Monday 18 April 2016


Elizabeth Chadwick is a bestselling historical novelist of more than twenty books, with a particular interest in the Medieval period. Her novel The Greatest Knight, about the legendary William Marshal, was a New York Times bestseller in 2012. She says she "collects perfumes for the sheer joy and curiosity of the experience", so what treasures would she unearth during "Stephan's Six"?

What is the first smell that you can remember?
I am going to be pretty disgusting here. I was very small, younger than three, and I remember my dad mowing the front lawn at our first house. He was supposed to be keeping an eye on me. However I had gone out of the gate to the pavement in front of our house where someone had spat out a wad of banana flavoured bubblegum, a very synthetic fruity taste that hinted at banana. I can still remember the smell of it quite strongly so I suspect someone had tried it, not liked it and disposed of it in the fastest manner. My father suddenly noticed what I was doing and boy did I get into trouble! But that intense fruity synthetic banana has remained with me all my life.

What perfume do you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My mum’s perfume of choice was Coty L’Aimant. I can remember there was always a bottle on her chest of drawers. We weren’t well off and it was an affordable luxury. I never actually liked it all that much, although I hasten to add I love my mum to bits. It gives me the image of a 1950s suburban bedroom with faded floral wallpaper and a scent drifting along the landing from the air freshener on the loo window sill! I do remember though my dad going away on business and bringing mum home a bottle of Cabochard by Gres. Woody, aromatic, earthy, I thought it was utterly gorgeous and was always sneaking off for a smell.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
I had several but my signature was Ma Griffe by Carven, a floral without being flowery which wasn’t too strong. It was distinctive and clean without being soapy and could be worn day and night. I also wore Apple Blossom by Helena Rubenstein and Je Reviens by Worth, a clean floral once you got past the furniture polish first burst. Mum sometimes pinched it from me in a reversal of the more usual mother to daughter heritage!

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Blasé by Max Factor. I used to wear it in my teens and early twenties. The problem was that I loved the opening notes, like a fanfare on a platinum trumpet, but the notes very quickly expanded into a cloud of migraine-inducing distortion that blared back at me throughout the day. I’d seduce myself on the opener and then think, "what have I done to myself?"

You can only choose one perfume, what would it be?
No contest. It would have to be Mitsouko by Guerlain. I love this perfume and I love to smell it on my wrist during the day. It’s smoky, exotic, woody. It's uplifting like incense smoke at the top of its twirl where it diffuses into air, or like sunlight warming a mossy forest floor. A truly beautiful classic.

What perfume should I try?
I would be interested in your opinion of the perfume Funeral Home by Demeter. I smelled it on the wrist of a friend who was wearing it to an event and despite its quirky name it was lovely. Her father was an undertaker and they used to live above the funeral parlour. She told me that the perfume reminded her exactly of the smell of flowers surrounding the dead! It’s a spicy carnation/lily floral scent from my memory and something I need to add to my collection.

For more information you can visit Elizabeth’s website at


  1. My mother loved to take an early morning bath and then spritz on some cologne as she could not afford perfume. It didn't matter anyway because she had the kind of body chemistry that would hold on to a scent all day long. The first bottle I remember seeing on her dresser was a black one called "Evening in Paris." I thought it was pretty. She wore various scents throughout her life and never considered herself dressed without her fragrance on. In the 50s it was Estee Lauders Youth Dew. How popular and long-lasting that one was! The last fragrance I identify her with was the original Chloe which I still spray on the soft doll she left behind, still patiently waiting for her.

    1. "Evening In Paris" or "Soir de Paris" was a beautiful fragrance created by Ernest Beaux, of Chanel No 5 fame. Madeline, please contact me through the COMPETITION button so that I have your email in case you win