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, June 2, 2010


I’ve always been puzzled by the concept of “men’s” and “women’s” perfumes. Today I’m wearing the men’s version of Guerlain Vetiver and loving it. I haven’t tried the women’s version, but I can’t imagine it would be better than this. Guerlain Vetiver is similar to another “men’s” vetiver fragrance that I like to wear, The Different Company’s Sel de Vetiver, but richer. I also prefer the “men’s” version of Amouage Jubilation XXV, which, to me, is like blackberries, incense and amber. What’s masculine about that? Other “men’s” scents that I’ve recently tried and loved are By Kilian Straight to Heaven, with its strong retsina note, and Knize Ten, with its leather notes.

So what is it that makes a scent masculine, other than marketing? I suppose it’s the absence of in-your-face florals, but I see no reason why men shouldn’t wear flowery scents if they like them. They would be far preferable to the typical drugstore “men’s cologne” scent composed of synthetic lavender, cedar, and all too often my olfactory nemesis, “teak”. I used to work with someone who would come and sit in my office reeking of these things, contaminating the air for hours afterward. I really wish he had switched to roses or jasmine or orange blossoms or gardenias.

I’m not overly fond of true floral scents except on actual flowers. They have their place in creating perfume accords, especially the orchid flower scents that I’ve been experimenting with, but for my own enjoyment I like herbal notes, resins, incense, amber, woods, musks, leather, and the occasional odd and unexpected note. Does this sound like masculine scents? Sometimes I like fruity notes, especially black currant and fig, or gourmand notes like vanilla, coconut and spices. Now we’re getting into “unisex” territory.

In formulating my own fragrances, I really don’t think about whether they’re masculine or feminine, just about the concept and how to realize it. I do not plan to market them as being for men or women, but rather let people smell them and judge for themselves whether they’d wear them.


  1. VETIVER! One of my very favorites, and one I think is truly unisex, although I'd say nearly all are, in one way or another!

    I look forward to following your blog in the future!

  2. Some of the perfume's notes including jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood, rose, ylang-ylang and musk are very well known from their aphrodisiac properties. But this is a subject for the separate article. Parfum Elizabeth Arden