What happened when I found myself in the proverbial “desert island” situation.

Geneva desert island

Moving to a new country in a very short time is not easy. One has  to be selective and comprehensive. I decided to take with me only a handful of bottles and leave my behemoth of a collection behind. Truth be told, it seems that I have finally reached that stage in my perfume trajectory where the need for downsizing is very real. The rationale behind choosing the bottles I took with me proved to be very different from what I expected or from what one expects in the “desert island” situation.

First of all, my Serge Lutens bell bottles are out of the question, as well as my beloved Aromatics Elixir Perfumer’s Reserve, simply because I do not trust they will travel well. Their old fashioned glass stoppers are an airplane accident waiting to happen. Low pressure in the luggage compartment is a guarantee of the stoppers popping off and your clothes being scented with a cacophonous cocktail of juices for many washes to come. In fact the tighter one squeezes the glass stopper, the higher the pressure will be inside the bottle and the surer disaster will be once the aircraft reaches high altitude. So practicality is one aspect of the desert island situation I never saw coming.

On the other hand, My other first love, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, made it easily to the “top 7” of the bottles I chose. There is always something comforting in the elegant, classic an understated creations from this house.  Once one gets over the weird openings, drydowns are really hard to resist. And I find this obligatory initiation process in the development of these scents a big part of their attraction. If you can stick around till all rough edges have been smoothed over, you get a big reward. I see this as a metaphor for life as well.  I decided to bring with me Route du Vetiver but I chose the current version, because as much as I love the older one, I believe that the current version is an overlooked classic. If one tries to picture Encre Noire as a sub-classification of vetiver fragrances, a clean but dark one, then Route du Vetiver is the one fragrance that created this genre. The current version incorporates a dollop of musk and a load of white florals that have never been coupled with vetiver in such an imaginative and evocative way. The debonair  vetiver is born and a scent for all times is out there for those who can stir clear of clichés.

From Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier I also packed Iris Bleu Gris for its genuine iris qualities and versatility. I couldn’t  refuse to pack Ambre Precieux, the only amber-centric perfume I wear with pleasure, and Santal Noble, the most unique sandalwood-centric perfume out there. It is constructed around Australian Sandalwood as far as my research has revealed, not Mysiore sandalwood, but it represents an elegant and somewhat aloof version of this woody note, unlike any other sandalwood fragrance.

Donna Karan Fuel for Men was a spontaneous choice, not only because the new bottle travels very well, but also because there is something very comforting and luxurious to this scent. It is warm and soft like a cashmere blanket  and at the same time, it can offer the opulence of leather. Don’t listen to people who complain about the re-release, it is practically identical to the vintage version and definitely worth looking for.

In the same vein, Myrrhe Ardente made the trip to Geneva, thanks to its amazing warmth and longevity, It is one of the few perfumes I can still smell on me hours after initial application and the cloud that surrounds me is filled with warm woods and icing sugar. This was also a birthday gift from my sister so it holds a special place in my collection.

Last but not least, I also packed Paper Passion, the fruit of the collaboration of Steidl publishing house, perfumer Geza Schoen, Wallpaper magazine and Karl Lagerfeld’s artistic direction. I could not leave this behind as it was a gift from my SO and I need to have things that remind me of what I left behind in Athens and give strength to go on. I only wish someone could bottle the smell of Toupée’s fur for me to carry with me, on me.

This “treasure island” situation proved to me that when faced with the dilemma of extreme downsizing of my collection, I turned to softness, balance, versatility and emotion. The final list was very different from what I had imagined it to be but I am very happy with it. It keeps me warm and comfortable, surrounded with love and dreams.

Creative Commons License
MemoryOfScent by Christos  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. Great to read your decision making process. How did I miss Route du Vetiver? I just read your 2011 story. Is the tester empty now? All the best to you in Geneva and living with these Treasure Island ‘fumes as well as the Memory of Scent left behind in Greece.

    • I have managed to find a backup bottle of the vintage so I guess I am stocked for life 🙂
      Thanks you Jordan. Do try to find a sample of RdV, vintage or current. It is truly unique.

  2. MariaA

    Ahhh my problem exactly when I decided to move to London. Only a few went in the bag. The rest travelled later by truck carefully wrapped in a mile long bubble wrap.

  3. Glad to hear that you’ve arrived safe and sound, Christos! The MPG showing is significant! I might be moving, too, and I have no idea what I’ll do. I have to pare down somehow and will probably start by excluding any perfume which I rated lower than 8/10…. The more weighty question (literally!) for me will be whether to bring along my physical books, now that I finally broke down and bought a Nook. 😉

    Did you leave your other possessions in storage back in Greece, or did you give them all away? I do hope that Toupée will be able to join you soon!

    • I imagine your collection is huge.

      All my things are in my place in Athens, together with Toupée and Pantelis, my friend. I hope to greet welcome them here permanently in March, when I will have settled in properly in more permanent dwellings

  4. Apointofsmell

    While the “Athens collection” stays here on hold, Now it’s time for you to move on to the “Geneva collection”. (that’s another metaphor for life as well 😉 Extra credits for Fuel and paper passion from me. Take care!

  5. I would have gone a different route – decants. But it was interesting to read about your selection process.

    Good luck in new place with the old and new perfumes!

  6. A lovely article. I guess we really know our true love when we have to decimate our collections. It’s so hard to transport perfume these days. Postal restrictions are tough, you can’t take them in hand luggage, and as you pointed out, even in the luggage hold they might not survive intact! Good luck with this new chapter in your life. Familiar perfumes can be so comforting away from home as your article demonstrates beautifully.

  7. Congratulations on the new job and good luck with everything! I followed the link to your review of Aromatics Elixir PR and thoroughly enjoyed it. I smelled AE for the first time very recently and loved the herbal mossy beginning..

    • Thank you Lavanya. I cannot believe that there is someone who doesn’t already know Aromatics Elixir as the perfume an aunt used to wear. It has such a strong 80’s vibe for most people. Perfumer’s Reserve is much more… reserved and cultured and more easily wearable by men and less butch at the same time, if this makes sense. I would love to hear what you have to say about Aromatics Elixir as someone who tried it in the 10’s for the very first time.

      • haha- I guess it is because I didn’t grow up in the U.S/Europe..:) I absolutely love the beginning of AE which reminded me of Tom Ford’s Moss Breches, though towards the middle it does get a bit much, but it is still in the territory of smells that I really like. Even though I don’t have the 80’s vibe nostalgic reference- rosy chypres, including this one, do remind me of certain Indian smells, but more on that later..:)

  8. Christos, as you were so kind to provide me decants of many of your MpG loves, I will wear a couple of them this week as I think about you and wish you the very best of luck and love during your transition. I’ll start with Ambre Precieux, as it’s my favorite. Hope you are reunited with all of your loves, perfume and otherwise, very soon.

    • Dearest Suzanne, I enjoyed your posts and photos from Rome so much. I am planning a post about Amre Precieux myself as I try to come to terms with amber through it and fail every time. I think if there is one center note I would never like to smell again, this is amber. I have tried and tried to accept it but now I think it is time to face the fact that we will never be friends.

  9. Natalie

    Having been through this recently myself, did you find it easier to do than you thought? I did, and it took me by surprise. I enjoyed reading your selection process.

    • You are absolutely right Natalie. It was much easier than I expected. Of course I have been missing some of my perfumes already but this does not mean that I question my choices. There are just so many bottles one can fit in an already full suitcase.

  10. Pingback: Smells of Athens: Ambre Précieux and the smell of galaktoboureko | Memory Of Scent

  11. Pingback: Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Santal Noble: the son of Mitsouko | Memory Of Scent

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