Monday, 8 May 2017


Tessa Williams is the author of Cult Perfumes, which looks at the releases and history of the boutique perfumeries. Alongside launching her own fragrance range, Tessa is a journalist who was written for Vogue and The Times, amongst others. At home with being the interviewer, I thought it was time the tables were turned as I asked her “Stephan’s Six”?

What is the first smell that you can remember?
One of the first scent memories of my childhood is the smell of paper. My father was a printer and the piles of crisp paper in his workshop had such a memorable scent, almost similar to the smell of the wrapping paper they use in chip shops. This smell always reminds me of my Dad and makes me smile. He is still fanatical about papers and, even at the grand age of 76, shows no signs of slowing down.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My mother always loved perfume and often wore Zen by Shiseido, which was in a stunning black and gold bottle. The perfume that reminds me most of her though is Rive Gauche. Dressed in her finest Caroline Charles suits, with immaculate make up and coiffed hair, she looked like a mixture between Joan Collins and a young Diane Keaton. The last thing she would do before heading out was spritz herself from head to toe. She would actually spray a wall of scent and then walk into it! My Dad never wore aftershave but I remember my stepmother wearing Paris by YSL, a big power scent that suited her character well.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
The scent that kind of crystalised the whole of my twenties living in London was Joseph de Jour, although I have to admit that I also wore CK ONE and remember going to the launch party for it. I also used to wear Love by Aveda. My boyfriend at the time, a guitarist in a pop band, had a thing for very floral scents and this one with ylang ylang and patchouli really intrigued me. He travelled a lot, from Brazil to the USA and Japan, and was given lots of perfumes and clothes and he gave this one to me.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
One time after returning from Paris my daughter, Ocean, who is also a huge perfume lover, dropped a bottle of Je T’Aime Jane by Bella Freud. It was created by Azzi Glasser who I think is one of the most talented perfumers of our generation. It was a tragedy to lose the whole bottle of perfume but Ocean’s bag has always retained a wonderful scent redolent of days spent in Paris.

You can only choose one perfume?
That is a tricky one. I think it would be a close call between Caleche by Hermes, perfection in a bottle, or Guerlain’s Mitsouko, an eternal favourite and classic that never bores me.

What perfume should I try?
Definitely Fire, which is my own creation. It’s a superb scent for any man or lady and although it is actually a Home spray many people, including my fiancé, love to wear it as a perfume. It has a rich smoky fragrance of mystery with uplifting scents of coconut, tonka, vetiver and incense. It’s part of my Elements range, which also features of Earth, Air and Water.

For more details about Tessa’s book and fragrance range you can visit her website at

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