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.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It has to start somewhere!

Ever since I can remember I’ve been fascinated by smells - the smell of the house we lived in when I was a toddler, the smell of flowers and plants in the garden, the smell of things cooking, the smells of people with and without perfume, the smell of rain or the ocean, stones, wax crayons - anything and everything that had an odor. Once I was old enough to buy things for myself, I gradually amassed a huge collection of essential oils and whatever mainstream perfume minis were available in the shops that sold them. At that point I was more interested in opening them and sniffing them than actually wearing them.

Despite this obsession with sniffing things, my path to perfumery was not direct. In fact, it was a completely different interest that led me to it. I grow orchids commercially, selling them at local shows and through an online nursery business, Olympic Orchids. In the process of taking care of the orchids, I noticed that when they bloomed, the different varieties had completely different fragrances, and realized that they might make wonderful perfumes unlike any others that are on the market.

At first I experimented just for myself, using the essential oils that I had in my collection to try to recreate the different fragrances. It quickly became apparent that essential oils alone are not sufficient to accurately duplicate flower scents, so I started selectively tweaking with absolutes, infusions, tinctures, and synthetics to get the effects that I wanted. Once I came close, I realized that the scent of an orchid is being constantly renewed with top notes secreted by the flower, something that cannot happen in a perfume that’s only applied once and allowed to evaporate. This meant that I had to adapt the orchids’ scents to create perfumes with a traditional top, middle and base note structure. It’s been a long process of experimentation and learning, but I now have a basic set of orchid-inspired perfumes as well as a good many others. My general philosophy is to use natural materials whenever possible, resorting to synthetics only when nothing else will work.

It’s exciting to write the first post for my blog, and look forward to posting on a near-daily basis. 


  1. Hello Doc Elly :)
    I'm crimsoncircle, from the Fragrantica. It's so nice to share with others, especially passions:)
    Happy birthday to your blog! And, Good Luck :)

  2. Simona-Elena,

    You have the honor of being the first to post on the new blog. If you PM me on Fragrantica with your mailing address, I'll send you a little something in appreciation.

  3. Hey, what's up Doc? lol..it's Frankie from PM group...congrats on your blog and new perfume project, your level of passion is impressive...you must have your work cut out for you though, just how many varieties of orchids are there?

    Best of luck!

  4. FrankieCee, Thanks for checking this out. There are thousands of varieties of orchids, but not all of them are fragrant. Only a few select orchids will get their own perfumes!

  5. Great to read you here :)
    I also started with blog... just few days ago ;)

  6. 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!


  7. Bellatrix, Congratulations on your new blog! I've got it bookmarked.