Photos: Michael Donath
1. The Blind Tasting | Lilt by Rouge Bunny Rouge
We confronted Tiffany Roth with a mystery perfume in a neutral, opaque vaporizer. Only afterwards did we reveal the name of the scent. Follow Tiffany on her journey into scent …
Wherever in the world I smell juniper I am instantly back home.
This is very fruity! It reminds me of a dollhouse I inherited from my sister when I was five years old. It looked like a big strawberry and could be opened and it came with these figures that each had a different fruit flavor. One of them smelled like apple and others were grape or raspberry. I was obsessed with it and its flavors.
Smelling this perfume I can see the green carpet on my parents’ bedroom floor and the view of Los Angeles behind the swimming pool. My parents still live in the same house in the Hollywood Hills. They moved there in the late seventies before it became really fancy and people went like: “What? That far out?” Today, my parents are house poor — because now all these huge mansions have surrounded the place! They don’t have much money but they have this house with this amazing view they love so much. The view is unreal!
The scent is changing now. It’s becoming woodier and more herbal. There was a special smell to the Hollywood Hills: juniper! It would grow wild all around the house. Wherever in the world I smell juniper I am instantly back home. And I can see the trees and the juniper berries with their typical color.
And than there was that smell on your skin from the pool! It’s such a specific smell from the chemicals and when you shower you soap up but afterwards it’s still there. It’s in you hair and everything. Now it’s the smell of home to me: swimming, getting sunburned …
We had an Austrian babysitter who was a supermodel. She would use some freesia perfume: green, fresh but also sweet. Her name was Fabienne and she was gorgeous: six feet tall, blond, blue eyes, incredible cheekbones and always tanned. The moment she arrived from Austria she got very Californian. She just adapted the Venice Beach look immediately: bleached hair and frosted pink lipstick, short shorts and tank tops. This is the 80s! My sister and I are pretty dark and here comes this tall, gorgeous, blond Austrian model! She made a huge impact on us. She would take us to bars even though we were kids and she bought us Shirley Temples.
I think she married a really wealthy Swiss man she met in California. That’s the last I ever heard of her. We have a huge framed poster of her doing an ad for jeans. She is wearing very classic high- waist jeans like Brooke Shields. She must be in her 50s now. I see her in an après ski chalet life, looking just gorgeous in diamonds and furs. Not gaudy but very chic. Such a beautiful woman!
2. The Interview
What is Tiffany Roth’s earliest scent memory? What is the significance of fragrance in her life? Which are her personal Top 3 perfumes? Find the answers below!
In New York you’re always aware that there is an underbelly to this city.
Helder Suffenplan: What is your strongest scent-related memory?
Tiffany Roth: One of my very first major boyfriends used Speed Stick, a green, very common deodorant, three or four dollars a shot. I dumped him because he kissed another girl and I found out. It was a big deal! I remember being in the drugstore, going down the deodorant aisle just after we had broken up. I saw the green Speed Stick and just couldn’t resist. I pick it up, take the cap off and it’s like all these memories float back and I stand there in the middle of the deodorant aisle and start crying uncontrollably, holding that Speed Stick to my nose [laughs].
HS: What a sight! Did you ever smell it again afterwards?
TR: I did. But no crying!
HS: What was the first perfume you wore?
TR: That was Happy by Clinique. Today, it would be kind of too much for me.
HS: How did you find it?
TR: I smelled it on someone else. That’s how I find all of my fragrances. When I smell one on someone else that works well with their chemistry I walk up to him or her and ask: “What are you wearing?” Even if it’s a total stranger.
HS: What perfumes do you wear nowadays?
TR: I wear a few. One of them is Stella, by Stella McCartney. I noticed it on a woman when I was waiting tables in a restaurant. I walked by her and it smelled incredible.
HS: Do you wear different perfumes for different occasions?
TR: Yes, I switch between two or three different scents. When it’s warmer outside I like them a little bit sweeter like Stella. When it’s colder I prefer the more masculine ones: Legend by Mont Blanc, for instance, or Bulgari Pour Homme.
HS: You moved to New York nine years ago. Does it smell different here compared to Los Angeles?
TR: Very different! L.A. is such a car-oriented city so you really smell a lot of exhaust. And here, you do smell exhaust but what is much more obvious is the steam rising through the grates of the subways, exhalations rising from cracks in the pavement. You’re always aware that there is an underbelly to this city. It smells so old and musty — very moist and dank.
Then there are the rats and roaches. It’s so out of control here. And that has a smell, too. As if rodents were running their own world beneath our feet. You walk into a building and you can tell if there is a cockroach problem because their waste smells. It’s a musty, old, cardboard smell with a little bit of sweetness. Or when you smell dead mice or rats in the trash. You know instantly that you’re smelling death — and it’s absolutely terrifying!
HS: L.A. has a very different climate.
TR: Absolutely. In New York you have garbage everywhere in the streets. During summer it’s just unreal because it decomposes so much faster. In L.A. it’s also hot during summer but dry. There’s also a different trash system with concealed containers. You don’t see trash in the streets.
HS: Do different parts of New York have a different smell?
TR: The worst is Chinatown during summertime … It can make you nauseous, because all of the seafood, meats and exotic things you don’t see in regular supermarkets are out in the heat, and the humidity brings them to life. My nose is really sensitive so I have to walk in the middle of the street because on the sidewalks it’s too much. It makes your eyes water.
HS: Do you notice the olfactive situation you are in when you perform on stage?
TR: I do notice the smell of sweat and body odor, the humidity from people, mixed with alcohol. To me this is the smell of excess and means people are having fun and we are doing a good job! Sometimes you can smell it when people are exuding drugs from their pores. You can smell the chemicals. There is a particular smell of cocaine being pushed out of the pores when people are dancing and celebrating. It’s just a sign of a good party. It’s a good thing! In a different situation of course I would not appreciate that smell. It would have a different meaning.
HS: Thank you!