Thursday 19 March 2020


Nicola Thomis is the founder and lead writer on The Sniff, a website that has given her the opportunity to review both classic and modern fragrances. A fellow Jasmine Award nominee, and the queen of the York fragrance scene, I wondered what fragranced secrets she would reveal during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
One of the first smells I have any real recollection of is of my Grandma's old gas fire. We'd go to her small, Victorian, terraced house on days when I was off school and she would sit us in the living room, right next to the fire and turn it on full pelt. No matter how often the fire had been lit it would always smell dusty and dry, and when it got going there was a faint burning as the dust particles were incinerated. The fire had an interesting combination of ceramic and metal notes to it as well, and thinking about it now makes me feel very safe and comforted.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
I remember my mum wearing Ô de Lancôme when I was a child, and funnily enough the memories it evokes are of my child-like temper. The smell of this perfume would signify that her and my Dad were having a rare night out without us kids and I would always feel like they were clearly going to have way too much fun. Thankfully I've grown up a bit since then but sniffing it now takes me back to that impotent childhood anger.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
My twenties in scent were defined by Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea. My grandma brought me a set of Green Tea back from her holiday in Spain one year. I had never smelled it and wasn't sure that I would like it, but it was such a joy when I plucked up the courage to spray it and had that first, heady rush of a perfume infatuation. I wore it a lot back then, as I struggled to find other things that I liked, and it brings back a lot of happy memories for me still. It's a really happy and carefree fragrance.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
I tend towards under-spraying, rather than over-spraying, but the same could not be said of my early teenage years when I would liberally douse myself in White Musk from The Body Shop. The cool girls at my school moved on to Dewberry, which I really didn't like as much, but I tried just to fit in. I should have stuck true to my White Musk roots though because I found Dewberry to be sickly, sticky and not at all suitable for me - it gave me a headache. Nowadays I think very carefully about what I wear, and buy, so it's a bit harder to really make a mess of it.

You can only choose one perfume?
If I am limiting myself to one fragrance for the rest of time then it needs to be something complex which has many different facets for me to get lost in. To that end, I think the scent I would choose would be Miracula by Angela Ciampagna. It’s really interesting and tells me a story of Mother Nature triumphing over the built, concrete environment. It has smoky greenery and the feel of warm stone that I absolutely adore plus this little optimistic vein of sweetness running through.

What perfume should I try?
I would really like to get you to try The Architects' Club by Arquiste. The reason that I've picked this for you is because I know that you love books and the written word, just like me, and there is this 'old book' vibe about it that I absolutely adore. It's a very delicate yet complicated fragrance and I am always surprised at the significant longevity that it manages to conjure. It feels and sprays like a fragrance that will last an hour at best, but it goes on and on all day. I really love it, and I hope that - with our shared love of books - you might really enjoy it too!

To learn more about Nicola, and to explore her perfume writing, you can visit The Sniff website at

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