Saturday, March 19, 2011

You got a reaction, didn't you?

Monday, 3/14/11 - Friday, 3/18/11

As someone who loves the PNW, I'm always excited to discovery anything perfumey up here round these parts. Olympic Orchids is a new line of handcrafted artisan fragrance products, first inspired by the incredible variety of scents produced by orchid flowers and created by Ellen Covey, owner of Olympic Orchids orchid nursery in the Pacific Northwest. I don't have a lot of experience with orchids, so I decided to give the five orchids from this perfumer a try this week.

Golden Cattleya - The scent of this orchid is pure gold - narcissus, daffodil, orange fruit, orange blossoms, honey, pollen, and cream soda combine with amber-tinged resins and musks to create a warm and long-lasting aura like late afternoon sunshine. This is not your usual sweet flowery orchid scent!

Sweet, warm, sort of citrusy -- this is a huge hit for summer. The opening has a bit of a creamsicle going on, it turns into a lovely orchid, but it ha all this high-potency sweetness to it, like an orchid dipped in honey and dusted with amber. It gets supersweet after about half an hour, but still is a desserty sort of orchid. 4 of 5 nods.

Red Cattleya - You’ve just walked into a Victorian hothouse packed with the most exotic orchid species, brought back by explorers from jungles all over the world. The scent of the blooming cattleyas envelops you, a soft, sumptuous fruity-floral blend with notes of citrus, peach, apricot, melon, hyacinth, gardenia, violets and lilac. At its base is a dark current of musk, exotic woods and vanilla.

Cherry kool-aid, violets, and peaches. It sounds sickly sweet and childish, but it isn't. The musk is there, adding a dry, earthy element to the experience. Definitely fruity-floral, in a plums cherries way on me (thought the melon gets strong on the drydown), but fruity nonetheless. 3 of 5 nods.

Javanica - Walk into a hothouse full of colorful moth orchids with their perfect round flowers and their succulent green leaves. Suddenly you’re captivated by a sweet, heady scent that seems to be coming from an invisible flower. It’s Phalaenopsis javanica, whose tiny red-striped flowers hide underneath the huge, shiny, umbrella-like leaves and produce a seductive spicy flowery scent. Javanica, a perfume inspired by this orchid has citrus, bergamot and fruity top notes, with mid and base notes of nutmeg, frankincense, lily-of-the-valley, rosewood, and vanilla. This mellow spicy floral scent typifies fragrant moth orchids.

This one is in the other direction. It is medicinal and resinous at first, but turns oily and nutty. Even though vanilla is one of the notes, it is barely present here, as a mild undercurrent. Unique: not quite foodie, not quite floral, and hard to pin down. 3.5 of 5 nods.

Little Stars - Imagine a hot, steamy night in the jungle. Insects chirping, unseen creatures moving in the leaves and branches, and the heavenly scent of a flower that must be the orchid queen of the night. A rich blend of citrus, neroli, ylang-ylang, clove bud and jasmine on a base of exotic woods, oud, black agar and atlas cedarwood. An unmistakable spicy floral scent that epitomizes white, night-fragrant orchids and the woody branches that they grow on.

Well hello oud! You're being all dirty oily dark fabulousness on my arm. There is almost sweet or floral about this opening. It's the most masculine thing I've ever smelled with the word "orchid" attached. It gets very clove-y in the middle. It also seems to have a black tea aspect to it. I think I'd like it, but what I'd really love is to smell it on my husband. I think it would be a great masculine. 4 of 5 nods.

Luzonica - "There is a bizarre orchid of the Philippine jungle called Bulbophyllum macranthum. It is relatively rare in cultivation, and not easy to grow unless you have a greenhouse. Its flowers are fleshy and spotted, and look and smell a little like sliced fruits - as well as other things. This orchid has inspired Luzonica, a scent that combines oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, coriander, pineapple, mango, guava, banana and tropical flowers, along with amber, exotic musks, resins and Tahitian vanilla. An extravagant and unique fragrance."

Definitely an attempt at tropical flowers and fruit, it strikes me as kind of banana flavored candy and pineapple juice scent. It's bubblegummy and incredibly youthful. It's so hard to do tropical fruits well, in a way that does come off as fake, and thhis one tries, really hard. But it's just too much for me -- too sweet, too candied, too "all the tropical fruits at once." My least favorite of the group. But if you like tropical, try it. I didn't want to wear it so much as drink it. 2 of 5 nods.

If you like orchids, give this house a try. They have a variety of different sampling options. I haven't tried the traveling scents yet, but I'm excited to.

Winner of the Week: Toss-up between Javanica, Golden Cattleya, and Little Stars. I wouldn't mind owning any of them.

"You took a white orchid.
You took a white orchid, turned it blue.
Something better than nothing.
Something better than nothing; it's giving up.
We all need to do something.
Try to keep the truth from showing up."

~ "Blue Orchid," White Stripes


Ines said...

I suppose it was suppposed to say you wouldn't mind owning any of them. :)
I'm very glad more and more people are discovering the world of Olympic Orchids. Even if I don't like all of them to wear, I love that the line has a distinct different tone to others out there.

Diana said...

Yep, Ines. Wouldn't mind. And I have you to thank for this week's post; I think I discovered Olympic Orchids through your blog.

Anonymous said...

I have been growing orchids as a hobby since 1978. As far as I'm concerned, Ellen's fragrances are the closest match to real orchid scents that I have found. Her scents of place are also spot on. Gail

Diana said...


Thanks for the input! I know less than nothing about orchids so I'll take your word for it. I did love the line, though. I'm excited to try the "places" scents as well.

Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Diana, Since you love it here in the PNW I would be interested to hear what you think of Ellen's "Olympic Rainforest" Scent. When I first tried it I could hardly believe that a created scent could so faithfully capture our native rain forests. Gail