Packing a suitcase for a trip is an opportunity to distill the very essence of who you are — or who you want to be — into one container. With what you pull out of the suitcase when you arrive, whether it's sleek urban clothing or a crisply pressed suit (with travel iron), you tell the world you are practical, sexy, wacky, or something different altogether. On the road, you can show yourself as the person who loves vivid colors, wears shoulder-brushing earrings, or wears a fedora, no matter the yoga pants you can't seem to get out of at home. Snuggled in the suitcase next to this painstakingly curated wardrobe is a decant of perfume. What will it be?
A few weeks ago, the stars aligned for me, and airfares, paychecks, and wanderlust converged to set me up for a trip to Paris in the beginning of April. March from Perfume Posse, one of her dear friends (who I count on being one of my dear friends soon), and I are renting an apartment near the Luxembourg Gardens. Our emails about clothes to bring, shoes to pack, perfume houses to visit, and, for me especially, places to eat, have kept my email vibrating for days.
Clips from the Louis Vuitton prêt-à-porter show have convinced me to pack some full-skirted cotton dresses to layer with sweaters and footless tights as needed, and I'll toss in a few rhinestone brooches and 1950s scarves to wear in my hair or warm my neck. I might even have the shoe angle worked out with flats and lace-up boots. But I can't decide what perfume to bring.
On one hand, something contemporary to counterbalance my vintage clothing but dramatic enough to cut through the early spring chill seems called for. Comme des Garçons + Daphne Guinness Daphne? No, too insistent. How about Shiseido Feminité du Bois or my winter favorite L'Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille? Nice choices, but somehow not quite right.
Then again, it will be spring! Maybe Christian Dior Diorella, Guerlain Chamade, or Ormonde Jayne Champaca would be better. Yet I suspect nothing complements the smell of diesel fumes and fresh bread or an eyeful of Haussman-era buildings better than a grand, complex vintage perfume, like Millot Crêpe de Chine or Miss Dior. Of course, I could bring a few milliliters of each of these fragrances, but I want to wear one perfume enough to associate it with the trip.
In the end, I suspect I'll bring a fragrance I love, but one that makes a perfect background scent, like Parfums DelRae Mythique. Then, I'll find a new perfume in Paris. Linking what I know will be a wonderful trip with a new fragrance is a sure-fire way to call up memories when I return home. But that opens up a whole new challenge: what perfume to buy?
How about you? How do you decide what perfume to bring with you when you travel? When you're in Paris, where do you like to go?