Monday 26 February 2018


Originally from Finland, Pia started her UK adventure working for Elizabeth Arden before training in perfumery. An eye for detail and a nose for success saw her move to Lush Cosmetics where she created HQ/29 High Street, “the smell of a lush shop in a bottle”. After moves to Equinox Aromas and Orchadia, Pia launched Olfiction in July 2016, which is described as “the hub for all things fragrance”. With a rich background in fragrance, what would she reveal about her own scented memories during “Stephan’s Six”?

What is the first smell that you can remember?
Pansies from my grandmother Aino's border at our summer cottage in Jaala, Finland. She was a keen gardener and I spent my summers as a toddler crawling in her flowerbeds. I have been told that my first word was “kukka”, which is Finnish for “flower”, while grabbing one of her pansies.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My mum had a wardrobe of fragrances. She’d cycle through Y by YSL, which was really her signature, Rive Gauche, Chanel No5, various cheaper body sprays and Shalimar. Shalimar is the scent I associate with her at a particular time, early on in my life, and I remember her smelling of it at Vappu (Walpurgis night) which is a big spring carnival in Finland. So, in my mind, Shalimar is also linked with the smell of balloons and fermented lemonade.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
I had several dozen perfumes in my twenties but the ones that really stick out as pillars from that time are Coco Chanel EdP, Safari by Ralph Lauren and Chaos by Donna Karan. I was also a big fan at the time of the original Aveda Pure-Fumes. Once, when I stopped at a department store perfume counter to replace my bottle of Safari, the male sales assistant said, “are you sure? This is a perfume for brunettes, you know.”

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Probably when I was compounding a blackcurrant base and spilled an entire sample bottle of buchu oil on myself and, like an idiot, I hadn't been wearing a lab coat. So, those jeans went in the bin and I was the laughing stock of the entire factory floor for a while.

You can only choose one perfume?
DON'T DO THIS TO ME. Well, I'd have to choose Mandragore by Annick Goutal. Why? Because it's the only scent I can throw on any time, any mood, any place, and it's very comforting and subtle. Or I could go the other way and pick one of the more operatic scents I adore, a big floral or a classic chypre, and only wear when the situation is right. So maybe Mitsouko by Guerlain or Jardin D'Ombre by Ormonde Jayne.

What perfume should I try?
Copal Azur by Aedes de Venustas. It's such a beautiful way of presenting incense. I feel like it belongs in a line-up of reference incense fragrances.

To find out more about Olfiction, the company that Pia runs with Nick Gilbert, you can visit

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