All posts by Born Unicorn

Pedantic archivist of beauty products in films and tv shows

Auntie Mame (1958)

When Mame (Rosalind Russell) and Patrick (Jan Handzlik) first visit Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside (Mame’s soon-to-be husband) and his family in Georgia, drama ensues: they organise a fox hunt, but Mame has never ridden a horse before. Patrick explains horses can “smell fear.” Mame comments she hopes the horse “likes Chanel No. 5”, thus letting us know the perfume she’s wearing.

The Women (1939)

Many real perfumes make their appearance throughout the film, but the most popular (the only one that literally moves the plot) is a fictional one – Summer Rain. Its bottle is first seen on a bedside table in Mary’s bedroom.

The bottle amplifies the name of the perfume: it’s topped by a naked glass figurine holding an umbrella to protect herself from a rain shower.

When Mary (Norma Shearer) meet her friend Peggy (Joan Fontaine), they end up talking about Summer Rain, which has already become more than just a perfume. For Mary, it’s a symbol of marital love, since her husband gave it to her for her birthday.

When the first rumours about the infidelity of Mary’s husband begin to circulate, the dynamic duo of Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) and Edith (Phyllis Povah) decide to learn more by snooping around the perfume counter at Black’s Fifth Avenue: that’s the place where the alleged mistress (Crystal Allen, interpreted by Joan Crawford) works. Once at the shop, more bottles of Summer Rain welcome the two friends.

The perfume doesn’t exist in real life, but there’s an interesting story behind the bottle. As explained by Lanier Smith, the man who chose it was the film’s art director, Cedric Gibbons. He selecte a bottle by the Czech designer Curt Schlevogt, who produced Art Deco perfume bottles with his father-in-law, the glass artist Heinrich Hoffmann. Lanier comments that Gibbons “added a plastic umbrella, a label and some festive ribbon work to the nude figure on the stopper and Summer Rain was born an M.G.M. star.”

Hable con ella (2002)

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We’ve already seen what’s in Alicia’s hospital cabinet, but there’s more. When Benigno (Javier Cámara) opens the cabinet in another scene, there are different products.

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The jar and the bottle in the foreground are by Shiseido: the jar contains the body cream from the Relaxing Fragrance line, while the bottle is Advanced Essential Energy lumizing body lotion.

In the background there are the Relaxing Fragrance body lotion and the Energizing Fragrance eau aromatique, already seen in a previous scene.

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When Benigno takes the Shiseido luminizing body lotion, we can see there’s also a bottle of Chanel n°5 body lotion.

Hable con ella (2002)

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Benigno Martín (Javier Cámara) is a personal nurse and caregiver: he looks after Alicia Roncero, a beautiful dancer he has been obsessed with even before she was in a coma. When he opens a cabinet in the girl’s hospital room to take a Pina Bausch’s autographed picture, we can see the products he uses on her.

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Three of them are by Shiseido. The red drop-shaped bottle is Energizing Fragrance, a floral eau aromatique created by Claudette Belnavis and launched in 1999.

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The tall bottles are from the Relaxing Fragrance line: the one on the left (with the shorter stopper) is the body lotion, while the one in the foreground is the fragrance. Hugely successful in the late 1990s (I used it myself for a while), it’s a floral green scent released in 1997.

There are some Chanel lipglosses on the left side of the cabinet, too.

And then a limited-edition bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier Classique, the powdery white floral masterpiece by Jacques Cavallier, first launched in 1993.