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.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I’ve presented the two perfumes that I’ll add to my line, and now it’s time for the two that I’m going to rethink a little before deciding what to do with them. The first of these is Emergence, meant to represent the first few indolic days of an orchid’s bloom, before it goes into full production of its main theme.

Initial: Immediate blast of sweet and funky fruit and flowers
1 minute: Some sandalwood? Camphor is here but more like an aura than a distinct fragrance note.
2 minutes: Some sweet citrus appears
5 minutes: The fruity funk still predominates, but the citrus and camphor push through
6 minutes: Here comes some honey. Also can detect some amber (?) and labdanum (?). The fragrance is losing its sweet edge and is blending into the familiar Golden Cattleya.
15 minutes: The initial funk has still not faded. I think I would like some cedar and more camphor at this point
30 minutes: “Golden Cattleya” is here with a sweet, camphor halo.
1 hour: Similar to 30 minutes but weaker.
2 hours: Lingering orange, honey and a little spice (?)
6 hours: A trace of what I smelled at 2 hours. All but gone.
General comments: The initial sweet blast was almost too much for me but it didn’t take long for the first impression to resolve into a modified “Golden Cattleya” with a lovely aura of camphor. The sweet introduction, including indole and civet and some fruit or other seemed to be stronger in “Emergence” than in the prototype “Cattleya #1”. While I find these quite strong my husband really likes them. There is something very sexy and brazen about the first impression of this fragrance.

This is my old love. I can feel the top note are changed. Indolic and slightly camphorous. Beautiful. The base is less sweet and I like that. If the old version was more opulent and rich this one comes with a little bit of introduction. I love indoles so even a higher ratio would have been fine. I find this fragrance unique and lovable. No attributes will make justice. No description can be satisfying. This is a fragrance you have to smell and enjoy.

After the dryness of the first two scents, this one really startled me. So sweet! And not just sweet, but effervescent! It was like Sweet Tarts (those sour/sweet candies we had as kids, er, 50 years ago) and it *fizzed* in my nose! I’d love to know how you managed that. I’d mix it with something winey and try for champagne in a scent! Anyway, after about 10 minutes the fizzy goes away for the most part and the scent deepened, and it smells like musk and feels like mink. After 30 minutes, it is powdery, warm and golden, but still sweet. I LOVE it, and was sorry that it faded so fast on me- an hour? But like I said above, that’s not unusual for me. I don’t know what notes a standard Golden Cattleya has but I think I’d like it. Aha! Reading your notes again I see there is civet- that’s where the mink came from.

Emergence seems like it stays "the same" (something like orange) but changes character from a fruit to a floral to a spice to a wood. I have to check "the same" by comparing samples put on paper at different times but it's something I haven't heard of any perfumer doing before. Love it!

[After trying them all] Emergence remains my favorite. To my nose it started as a sweet fruity orange, then morphed into a semi-floral orange, a citrusy orange, a spicy orange, a woody orange, and finally a dusty orange, all over about 15 hours (on paper). Surround was good but I wouldn’t worry about intruding on others.

My first thought was that this was a copy of Golden Cattleya. However, when comparing them side-by-side, there are distinct differences: the Emergence is fresher and lighter with some sort of medicinal note while the older version is very heavy, sweet and sultry. I believe that the older version is a better fragrance; it seems more rounded and more distinctive. Golden Cattleya reminds me of Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue. While the fragrances have distinctively different notes, they both have the glow of sunset and an enduringly heady projection. Golden Cattleya seems to come from a different era - one where opulence and indolence were common among the extremely wealthy. Narcisse Noir also belongs in this category.

With that being said, I would probably wear the Emergence on special occasions; the Golden Cattleya is just too floral and sweet. Basically I see Emergence as a good fragrance but Golden Cattleya as being better and perfect on the right woman. I am just very thankful that someone is making fragrance that is neither "fresh", "clean" nor "on-trend" and does not smell as if it comes from a chemical factory!

First impression on skin: citrus leather, a little creamy. Sweet but not sugary -honeyed!
Signature - this perfume was created by Ellen Covey, no doubt!
Second testing a week later - Reminds me of Golden Cattleya. Do not smell anything leathery. I tested it the same night I tested Salamanca - maybe that's why I thought I could smell leather?
Very well blended at top. Neroli? Orange blossom? About 5+ minutes in, seems more floral - narcissus and jasmine? Smells fantastic!
Seems to be getting sweeter now, 15+ minutes in, candied.
30 min: muskiness seems to be emererging. I like this- like a honeyed-skin, ripe peaches.
Sunny, sweet and sexy! 

Oh so pink! But also something bitter and dry at the front. I get a lot of civet, so the scent gets earthier throughout the drydown. It reminded me of candied roasted pecans rolled in fertilizer. After looking at brief: the dryness must be the camphor. Personally I get a lot of civet, almost too much. That can be good, under the right circumstances. For me, though, this might be just a touch too much.

Well, it really reminds me of your other orchid scents. Unfortunately I didn't try those side by side with this one, I can just tell it has your orchid signature. And before you take me wrong, I really like that. It's uniquely yours and very enjoyable.

Starts sweet and lightly fruity and reminds me a lot of a type of bubblegum we had here when I was little. Afterward, sometimes I get an ambery feel I enjoy a lot, and sometimes I don't, but it doesn't seem to change a lot.
The comments overall seem positive, but the take-home message that I got is that it’s still a little too close to the original Golden Cattleya. After sending out samples, I found that the indole, civet and camphorous notes progressively decline as the concentrate sits. These notes were super-strong at first, but are now quite subtle. The differences in the extent to which people smelled indole, civet, and camphor may have had to do, in part, with the time that the blend sat before testing. I have learned that this particular formula requires a very long time to stabilize. I’m trying to decide whether to tweak it some more or just move on to another indolic, civet-drenched orchid scent, that of Encyclia radiata. I think I may go for the Encyclia.

After all of this testing, I will probably end up with a list of fragrances that will never be listed on the main pages of my website, but that can be special-ordered through the wild card option if anyone wants them.


  1. So, do you think it's the camphor that created that 'fizz' near the top that I sensed? (I have no camphor scents in my organ)

    I need to try my sample again, and see if I still smell the same things.

  2. HI Ellen,

    I just tried Emergence again and the indole and civet ARE less obvious to me than on my first try. I like this slightly aged Emergence more than my first experience (maybe I am just responding to suggestion?). Do you plan to wait until the formula stabilizes and then tweak it and in the meantime work on Encyclia radiata? I'm going to try Emergence again tomorrow when my skin and nose are not full of the scent I applied this morning (the old Lanvin Spanish Geranium). It seems like there was a very positive response to this fragrance and the idea of following the lifetime of an orchid scent is still intriguing.


  3. Gail, I think I'm going to eventually pursue the idea of doing a series on the lifetime of an orchid scent, and will revisit Emergence with that in mind. You're right that it was well-received overall.