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, and the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products. To counter my inherent grumpy tendencies, I try to write about something I appreciate at least once a week. Once in a while I get up on my soapbox and write about things that aren't at all related to perfumery. 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, April 10, 2011


I was recently asked to recommend some Madini fragrances, so will do so, prefaced by the caveat that my tastes are a little eccentric and may not represent the majority view. As always, sample before you buy! Of the Madini creations that I’ve tried, I would recommend the following: Ambre, Ambergris, Incense, Autumn, Musk Gazelle, Mimosa (my first Madini), Mokhalate Malaki, Musk Pierre, Spring, and Malvaloca. I have a lot more samples to try, so stay tuned for more recommendations. Here are the latest reviews:

Madini Malvaloca
I was expecting something floral, since this fragrance is supposed to be made from Moroccan wild geraniums, but Malvaloca is extremely green, camphorous and herbal, almost like a mixture of eucalyptus and pine. It showcases the geranium leaves and stems, not the flowers, but it’s not any of the standard garden geranium leaf scents. Instead, it’s something totally different that can’t really be described in terms of other scents. With time it sweetens, taking on a tonka-like note. Overall, it’s a fresh, clean, somewhat medicinal herbal scent that eventually mellows into a mildly sweet, almost hay-like base. It’s not overly strong, and it only lasts 5-6 hours. As someone who enjoys smelling Tiger Balm, Vicks Vaporub, and various wintergreen-scented sports rubs, Malvaloca is right up my alley, being a unique take on this genre. I like it a lot, and will likely end up ordering a bottle.

Madini Fire
Not really what I would have expected, since the short description on the Talisman/Madini website just mentions wood, spices, and lavender. Yes, there’s a little spice in there, mostly cinnamon as is befitting, but there’s also a lot of floral stuff. I could swear there’s tuberose and jasmine, both very strong. I don’t smell much in the way of wood or lavender, at least not up front, but I do smell a strange, rubbery note, maybe something in the tuberose. Fire is too floral for my taste, so I’ll be content with my sample. However, since I seem to be developing a taste for tuberose, I may end up changing my mind.

Madini Summer
Extremely powerful, spicy, lily-like floral. The description says it has “every flower” in it, and I believe it. Want to try the contents of Madini’s millefleurs vat, anyone? I applied very little, but the floral notes are so overpowering that I had to scrub to knock the intensity down to something tolerable. Even then there was ridiculously strong sillage, and the mess-of-flowers scent stayed on my skin for a good 24 hours. I like strong perfumes, but enough is enough, especially when it comes to mixed flowers. Not for me. I’m glad I just have a sample and not a blind-buy full bottle. This must be another of the subpar “newer” Madinis.

Madini Paradise

Strong, slightly spicy floral that’s supposed to be carnation, but doesn’t really smell like carnation to me. It’s more of a mixed bouquet in which no particular flower stands out at first. After an hour, there’s a strong violet note in the sillage that persists for hours along with traces of carnation and rose up close to the skin. It stays linear up through the end, with the violet never becoming very powdery, but rather staying fresh and dry. It’s an odd combination of carnation and violet that works well, even for someone who usually doesn’t like florals. This is powerful stuff, so a tiny drop dabbed on is enough to produce mega-sillage and last 24 hours on your skin and probably through a wash or two on clothing. It’s interesting to note that I had recently tried Floris White Rose and was struck by the similarity between it and Paradise. It was almost as if Floris had diluted the Madini oil to make an EdT or Madini had taken the Floris concentrate and used it as an oil.


  1. Doc Elly -

    I am a long-time user of Madini oils and find the newer ones mostly unworthy. Some years back they produced beautiful and unusual fragrances like: Habshoosh, Mints of Morocco, Shahrazad, and Success. These have been discontinued and replaced with "trendy" perfumes. (And unfortunately the current "trends" are not good, in my opinion.) Some worthy scents are still to be had: Chipre and Maderas de Oriente as well as the ones you mentioned.

    The former packaging was also better: beautiful Oriental bottles with bases, caps and dip sticks made of brass. These have been replaced with cheaper roller bottles. Pity.

    Best Wishes,


  2. Robert, I couldn't agree more! I have a couple of the old ones, and there's no comparison. I hate the cheap, leaky rollerball bottles and am finding most of the new "trendy" perfumes of poor quality. What a disappointment from a house that I had known and loved.

  3. Hi Ellen,
    I posted another comment about Madini on the February blog. I agree that Madini's latest packaging and scent choices are unfortunate. I imagine most of these choices have to do with the cost of materials. My husband is always looking for fine shirts and can no longer find them in the stores. We have considered buying the sea island cotton and doing the sewing ourselves. Scents and clothing (and lots of other things) that would have been considered sub standard just a few years ago have become desirable and fashionable because of advertising and marketing. The public is buying really poor quality materials (and workmanship) for premium prices. Too bad!