I’m writing this from Vancouver B.C., where the mystery author-fan convention Left Coast Crime is in full gear. The hotel lobby smells of the Hyatt Regency’s piped-in rose and steam-iron aldehydes, and the 300+ authors milling in the conference rooms and draining bottles of wine in the bar smell like….well, not much.
Over the past few days, I asked a few dozen authors what perfume they wore. I got a lot of “I don’t wear perfume” and “I used to wear perfume.” For instance, Becky Clark quit wearing perfume because it rubbed off on her children “and they smelled like old ladies.” But I did get a few hits.
Let’s start with one of the best-smelling authors here, Terry Shames. Thanks to a suggestion by perfume journalist and crime writer Denise Hamilton, Terry wears Parfum DelRae Bois de Paradis. (She said she also loves Parfum DelRae Panache.) Those were the only niche fragrances mentioned.
About half of the authors I talked to said they only wore fragrance when they had a special night out, and half of those weren’t 100% sure what the perfume was. Usually, a string of questions (“What shape is the bottle?” “Do you remember what color it is?” “Oh, does it have a strong rose note?”) eventually elicited the name — usually something from a department store.
Janice Peacock wears Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey. Her husband is a beekeeper, and she grew up at the edge of orange groves, so the scent means a lot to her. (Side note: Janice is also a glass artist and has worked with Shari Hopper to restore antique perfume bottles. Tragically, Shari’s workshop was destroyed in the Paradise fire.)
Lisa Alber likes Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert. Kathy Krevat/Kathy Aarons (lots of people have double lives here) said she used to wear Paco Rabanne Calandre, and when she dresses up, she wears “something by Coco Chanel. I think it’s Chanel No. 5. Maybe.”
Libby Klein buys a perfume whenever she travels to a new country and now has a collection of bottles. Her favorite is Thierry Mugler Angel, followed by Aquolina Pink Sugar, which she said she adores, even though it only lasts ten minutes on her skin.
Alec Peche had to google perfume bottle photos to find her favorites, but she eventually came up with Chloé — we never determined which one — and Prada Infusion d’Iris.
Scented oils also have a following among the authors I talked with. Tessa Floreano likes spearmint, rosemary, and sage oils because they help her focus. Cynthia Kuhn wear the occasional dab of plumeria oil.
Do the fragrance habits of crime writers mirror those of the public? I don’t know, but I can tell you this: My love of fragrance makes me a rare mystery author here. But I sure smell great.