It is absolutely dreadful that one of the loveliest people working in the field of olfaction this week died shortly after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Victoria Henshaw didn’t work in perfume- as a former city planner, and academic, her interests lay in the fascinating field of the urban smellscape; understanding how we can navigate, map, and experience place through our sense of smell. She was influential to all sorts of people: in fragrance, in architecture, in public health and in psychology.
As well as authoring influential papers, journalism (including a feature in the New York Times this June), and a book with Routledge, Victoria hosted news-grabbing smell walks around the world, and last year I was lucky enough to collaborate with her on her first tour in London. We had about twenty five Scratch+Sniff attendees led by Victoria around Spitalfields, sniffing out old walls, heading down alleyways, and catching the wind off the city farm, having an absolute riot of a time. We must have looked bonkers to passers by but we didn’t care because it was so much fun, a completely different way of getting to know the city, and all held under Victoria’s bewitching enthusiasm and charm.
After this we all headed back to Angela Flander’s perfumery where Victoria shared some of her work over wine.
I remember chatting with Jo, my co-host on Life in Scents, to see if we could record it last-minute. He did, and I’m so, so pleased.
Victoria was of course more than her work. I only knew her a little, and in a professional capacity, but we are talking no-nonsense straight talk with a grin, serious focus, and a wonderful attitude. She was incredibly capable, and an infectious, energising presence.
You can listen to Victoria Henshaw via the Life in Scents podcast of her London talk.
On Sunday 26th October, at 2pm or so, I’m going to do a short smell walk back in London’s Spitalfields. If anyone fancies joining, just drop me an email at odette (at) odettetoilette (dot) com
Goodbye Victoria. One heck of a woman.Read More