Why I am only finding this out now I do not know, but: Paris’s array of enticements is currently augmented by an exhibition dedicated to the wonderful Pierre Loti, French writer, adventurer and fearless sartorial event. J’arrive, j’aime, je m’en vais is at the Musée du Quai Branly, the French capital’s motley assortment of non-Western art and artifacts, until 29 September.
The exhibition explores his childhood, his travels, his costumes, his high society connections, his folie for sailors as well as his long fascination with le dernier voyage – death. Along with Loti’s books, drawings and personal effects, the exhibition features a darkened alcove shielded by black velvet curtains offering nothing more than a centennial recreation of a scent made for Loti in 1913. “Rose d’amour” contains Damascean rose, lilac, mint and violet, as I discovered on a brief visit to the wonderful and frightening world of perfume blogs. Sometimes I feel that trying to summon the vanished existences of marginal figures is like describing scent, but having now read actual descriptions of scents I realise I probably have the easier deal.