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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


At this point in my life I’m what you would call a recreational runner, someone who goes out a couple of times a week and trots around the neighborhood just for the fun of being outside and staying in shape, at least at some minimal level. As I run around my neighborhood, I’m always aware of the odors that I pass through, both the bad and the good. On the bad side, there’s the choking smell of car exhaust, fabric softener spewing from people’s dryers, or the smell of the pesticides and fertilizers that people dump on their lawns to keep them an obscenely green monoculture. On the good side, there’s the smell of the occasional flower - lilacs, roses, wisteria, whatever is blooming at the moment. There’s the smell of wet dirt and vegetation during or after a rain. The smell of wood burning in stoves and fireplaces in winter. All of these odors are an integral part of the landscape that I enjoy while running.

A whole different issue is running while wearing perfume, which I have been doing more and more lately as I test and formulate scents. The other day I went running while wearing Balenciaga Cristobal, a perfectly nice vanilla-based scent. The weather was warm, and I was sweating a little. Often I don’t notice the perfume I’m wearing given that I’m moving forward, albeit at a slow pace. However, on this run the fumes of the Cristobal were rising up from my body, making me almost nauseated. Apparently vanilla is not a running-friendly scent. This has gotten me to wondering whether certain scents can not only make running more or less pleasant, but actually have the capacity to impair or enhance performance.

Over the next months I’m going to do some research and experimentation with single notes to see which ones might improve the running experience, or even promote running farther and/or faster. Stay tuned for occasional updates on what I find out. Who knows - I might even really get in shape and start racing again using my secret weapon. I'm not sure yet whether it should boost my own speed or leave my competitors gagging in my sillage! Maybe if I'm lucky it'll do both.

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