“I feel like a drug mule.” With that pronouncement Vogue’s Sally Singer plunked down a shopping bag — her allowed carry-on—on a seat at the back of the airport bus at Charles de Gaulle after arriving from Milan on Air France Flight 1213. She then stood at attention in front of the bag, protecting it from contact with one of the legions of other fashion people on the flight. Singer’s colleague Virginia Smith wasn’t as lucky. Smith, who also lugged a shopping bag, had to stand with hers positioned gingerly at her feet. Their precious cargo: vintage couture, among the latest of Hamish Bowles’ acquisitions for his personal collection, which they had agreed to help transport. Singer carted a Hartnell ballgown and 1962 Saint Laurent coat; Smith had been entrusted with a Dior eyelash hat, the fragility of which had her staunchly on guard.

Meanwhile, at the front of the bus, in a moment of lost concentration, the driver slammed on the breaks to avoid hitting someone. Everyone lurched forward suddenly with a communal “Aaaagh!” Except for Smith. “Watch my hat!” she cried.

This story first appeared in the October 4, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.