Monday 8 August 2016


From PR to Prime Time, Dave Lackie’s career has taken him around the world in search of the best beauty products. I caught up with him before he headed to Mexico, and Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps retrospective, to find out the perfume secrets of the Canadian King of Beauty during another “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
The first smell I can remember is the scent of pumpkin pies baking. My mother was a health nut so used to try to convince us that sugar-free muffins were as delicious as chocolate donuts. They kind of tasted like dry rocks and no, we didn’t add any strawberry jam or butter. On special occasions she would take out her grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe and bake several. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger filled the house. It’s the one recipe that I can actually cook today, and I’ll sometimes bake them in the fall just for the smell.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My grandmother Betty truly was the life of the party, and you never knew when one would suddenly break out at her house. Not only would she have spirits and liqueurs of every shape and flavour, but she’d have trays of hors d’oeuvres ready in the freezer. There was the hidden bar in the sun room that housed cocktail umbrellas in a rainbow of colours, bar napkins from a Hawaiian hotel, stir sticks and an oversized cocktail shaker. Fragrance was essential to her style and Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass and Hartnel’s In Love were personal favourites. She particularly liked the Blue Grass bathing soap, but unfortunately so did her Irish Setter who used to eat it like dog treats. I would suddenly see the dog race by with blue bubbles coming out of her mouth followed by the sound of “bad dog”.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
Ralph Lauren’s Polo was a favourite of mine in my twenties. I also really liked Chanel’s Antaeus. I remember sneaking into Ballinger’s night club while in high school on Thursday nights. I’d always spray Polo on the way out and that scent became associated with clubbing.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
After graduating from college I landed a job at a large downtown department store as a special events/pr co-ordinator. I was beyond excited, but learned a very valuable lesson at one fragrance launch. A veteran newspaper reporter, who was famous for his unpleasant demeanour, attended a presentation for a new scent. He walked over to the brand manager and, as the discussion progressed, he innocently asked what scent the manager was wearing. “Oh, it’s ckone,” he responded - a competing scent to the one he was overseeing. That next morning, the feature story in the style section of the newspaper was how the brand manager was wearing a competitor's scent. I learned a valuable lesson: nothing is off-the-table when talking to journalists.

You can only choose one perfume?
Throughout my career I’ve tested hundreds and hundreds of fragrances, and I’ve had the opportunity to interview some of the world’s foremost perfumers. I think spending time with these artists, learning about their inspirations and creative processes, has made me appreciate all fragrances. When you interview them you can feel their passion for perfumery. Hermes’ Jean-Claude Ellena for example works in a very streamlined space with classical music playing, whilst Thierry Wasser at Guerlain is passionate about ingredients and the farmers that grow the best flowers. So I think that when I write about scent I try to appreciate the effort and love that went into the fragrance.

What perfume should I try?
My all-time favourite scent is Lalique’s Perles de Lalique. Created by Nathalie Lorson, it is quite simply spectacular. I remember smelling it for the first time when I was editor of Cosmetics magazine. Now, Lalique isn’t particularly well-known in Canada and this scent didn’t have any advertising or marketing campaign behind it, but it smelled so sophisticated. It launched in 2006 and won “Scent of the Year” at the Canadian Fragrance Awards and Marie Claire awarded it "Best Perfume" in 2007. It’s worth searching out.

To read more from Dave you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter @DaveLackie.

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