Red Cattleyea by Ellen Covey for Olympic Orchids 2010

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Post by Poodle


When I was first married my in-laws told me I’d have a hard time cooking for my husband because he was so picky. I knew this but since I had persuaded him to try different foods while we were dating I knew I’d come up with a plan so I could cook what I wanted and not have him go hungry. I figured out that it was almost like cooking for a child (no offense, my love, if you’re reading this).

If he knew a dish had certain ingredients he wouldn’t try it. He was convinced he didn’t like certain things, even things I knew he’d eaten in the past and loved. The catch was that those times he hadn’t seen what was going into the pot. He came home and it was already prepared and waiting for him. I stopped telling him the ingredients or I told him what was in a dish after it was in his stomach. It worked, and cooking is much easier.

How does this relate to perfume? There are times when I think too much information is a bad thing. Sometimes I think knowing the notes before smelling can alter one’s opinion of it. If something smelled awful on me before or has a lot of notes I dislike I shouldn’t waste my time with it…or so I thought.

Red Cattleyea by Olympic Orchids 2010

Red Cattleya box smallPhoto Stolen Olympic Orchids

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Citrus, peach, apricot, melon, hyacinth, gardenia, violets, lilac, musk, woods, vanilla

I asked for the Olympic Orchids Just Orchids sampler set for Christmas. I didn’t see many reviews and I didn’t really study the note lists prior to trying the perfumes.

When I tried Red Cattleyea it was juicy and tropical and a great counterpoint to the chill in the air at the time. Since it is named after a flower I was expecting it to be a floral, but there was more, something sweet yet wonderful…then it hit me. Fruit! Yes, the dreaded fruity floral. This was nothing like the mainstream fruity scents, this was a fruity floral with personality. My first impression was favorable so I just kept enjoying my perfume, sniffing happily at my wrist now and then.


When I looked at the notes I was horrified. This has multiple notes that usually turn ugly on me. Citrus, peach, and melon can make me run from the fragrance counter. Had I read the notes first I may have never sprayed but Ellen Covey worked some magic here.

Red Cattleyea opens sweet and fruity, more candied citrus than kitchen cleaner. Then there’s peach, on my skin peach usually smells like, well, let’s just say it’s not how I want to smell. But not this time. The peach is blended with apricot and it’s more jammy and sun warmed than fresh. Alongside this is a bouquet of gardenia and lilac. Hints of wood and vanilla keep peeking through and there’s an undercurrent of spice to my nose. As the fruit subsides the gardenia becomes fleshy and rich before fading. I don’t find the musk very strong, rather it holds everything together and gives the perfume warmth as well. On my extreme scent eating skin I could smell it easily for hours and ended up with the most wonderfully warm vanilla base.

Red Cattleyea Peaches Flickr Brett SpanglerPhoto Stolen Flickr Brett Spangler

This isn’t a light skin scent, it’s got some kick to it, I’d say that if applied with a light touch it would be office friendly. I’ve worn Red Cattleyea to work and gotten compliments. If you work with fragrance-phobes, perhaps it might be a little too bold.

Further reading: The Alembicated Genie and Hortus Conclusus
Olympic Orchids has $40/30ml EdP, isn’t that the best deal EVER?
Olympic Orchids $15/5ml Parfum

So Red Cattleyea’s fruity and sweet and peachy. On paper I shouldn’t like it yet I absolutely love wearing Red Cattleyea and there aren’t many fruity florals I can say that about.
Have you tried it?

Poodle. x

Blackbird by Ellen Covey for Olympic Orchids 2013


Post by Azar



Hello Perfume Junkies and Indie Lovers,

Today I have news about a wonderful new fragrance debut here in the Pacific Northwest.  On Saturday, July 13th, at the Blackbird Apothecary (in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle) Ellen Covey celebrated the third anniversary of Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes and introduced her latest fragrance “Blackbird”.

Outside of the Blackbird Apothecary the Ballard Seafood Fest was in full swing.  Inside, happy perfumistas enjoyed a cool and fragrant haven.  Ellen’s line of fragrances were tastefully displayed along the walls.  Blooming orchids decorated the tables set with cheeses, wines and champagne.

As soon as I walked through the doors I headed straight for the new “Blackbird” fragrance.  Ellen sprayed the perfume glass and I generously doused my upper arm with the cabernet colored 25% concentrated elixir.

Blackbird MorgueFilePhoto Stolen MorgueFile

The following notes are listed on Olympic Orchids website,
Himalayan blackberry fruit, dry grass and leaves, elemi, cedar wood and resin, amber, fir balsam absolute, musk.

The first notes on my skin were a combination of very ripe blackberries and sweet, dry grass.  Ellen used real Himalayan blackberries to create “Blackbird”.  These same Himalayan blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) are everywhere in the PNW and, despite their delicious fruit, are considered noxious weeds, perhaps because they have overtaken the even tastier native Pacific blackberries (Rubus ursinus). The blackberry and grass top notes combined with amber to create an almost gourmand and seasonal scent of place, summertime in Seattle.

BlackBerries MorgueFilePhoto Stolen MorgueFile

The blackberry, grass and a little amber stayed relatively close to my skin and were later joined by a refreshing combination of cedar and balsam fir.  “Blackbird” worked for me like a breeze through an orchard or vineyard.  The sillage, as I mentioned before, was quite intimate.  Regarding longevity:  I was enjoying “Blackbird” well into the evening.

Congratulations to Ellen Covey on her third anniversary and on this beautiful addition to her line. Olympic Orchids’ new “Blackbird” is at once dry and sweet, sensual and refreshing, an incense-jam of a fragrance, gorgeous, relaxing and intimate.

Blackbird bottle Olympic OrchidsPhoto Stolen Olympic Orchids

“Blackbird” is available for purchase on the Olympic Orchids website. A 30ml Parfum will only cost you $68. That is an amazing price.

Here are a couple of questions.  Do you have a favorite Olympic Orchids scent? And/or were you in Ballard for the Blackbird event?


Cafe V by Ellen Covey for Olympic Orchids 2013

Wooo Hooo Fellow Fumies,

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Two lovely, new and unusual fragrances arrived and have been sitting  on my desk waiting for me to do their review since before I went to LA. Finally I have picked up the box and am getting some skin time with one of my favourite niche brands, Olympic Orchids. There’s a special 3rd BIRTHDAY Discount Code at the bottom of the page, a discount on Olympic Orchids already extremely reasonable prices. YAY!! Today you get to meet…..

CAFÉ V by Olympic Orchids 2013

Cafe V Olympic Orchids GreatCafesPhoto Stolen GreatCafes

From Ellen Covey at Olympic Orchids: Café V is … inspired by one of Seattle’s many cozy neighborhood cafes….. It’s not quite gourmand, and not quite a fragrance of place, but something in between with notes of espresso-roast coffee, dark cacao, vanilla, cream, spicy chai bursting with cardamom, leather, and well-worn wood, and just a little skank from all of the rain-drenched actors who have over the years congregated in this little café in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Cafe V Olympic OrchidsPhoto Stolen Olympic Orchids

Top: Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg
Heart: Spices, dark roast coffee, cacao, cream, sarsaparilla, leather, Madagascar vanilla tincture
Base: Myrrh, cedar, vanilla, dark woods, musk

I love the strong opening like coffee beans being ground with spices and then as the coffee is made the smooth rich black liquid streaming into espresso cups, adding a spoon of demera sugar and cream. This is not just about coffee though, this story and fragrance really is about a cafe. The leather banquets and beeswaxed old, unmatching wood tables, some newspapers, magazines and books on a shelf mouldering and gathering in all the great smells of humanity, then breathing out their vanilla scented decay. There are old forgotten and fresh wet umbrellas by the door, bread and cakes on the bench under glass domes. There is a porch where five tables are set for smokers and you can smell their delicious smoke inside in gusts, or is it the remains of the open fireplace, it could be smoke from the kitchen? All around the drama of life plays out daily, celebrations, disasters, first dates, divorce proceedings, babies in prams, authors, neatly put together ladies in cashmere and camel coats, journalists, the council workers, businesswomen, teenagers, actors and harassed 40 somethings taking a well earned break. The smell of new and old handbags, leather jackets hung behind chairs, shoes, feet and fragrance. Ellen has hit the nail on the head with her CAFE V, it’s exactly what I hoped it would be but even better.

The dry down on my ski is charred wood, amber, sweat and leather. Totally sexy and very old school.  Sexy enough to wake the sleeping in our house certainly, he he he.


Further reading: Ca Fleure Bon

Available from

Bottles/Retail price:
5 ml parfum spray ($15.00)
15 ml parfum in screw-top bottle ($25.00)
30 ml EdP spray ($40.00)


Birthday Cake weddingnotPhoto Stolen weddingnot

It’s hard to believe that our third anniversary is coming up this year! Everything still seems so new and such a work in progress that I don’t feel like any time has passed since I first set up my website. On the other hand, we now have a regular line of about 20 fragrances as well as quite a few special editions, and wonderful customers all over the world. We’ve won awards, and received loads of recognition. I would like to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has sampled and purchased Olympic Orchids perfumes over the past three years, and to those who have reviewed and written about them in so many different venues. I appreciate it all!

To celebrate our success over the past three years, I’ll be offering a 10% discount on any order of $10 or more placed between July 1 and July 7, 2013. Enter the code THREE at checkout to receive your discount.



There you have it, Cafe V, and it is a doozy. I will be talking about the other new release very soon.
See you tomorrow,

Portia xx

Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes Reviews

Hi Ho Gang,

Yesterday we did an interview with one of niche perfumeries legends, Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes.

Ellen Covey and the Sydney Opera House

If you JUMP BACK you’ll be able to read it. I thought it important to now review some of their work. I have an admission to make; HUGE FAN. You will probably get a totally biased love fest because I’ve picked fragrances I like but I will also give you fair and true reviews. OK? Good.

Photo Stolen Olympic Orchids

BAY RUM 2012: This is a BIG fragrance. Enormous. If I put Bay Rum on in a large dose my partner can track my scent anywhere in the house or garden. Worn in more than one spritz doses it is a sillage monster, definitely not for work, dinner or enclosed spaces. If I spray and walk through the mist naked, enough gets on me to perfume me without skunking people at a 50 meter radius. For big events like performing or parties then this is a goodie, unmissable and unmistakable you will leave a coruscating vapour trail behind you like a sirens song. Ellen “took the classic formula of Jamaican bay essential oil, added a boozy rum accord that I developed, spiced it up with laurel, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and allspice berry, added some orange blossom and citrus notes, and then boosted it all to maximum volume with a woody base that includes javanol and balsams.” according to her website.

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

FLEURS DE GLACE 2011: What a cool, soft, demure opening this lovely fragrance has but soon there is a warmth that thaws it out. Oh OK, so I just read the notes on Fleurs de Glace and it is Olympic Orchids only mainly synthetic scent designed as a reminiscence of flower like ice formations that appeared one day with featured notes of galbanum, black pepper, cyclamen, ozonic accord, transparent vanilla, and white musk; according to Fragrantica. When you are given the story then this perfume really makes sense and comes alive, the cool opening of the ice flowers, warming with a sense of wonder, then a comfortable, almost foodie smell of baking running underneath what I presume to be the cyclamen which has a waxy, insistent, bright floral counterpoint. This is a beautiful choice for slightly cool weather.

Ferry and seagull - Edmonds, Washington
Photo Stolen sjb4photos

KINGSTON FERRY 2010: To my nose this is a delicious and murky green opening, hay, woods and earth and almost a guano smell of seafront birdlife. An intoxicating, resinous, salty and aqueous (in the sea water sense) fragrance that gives you a real sense of waterview life. On a boat rather than the dock, where it’s cooler with the wind blowing all the bad smells of port life away, leaving fresh water, seaweed, wood and tar, salty water drenched rope; it’s all here. Later you can smell the captain too, big, burly man of captain in his cable knit jumper and windbreaker jacket and he is wearing the remnants of a manly barbershop cologne embedded in the clothes he’s worn for years. What a lovely journey, you need to try this so you can make your own story from it.


This jump will take you to Olympic Orchid Artisan Perfumes fragrance page. You have 19 fragrances to choose from. There is an exciting new samples choice; 5 x 3ml spray sample set of three different fragrance groups and at $20 with free continental US shipping or only $5 for international. SO DAMN CHEAP!!! I have ordered the Perfumers Spray Sample Set just now. He he.

As a special deal, Ellen Covey has offered $5 off all international orders for postage and handling or $5 off product in the continental USA!! Please enter the word PERFUMEJUNKIE into the coupon code box at checkout. The offer will last through Monday, June 25. AWESOME!!

These are only 3 of the amazing range available at Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes. Go forth a try some, the sample set is a great way to try them.

Much love from Sydney, Australia,

Portia xx

Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes by Ellen Covey

Boy do I have a treat for you all today.

Ellen Covey

Even before we started AustralianPerfumewJunkies I was awed by the amazing Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes. I had ordered a sample set and then a deluxe sample set. Doc Elly, as Ellen Covey is known, and her fragrances were one of our early reviews and she was the first perfumer to give our site her blessing. There was a lot of Woo Whoo-ing and high five-ing that day. It was like we had arrived and been given Benediction. I have a FB of Bay Rum and my next purchase will be Ballet Rouges, but I love Little Stars, Gujarat and Golden Cattleya too. The one thing I find so interesting is that Olympic Orchids artisan Perfumes are so affordable while being filled with the good stuff.

I have given Doc Elly our APJ set of standard questions just tweaked a little and she has bared her soul for us. You’ve got to love her direct honest answers, one day I’ll be lucky enough to meet her.

Tell us about young Ellen please, where you came from, family, siblings, poignant or helped create who you are moments?

I was born in Chicago, where my father owned a successful business. My mother had grown up on the Florida East Coast, where her family owned a hotel, but she moved to Chicago to study art at the Art Institute. She hated the cold winters, so when I was a preschooler she convinced my father to move to Virginia, where he re-established his business. My family included my parents, my grandmother, who lived with us, my younger brother, and two dogs.

About the time I started high school my father sold his business, invested the money, and the whole family, including the dogs, went on a long adventure trip through Europe, with the vague goal of ending up in Israel after exploring everything on the way. We lived in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Italy, where I attended local schools. Whenever we moved to a new country and a new language, I was the family member delegated to make phone calls looking for housing. Having to cruise the streets of an unfamiliar city taking down phone numbers from signs and then talking to potential landlords on a pay phone in a language I’d not yet learned was stressful, especially when I had to explain about the dogs, but if nothing else it made me resourceful.

There were poignant moments every time we kids were uprooted to go to a new country, leaving dear friends, but the experiences along the way were unique, and shaped who I am now as a perfumer. I’ll never forget the smell of blooming mimosa in Provence, the smell of the polluted Rhine in Germany, or the smell of peeling a tangerine on a bitterly cold winter day in Rome.

Later in life, I have lived in Texas, India, North Carolina, New Jersey, Germany (again), Spain, and now Seattle, in the US Pacific Northwest, and all of these places have contributed to my perfume landscape.

What were you doing before you became a perfumer?

So many things! I started out studying stage design in Rome, then studied biology and neurobiology in the US, eventually earning a PhD in chemosensory neuroscience. Most of my career has been teaching and research in academia, and I continue to do that in parallel with being a perfumer. Other parallel lives include growing orchid plants commercially, and working in local theatre in all capacities from acting to directing, writing, and producing. It’s hard juggling it all, but each separate life informs the others in some respect.

How did you become interested in fragrance?

I’ve always been intensely aware of smells and fragrance, for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is standing in my bedroom smelling the windowsill. It was a really comforting, musky smell of old wood and all of the humans who had lived there. I’ve always stopped to smell every flower I passed. I love the smells of good cooking. I used to spend a lot of time smelling my mother’s perfumes, and started buying commercial perfume mini bottles as soon as I had money of my own. At about the same time I started buying essential oils, and eventually the inevitable happened.

What qualifications do you have as a perfumer?

A good nose and an active imagination! I’m self-taught when it comes to perfumery. I have an extensive background in chemistry, which certainly helps with the practical aspects of setting up a safe and efficient lab environment with all the proper tools and the basics of formulation, but is of very little help with the aesthetics, which are purely intuitive. Over the years I’ve spent a huge amount of time sampling perfumes from both an aesthetic and analytic point of view, sampling and testing perfume raw materials, reading about perfume materials and formulation, and experimenting with everything I can.

Who were and are your mentors and inspirations?

My mentors were and are all of the many people who, over the years, have written about perfume-making in all of its aspects, whose work I have read. They are the people in various discussion groups on the internet who provide useful bits of information. They are the perfumers, both famous and anonymous, who make all of the perfumes that I smell, testing something new every day. My biggest sources of inspiration come from nature and every human environment in which I find myself. Odors are everywhere, and sometimes I’m jolted by a novel juxtaposition of scents on a city street, emotionally assaulted by a natural scent carried on the wind, or even surprised by how a raw material that I’m testing combines with a scent that’s present in the environment. Perfumery is a learning experience that never ends, and inspiration is everywhere.

Do you still wear mass market fragrances, if yes which and why?

Interesting question. I’ve never “worn” any type of fragrance in the usual sense, preferring instead to collect them, compare them, analyze them, and enjoy them in an idiosyncratic and very private way that has nothing to do with “smelling good”. It’s almost like a child playing with toys. Regarding mass market fragrances, I still have my original large collection of mass market minis, and love every one of them. If I “wore” perfume, yes, I would wear them, and I do still occasionally put one on and contemplate it. I really don’t distinguish between mass market, niche, indie, and any other classification because I believe that there’s no monopoly on what smells good or appeals to one’s emotions on a deeper level. There are certain fragrances in each category that move me, and many that don’t. In any case, there’s a continuum that runs all the way from blatantly mass market to crafts-fair-indie, and the lines seem to be becoming increasingly blurred. Those who started as indie perfumers formulate for the mass market companies. Mass market companies launch their own “niche” lines. Niche and indie brands farm out manufacturing to third parties. Some of the bottom-tier “indies” repackage and sell mass-market fragrance oils, coming full circle, if you will. I like what I like regardless of whether it was made by hand or by machine in a factory vat. If it’s good, it’s good.

Who is your favourite independent perfumer, other than yourself, and why?

As a working perfumer, I’ve gotten myself into trouble by commenting on the perfumes of others, so I’ll refrain from saying anything here. In any case, I really have no “favourite” anything, whether it be colour, food, music, film, or perfume. I’m much too fickle for that, and it all depends on context and what I feel like at the moment.

Having said that, in general, I like perfumes that are strong and complex. For my own use, I prefer woody and resinous notes, aromatic herbal notes, leather, smoky notes, and a minimum of floral components. I actively dislike overtly aquatic notes.

Synthetic, natural or mixture, why?

 All of the above, just because they all have their place in perfumery. Naturals are great to work with because each one is a perfume in and of itself, with a complexity that can’t be matched by most synthetics. Contrary to popular belief, all-natural fragrances don’t have to be short-lived, since there are natural base notes with excellent longevity. My Kyphi is an all-natural fragrance, and I’m currently working on a new series of all-natural fragrances that will have good longevity. All-synthetic fragrances tend to smell sparse and  … synthetic. Fleurs de Glace was my only attempt to create an all-synthetic formula, and it ended with my adding a big dose of galbanum to round it out. Most of my fragrances are a mixture of natural and synthetic, mostly natural, but with synthetic notes as accents or to improve sillage, longevity, or other characteristics of the blend.

To me, naturals are a bit like acoustic instruments and vocals in music, providing warmth, depth, and the idiosyncratic human touch. Synthetics perform a function that’s analogous to amplification, mixing, and effects. Moreover, synthetics can provide completely new “voices’, much as electronic sounds can do for music. Go too far to either extreme and you have the thin sound of the coffee house folk singer with no amplification or the annoying drum machine combined with a repetitive twanging, mechanical-sounding treble loop blasting your ears. Both have their place, but it’s limited.

What constitutes an Olympic Orchid Artisan Perfumes customer?

I wish I knew! I think in general they are people who appreciate truly high quality, original fragrances without a lot of pretentiousness and overblown prices. My guess is that they’re people who are confident enough to try things outside the mainstream, and who have enough imagination to let perfumes take them somewhere unique in their own mind without needing a whole prefabricated cheesy story line or celebrity image to go with the scent.

How has your online business developed?

I have always made perfumes to please myself, then I put some of them out there, and a customer base has slowly developed. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had good reviews early on, with word spreading through the magic of the internet. My business continues to grow and develop as I add new fragrances and increase production.

Do you wish someday to work for the big end of perfumery, why?

No, absolutely not. I’m much too independent-minded to work for someone else. I want and need to be in charge, free to go wherever my fancy takes me. I prefer to be an artist rather than an employee.

What fragrance, that you have made, do you always refer to in your mind as success, why?

I think my two most commercially successful fragrances to date are Golden Cattleya and Ballets Rouges. Both are very good mixed-media formulas with broad appeal. Olympic Amber is also a very good one, with broad appeal. Hell, get me going and I’ll say that every one was a success in some way. Otherwise, I wouldn’t still be selling them.

What are the 5 most important things you have learned so far that could help budding perfumistas/perfumers?

1. Smell, smell, smell. The more things you smell and really pay attention to, the better developed your nose will become. This is the most important thing you can do.

2. Trust your own instincts. If you like it, it’s good. If you don’t like it, its not. If it smells like patchouli, or roses, or corn flakes to you, that’s what it smells like. If it smells like doggie doo, or laundry detergent, or a sweaty soccer player to you, that’s what it smells like. Never mind what someone else says. Never mind who likes it or doesn’t like it. Don’t let yourself be influenced, intimidated or shamed by self-appointed critics or “experts”.

3. Read, read, read. If you want to make perfume, it’s essential that you learn the basic principles of how to do so. If you want to enjoy perfume, it’s nice to know something about how it’s made, its history, and other people’s opinions. Once you’ve adopted strategy #2, you can take everything you read with a grain of salt, so reading won’t harm you in any way.

4. Be open to new experiences. That aroma chemical you didn’t like may be just the touch that will perfect your new blend. That perfume you thought you didn’t like may delight you six months from now. You may hate teak, but find that you love it in a particular context.

5. Have fun. Fragrance is meant to bring pleasure, not stress and anxiety. Please yourself, spend within your means, and enjoy the experience to the fullest.

What do you have in development that you’d like to share with our AustralianPerfumeJunkies?

I’ve always got a roaring avalanche of ideas, more than I can ever bring to completion. Right now the closest things to release are a series of five fragrances made for the Devil Scent Project, based on Sheila Eggenberger’s novel, Quantum Demonology. I’ll be launching them at the Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco in July.  I’m working on a line of all-natural fragrances, one new orchid scent, and a couple of bespoke perfumes that I need to finish up. At least some of these will be released late this year or early next year.

Where do you see Olympic Orchid Artisan Perfumes in 5 years?

I take things one day at a time, but hope that in five years Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes will still be motivated by artistic rather than commercial factors, that my fragrances will still be intellectually, emotionally, and aesthetically honest, and that I can keep them affordable by just about anyone, anywhere. Realistically, as the business grows I will need to hire someone to do the routine tasks like preparing samples, packaging and shipping so that I can have more time for networking and creation of new fragrances, but I will still want to be intimately involved with every aspect of the business.


This jump will take you to Olympic Orchid Artisan Perfumes fragrance page. You have 19 fragrances to choose from. There is an exciting new samples choice; 5 x 3ml spray sample set of three different fragrance groups and at $20 with free continental US shipping or only $5 for international. SO DAMN CHEAP!!! I have ordered the Perfumers Spray Sample Set just now. He he.

As a special deal, Ellen Covey has offered $5 off all international orders for postage and handling or $5 off product in the continental USA!! Please enter the word PERFUMEJUNKIE into the coupon code box at checkout. The offer will last through Monday, June 25. AWESOME!!

Deluxe Sample Box

I am so proud we could bring you this amazing perfumer & person.
Please go see the Olympic Orchids Artisans Perfumes website.
Thanks for dropping in,
Portia xx