Perfume: A Century of Scents

LIZZIE OSTROMI love books. It’s why I ended up doing an English Literature degree way back in the Stone Age. Problem is, I don’t get nearly as much time as I’d like to actually read them – which explains this embarrassingly tardy review of Lizzie Ostrom’s new book, Perfume: A Century of Scents.  Lizzie, aka Odette Toilette, is one of the perfume industry’s top notes, fizzing with a passion for (and a knowledge of) perfume that’s made her an established voice in the fragrance firmament. Her true talent, however, is in bringing the subject of fragrance alive with character, interesting stories and a writing style that’s knowledgable but fun and accessible too.

The book itself – clearly a labour of love – is a pacy, hugely readable walk through all the key fragrances of the last hundred years or so, starting in 1900 and ending at the end of the Nineties, with a final chapter looking at where fragrance is now and where it might be heading. The bulk of it is about female fragrances (what are traditionally classed as female fragrances, anyway, since perfume is pretty much gender fluid) but there’s plenty of discussion about men’s fragrances  too – from classics like Old Spice and Eau Sauvage to Guerlain’s Vetiver and Joop! Homme.

Unlike the bulk of books written about perfume  – and I’ve read a lot  – it’s delightfully unstuffy and unpretentious (she describes Tabac, one of my personal favourites,  as being “the string vest of aftershaves” for example), making it as good a read for people with just a passing interest in fragrance as it is for perfumistas or  those who write about fragrance for a living. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable read and a fantastic gift for Christmas too. Recommended.

Perfume A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom is available now from odettetoilette.com

Josephine’s Rose candle by Jonathan Ward – the ultimate bedroom accessory

Looking for a great Valentine’s gift for the woman in your life? Then how about this fantastic scented candle from Jonathan Ward London? Inspired by the legendary romance between Napoleon and Jospehine and the latter’s passion for roses, Josephine’s Rose features a medley of rose notes (english rose, tuberose and tea rose) but manages to avoid being old fashioned or ‘Nanish’ thanks to a sexy, musky note of amber.

As with the Serge Lutens fragrance Tuberose Criminelle (which I reviewed here) when rose is ‘sexed-up’ by other ingredients, debased a little if you will, it always smells miles better to me.

As always Jonathan is clever with his choice of ingredients – taking something potentially ordinary and giving it his own unique twist so it becomes extraordinary. Ideal for setting the perfect bedroom mood. Just add matches and willing partner.

For more info go to www.jonathanwardlondon.com

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Christmas gift set for Le Male – as much fun as you can have with two fingers

Christmas gift sets can be so dull. You know the type of thing – a fragrance plus a shower gel in a boring old box. Well, here’s a gift set that’s anything but boring. In fact, the first time I got to touch one I was a bit like a five year old with a new toy.

See, this year’s Christmas coffret for Jean Paul Gaultier’s perennially-popular Le Male fragrance is carved from polystyrene and is fitted with two buttons at the sides which create a little snowstorm inside each time they’re pushed simultaneously.

If you’re a big kid like me, once you start playing with it you almost don’t care what the fragrance inside smells like (though it’s a classic so don’t worry). Possibly my favourite fragrance gift set this year. Certainly pushes my buttons anyway (sorry!)…

Available now, priced £39.50. Set includes a 75ml eau de toilette and a 100ml shower gel.