Interview with Angela Sanders of “Now Smell This”!

The speed of light was broken earlier this fall in Geneva, but if it hadn’t been, I would have broken it myself on the day that Angela Sander’s upcoming novel The Lanvin Murders comes out. Angela is a truly extraordinary woman. She has been writing perfume reviews for Now Smell This for over five years, and these reviews are never anything less than positively charming. She works at an HIV service organization and owns a pickup truck, which she vigorously defends from would-be robbers. Today Angela warns us about a dangerous potential use for Caron Tabac Blonde and shares pictures of her dog Tex and her “voluptuous kitty” Mae West. 

Why do you write about perfume?

I like to write and I like perfume. The combo is hard to beat. About five and a half years ago, I responded to an ad on Now Smell This looking for perfume writers. In many ways, I was (and still am) learning perfume along with the blog’s readers. Having a weekly 500-word writing assignment has tightened my craft, too. When I see posts I wrote even a couple of years ago, I cringe.

Also, perfume people are terrific. Writing about perfume, I’m part of a world-wide community. Whenever I meet someone who knows Now Smell This, I’m so happy. I feel we already have a bond.

Your fabulous-sounding crime novel, The Lanvin Murders, stars “a perfume-loving protagonist”. What perfumes does this character wear?

The protagonist, Joanna, owns a vintage clothing store, and she mostly wears vintage fragrances she picks up at estate sales when she’s combing the closets for Lili Ann suits, Bonnie Cashin purses, and Emma Domb prom dresses. In The Lanvin Murders, in passing I mention her spritzing on Je Reviens, Femme, and Lanvin Scandal (I wish I had that bottle for real). The place of honor goes to Tabac Blond, which saves her life when she sprays from a decant into a killer’s eyes.

What are your favorite perfume houses?

This is such a hard question! Can I just list some of my favorite fragrances? Ormonde Jayne Woman, XerJoff Irisss, L’Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubéreuse, vintage Christian Dior Diorling, vintage Miss Dior, Lanvin Scandal, Amouage Jubilation 25, Guerlain Chamade, Rochas Femme, Caron Parfum Sacré, MDCI Enlevement au Soleil, Eau de Rochas, Hermès Bel Ami, probably more I’m forgetting. In this damp cold, I’ve been wearing Flower by Kenzo Oriental a lot for comfort. I’ll get into fits sometimes where I’ll wear only Shalimar, Habanita, or some other assertive fragrance for a few days, then I won’t be able to stand it for a while.

What is your favorite place to shop for perfume?

I’m on a tight budget, so unless I’m mad for something, I wait for it to be discounted online. I find a lot of fragrance at thrift shops. Really, though, at this point a perfume has to knock my socks off for me to shell out. Then, I’ll buy it at Portland’s The Perfume House if they have it.

You’ve written that Edmond Roudnitska is your favorite perfumer. What is it about his work that makes you adore him? What is your favorite of his creations? 

I like how Roudnitska mixes the beautiful with just enough of the ugly to force your attention. I adore Femme, Diorella, Mousseline, Dior Dior, and Eau Sauvage, and I know I’d love the old Diorama if I ever got to smell it. The classic photo of Roudnitska shows him cranky and contemplative in an old tee shirt in an overgrown garden, which forges my connection even more deeply. I’m going to Languedoc for a long writing retreat in May, and I want to find Cabris, where he retired, and imagine him at work.

What are some of your other interests outside of perfume?

Writing, cooking (and eating), reading old detective novels, film noir, any old movie with beautiful dresses and snappy dialogue, ridding the world of the word “utilize,” finding etched crystal cocktail glasses and linen napkins at Goodwill, hot baths, walking the dog.

What perfume(s) are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree/Menorah branches this year?

My dream: a bottle of Enlèvement au serial or of Jubilation 25 (I have an ounce of that, but it’s running out). Wouldn’t a bottle of vintage Diorama be nice?

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25 thoughts on “Interview with Angela Sanders of “Now Smell This”!

  1. Angela is my favorite perfume writer! It’s so nice to put a face with her words. I had no idea she was writing a novel, very exciting stuff. 🙂

  2. RIDDING THE WORLD OF THE WORD UTILIZE. I knew that you were a great writer, Angela, but now I also feel you are a kindred spirit. My personal war is against the inappropriate use of the word “servicing.” I tell my clients that only prostitutes “service” human customers. That seems to stop them.

    But I digress. Thank you both for this look at the woman behind the reviews. When is The Lanvin Murders coming out?

  3. Thank you, Ari, for the interview. It was fun! Susan and Natalie, you guys are so nice! Three agents have the manuscript for The Lanvin Murders now, and I’m waiting the interminable long time it seems to take to see what they have to say. Meanwhile, I’m working on a follow-up called Dior or Die.

    Now I will be on the alert for “servicing.” I’ll add it to “incentivize” and “monetize,” two other words that get my goat.

    1. Angela, it was a pleasure to get to learn more about you! The process of getting a book published seems much worse than the actual writing of the book itself.

  4. Again, a great interview Ari! Are you getting tired of all my compliments yet? I’ve been reading Angela’s writing on NST for years! It’s great to see her face an learn a little more about her. “Dior or Die” is a great title – looking forward to reading both books 🙂

    1. I have yet to ever get tired of compliments 🙂 I have also been reading Angela’s reviews for many years, I think that she is an absolutely essential part of Now Smell This.

    1. I’m so happy to hear this! And I want everyone who calls perfume bloggers “competitive” or “mean-spirited” to hear this: I asked over 20 perfume bloggers to be interviewed. Not a single one said no, and they all very graciously thanked me for the opportunity.

  5. Ari, thanks for this interview (and the series so far). I too am one who considers Angela’s reviews an essential part of NST and not just because I’m a Roudnitska fan. I’m eagerly awaiting her novel (series — yay!). Thanks also for the heads up about her being on Twitter.

    As for the alleged attitude of perfume bloggers, I’ve been reading perfume blogs for only a year, but I have been repeatedly moved by the welcoming warmth and generosity in spirit and fact of the bloggers and their commenters — a real community.

    Looking forward to more interviews.

  6. I enjoyed the interview and now will be waiting for the book to be published.

    Angela, who are you favorite writers for detective novels? I used to love that ganre. I liked (and read most of the) books by Rex Stout, Conan Doyle and G. K. Chesterton.

    1. I’ve been on a huge kick of reading detective novels written by women in the 1930s and 1940s lately. Mabel Seeley wrote some great gothic mysteries set in the woods of Minnesota that I like. Delores Hitchens wrote a few featuring spinsters bent on revenge. Dorothy Hayes wrote “In a Lonely Place,” which is terrifically creepy, and I just finished one by Elisabeth Sanxay Harding that was fast moving and a quick evening’s read. Jonathan Latimer is terrific, too, although hard to find. His novels are loaded with description of rooms and clothes, and perfume often comes up as clues. He has even mentioned Shalimar, Pois de Senteur, and Nuit de Noel by name!

  7. This is so cool to be able to connect a face and a real person with “Angela of Now Smell This!” I have read Angela on NST religiously for YEARS.

    Angela, I’m not surprised you’re writing a novel. Your perfume writing is so wonderfully good. 🙂

  8. I agree with the previous commenter that it is great to connect a photo with the Angela persona on NST. I have also enjoyed her posts down the years, even though my tastes are more aligned with Robin’s. Very pleased to hear that Angela finds Kenzo Flower Oriental comforting – I wore that in wild weather at the weekend for exactly that reason – I feel it is somewhat under the radar.

    1. I can only speak for the U.S., but for us it is under the radar because it is no longer available, lol! I have been looking out for it ever since Luca Turin described it as having a coffee note.

  9. This is great! Nice to put a face to the name (and now it all clicks…”Like Swinton…I’m a pale redhead with a penchant for creamy colors and thick textures”…). Angela, If the book is half as good as your perfume reviews, it’s a must-hunt-down.

    and Ari, I didn’t know you had a blog! I’m having fun clicking through. I’m glad NST directed me here.

  10. This was just delightful! Every time I see Angela has posted a review on NST, I’m happy. She’s a wonderful writer and I’m thrilled that the mystery is being published, I look forward to reading it.

  11. She is my favorite perfume writer too, and I am waiting for her series of perfume mysteries to come out so I can get them all and curl up with them till I devour them all. So nice to know she will be taking a writing vacation in France, it’s sounds so idyllic. Her descriptions make perfume and everyday life sound idyllic.

    1. Lucy, I can’t wait for the perfumista book clubs that will undoubtedly pops up once Angela publishes. Thank you so much for reading the interview!

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