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.

Friday, January 28, 2011


The second step in making Alyssum’s bespoke perfume was to recreate the scent of sweet alyssum flowers. Turns out it was a lot easier than I thought it would be to make an accord that approximates the scent of the actual flowers. As I wrote in a post last fall, sweet alyssum has a strong sweet fragrance that’s best described as a mixture of honey, honeycomb, and pollen. It’s floral, gourmand and edgy all at the same time.

I was surprised to find that I could recreate the basic scent using only a few synthetic materials that provide a mild basic floral scent, a honey scent, and the sharper honeycomb-pollen scent. It really does mimic the fragrance of sweet alyssum! Of course I have to wait a while to see how the materials blend together, then tweak it if necessary, but it’s close.

The big question that remains is whether anyone would want to wear it in a perfume as is, or whether the sweet alyssum accord will need to be embellished and made larger, broader, and deeper than life. This will depend partly on what Alyssum thinks when she samples it, and partly how it meshes with the other parts of the perfume. I think integrating it with the woody, smoky base is going to be the biggest challenge.

The cedar accord I made has mellowed nicely, and smells just like the cedar prototype I was aiming for. Smoke I already have. The main components are just about ready to test.

Since my first post on sweet alyssum, I’ve examined the plants in the neighbor’s garden more thoroughly and learned that it not only comes in white, but in purple, pink, and everything in between. The flowers all smell pretty much the same regardless of color.


  1. They all smell alike, but the old fashioned, taller white is the strongest. They cast their fragrance a *long* way!

    While I think alyssum alone might not be a great fragrance, I think it would be marvelous in with other things. Alone I think it would not last very long, or might turn to just honey. Personally, I think using it in a chypre would work well.

  2. I agree that alyssum alone wouldn't work very well as a perfume, but your idea of combining it with a chypre is interesting. I'm excited now to see how it combines with smoky and woody base notes, but might also try it in a chypre just for fun.

  3. Hello,

    I'm helping find photos to post on the website of the Friends School Plant Sale, one of Minnesota's largest annual plant sales. It's a nonprofit school fundraiser put on by all volunteers. Would you be willing to allow us to use this lovely purple sweet alyssum photo for the website? http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_HLTqaKDvAj4/TUOt632hunI/AAAAAAAAAYU/T03u8tU-cQM/s1600/Alyssum%2Bpurple.jpg

    Best regards,

  4. Anna, I just now saw this and hope it's not too late. Yes, you're welcome to use the photo for your plant sale. Thank you for asking. I'd e-mail you directly, but can't find any contact info for you.

  5. Why not start off with the flowers themselves, and make an alyssum essential oil, concentrate, oil or alcohol extract, or a concrete?

  6. Was anything ever created??? I'd love a cologne that smelled as alyssum