5 things to know about Lizzie Ostrom AKA Odette Toilette

1. Scent is the invisible ally which goes everywhere we go, yet rarely gets documented in our cultural histories. In this book I share some absolutely fascinating, dormant stories from the 20th 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.

Odette Toilette Headshots

Lizzie Ostrom AKA Odette Toilette

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….

More about the author

Perfume: A Century of Scents

Lizzie Ostrom

The incredible stories of 100 perfumes from a whole century of scents.

Signature scents and now lost masterpieces; the visionaries who conceived them; the wild and wonderful campaigns that launched them; the women and men who wore them – every perfume has a tale to tell.

Join Lizzie Ostrom, dubbed ‘the Heston Blumenthal of perfume’ (Daily Mail), on an olfactory adventure as she explores the trends and crazes that have shaped the way we’ve spritzed.

Related features