Do you want to go somewhere? I do, probably sometime next spring when it’s cold and windy here. I won’t be flying to Maine for Christmas; this is literally my first one without the kids since I had them. The girls quarantined and then drove to my house in 2020, and I flew to Maine last Christmas, right in the teeth of Omicron, which was super-stressful. They all now work jobs that are very busy at Christmas rather than my leisurely office jobs of yore, where everyone was all “hey Bob, see you next year” for that entire last week of December. Anyway, I’ll most likely spend it here, Santa Fe is pretty over the holidays.
But it did get me thinking about trips past, and some perfumes that for me are inextricably intertwined in my memories with the city in which I first tried them.
Annick Goutal Mandragore I discovered on a miserably cold day in Paris, back when I used to do those February getaways with a friend as a sanity break from my kids. I think we walked by the Goutal shop somewhere on the Left Bank while in search of chocolate, and I was initially intrigued by the bottles in the window; this was early days for me and I knew the brand but hadn’t really explored it. Mandragore smelled like peppered grapefruit to me and I loved it instantly; it was so weird! So not what I thought of as traditional perfume! I blew through that first bottle long ago, but I’ve always owned at least one plus a backup.
I Profumi di Firenze Arancia Dolce happened when I was on a Rick Steves tour, we were staying in Florence (I love Rick Steves trips, fewer people and some freedom, I know there are other companies doing similar tours with someone else figuring out the itinerary and all the logistics and dealing with problems as they arise.) Most of my compatriots dedicated themselves to food and wine tastings; I spent the entire time jacked up on caffeine and covered in powdered sugar from whatever dessert I’d just tried. I spent hours in iPdF since they have a million things to sniff, but left with that “sweet orange” which still cheers me years later.
In Edinburgh (and what a gorgeous, fun city) I visited whatever the fancy department stores were at the time, which is where I ran across Worth Courtesan, and I still can’t tell you why I love it so much, it’s kind of odd – a nutty, sweaty hairspray of a scent. (I think Portia shares my love; Luca Turin does not.) I bought the bottle early in my trip so it became the scent I associated with my miles and miles of walking, traversing the city, taking it all in. I’m kind of craving Courtesan right now, just typing this.
Are there fragrances that are bound indelibly with a specific place in your mind, either because you bought them or wore them there?
(All images via Pexels)