Getty Visit Part 3: Perfume Bottles

The “Herculean Woman” exhibit at the Getty Villa featured a case of ancient and beautiful vessels for cosmetics and perfumed oils (and the painting above showing cherubs making perfume!). I have a collection of a few dozen old perfume bottles and a handful of cosmetic compacts, but mine come from flea markets, thrift stores and eBay. None are from B.C. but I’m fond of them all, especially the old bottle of Evening in Paris—the one that started my collection. The story behind it: My father was invited to my mother’s sixteenth birthday party and asked my grandmother for a ride; when he told her where he was going, she insisted on first bringing him into town to pick up a last-minute gift and she helped him select a bottle of Evening in Paris perfume. (Is it any wonder I am a romantic?) Most of the bottles in my collection are empty or contain perfumes that are no longer wearable (or ones I wouldn’t wear anyway), but I love them for their sizes and shapes and designs. I can only imagine the scents once placed in some of the bottles on display at the Getty and love to think they are timeless and made of scents revered through the ages, like the ones I like to wear today: naturally made (without nasty chemicals) and intoxicating. I’d expect nothing less for a goddess.

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