During my freshman year at college, when most of us were trudging around in barn jackets and duck boots (forgive us our trespasses; it was the early 90s), I befriended a girl who was peerlessly sophisticated. She was from New York City, and you could always tell the girls from New York City because they had better hair, better clothes, better everything than anyone else, and an air of confidence and control that was unique to that tribe. But this girl had something even better than all that, something that elevated her to another level in my book: She had the best perfume in the world.
It was called Quelques Fleurs, and it was grapey and flowery and quite strong, and it seemed to bond with any fabric that touched the wearer, meaning that it would linger on a scarf worn days later in a way that struck my young self as terribly romantic. I’ll be the first to admit that the reason I thought Quelques Fleurs was so sublime was because this girl who wore it seemed to have one thing I didn’t: style. I knew I could never make anything look as cool and effortless as she did—I’m from Philadelphia, so, you know, we have great cheesesteaks and, um, great cheesesteaks—but one thing money could buy was Quelques Fleurs.
But alas! It wasn’t available at your average department store or local parfumerie. After some dogged research—this was (sigh) pre-Internet—I discovered that Quelques Fleurs was sold at Neiman Marcus. There is no Neiman Marcus in Philadelphia. So I tagged along with my dad on a business trip to Atlanta and made my way to the retail mecca where I found a tiny, tiny bottle of Quelques Fleurs...for $75. Reader, I bought it, and it lasted me for 10 years.
I wore it everywhere, and it felt like a suit of armor. It was like reverse Kryptonite. A bad outfit could be salvaged by a spritz; it helped cure the blues and even the mean reds. Yes, I had blatantly stolen it from my glamorous friend—but she transferred to another university, so I suppose I had squatter’s rights. I wore it with equal parts impunity and guilt. It would never really be mine, but I was addicted.
Then one day my friend Matt was on a train from Boston to New York, and someone sitting behind him was wearing Quelques Fleurs. “Every time she shifted in her seat,” he recalled, “the perfume just kind of drifted back to me, and I kept thinking: Emily Fox is here!”
I thought, maybe it’s finally mine!
I now have a huge bottle that I ordered on the Internet, and I dabbed some on to go out on a recent evening. “I love that perfume,” my husband said. “It always means we’re doing something fancy.” Thank you, glamorous friend. Philly owes you one.
Emily Fox is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, where she writes for film and television. She lives with her husband and two little clowns (pictured above). Follow her on Twitter @theduchessfoxy.