People In Perfumeland – Vanessa Musson Of Bonkers About Perfume

Hopefully you all know Vanessa Musson of Bonkers about Perfume already, because she sure is a pleasure to know. Her quirky blog and unique point of view to everything pertaining perfume (and a good many things besides) make fabulous reading and I look forward to reading every new post. But of course there is much more to know about Vanessa and I’m happy she gives us a glimpse into the inner workings at Bonkers Towers.


A good day starts with… a good sleep the night before. Or in my case, copious amounts of tea in lieu of sleep. (Only the bog standard ‘builder’s’ variety has the power to override the daily feeling I have that monkeys have poured sand in my eyes.)

I’d never leave the house without… worrying that I have forgotten my house keys. Or leave my car without worrying that I haven’t locked it. Key-related anxiety is pretty much an ongoing state of mind.

I always feel good when… I sit in the sun. Except for the time I fell asleep without having first applied sun cream, and woke up with eyelids like imploded red balloons.

My favorite thing in the world is… kitchen towel. Empirically speaking, I mean. For if the amount of interaction with something is a measure of how much it means to you, kitchen towel is not just my favourite thing in the world, but my Significant Other, ‘Other’ being the operative word.

The next thing I want to buy is… kitchen towel. Once I get down to two rolls, I start to get nervous.

The place I always come back to is… Germany. Its edgy, graffiti-daubed hospitals/squats/bunkers/Lost & Found Bureaux weirdly repurposed as music venues exert a visceral pull – that’s always assuming you can find the door.

My personal style is… all over the place. I have some ‘preppy grunge’ outfits I wear to gigs, (no really, that is a style!), and some work suits that are not so much ‘so last year’ as ‘so last century’, while just staying the right side of shoulder pads. But in the male-dominated ‘flange and grommet’ circles in which I move professionally no one seems that bothered. The rest of the time I’d say my look is ‘a bit Boden’ – though I draw the line at the more traffic-stopping end of their spotty/stripy/floral spectrum.

My favorite perfume… (sigh!) is Guerlain Plus Que Jamais. The name means ‘more than ever’, but as it was discontinued some years ago, you can make that ‘Guerlain Plus Jamais’ (‘nevermore’).

When I travel… I always take too much. Those features in the women’s mags where the wraparound top doubles up as a sarong and a turban and a pashmina and a pair of flipflops? – I can’t seem to get the hang of that capsule wardrobe thing at all. Though in fairness most of my travel is work-related, and even the least fashion-conscious respondent might look askance at a sarong.

To relax I need… to get the heck off Facebook at least TWO hours before I go to bed! Hasn’t happened yet. (See also ‘I always feel good when…’, though the relaxing effect of sunshine is of limited value in the immediate run up to bedtime.)

I like to gift people with… my research skills (A rate-busting mortgage deal? Menopause remedies that really work? The name of the member of airline check-in staff who will look sympathetically at your waterlogged passport you accidentally washed with your trousers?) I am also good for complaint letters and remembering your loved one’s birthdays – long after you have stopped loving them even – such is the tenacity of my recall. And I will always make myself available for proof reading duties and pontificating on pesky matters of grammar.

When I have a bad day… I have a drink. Actually I have a drink most nights, but on a bad day you can be sure I will uphold this time-honoured tradition.. When I have a really bad day I go to bed in the middle of the afternoon – assuming this is practical – and remember my mother telling me that everything will feel better in the morning. Or in a year’s time, certainly.

I find my inspiration… in the most unlikely places: backs of drawers, factory floors, a derelict shop, a can of pop, the random utterances of friends…I can’t think of a rhyme for that, sorry – but basically anywhere and everywhere can spark an idea. I fear the inside of my head may resemble after one of those ‘Messy Day’ parties, but I shan’t rush to look.

Something I would never want to miss… the funeral of someone I really cared about, even though they would not miss me. A flight. My eyeballs when putting in contact lenses. The odometer in my car turning 70,000 miles. I missed 60,000 and refuse to be caught out again!

My last mistake was… writing to a friend, who has recently stepped up her wearing of perfume: ‘Of course you don’t want to offend people with your silage.” (Editor’s Note: Instead of sillage, for the not so quick among us, which includes yours truly.)

In my fridge there is always… a whiskery knob of ginger and several bulbs of garlic in full sprout. Plus some homemade stock of questionable vintage and an ever-changing kaleidoscope of wizened bits and bobs wrapped in tin foil. I may even have a bit of ‘fresh’ apple sauce left over from Christmas. Clearly I have issues with waste.

On my nightstand I keep… a precipitous tower of unread books, for which I was recently amused to learn the Japanese have a specific word – ‘tsundoku’. I kid myself that as these books are physically near my head, I will read them in the night by a magical process of osmosis. Hmm, that bookmark hasn’t budged – maybe I just need to bring them a little closer…

The perfect weekend starts with… the sound and view of the sea. Living in a landlocked county, I am routinely disappointed.

My role model is… I don’t actually have any role models, but I jolly well should. A whole clatter of them in fact. A fit person, a published writer, an entrepreneur, a person who can throw together an entire dinner party from store cupboard ingredients – there’s four for starters. There again, my mother was a very good egg, so she might just fit the bill instead.

Something I always want to be asked in questionnaires like this is… ‘As an interviewer, is it like a busman’s holiday for you to be asked a bunch of questions yourself? ‘ Noooo, for after nigh on 30 years of asking other people questions – and having to actively curb any wish to say: ‘Ooh, I do so agree, I’m just the same, you know!’ – I jump at any opportunity to be asked my opinion, so thanks for giving me exactly that.

head shot

I count myself lucky to call Vanessa a friend. Her way with words and her utter love for language and its finicky bits, her very British sense of humour, the fact that we are both cat-less cat-lovers and of course our shared passion for perfume are what brought us together, even across the distance between Vienna and Stafford. Thank goodness for V’s travelling ways and iMessaging.

Are you a Bonkers reader? Are you a Bonkers fan?


About Olfactoria

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62 Responses to People In Perfumeland – Vanessa Musson Of Bonkers About Perfume

  1. cookie queen says:

    Vanessa’s blog is bloody great. I love it. I want to go to Cake Club with her. I can do cakes. She should be a National Treasure. Great interview. xxx

  2. Alica says:

    Sure I am (a Bonkers reader, Vanessa and Bonkers fan – hi dear Vanessa), I love this interview. Btw the pic is wonderful. I have to laugh of the kitchen towel obsession, the mine with paper tissues is the same, I have them all around me, in every room and car, every handbag and pocket. I need it most of time.

  3. Ines says:

    It’s great to read Vanessa’s answers to your questionnaire. I’m sure meeting her in real life makes you keep your smile on, I love her quirky way of writing, I can only imagine how much more fun she is in person.

  4. Jordan River says:

    Bonkers about Bonkers. Very happy to learn the word ‘tsundoku’. Ha, silage is a potent almost sickly smell that often wafts over the country roads of New Zealand – silage sillage.

  5. poodle says:

    She’s a character. I can relate to the kitchen towel thing but for me it’s Kleenex tissues. Sad to see there’s no cheese in her fridge but good to know she’s a garlic lover.

  6. lucasai says:

    Vanessa was one of the first people in perfumeland I met. Our first encounters were placed at Now Smell This blog. Later I was reading her blog, then created my own perfume place.

  7. Sabine says:

    I have just spent a very entertaining half hour at bonkers and her blog goes straight on the list. Thank you.

  8. nukapai says:

    What a wonderful interview 🙂

  9. Lavanya says:

    Haha- Vanessa is a scream!! (and of course I’m a bonkers reader and fan albeit a recent one since I didn’t start reading her blog till Undina linked Vanessa’s version on her Paris visit post)..
    And coincidentally I was going to post Vanessa’s responses to the beauty survey today too..:)
    “Hmm, that bookmark hasn’t budged – maybe I just need to bring them a little closer”- LOL but there were too many laugh out loud moments in here..

  10. Tara says:

    Of course I love V and her fabulous blog. As well as being a truly good egg, she’s such a gifted comic writer and her answers just go to prove it. It was all wonderful from preppy grunge to a head like, but particularly the image of her turning up to a business interview in a sarong 🙂

    I now also know why I’m so tired in the morning – those darn monkeys pouring sand in my eyes!

  11. What a great interview…Vanessa is a hoot! Thanks for letting us get to know her better.

  12. ringthing says:

    What a fun interview, Vanessa is a hoot 🙂 I’m not familiar with Bonkers and that changes today, can’t wait to start reading. Thanks, Birgit!

  13. Vanessa says:

    Thanks so much, Birgit, for inviting me to take part in this fun series – I have greatly enjoyed reading the contributions that have gone before, and finding out more about the tastes and habits of other people in Perfumeland.

    And I also consider myself lucky to have you as a friend, and am happy that we have contrived to meet several times already – in a variety of countries and weathers! In mutual padded coats on one occasion! I shall look forward to your next visit to London, and meanwhile, poodle has reminded me that I need to acquire some cheese. I do love the stuff, really, but suffer from chronic shopping malfunction. 😉

  14. Suzanne says:

    Oh Vanessa, you are a riot!!! From start to finish, this was so much fun to read – especially our answers to “Something I would never want to miss….”

    Bonkers About Perfume is a unique treasure. ❤

  15. Sandra says:

    Vanessa sounds like so much fun! Wish I knew her. Thanks for the interview.

  16. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Hm, one learns something new every day… In sarong to business meetings ? – I have to reconsider my old fashioned, boring style !

  17. Amy Bella says:

    I am not a Bonkers reader but I will be from this day forward! This was my favorite People in Perfumeland interview yet- Whimsical, wild, wacky, wonderful writing! I am still laughing about “silage”…

  18. Odiferess says:

    I have only recently picked up on Vanessa’s blog in the past few months. I love it. She has supported me kindly through the start of my own perfume blog (Odiferess) and I can’t wait to meet her someday. A clever lady with a cracking writing style..

  19. Vanessa reads clever and sharp, feels like best friend material and writes a super blog. I always wanted to meet her Birgit and now have an inkling of what that might be like. Well jel you’ve hung with her,
    Portia xx

  20. BritGal says:

    Abso-bloody-lutely hiarious. I have not yet read her blog – I’m heading over there NOW! As I was reading her interview answers, I thought to myself “hmmm, she sounds like a Brit” and was thrilled to find she is indeed a fellow countrywoman. The reading by osmosis – priceless. Thankyou for introducing me to this witty woman 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are very welcome, I’m very happy I could introduce you to Vanessa.
      She is among the most British Brits I know and that is a very large part of her charm.

  21. Tatiana says:

    I’m a huge fan of Vanessa. She is the only perfume blogger (that I’ve been able to find) who has reviewed the discontinued fragrance I loved, which started this slippery slope of descent into perfume addiction. She’s made me laugh about life even in the face of all it’s absurdity. I especially love her travelogues.

  22. Undina says:

    Bonkers About Perfume was one of a few blogs (yours, B., and Dee’s being the other two) I dared to comment on in the beginning of my “delurking.”

    Thank you both for this interview: it’s even more fun to read answers from somebody you know.

    P.S. Vanessa, A. is the same with towels: less than two in the pack means an emergency visit to the store 😉

    • Vanessa says:

      Haha – a man after my own heart! Mr Bonkers was the same with petrol and toilet roll. And his anxiety was clearly contagious – in my case in a different category of household products. 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are right, reading the answers of people we know is definitely more interesting.

      I’m glad you all have enough paper towels at hand, I make similarly sure that the toilet paper is always extremely well stocked in our house. 😉

  23. Vanessa says:

    At this point I feel another big thank you is in order – to Birgit again for having me on OT as part of her fun series, and to readers who left all these kind comments – I am very touched and ‘don’t know where to put myself’, as my mother used to say – I may just retreat even further behind my fringe if I can contrive it! 😉

  24. Natalie says:

    Such a fun interview! I was momentarily baffled by the phrase “kitchen towel” which I hadn’t heard before. Vanessa’s point of view and style (both of writing and describing perfumes) are so unique. I can’t imagine not being able to pop over to her blog and read her take on the latest perfume, travel adventure, or other happening.

  25. She’s adorable, and I’m a huge fan. The more I know about her the better I like her. I look forward to visiting her on her home turf one of these days.

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