miraculously bursts into bloom every year around the winter solstice with a profusion of velvety dark red flowers that are intensely fragrant. There is nothing better than these flowers to brighten up the dark, cold, rainy days of a Pacific Northwest winter. Goodbye, seasonal affective disorder! Hello tropical jungle!

Cattleya orchids are the kind that used to be used for the orchid corsages that were popular in the early to mid 20th century. Most of the orchids grown for corsage flowers were lavender or white, but cattleyas come in every imaginable color. Because they are pollinated by day-flying bees and butterflies, they are not only colorful, but emit wonderful fragrances that are strongest in the early part of the day. A few will switch to a totally different scent at night, but that’s a story for another time.

Red Cattleya was the second orchid fragrance that I attempted to formulate. The first orchid fragrance that I made was fairly simple, so I thought the scent of Red Cattleya would be just as easy to duplicate. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Most cattleyas have a characteristic soft, moist, floral, slightly fruity fragrance, but it is extremely elusive. It took many attempts to produce something that resembled the actual flower and was also wearable as a perfume. When I finally had a formula that seemed close, I considered it a major triumph. An especially nice feature of the formula that I finally came up with is that it works equally well in perfume or soap.

In terms of the scent, Red Cattleya has been described by those who have tried it as like walking into a hothouse packed with the most exotic orchid species, originally brought back by explorers from jungles all over the world. The blooming cattleyas envelop you with a cloud of soft, sumptuous fruity-floral fragrance that is incredibly sexy. The perfume notes include citrus, spices, peach, apricot, hyacinth, gardenia, violets and lilac. At the base is a dark current of musk, exotic woods and vanilla. This perfume was released for local sale in December 2009, and will be one of the signature Orchid Scents available on the website.

Watch for the upcoming orchid fragrance contest and post a comment for a chance to win a Red Cattleya gift set!


  1. Hello Ellen,

    Your blog is lovely. I do like your packaging very much. I just wish we had smell-a-puter ! tehehehehee. then I could take a big, long whiff of your gorgeous perfumes.I wish you all the success in the world
    Love and hugs, joey

  2. Hi Joey,

    Thanks for stopping by! A smell-a-puter would be a wonderful invention! Given that we don't have one, maybe we can get a perfume exchange going.


  3. Hello Doc Elly,
    I love orchids in perfumes. My favorite is NU by Y. S. Laurent. Here, orchids it is mixed with cardamom, iris, jasmine, incense (of course, has and other ingredients).My favorite olfactive group is : oriental spicy, oriental woody and oriental :)
    I would like a perfume with the same structure, strong, well defined, spicy and with lots of flowers :) And do not miss the orchid, of course :)

    Glad to know me in this wonderful space !
    Have a lots of inspiration in this creative work!

    Simona :)
    P.S. Sorry for my poor English

  4. Simona,

    I'm also a big fan of orientals and strong, well-defined perfumes. Seems that we think alike, at least in that respect!