People In Perfumeland – Lila Das Gupta Of Perfume Lovers London/Olfactory Events

Lila Das Gupta is a former journalist who runs ‘Perfume Lovers London’,  a group dedicated to entertaining and informing people about perfume. Their past speakers have included Frederic Malle, Patricia de Nicolai, Mark Buxton, Francis Kurkdjian and Geza Schön, as well as The Candy Perfume Boy and myself.

She now works as a media trainer and communications specialist, working mainly with the Civil Service. Her big ambition is to interview Bertrand Duchaufour, Sophia Grossman, Serge Lutens, Christopher Sheldrake and many more of the lovely perfumers who make our world a brighter place.

Lila Das Gupta, Photo by Eleanor Bentall via

Lila Das Gupta, Photo by Eleanor Bentall via

A good day starts with… an aromatic cup of coffee brought by my husband.

I’d never leave the house without… khol pencil on my eyes.

I always feel good when… I smell good.

My favorite thing in the world is… my family.

The next thing I want to buy is… Coromandel (Chanel).  I have a box where I squirrel away money for fripperies, it takes a while to fill.

The place I always come back to is… Santiago de Compostela where I was at Convent school. It’s an old pilgrimage route and nowadays full of people clutching their ‘Lonely Planet’ guide book, who’ve done ‘El Camino’. When I was young it was a small, sleepy gothic town.   We always have octopus with paprika when we go.

My personal style is… pared down and simple, more so as I get older. I wear bright dresses for events so that people can see me, the rest of the time I’m partial to jeans and a good quality grey sweater. My daughter’s godmother gave her a great piece of advice: when in doubt – always try to look like an off-duty ballerina.

My favorite perfume… happens to be whatever I’m wearing on the day.  Today it was Kinski (by Geza Schoen) that jumped out of the cupboard. Geza is usually a minimalist, but this is modern baroque.  I still marvel at how good it is every time I take it out of the box.

When I travel I always take… a bottle of Infusion d’Iris (Prada) with me.  As well as being one of my ‘go to’ perfumes – if you don’t like the smell of a room, it’s marvelous for neutralizing it.

To relax I need… peaceful conditions – I hate noisy or crowded places.

I like to gift people with…things that are beautiful and have a function, otherwise it’s just stuff.

When I have a bad day… I try to hold the ship steady because the storm always passes.  In periods of self-doubt I dust down my copy of ‘The Power of Optimism’ (Alan Loy McGinnis). It’s a good tool to help you out of the mire.

I find my inspiration… In people (I always keep a notebook on me to jot down good ideas or recommendations ), Books (I love Amazon reviews and recommendations as pointers), TED talks, magazines, the radio – great ideas are everywhere.

Something I would never want to miss… is the chance to do a course – learning new things is one of the great pleasures in life and always ends up being of use.

My last mistake was… forgetting that I’m not superwoman. Stress comes about when you juggle more balls than you are really comfortable with.

In my fridge there is always… Feta cheese, red peppers, olives, green beans, lettuce, anchovies. If anyone turns up I can make Salad Niçoise or Greek Salad at a moment’s notice.

On my nightstand I keep… Safran Troublant (L’Artisan Parfumeur), I spray some on the pillow, which has a soporific effect.

The perfect weekend starts with… all the day’s newspapers spread out on the bed, my other half to read them with, and a large pot of coffee.

My role model is… Eleanor Roosevelt – wise, compassionate and a pioneer.

Something I always want to be asked in questionnaires like this is…
What would you tell the younger you if you could go back in time?
(If you want the answer:  Get some psychometric testing, find out who you are and what your unique selling point is, then you’ll know where you can shine.)


Lila is a powerhouse, a can-do woman full of energy and joy, who doesn’t sit around and wait for things to happen. She makes them happen. She is everything I am not and I admire her drive and engaging manner, her zest for life and infectuous positivity immensely.

When she discovered her passion for perfume she really made it her passion and created PLL to the benefit of so many Perfumistas. Thank you Lila!


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24 Responses to People In Perfumeland – Lila Das Gupta Of Perfume Lovers London/Olfactory Events

  1. Lady Jane Grey says:

    I’m off to get that book ! (“The Power of Optimism”…)

  2. Vanessa says:

    As a member of Perfume Lovers London – though I don’t get down to events nearly as much as I’d like to – I really enjoyed getting to know Lila (the powerhouse of the perfume community!) better through her answers. I so agree about not buying people more ‘stuff’ as presents. Mr Bonkers and I also had a strict rule about not bringing home any more items that might constitute mere ‘stuff’ without careful advance vetting. Love the quote about trying to look like an off-duty ballerina – I think that is a good description of your everyday style, B? And those are wise words about the storm passing when you are having a rough time. Interesting that Lila’s favourite perfume is the one she happens to be wearing – perhaps not if she is in testing mode? 🙂 That Geza Schoen scent sounds interesting – I do associate him with more minimalist compositions, so my ears pricked up at Lila’s description. Great interview and beautiful photo – Lila looks so cool and chic in that white ensemble!

    • Olfactoria says:

      The “stuff” answer resonated with me too! Often social obligation necessitates the buying and giving of stuff and I hate it. I must think of a way out of that…
      Lila is a role model for many women who know her. And she is fun!!! 🙂

  3. Hi B. Thank you for your lovely words. I could say the same for you – to have achieved so much in this blog in so little time is indeed impressive and a great resource for anyone who loves perfume as much as we do. Thank you V.too. I am very touched.

  4. Tara says:

    I’m so glad you included Lila in this series. Great idea, B.

    Like many others, I’m very grateful to Lila for setting-up PLL and putting in so much effort to make it such a great group. I really appreciate and admire her confidence, energy and attitude. She’s also incredibly knowledgable and a great host/leader. I can well imagine she whips up a great salad for unexpected guests and is always learning something new. She may not be Superwoman but she comes close… 🙂

    Oh and I love the idea of the fripperies box!

  5. Mike Harmon says:

    Lila was effectively my introduction to the perfume world and her passion and enthusiam are so infectious. The choice of questions asked is interesting but always best when someone gives full and expansive answers as Lila does. Love the concept of looking like an off-duty ballerina although not so sure I can carry it off with the same aplomb…
    It was a wonderful treat to hear you speak as well, B, at a PLL event.

  6. WOW! Lila Das Gupta reads great. I hope there’s a PLL meetup while I’m in London early next year. Then I could meet all the Perfumistas I’ve been reading so much from and about. Bravo Lila for being a mover and shaker.
    Birgit, you definitely do the off duty ballerina look.
    Portia xx

  7. Thank you for featuring Lila, Birgit. Her style advice is priceless.

  8. Sabine says:

    I’m going to meet Lila in November for my first PPL meet. Very excited and now slightly less nervous because she seems nice…

  9. Suzanne says:

    Lila sounds like a dynamic woman, and I know she has been the impetus for some wonderful posts here at OT (I’m referring, of course, to the PLL talks that Tara has covered, including the one you spoke at, Birgit). 🙂

    And her perfume tastes are superb: gotta love a woman whose next purchase is Coromandel. 😉

    OK, now I’m off to explore Santiago de Compostela (via Google). Thanks for the lovely interview.

  10. Gretchen says:

    This has been my favorite interview you’ve shared, and considering how great they’ve been, that’s saying something! Many great lessons here (that optimism book, the off duty ballerina, Safran Troublant on the evening pillow are brilliant), and simplicity in life, in gifts, in the passion she so evidently has for her work are my goals for myself…and I will re read this often as a personal meditation. Thank you!

  11. Valerie says:

    Thank you for this lovely interview. Lila has impressed me with her elegant simplicity.
    As far as the consumer driven “gift giving” goes, my mother used to say that we should gift others with something we would like so my most recent rule is to buy things that can be:
    1. Eaten
    2. Drunk
    3. Worn
    This results in only GOOD clutter!
    Did you decide on a pooch?

  12. Lavanya says:

    Very Nice Interview! I identify with many of her answers (especially the one about learning something new and not gifting people with ‘stuff’ ). I’ve heard about Lila especially because of Tara’s posts, so it was nice to know more about her.I also ended up finding one of her articles for telegraph – a year of not buying ‘stuff’. Found it very inspiring and impressive!

  13. Pingback: An Evening of Orientals – Perfume Lovers London, The New Cavendish Club, London, Thursday 21st November 2013 | Olfactoria's Travels

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