Olympic Orchids by Ellen Covey


Heya Posse, Tom is sweltering in the heat and can’t think to put a post out this week so I’ve stepped in. Thinking on the spot I thought it might be fun to look at Olympic Orchids again. I really love Ellen Covey, the lines perfumer, and her fragrances speak to me, sometimes they sing to me and others they capture my soul in a completely primal way. Whichever way they grab me I do know that they will be different to anything else in the market and made with 100% love. Also with it being 9/11 I thought it important to show an American, a small batch perfumer who does it her way, a creative, beautiful, free woman.

Here are a few of my personal favourites, Ellen has an excellent sample program too. Most fragrances are available to sample from $3 and even her full bottles are incredibly reasonable priced.

Olympic Orchids by Ellen Covey

golden cattleya Olympic Orchids

Golden Cattleya by Olympic Orchids

Olympic Orchids site gives these accords: narcissus, daffodil, orange fruit, orange blossoms, honey, pollen, and cream soda combine with amber-tinged resins and musks, calling Golden Cattleya a Floral Oriental.

The opening is a big loud peal of mainly narcissus and daffodil mixed with lovely orange flowers in an intoxicating and dazzling way, almost overwhelming. It feels freakishly ancient, like the Queen of Sheba could have worn this. Or perhaps this is the scent from M J Rose’s The Book of Lost Fragrances, the one that can work magic for star crossed lovers. The honey and amber are constant players here but always displaying at different strengths, so the perfume evolves. No that’s not quite true, the perfume revolves. It plays through a set of accords, each glistening slowly over time and then repeating itself but in a slightly different way.

Find Golden Cattleya here.


Olympic Amber by Olympic Orchids

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Natural labdanum, vanilla, benzoin, incense, resins, patchouli, and woods

WWOOOOOOWWWWWWW! There is an initial green, earthy patchouli rush that is fleeting before the resinous, tense minor key comes in and vibrates against the green. Pretty soon the incense acts as intermediary and the opening act calms, warms and begins to bloom with the labdanum/vanilla/woods coming in and making sure everyone knows they are here to stay. It is this point exactly that my eyes roll back in my head and I softly murmur WOW. Everything that is comforting, sensual, inviting, engaging and delicious about amber fragrances is in Olympic Amber, it’s golden heat is intoxicating and lovely. From here on in I get a pretty linear experience and that is absolutely fine by me, perfect in fact.

Find Olympic Amber Here.

Photo Stolen marketplace.secondlife

Olympic Orchids Lil #1

From Olympic Orchids: This is the fragrance of Lilith, the original Eve and former wife of the Devil in Sheila Eggenberger’s novel Quantum Demonology.

Top: Davana (sweet fruit), kewda (balsamic floral), kaffir lime leaf
Heart: Passion-fruit, angel’s trumpet, lily-of-the-valley, geranium, cyclamen, rose
Base: Woody notes, cashmeran, musk, and patchouli

The featured accords look innocuous enough like any other fragrance and lead you to believe that this will be like many others. WOW! I find it mind blowingly unfamiliar, more unsettling that ELdO’s Secretions Magnifiques and also more compelling. It opens sweet and fruity, like a strong celebuscent, but there is an undertow of weird, and dissonant chord that gives me heart thuddingly, edge of your seat, repeated swallowing horror film chills. I know the flowers are beautiful and fragrant and the more I try to focus on them the less I can smell them and the more I get this freaky something that lasts the whole life of the fragrance. At the same time gorgeous and disgusting on my skin.

Find Lil #1 Here.

If you liked this then come on over to AustralianPerfumeJunkies and continue the conversation there.

OK so there are three of the Olympic Orchids range that I really love. PROMISE that you won’t be bored wearing them.

What is your current Independent Perfumer love?
Portia xx


  • Diana says:

    I second the vote for Ballets Rouges- a classic beauty. I also like Elektra (formerly A Midsummer’s Day Dream) and it reminds me of summer. I have full bottles of both scents. Siam Proun is another favorite that I wear sparingly, as it has considerable sillage. One thing I love about Olympic Orchids perfumes is that they all seem to have excellent lasting power on me, which isn’t the case with many other lines. Wasn’t too fond of the Dev scents but then again, I’m not a huge fan of oud. I haven’t experienced much from other indie lines, so can’t comment on that.

  • Pixel says:

    Hi Portia! Thanks for the review, I’m adding these to my ‘must sample’ list :^)

    My current favorite indies are Hendley Perfumes — thanks for the review you did on his stuff, I loooooove Bourbon, will be getting a FB of that this fall.

    Also Madhat Scents, he does interesting things. Sometimes ferocious but always interesting!

  • Gwenyth says:

    Wonderful review, Portia. Thanks very much, as always your reviews and thoughts are worth the read. Nicely done!

    I think Ellen Covey at Olympic Orchids creates some stunning perfumes. She is obviously a master perfumer.
    Her Ballets Rouges is one of my all-time favorites. It is a gorgeous rose chypre – complex, evolving, and long-wearing.
    Golden Cattleya is a masterpiece. It IS sunshine and honey and I adore it.
    Seattle Chocolate is lovely. 🙂

    An “independent” perfumer, whom I admire is Neil Morris. His scents, like Ellen Covey’s, are built around specific memories of places. His perfumes are very evocative and wear well on my skin.
    My favorite Neil Morris creations are: Summer of Love, Dark Season, Cathedral, October, Gotham and Midnight Tryst. He has a huge “vault” collection and I’d dearly love to sample all of them.

    Laurie Erickson, of Sonoma Scent Studios, is a wonderful “independent” perfumer. I have many of her creations in my collection and I love each of them. My favorites from SSS are Winter Woods, Sienna Musk, Velvet Rose, Champagne de Bois, Forest Walk and Wood Violet.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Gwenyth,
      YAY! Ballets Rouges is easily in my Top 20 perfumes of all time. I feel like I talk about it ALL THE TIME though so I left it out today.
      Neil Morris, I read a lot about him and his work and he has a totally dedicated following but I’m yet to dip my toe in his line. Thanks for the reminder.
      Yes, Laurie Erickson manages to be an excellent nose and a great girl. Every dealing I’ve had with her has been lovely.
      Portia xx

  • mikasminion says:

    I think if I had to choose my most worn indie line it would be OO. Dev 4, Lil, Osafume, and my all-time favorite Tropic of Capricorn get regular wear. ToC may be my favorite perfume to wear just for myself, period.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there mikasminion,
      Tropic of Capricorn gets a LOT of perfumista love. A couple of the Aussies go crazy for it. I liked it a lot too but I think I’m missing a piece of the puzzle.
      Portia xx

  • AnnieA says:

    Woodcut was nice and very evocative of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Portia, thank you for a stellar review! Eloquent as always! I love your description of Lil!

  • shuvanidev says:

    I am such a big fan of Olympic Orchids! There are several that I really love. First is Golden Cattleya – it’s like bee sex 🙂 Very sensual fragrance. I also love Osafume, California Chocolate, Sonnet XVII and a discontinued fragrance Fleurs de Glace – which I had to get a bottle of 🙂

    • Portia says:

      rosarita313 , I love finding other Olympic Orchids fans. Also ones that love some of the freakier ones like Fleurs de Glace. I always thought that smelled like roof insulation feels, which Serge Lutens only did a couple of years ago and Ellen had been doing forever.
      Portia xx

  • Ann says:

    Hi, Portia! So glad you’ve spotlighted this line — I keep kicking myself for not having tried it yet. I keep meaning to sample and then time gets away from me and I forget — old age creeping in, I guess. 🙂 Anyhoo, I’m getting on this today. And thank you for remembering 9/11, and also the lovely photo to accompany the post.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Ann,
      Rarely have I been so moved as I was at the site of the 9/11 disaster. We were in NYC for the first time since it happened last year and it is a chilling memorial. I remember being on stage when the TVs all around the bar started showing the tragedy unfolding, it was unbelievable. Still is.
      As to Olympic Orchids, they are so reasonable to sample. Mad if you didn’t
      Portia xx

  • Becky says:

    I just spritzed a bit of OO Amber last night!

    This line runs hot and cold with me. I think the Golden Cattleya smells like Burt’s Bee’s lotion, and the Mardi Gras is too… animalic, even for me. Neither are poorly made, but they’re not my cuppa.

    But I own both Seattle Chocolate and Woodcut, and both were instant loves. Like, I probably haven’t stopped talking about Woodcut since it came out.

    Seriously, go buy some now.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Becky,
      Thank goodness we all love different things. Woodcut is cool, I used up a sample. Seattle Chocolate turned a bit ferocious on my skin.
      Portia xx

  • rosarita313 says:

    This line has been on my must try list for a long time now and both Golden Cattleya and Olympic Amber are two that I have been especially interested in, so I’m glad to read your reviews, Portia. So many things to experience! My favorite indies are En Voyage perfumes and Imaginary Authors.

    • Portia says:

      Hey there rosarita313
      Always nice to have you drop by.
      Great Independent choices. I have some En Voyage here to try and love the Imaginary Authors.
      I hope you love Ellen’s work too.
      Portia xx

  • poodle says:

    I love the orchid scents and Golden Cattleyea and Red Cattleyea are at the top of my list. I think this has just inspired my scent of the day.

  • Patsi says:

    Ellen Covey’s line sounds just wonderful. Jeffrey Dame has many fantastic scents as well. Oh and DSH perfumes ‘Giverny in Bloom’ set is simply divine! Of course, most of these wonderful folk dont ship to the UK so i am disappointed by that……. 🙁

    • Portia says:

      Patsi, Ellen’s work is marvellous. I think you can get her sample set sent over to the UK.
      Jeffrey and Dawn are excellent too, also Mandy Aftel..
      Portia xx

      • Patsi says:

        Thanks Portia. Ellen’s site didnt say if she delivered to UK but i must email her just to check. Oh and of course i forgot to mention Mandy Aftel. cheers – Patsi x

  • Neyon says:

    Golden Cattleya certainly sounds very radiant and summery with its golden blossoms and sparkle of sweet soda!