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, February 15, 2013


The numbers are probably confusing, but Neil's first Devil Scent was named, not numbered, so his #2 is actually the third in the series. Once again, the quality of these fragrances is impressive. 

Neil Morris DevilScent #2
Sweet, resinous, and just a little bit bitter to start with, with faint notes of wintergreen, this version is lower-key than the previous two, but still extremely compelling. A few minutes in, I think I smell a lot of cumin along with some labdanum and sweet floral notes. For a while the cumin dominates, a raw smell of freshly crushed cumin seeds. However the strength of the cumin seems to fluctuate.  I smelled a lot more cumin the first time I tried it than I did on the following trials. Maybe I was just expecting it on subsequent wearings, so didn’t notice it as much. The strong spicy mixture sweetens as it develops, becoming almost like candy or amaretto, but still with a hint of cumin.  In this phase it’s incredibly rich and sensuous. As it continues to dry down, I start smelling some sort of animalic musk. At this point the fragrance changes completely, becoming quietly gorgeous, almost a “one’s own scent but better” feeling. It doesn’t last as long as the others, only 4-5 hours, before it’s pretty much merged imperceptibly into my skin.

Amanda Feeley Devilscent #3
Devil Scent #3 is another bitter fragrance, but this time it’s more green, Artemesia-like herbs than wood or sawdust, almost like a purified version of #2 with a tiny hint of citrus and some resinous labdanum. As it develops, it becomes a little bit spicy and peppery, then luminous, almost translucent. It’s quietly beautiful, a scent to meditate on. Towards the end, it becomes sweet and slightly incense-y. Longevity is excellent. It’s a truly lovely fragrance that reminds me of walking through a field of sun-warmed dried grass and sagebrush, a fragrance that I want to sniff and sniff. It’s my favorite of Amanda’s Devil Scents. I want a bottle of it!

My own Olympic Orchids DEV #3 is my primary go-to scent when I want to relax. I wear it sometimes when I sleep, and always have amazing dreams. It’s 100% natural (as I think Amanda’s is, too). It starts out with a spicy-boozy-fruity note that reminds me of an old-fashioned plum pudding, but gradually becomes darker, more animalic, and almost sinister as the labdanum, ambergris, and African bluegrass come to the fore. If I put it on at night, it lasts until well into the next morning. For some reason it reminds me of my grandmother’s room when I was a kid.

I think we all based our #3 fragrances on the part of the story when Dev and the heroine part company, convinced that it will be forever (literally, since they are both immortal at that point). It’s the adagio movement of the piece, in a minor key as they both walk away from each other. Neil turned it into a traumatic parting followed by a swirl of conflicted memories as the heroine revisits the past, viewing it through a new lens, gradually making her peace with it all. I think Amanda and I both interpreted the separation process as a sort of quiet resignation to the inevitable. Her fragrance evokes the heroine crying a few tears initially, but walking quietly away with fond thoughts of the past, looking forward to peace and an almost religious enlightenment in the future. Mine, like Neil’s, has her kicking and screaming a little as she says goodbye, but then walking away in quiet resignation, into a bleak future in which she sees an empty, dark stone tomb extending outward into infinity. As before, all of the perfumes complement each other, like different musical instruments playing their parts in a single piece. 

[photos from Wikimedia. Paintings (top to bottom) by: Herbert Maxen, 1950, James Tissot, 1871, Heinrich Vogler, 1898] 


  1. I think that what amazes me the most about this project is just how all of you brought back my story to me in ways I had never anticipated, and picked up on other aspects I wasn't even consciously aware I wrote into the story. But if I'm honest, I think our hapless heroine would indeed be kicking and screaming not a little! ;)

    1. It's amazing how much of what we create happens subconsciously. I didn't realize until after the fact that my 4 perfumes were like a set of musical movements, each of which went with one part of the story. But of course, this was the case given that I worked on each one while reading the corresponding part. We all end up surprising ourselves!

  2. One of the coolest things to me, was the fact that several of us were thinking in musical terms - that this was a symphony which had great highs and lows. How best to translate the story into scent? Multiple movements :)


    1. Amanda, I thought that was really cool, too, when I found out that you had also thought of the scents as musical movements!