Monday 23 October 2017


Leanne Hirsh is the co-founder of Perfumera Curandera, a natural fragrance company based in Malibu. She started her career as a makeup artist working with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and David Bailey before launching Hirsh Skincare at Bergdorf Goodman in 1998. With contributions to Vogue, Tatler and Vanity Fair, I wondered what perfume secrets she would reveal about herself during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
Wood shavings, wood polish and leather medicine balls. My grandpa was a cabinetmaker from Russia, close to the border with Poland, and he also had these old leather medicine balls that he used to lift for his health. I’m the oldest of three and, even though we tried, we could never lift the largest one! I never understood why they were called medicine balls? They were in the musty garden shed that smelled of petrol from the stained cement floor, lawn mower, tomato plants, leather and cobwebs. We also loved to lift up the paving stones in his back garden and look at all the insects underneath, so the aroma of a damp English garden is always stirring. I’ve lived in America for thirty years but the smell of the English air always brings back memories of hedgerows, blackberry bushes, bluebells and the first conkers from the Horse Chestnut trees.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My mum wore Rive Gauche and I loved it. I would use her body lotion and the bath oil for special dates, when she let me, and it always reminds me of parties, boyfriends and first sexual encounters. Even though it was floral and woodsy there is something free and rebellious in its aldehydic nature and glorious layers. I still have her empty bottle and love to open it, breathe it in, and remember her free spirit. We had red and silver hammered foil wallpaper in our bathroom with cork floors, a clawfoot tub and big hanging potted ferns. It was pretty wild and dramatic, very Biba or Mary Quant, and very Seventies. Mum eventually moved on to the scents of Jil Sander. They came in super chic white square milk glass bottles with black type printed minimally on the bottle. I loved the design. My Dad wore Eau Savage by Dior and it mingles in my memory with his love of fine cigars and the leather seats in the car, along with the Johnsons baby oil he would put on in the summer. He kept a reflector in his car and would open the sunroof and hold the reflector under his chin at traffic lights to catch some rays of elusive English sun!

What was the perfume of your twenties?
My favourite was the original Body Shop White Musk that I wore forever, though for special occasions I wore Anais Anais by Cacharel before moving on to Guerlain's Shalimar. I also loved to layer up with Mum's Rive Gauche and sleep naked, it lasted so long and scented the sheets for days!

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Like many little girls I used to pick lilac, lavender and roses to try and make perfumes but they never worked out the way I imagined they would. It’s not really a mistake but was certainly frustrating to my young nose when the petals turned to brown sludge. My biggest perfume regret though was Charlie by Revlon. It was always something that I wanted to work on me, because my best friend wore it, but it just didn’t.

You can only choose one perfume?
I think it would have to be Rive Gauche because it conjures sensuality and sexuality, the mother daughter connection, the divine feminine on the edge of freedom and desire, and the wild adventures of love and longing.

What perfume should I try?
I would suggest Sueno, the new perfume oil roll on from my Perfumera Curandera line. I love its comforting smoky sweetness and find it wistful, nostalgic and somewhat heartbreaking ... reminiscent of life’s young desires, dreams, hopes and yearnings.

For more information on Leanne, Perfumera Curandera and her fragrance collection you can visit the website at

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