This is scent-lover Lizzie Ostrom, aka ‘Odette Toilette’. She is an expert on all things perfume and in her forthcoming book, A Century of Scents in 100 Perfumes, will tell the stories of 100 scents across the twentieth century in all their sniffable glory.
Here are ‘5 Things You Need to Know’ about Odette:
1. Scent is the invisible ally which goes everywhere we go, yet rarely gets documented in our cultural histories. I cannot wait in this book to share some absolutely fascinating, dormant stories from the twentieth century.
2. When I was a child one of my treasured possessions was a doll who wheezed out the scent of fake strawberries when you squeezed her. I’d literally sit there giving her CPR to get as much smell up my nose as possible.
3. In another life I might have been a comedy writer. Perfume so often is seen as haughty and luxurious, but I love finding the humour in a subject which really does straddle both sublime and ridiculous.
4. I’m one of those terrible people who peeps into friends’ bathroom cupboards when round for dinner. But I have a genuine research excuse and need to know what scents they’ve got lurking. This is why I enjoy interviewing people for the podcast Life in Scents so much; we ask them about their lives, but entirely through the lens of aroma and what they remember or associate with different periods. Most people tell us similar smells that bring them joy – we get cut grass, bonfires, cooking onions and suntan lotion all the time. It’s nice to know there are these touchstones.
5. Lots of people come up and ask me what perfume I wear. It changes most days and sometimes it’s something weird like an ancient Avon scent in a bottle shaped like a clown. Or Brut. Well they did ask….
A Century of Scent in 100 Perfumes is out now. Read an extract here