Monday 13 March 2017


When Grant Osborne set up Basenotes in 2000 it was one of the first websites dedicated to fragrance. An approach of fact over rumour has meant it has become a serious research tool for anyone who works in the perfume industry. A self confessed lover of Haribo, Tea, Bacon and Marmite, I wondered what would we find out about Grant’s own perfume memories when I asked him “Stephan’s Six”?

What is the first smell that you can remember?
The first smell memory I have is of some rose scented toilet air fresher from either Glade or Airwick (though as-was-then, Haze, I think). It lived in our downstairs toilet after we moved house when I was five. It seemed to live in there for what seems like most of my childhood. It was probably a matter of months but as a ratio of my life so far at that point, it seemed forever. Even now, whenever I smell rose in a fragrance, even posho-expensive ones, it brings to mind the scent of disguised toilet aromas.

The other smell memory I have was of a brand of soap called Supa-Soap. It was the first liquid soap I’d ever used and although I have no idea what it smells like, every now and then I will smell something that reminds me of it. That also lived in the downstairs toilet. All my early smell memories are from the downstairs toilet it seems.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
I don’t really remember them wearing perfumes in my childhood. They weren’t the sort to wear perfumes on a daily basis and at the time didn’t go out for “special occasions” much. If they did then I remember my dad would smell of cheap eighties after-shave, but I’ve no idea what it would have been. It’s a bit different now of course!

What was the perfume of your twenties?
The perfume of my early twenties was probably Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male and Emporio Armani. If I smell them now, they remind me that I was once younger and make me slightly depressed.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
When I worked at the perfume counter of Boots I dropped a bottle of Aramis Havane in the stock cupboard and it stunk for weeks. Sorry people of Boots in Cambridge in the late nineties.

You can only choose one perfume?
My favourite perfume varies from day to day, and if I could only choose one perfume, I would eventually get bored of it and hate the sight and smell of it I think. If I’m forced to at gunpoint I’d pick 4711. It smells of clean.

What perfume should I try?
Ok, for men it would have to be Old Spice. Don’t worry about finding a vintage bottle, just whatever they sell at the moment. It still smells amazing and it’s cheap. A fragrance doesn’t have to break the bank and be made with all the “precious ingredients” to smell good. For women you should hunt out the sadly discontinued Amaranthine by Penhaligon’s. It is, to me, the sexiest thing in a bottle … if a mixture of perfume oils and denatured alcohol can be sexy that is.

For more information on any of the fragrances mentioned in Grant’s “Stephan’s Six” you can visit the Basenotes website at

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