Monday 5 March 2018


Today marks the beginning of National Fragrance Week, a celebration and promotion of the perfume industry. Over the next seven days you will see companies vying for your attention with events and special offers so, to ease you in gently, I thought that I would take a look back at six of my favourite “Stephan’s Six” interviews from the past two years. I advise you to hold on tight as we revisit Jo Fairley, Lawrence Roullier-White, Liz Moores, Michael Angove, Monsieur Guerlain and Odette Toilette to discover their scented secrets.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
[Michael Angove] I remember the scent of Wallflowers and the warmth of our Lilac tree, but in all seriousness the first smell I remember is a very bizarre thing. It is the smell of the inside of a doll’s head: clean plastic and nylon. It’s not particularly a nice smell, and certainly not a beautiful one, but it is a very early smell of my sister’s toys from the seventies. It is a fond memory of the toys of childhood.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
[Jo Fairley] My father didn’t wear perfume, but he did use Floris Rose Geranium Shaving Soap. I have such fond memories of that smell, and treated myself to three bars of that same soap simply to help conjure up the memory of him. He died 18 years ago. My mum was generally muddy from gardening, covered in clay from pottery making, or up to her elbows in flour, but she also had a ‘glamorous’ side. Mum could definitely scrub up well when they went to a dinner dance, and the scent of Femme Rochas as (cliché alert!) she kissed me goodnight meant next morning there’d be a stolen napkin of petit fours for breakfast.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
[Liz Moores] In my twenties I wore Oscar by Oscar de la Renta and Samsara. I've always liked big powerhouse perfumes. My daughter was born when I was in my early twenties and throughout my pregnancy I wore diluted jasmine oil, so the smell always reminds me of my early days as a new mummy. I couldn't wear the perfumes again as they remind me of the struggle being a single mother, but the smell of jasmine oil is comforting to me, in fact I called my daughter Jasmine.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
[Odette Toilette] I know exactly which one it is. It was 1997 and I was about fourteen. I was going to Paris with my family, but I was a real moody cow at the time, and wouldn't sit next to them on the Metro and was utterly mortified to be there. On the way back we went to Duty Free and I spotted the new Jean Paul Gaultier L`Eau d`Ete. So I spent all my money on this thing, put it on, but as we went home I started feeling sick. It was one of those voluminous 1990s rose vanillas and it made me gag! I then got quite ill, and hated the stuff because it reminded me of getting a scratchy throat, and also the perils of buying a perfume solely by the bottle. Don't ever bring it near me.

You can only choose one perfume?
[Monsieur Guerlain] Following my original excitement about Guerlain's Habit Rouge, I soon discovered Vetiver and Héritage. Many years later, I made my way through to Mouchoir de Monsieur, Jicky, and the Jacques Guerlain classics. Even though Habit Rouge is my first love, I would have to choose Mitsouko if I only had one choice. It is simply the most perfect unisex fragrance I have ever tried, at once luminous and sombre, medicinal and amber sweet, both softly floral and assertive like a pair of tight fitting black leather gloves.

What perfume should I try?
[Lawrence Roullier-White] I would suggest something completely original. Giovanni Maria Farina created the world’s first Eau de Cologne in 1709 and wrote to his brother, “I have found a fragrance that reminds me of an Italian spring morning, of mountain daffodils and orange blossoms after the rain”. Giovanni named the fragrance Eau de Cologne in celebration of the town he had made his home, and Farina 1709 has to be something everyone should try.

To read the full interviews for any of the "Stephan's Six" featured just click onto the name next to the answer to take you to the original article. Have a great National Fragrance Week!

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