Confessions of a Duty-Free Fragrance Addict


Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa once wrote, ““The unnatural and the strange have a perfume of their own.”  On the off chance this happens to be true I make sure to mask my own “unnatural and strange” scent daily, with the help of an ever-growing perfume collection.  My earliest obsession with scent came in my pre-teen years when Theirry Mugler released his epic Angel scent, causing passers-by around the world to take a giant step back from any woman wearing this perfume bomb.  My mom finally had to confiscate my bottle of Angel after a particularly splitting migraine, and my passion for perfume gradually waned…

… until I became an avid traveler and discovered duty-free.  After a holiday in which I hadn’t quite spent my entire budget, I found myself in a duty-free somewhere (Bucharest? Amsterdam?  Mexico City?) with lei (or euro? or pesos?) burning a hole in my pocket.  I happened upon a Christian Dior perfume set, with luxury-sample size bottles of Diorissimo, Forever and Ever Dior, Miss Dior Cherie and Dior Addict 2.  Being a risk-taker I grabbed the box without smelling a single one of the scents, then cracked the box open as soon as I walked in my apartment door (really!).  I was happy to discover that I loved three of the scents (sadly, Dior Addict 2’s citrus notes never wear down on me, and I end up smelling like Mr. Clean all day… you can see I still have the little pink bottle all these years later!).

Since then, duty-free perfume shopping has become a small obsession of mine.  I love buying little sample boxes of perfumes without smelling them first, and I’m rarely disappointed.  The little bottles also make it easy to pack a scent or two on your next trip, as they take up little space, meet carry-on restrictions and aren’t heartbreaking if lost or broken.  Make sure to know your country’s rules about duty-free perfume; flying into Canada from the EU and changing planes to a domestic flight you can- legally- bring perfume as long as it’s in an officially-sealed EU duty-free bag, but a lot of customs officers don’t know this and will try to confiscate your fragrance.  Your best bet is to stash the duty-free in your checked bag when you arrive at your first Canadian airport, before you check the bag for your second flight.

As you can see above I also bought some scents when Bath and Body Works opened in my city (the Velvet Tuberose is the budget shopper’s way to smell like Michael Kors’ eponymous scent), and at a recent online sale I stocked up on some classic “old lady” scents for winter (Cabochard smells like the sexiest nursing home ever).  I have a hard time imagining ever working my way through any of those large bottles as I love mixing up my scents every day depending on the weather, my mood and what’s on the agenda.  However, since I don’t have any major trips coming up (and thus don’t have any duty-free in my future) I may just be able to use up more of this perfume than I think!


5 responses to “Confessions of a Duty-Free Fragrance Addict

  1. My father’s like that except he loves buying alcohol as gifts when we cross!

  2. Out of all the perfumes you bought, which one is your favorite?

    • I can’t pick just one! For the cold winter months it would probably be Diorissimo, which smells like the lily of the valley that adorned Christian Dior’s coffin, while for summer I am carefully hoarding the remains of a discontinued Body Shop scent (White Hot Summer) which smells like the sexiest cocktail-fueled beach party ever.

  3. I love those Bath and Body Works body mists! You can find any scent that you like…i wish we had a store like that in Germany, that would be great, don’t you think?? 😉

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