A few weeks ago my kind and generous friend Cym sent me a good number of samples, including a few from Olympic Orchids, a small indie (or artisanal) perfumery based in the Pacific Northwest. Many of their perfumes are inspired by different species of orchids, but there is also another line, Scents of Place, inspired by places the creator, Ellen Covey, has visited on her travels. It is from this second line that I have sampled.
I'm not going to go into any great detail here, but briefly, these are my initial impressions:
Arizona was the one I thought I would like most from the notes and from various reviews, yet strangely enough, it failed to move me much. It isn't poor by any means but I didn't really 'get' it. Perhaps subsequent wearings will change this. The notes include ponderosa pine, juniper, sagebrush and chaparral, with a touch of desert wildflowers. In all honesty, Arizona felt a bit flat to me, without much expected zip from the pine and juniper. I have read one review describing Arizona blushingly as the scent of sex. Well, its not the sex I know!
The website does not list notes but describes this perfume as a 'full scale Bollywood extravaganza'. Gujarat is definitely an extremely spicy perfume and strong too. On the day I wore it, I had the beginnings of a headache and this did me no favours. However, I have to say that Gujarat was the most unique and interesting of the ones I tried. Gujarat opens with a smell that for the first hour reminds me exactly of the smell (and I mean exactly) of making marmalade, using Seville Oranges. It has a zesty, resinous orange smell, but not the freshly peeled sort. If you have cooked Seville Oranges before you may know what I am trying to say. As Gujarat develops, the spices seep through, along with a prominent rose note. At this point, Gujarat seems to me to be more Middle-Eastern inspired and perhaps it is just my nose fooling me, but it smells like a rose-oud combo for a while.
Kingston Ferry is described as a woody, green, subtle oceanic fragrance, but this is no nineties-inspired marine perfume. It has a lot of floral notes listed, but it never strikes me as very floral on skin. It is difficult to describe Kingston Ferry really, but it does smell woody, watery and even slightly salty, so kudos to Olympic Orchids for managing to recreate a sense of place so well.
This was possibly my second favourite of the ones I tried. It is green and woody, aromatic and in many ways a fairly quiet perfume. I can't say for sure whether it does smell like the Olympic Rainforest, not having been anywhere near it myself, but it does smell outdoorsy, in a fresh and good sort of way.
Salamanca is a university town in the hot south of Spain and the perfume is meant to evoke the dry, hot and dusty atmosphere of midsummer. It includes notes of mitti ( an attar distilling the scent of clay), vetiver, immortelle, hay, labdanum and helichrysum oil. To me, Salamanca is all about vetiver and immortelle and reminds me of Nasomatto's Black Afgano, where the vetiver smells intensely green, weedy and frankly, quite a lot like hash. I like Salamanca though. It is a clever fragrance that again, does seem to capture the sense of place well. I haven't been to southern Spain, but I have been to, and lived in, hot and dusty places and I can identify with that.
All in all, I really liked my first encounter with Olympic Orchids and can definitely recommend sampling this interesting house.