Monday 28 December 2015


What is there left to say about Odette Toilette that hasn't been said already? Well, her real name is Lizzie Ostrom and she has the craziest approach to "perfume appreciation" that you could ever hope to experience. Her sold-out "scratch and sniff" events are now legendary, and she is also the author of A Century Of Scents, a stroll through one hundred years of perfume. With herself as the subject for a change, what would she make of "Stephan's Six"?

What is the first smell that you can remember?
Definitely my Strawberry Shortcake doll. I loved that saccharine scent, just like I loved childrens' medicine for its syrupiness. I enjoyed smelling that ersatz strawberry scent, but I can't say I look back on her with massive nostalgia. She's quite a sinister looking thing. Also I don't have a particular memory, it's more a sense of the time in general.

What perfume do you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My dad used to wear Eau Sauvage. He still does! I love that smell. He used to have this marshal arts style dressing gown and would spray it in the evening when he got home. So I associate it with him coming out of work mode and into home-time, though probably he wore it in the morning as well. Sometimes I wear Eau Sauvage so that must make me a Daddy's Girl?

What was the perfume of your twenties?
It's quite difficult for me to settle on one. I remember being quite obsessed with mimosa perfumes for a while, and bought this lamp ring from L'artisan Parfumeur (a favourite of the young Odette!) which came with these viscous drops of mimosa scented oil. I ended up rubbing the oil on my wrists because it was super-concentrated and lovely. I must find out if that stuff's still around. Oh yes, and I also had this very vanilla scented Ligne St Barth's body lotion which was so potent it was like parfum. It reminds me of walking five minutes from my halls to the lecture theatre (a rare occurence) which I always thought was SO FAR TO TRAVEL.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
I know exactly which one it is. It was 1997 and I was about fourteen. I was going to Paris with my family, but I was a real moody cow at the time, and wouldn't sit next to them on the Metro and was utterly mortified to be there. On the way back we went to Duty Free and I spotted the new Jean Paul Gaultier L`Eau d`Ete. So I spent all my money on this thing, put it on, but as we went home I started feeling sick. It was one of those voluminous 1990s rose vanillas and it made me gag! I then got quite ill, and hated the stuff because it reminded me of getting a scratchy throat, and also the perils of buying a perfume solely by the bottle. Don't ever bring it near me.

You can only choose one perfume, what would it be?
Always Diorella (sorry Stephan I know I say this all the time!) because it's impossible to be grumpy when you wear it.

What perfume should I try?
OK, hmmmmm, you've tried everything right? I'm going to give a range, which you'll know anyway, the out-of-fashion Estée Lauder perfumes of the 1970s and 80s because they're brilliant and affordable.

Lizzie's website has full details of her upcoming events, and you can buy A Century Of Scent from all good booksellers or direct from Amazon.

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