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Market Adventures: Museu del Perfum

Posted on September 14, 2011 by swizemann

 

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind the past few months, what with managing two stores, traveling to both New York and Paris for market (not that I’m complaining!) and finally finishing up a major remodeling project on our 100-year-old bungalow. I’ve definitely had my hands full, so it’s been wonderful to have such a talented team of ladies here at Lille to help take the reins. If you see new faces in the shop, be sure to say Hello! Rachel has been doing a fantastic job of blogging and spreading the word about new arrivals, and I am just getting back into the swing of things with a recap of some of my Market Adventures. One of the highlights of the European trip was our visit to the Museu del Perfum, located in the Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona. This sweet, tiny museum opened in 1961 for the purpose of showing the public the evolution of perfume bottles and beauty tins throughout history.  

The museum’s collection consists of over five thousand pieces from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Arabs, as well as modern bottles, catalogs, labels and advertisements.  For anyone interested in the history of perfume, it should be a must-see on your to do list while visiting Spain.

For as long as I can remember, perfume has held a sense of power and mystery over me—particularly Chanel No. 5, which occupied a prominent place on my mother’s vanity and was reserved for special occasions. 

 

Like most adolescent girls, I would sneak into her bedroom while she was at work and play dress-up with her high heels and pearls, daring to use only as much of her make-up and perfume as would go unnoticed. Finding my own signature scent (Eclat D’Arpege by Lanvin) was a defining moment of my adulthood, and while I dabble here and there with the smoky, organic Guiac by Red Flower and the woodsy, ethereal Noble by mcmc, I will always return to that one.

It was a delight, then, to see the original bottles of these classic perfumes that I have come to know and love side by side with many unusual scents that were new to me. Unfortunately, the few rare perfumes I could think to ask for in the shop adjacent to the museum were not available.  This made me realize that we are so fortunate to have The Perfume House here in Portland! They have products that are difficult to find anywhere else in the world, including the scents that Napoleon had commissioned for himself and Josephine in 1795.  (The perfumes were designed so that if Napoleon and Josephine were in the same room, her scent would dominate, but if the two came together, the two perfumes would merge to create a whole new unique fragrance. ) We’ve thought about expanding our perfume offerings here at Lille, but with a shop like that nearby, it almost seems moot…what are your thoughts, dear LIL friends? Are there any scents you’ve been dying to get your hands on that are nowhere to be found in our fair city?

 

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