Scent | Vacation Fragrance & Oahu by Nomaterra


After too many incidents where my perfume bottle leaked all over my stuff, I learned not to bring them with me on flights. For years a little solid compact of Lush’s Karma was my go-to vacation scent. I love it, but it’s nice to consider other options.

As a personal stylist, I used to caution my clients against buying new clothes for vacation, or bringing outfits they wouldn’t normally wear. One, our ideas about what the locals are wearing is usually off, and two, it can be very artificial. Think of tourists with awkwardly wrapped scarves (or worse, berets) in Paris.

Perfume, though, is different. Why shouldn’t you escape into a different persona with a different scent? Or tailor your fragrance to the surroundings? Some things just don’t translate on vacation. Just as you might not order your favorite dry martini in Mexico, a very heavy oriental scent might also be a bit jarring in tropical surroundings.


I just made reservations to go to Vieques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, for my spring getaway. It’s the perfect time for me to break out Oahu by Nomaterra, which I picked up at the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair late last year and put aside while I figured out where to wear it. I wasn’t really sure why I bought it at the time, but I liked the idea of scents inspired by cities, and none of the other ones were really clicking for me. Normally I don’t wear such tropical scents, even though I love the smell of jasmine and other flowers from the region. Now I can see that it’s a perfect, light, beachy choice for an island vacation. And the roll-on bottle makes it less likely it will leak en route. Maybe I’ll start wearing it at home to get me in the mood for my travel adventure.

The frangipani note also reminds me of a bottle of perfume oil I bought somewhere in Tucson on a road trip decades ago, with “frangipani” handwritten in a girly script on a sticker affixed to the vial. I’ve never smelled anything like it since—it was so arresting that people regularly remarked on it. This isn’t quite it, but it’s the closest anything has ever gotten. But that’s another story.

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