Sunset Boulevard (1950)

While perfume lovers and professionals still believe the urban legend according to which a bottle of Caron Narcisse Noir appears on Norma Desmond’s vanity (it doesn’t), no one has ever taken the time to see what’s actually on that table.

Well, I have and I love what I’ve found – three Lucien Lelong bottles!

Right under the round standing mirror on Norma’s left there’s a short bottle with bow-like stopper: it’s Jabot, launched in 1939.

If we move to the left side of the table, there’s a tall balloon bottle containing Balakaïka eau de cologne, launched in 1939.

When Norma stands up, we can see a golden bottle of Orgueil on a small table on the far left. This Jean Carles fragrance was launched in 1946.

I don’t think my passion for Lelong perfumes is a mystery: I’ve written about them many times and I find their bottle designs very distinctive and original. Seeing some of them on such an iconic dressing table really makes sense: it shows us that Norma Desmond is a fragrance lover and supposedly uses more than one fragrance, as shown by the several bottles sitting on the table (I haven’t been able to identify them all).

Now another question pops up: if we assume she is wearing a Lucien Lelong perfume in this famous scene, what perfume is it? Where does the infamous tuberose come from? It could be from Orgueil, which, according to Basenotes, includes tuberose in its heart notes, along with carnation, iris, jasmine, rose, clove and nutmeg.

6 thoughts on “Sunset Boulevard (1950)”

  1. I especially love seeing what appears to be Dorothy Grey creams as well as the Frownies!

    1. This scene and the previous one are fascinating because they show the beauty treatments Hollywood stars used as the time, but I can see sadness and some sort of brutality in them: Norma is willing to do anything to get back a sparkle of youth, but we know where her efforts will lead.

      I’m sure there are some Elizabeth Arden skincare products too on the table, but it’s hard to identify all those jars.

      1. It MUST have been an Arden cream that “that woman” used to do wonders with the line in Norma’s throat!

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