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Yesterday was my birthday. One of the best gifts I received was the central object in this photo—vintage Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume in its limited edition “Robe Velours” bottle from 1998.

It’s joined my little “family” of JPG perfume bottles dating from the mid-1990s to the present, two of which are also pictured above.

Jean-Paul Gaultier’s first fragrance (now called Classique) holds many memories for me. I wore it (not often) during graduate school. It was the fragrance I was wearing the year I moved into a tiny apartment in a Victorian brownstone, started working at a nearby museum, and met my now-husband. I wore it in the fall of 9/11 and through the transition of my move back to the NYC area. Even when I joined some perfume message boards and started exploring fragrance in depth, it remained a favorite.

I don’t wear my Gaultier as often as I used to, but I still love it and I’ve kept my empty bottles as well as the ones that still contain some fragrance. Birthdays are a time to look forward, but also to look back, and I like having these symbols of continuity clustered together where I can see them every day.