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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Sometimes a post on another blog really gets me going. This morning it was Marla’s satire on Mirabella the Cat and the accompanying discussion of what induces one to actually buy a bottle of perfume. I started responding to it in the comments section and halfway through realized that I had practically written a whole blog post.

I was particularly sensitized to the issue of nonsensical hype because I recently sampled Creed Love in White, which epitomizes ridiculous advertising. In fact, it can practically hold its own with Mirabella the Cat and her special demographic. First, the facts about the fragrance (Creed, not Mirabella): Love in White starts out as jasmine surrounded by aquatic and “manly”-spicy notes. As it evolves, the jasmine shares the stage with generic florals and harsh, synthetic woody notes, giving the whole composition the aura of a functional scent for a shampoo amped up to 80s proportions, with tremendous sillage and skin-bonding tenacity.

Now for the hype: Apparently a number of celebrities wear Love in White. Who cares which celebrity wears a perfume? Their taste is not mine. Why is it that all of the perfumes reported to be favorites of celebrities (or at least owned by celebrities) are overpoweringly filled with floral notes, especially jasmine? Are they meant to be used as repellants to keep the paparazzi at a distance? I suppose the target demographic is celebrity wannabes, who are probably as numerous at department store perfume counters as cats are in the alleys of Naso Asqueroso, Baja California, where, according to the buzz, Mirabella spends her winter vacations.

Celebrities aside, the promotion of Love in White is further degraded by all the circulating hype about Oliver Creed traveling the world for 5 years in his yacht searching for the stuff that went into this fragrance. In all fairness, this overblown version of the story seems to be an urban legend fabricated by the retailers who sell Creed, since the Creed website itself simply mentions a love of sailing and materials from five continents. Good for Mr Creed that he can afford a yacht and have the leisure time to travel on it, but I don’t understand why department stores and other perfume outlets think they can sell the product by making it sound as if he got off his yacht in thousands of exotic locales, saw exotic plants growing in the jungle or on the beach, extended his magical hand and said “Let there be essential oil, tincture, or absolute” and there was essential oil, tincture, or absolute. I would be willing to bet that an employee of the Creed company ordered all of the materials used in Love in White from a wholesaler or bulk producer the same way I order my materials. I also use materials from 5 continents, as does just about any other perfumer who uses naturals. There’s nothing special about it. The difference is that Creed can order in mass quantities, so the same materials end up being much cheaper for him than they are for me or any other indie perfumer. Personally, I don’t want to subsidize the purchase and operation of other people’s yachts through my perfume purchases.

I guess the point is that what a perfumer or their advertising staff says can be completely ridiculous to begin with, or it can start out just mildly off-putting and become distorted by the retailers and the media as it is repeated over and over again, eventually becoming thoroughly ridiculous.

Wow! I really went off on a tangent about Creed and their retailers, and didn’t get to the main point about my evolving quest to make and market top quality no-nonsense perfumes at no-nonsense prices. That will be Part 2 of what is quickly becoming a series. Stay tuned.


  1. Great post. I am so tired of the endless BS that gets dumped on customers at counters, from magazines etc... Just how stupid do these people think we are?

    On perfumer Adam Gottschalk's blog, he wrote about the ridiculous backstory of Floris' Snow Rose. It stinks of MS worse than the Creed tale.

    You have inspired me to think more about where my money goes.

  2. Yes, Ellen! Who cares what fragrances "celebrities" wear or put their names to, what products they recommend or who they endorse for public office? Why would I buy anything suggested by a celebrity who is a master of self promotion?

    When I was young I believed that if a product or service was advertised I didn't really need it and so did not buy it. (I modified that viewpoint a few years ago when I saw an ad on television for spuds, sponsored by somebody's Potato Council.) My new take on advertising is that the more ridiculous the ad the less I need the item advertised. Sometimes I succumb, but at least I am aware that the item is being "romanced" and that I am being "sold". Gail

  3. Cringing at my typo...my comment should read "stinks of BS", not MS.

  4. Joan Elaine, Don't you hate it when you make a typo, post it, and then aren't allowed to correct it? I don't know how many times I've done that. I knew what you meant, though. B and M are only two keys away :)

    Gail, if a product is something that I want or need anyway (like potatoes!), I can usually overlook ridiculous advertising. However, advertising is never going to make me buy something I don't want or need, and may even suppress my desire to buy the product or at least the advertised brand.

  5. I have to admit that while advertising hasn't nudged me into the purchase of something I didn't want, I have purchased more than a few things I didn't need because I was influenced by advertising. My kitchen full of gadgets and studio full of instruments is a testament to that. It has taken me awhile, but I am now aware of the common "Admire, Desire, Acquire" advertising strategy and am less likely to bite.
    But then I have to differentiate between want and need. Sometimes I believe that luxury (perfume for instance) is almost a necessity. Gail

  6. The photo of the perfume looks nice. Is this for men or women? :)

    pheromones for women