Fragrance X
First in Fragrance
My Photo
Location: New York, NY
© Copyright 2005-2011 Perfume-Smellin' Things
All rights reserved
Custom Search

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes – An Exploration

I love to explore small, largely unknown perfume brands. There is the thrill of the hunt, for one, then that feeling of being let in on a secret. And then there is the challenge of charting previously unexplored territory, just you and your nose. No PST or NST to help you out.

One such secret (that is already on its way out) is Olympic Orchids Perfumes. A small business based in the Pacific Northwest, it is an orchid nursery as well as a budding artisanal perfume house founded in 2006 by Ellen Covey, a chemist by profession turned perfumer by passion.

“Olympic Orchids was founded as a small nursery business growing orchid plants. However, Ellen Covey quickly became fascinated by the incredible variety of scents produced by orchids. Combining a fascination with orchid fragrances and a lifelong love of fine perfume, she set out to create scents that are representative of the different species of orchids while, at the same time fulfilling all of the criteria of a fine perfume.”

- Excerpt from the Olympic Orchids website.

Ellen Covey wanted to capture the incredible scents of the different orchids she grew and her quest resulted in wonderfully wearable perfumes, orchid scents as well as others she created “along the way”.

The Olympic Orchids signature line is a series of scents inspired by different species of orchids. Other series include “Scents of Place”, perfumes trying to capture the spirit of a place where the perfumer has lived or visited, a concept I find fascinating.

The perfumes are produced from the highest quality ingredients obtainable. Pure perfumes have a concentration of 30-33% fragrance materials and Eau de Parfums have a 15-20% concentration. All of the spray bottles are refillable, and packaging materials are biodegradable. Olympic Orchids offers scented soaps as well.

I had never heard of Olympic Orchids until Tarleisio reviewed some of their perfumes on Scentless Sensibilities, here is one example. And what fantastic reviews those were! My interest was instantly piqued.

I acquired the very reasonably priced sample set from the Olympic Orchids webstore and soon a generously enlarged set arrived at my doorstep. So many different perfumes to test, I was a bit overwhelmed (but grateful!).

I would like to give a little peek into the wealth of fragrances by this brand, to maybe whet your appetites a little.

Olympic Rainforest: is an intensely green, wet and realistic rendition of a temperate rainforest such as the Olympic National Park that inspired this perfume. I once got lost in Olympic National park which was a bit disconcerting but did not totally distract me from the breathtaking beauty and magnitude of this forest (well, the magnitude did scare me a little, given that I did not exactly know where I was or how to get out again!). Olympic Rainforest is an impressive fougére perfume, opening with a citrus-lavender accord it develops into a powerful symphony of woods, where cedar and pine stand out the most to my nose. Wearing it encourages me to breathe deeply, to relax my tense shoulders and enjoy the vastness and quiet dignity of that magnificent forest conjured up in this scent. (We found an extraordinarily bored forest ranger who showed us the way out again, grumbling something about tourists and how they are a great danger to themselves and others.)

A Midsummer Day’s Dream: is a gloriously uplifting fig fragrance that brings sunlight, a warm breeze and the impression of a summer meadow complete with butterflies to my mind in a second. The fresh fig tree with not quite ripe fruit, leaves, bark and earth surrounding it is depicted clearly through the bright top notes, green heart and a softly creamy and earthy base. This is a love at first sniff scent for many, I bet. It is reminiscent of Premier Figuier and Philosykos but seems to me even rawer, more direct and more realistic in its rendition of nature.

Golden Cattleya: is one of the orchid scents. While this one is not exactly my taste, I can appreciate the beautiful composition of this heady floral scent. Golden Cattleya doesn’t joke around, it comes at you full blast, making you feel like you are surrounded by tall, golden yellow orchids like Alice after ingesting Drink Me! The scent is sweet, rich, round, there is orange blossom and indolic jasmine with excellent sillage. A hint of spiciness is there as the scent develops before finally drying down into a rich and warm vanilla base made interesting by the inclusion of myrrh (don’t take those notes too seriously, they are just what my nose makes them out to be, unverified by the perfumer, who probably has had a good laugh by now!). This perfume stays with me for the entire day, although the drydown is way tamer and stays closer to the skin.

Red Cattleya: this is a sumptuous, gigantic fruity-floral, if I ever smelled one. It shows the world that fruity-floral does not necessarily mean insipid pink safety juice, but that there are formidable and uncompromising members of this category too. I don’t have the courage (yet) to venture out with such a perfume, but believe me I want to. Opening with a cocktail of ripe red fruit (raspberry?), it is soon off into floral territory where roses and violets mingle with other flowers so well blended I can’t discern them. It calms down after this opulent and glamorous overture, but never touches anything approaching restraint or demureness. Red Cattleya is certainly no shy flower, it is out there for everybody to admire and applaud it. It eventually develops into a smooth drydown where a musky-woody softness provides a warm bed for the exuberant floral accord. This is a perfume for grown women off to a soiree or a ball at the Plaza, dressed in Haute Couture trailing the head-turning sillage of Red Cattleya. As for me, I admire it from afar, it is safer for now.

I could go on and on, there are many more interesting perfumes in Ellen Covey’s line and I will review a few more in greater depth over on my blog in the near future.

My personal favorite is A Midsummer Day’s Dream, I love fig scents and have many, but this one is quickly turning into a favorite.

Olympic Orchids perfumes can all be sampled for a very reasonable price, available from the website.

Image courtesy of the

Labels: ,


Blogger Lisa Abdul-Quddus said...

Olympic Orchids perfumes are on my must-try list.

6:31 AM EST  
Blogger Ines said...

I am really happy Ellen's perfumes are getting so many positive reviews around.
I need to put my thought on some others I have on paper.
One I eagerly want to try is Red Cattleya because so far I only tried it as soap and fell in love with the smell. I believe it will be a true pleasure smelling it in perfume form. :)

7:02 AM EST  
Anonymous Tamara*J said...

I'm so happy Ellen is getting some feedback and recognition for her talent.She once generously sent me several samples of her fragrances and I hope she goes far.
RC is a great scent.

12:05 PM EST  
Anonymous Claudia0219 said...

Well $%#^&&^ course i had to order the Deluxe Sampler set you Enabler you :)) Looking forward to trying. Thank you for posting about these. Its always fun to try something new.

1:25 PM EST  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Sounds interesting! I have not heard about this brand until you mentioned it recently.

1:28 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure you will like at least a few of them!

2:06 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw your reviews, it is amazing that many of us love these perfumes upon first smell. Either we are all easily impressed or these are really good! ;)

2:09 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also hope Olympic Orchids becomes a hit, Ellen would certainly deserve wide recognition and success.

2:11 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are welcome! :) The great thing is that these are not only lovely, but also really affordable.

2:13 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this one is worth looking into I believe. The fragrances are interesting and complex, feel like high quality and are truly affordable.

2:18 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is wonderful to see all this buzz about Olympic Orchid scents! I adore Rainforest. Midsummer Day's Dream struck me very differently and took me a while to appreciate, but it is growing on me. I instantly liked Siam Proun, and Gujarat. I have the deluxe sampler, which has some scents that are, to my nose, far out! I'd be interested to hear what people think of Osafume and Kyphi.

3:47 PM EST  
Anonymous annemarie said...

Lovely reviews Olfactoria. I was especually intrigued by Golden Cattleya. It's way too sweet for me and I don;t think I can wear it, but I admire its beauty. I thought it very like honey (thought it WAS honey at first), and there was something textural in there too, almost chewy. I don't like honey fragrances but for anyone does, Golden Cattleya is a must try. A Midsummer's Day Dream is still my favourite. I got something almost mushroom like from Olympic Rainforest. Kyphi is one that I have not sorted out in me head. I like it - I think.

1:30 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are a few lovely reviews out there. check out, or
Olmpic Orchids is already making a little splash ;)

2:58 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kyphi - I don't like, I think. It is definitely a challenging fragrance. GC smells indeed of Honey. :)

3:01 AM EST  
Anonymous Kate said...

I ordered the huge sample set about a month ago and am so happy to see this line getting some more attention! Happy to say that I found Olympic Rainforest, Arizona, Javanica, and possibly Luzonica or Olympic Amber to be FBW. I love how generous her samples are (2ml!), especially for the price. Also, the size range of (again, very reasonably priced) bottles/sprays is great. Wish more perfumers would get into selling mini-bottles. I know I'd end up buying way more bottles than I currently do.

4:15 PM EST  
Blogger Dixie said...

Thank you for the review! I collect orchids and of course favor the fragrant ones. The variety of fragrances among orchids is amazing! I can't wait to try these!

5:25 PM EST  
Blogger JoanElaine said...

I'm waiting samples I ordered last week! Now I'm even more excited!

10:02 AM EST  
Blogger Ellen said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful reviews! I found out about them when a customer ordered samples and mentioned your blog.

Kyphi is indeed an odd one. It was not originally intended as a perfume, but rather an experiment in authentically recreating the scent of this ancient Egyptian incense from what I could piece together from the many old formulas that exist. After Tarleisio blogged about it, so many people were curious that I've been including it in my sample packs. I wrote about the making of Kyphi on my blog, Perfume Project NW.

Again, thank you the reviews.

1:54 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are absolutely right, I adore the pricing and the variety of sizes available as well as the generous samples. This line is a true find!

2:53 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when you collect Orchids, these must be perfect for you! Enjoy!

2:53 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joan Elaine,
you must let me know how you like them! :)

2:54 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ellen,
thank you for reading! I am really enticed with many of your perfumes and very glad to help spreading the word! Kyphi and I are not done yet! ;)

2:57 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been involved in growing orchids as a hobby since 1978. Ellen Covey's orchid scents more closely resemble the fragrances of real orchids than any other orchid fragrances I have tried. I am especially fond of her "Golden Cattleya", the current versions 1 and 2. Also, being a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I can vouch for her "Olympic Rainforest". Midsummer's Day Dream is another favorite. Ellen's prices are very reasonable and her customer service is great. Gail

5:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home