February 7, 2011
Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes & Giveaway
These days seem tense with imminent change, with the full weight of the coldest days of winter on us with much to accomplish and the days passing too quickly when icy nights have fallen. The news, the uncertainties, the multiple calls for attention and care from many directions are more demanding when the very air and ground are so cold. These are perfumes that suddenly open a window into the early days of a care-free summer and so transport me while the weather and whole season has been so stormy and the nights longer than I recall ever before. They are a possible alternative Rescue Remedy recalling the days and nights of the most clement conditions and so refreshing and energizing for the days yet ahead.
I can well see why orchid growers become enamored of these flowers' perfumes, which are rich and varied, distinctively day and night fragrances. The orchid scent generating tissues work so hard that sometimes the flower actually warms up from the chemical activity. As live flowers they are most fragrant at the time of day or night most compatible with the activity of their pollinators. These are ancient fragrance compositions, made of the primordial chemistry of natural selection. They range across a wide scent spectrum, from what we think of as a true floral to cinnamon, vanilla or citrus, woody or moss.
Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids has made perfumes inspired by the types of orchids she cultivates in her nursery in the Pacific Northwest.
There is a strong stylistic unity to the range. They combine floral and green notes as naturally close and subtle as in garden reality, and all begin with very subtle top high notes, then linger in the mid-range, then dry down deeper but not darker. Like music that doesn’t get too fast or dramatic but stays in the Eric Satie/Chamber music/Oren Lavie range of impressions. It makes it all even more appealing to know that these clear moments of plant generated beauty are originally directed to attract the favored pollinators with such determination their natural perfumes became so gorgeous as to attract human olfactory senses too.
I thank Scent Less Sensibilities for pointing me in their direction, because her review intrigued me enough to get samples, which I suggest to all who have an interest in artisan made floral themed perfumes. They are immediately beautiful on application, and have good longevity for perfumes made with a high concentration of natural materials, holding close to the skin and growing softer over time. (30-33 % for perfumes) and it appears they are reproductions of orchid scents made and modified with other notes and accords, rather than extractions from the orchids themselves.
Red Cattelya is my favorite. Smooth, lyrically floral, beginning with a light citric tang that deepens into a rosy jasmine with no indolic element, a true orchidaceous archetype, like an idealized violet without that extreme sweetness but with a faraway moss distantly anchoring the velvety floral aspect. This is arrived at with listed notes of citrus, peach, apricot, melon, hyacinth, gardenia, violets and lilac. At its base is a dark current of musk, exotic woods and vanilla. I see this as a perfect present for Valentine’s Day or anytime.
Golden Cattelya is a honeyed version that has an airy quality, a lightness buoyantly carrying the floral and green notes into melon-ness.
Little Stars is a jasmine like perfume most expressive of refreshing night air filled with blooming nectar filled flowers. The notes are listed as citrus, neroli, ylang-ylang, clove bud and jasmine on a base of exotic woods, oud, black agar and atlas cedarwood, evoking the white night blooming orchid flower in the midst of the woods.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is just that, florals, hay, cut grass, a green but rich floral that is held in an open air expansiveness and spaciousness.
Luzonica has a lemony floral sweetness that burns down to a subtle and light tea fragrance.
Javanica is a spicy floral cinnamon with green overtones.
After taking some notes on the train, I notice that the fragrances have penetrated the notebook in a pleasant way. The pages and cover give out a lightly vanilla-floral odor when they are turned. I think these perfumes would be good aromatic sweeteners to my winter wardrobe of sweaters, scarves, cases and books.
For more information and pricing (each perfume comes in a variety of sizes/prices) see the online site for Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes.
Above: the American orchid painter Martin Johnson Heade: An Amethyst Hummingbird with a White Orchid.
P.S. Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Artisans Perfumes has offered two 5ml spray bottles of Red Cattelya as a give away to two commenters who request entry for the draw. I will announce the winners on Sunday night in the comments section of this post.
PSS: The winners of the draw, as announced in the comments, are Skyebotanicals (Monica) and Liz G. Please contact me with your information so 5 ml of the Red Cattelya can be send on its way to you asap! Congratulations!