All posts by Born Unicorn

Pedantic archivist of beauty products in films and tv shows

Conte d’hiver (1992)

Félicie works as a hairdresser. One of her clients is reading a magazine while having her hair washed. The back cover of the magazine features an advert that will surely send a thrill of excitement down your spine: the ubiquitous Guerlain Samsara!

The nose who created one of the greatest Oriental fragrances was Jean-Paul Guerlain. Launched in 1989, it was housed in a beautiful pagoda-like red bottle with gold accents.

Parenti serpenti (1992)

If you asked me what is the ultimate Christmas Italian film, I would surely choose this one. Despite being a brutal depiction of the petty intrigues and toxic relations among the members of the same family, it’s a comedy, so the line between laugh and darkness is very very thin.

I’ve watched it many times, but I’ve never noticed an intriguing detail in Milena’s bedroom: the iconic silver, black and turquoise metal bottle of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche on her vanity. Milena, as most of her relatives, masters the art of simulating and pretending, and rarely shows her real self. Using a very trendy perfume is in tune with the character, who wants to appear different from what she really is.

Thanks to my friend Rocco for the id.

Vivien Leigh’s Dressing Room

I’ve already written about Vivien Leigh touring the U.S. in 1960. The English actress starred in the play Duel of Angels by Christopher Fry alongside her partner Jack Merivale.

The picture above is a bit blurry, but there’s one object that clearly stands out.

It’s a Guerlain flacon lyre containing perfumed talc. Too bad it’s impossible to read the front label, so we will never know what the talc was scented like.

Mùi đu đủ xanh (1993)

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Mui (Tran Nu Yên-Khê) started working as a maid when she was 10. Now she’s 20 and her life is about to change: she’s fallen in love with the man she works for, a pianist she’s known since she was a child. This man is still engaged, though. One day, Mui finds a red lipstick on the man’s bed, an object which makes her discover the power of seduction.

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The sleek tortoiseshell black case contains Shiseido perfecting lipstick. The packaging is typical of the late 1980s/early 1990s: for example, it appears in the advertising campaign of the Eclat Futur 1991 collection.

This choice is not accurate from a historical point of view: Shiseido lipsticks had a very different packaging in the years in which this part of the film is set (the 1960s).

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In any case, it’s a lovely make-up moment. The bright red shade that Mui wears has a metallic sheen which beautifully matches her silk blouse.

La dea Fortuna (2019)

The bathroom that needs Alessandro’s intervention as plumber has a very peculiar decor: lots of Guerlain bottles lined up on the marble washbasin countertop. They have a decorative function, because they are filled with colourful liquid and not with perfume.

Most of the bottles are the teardrop-shaped flacons goutte, with shell-shaped stopper. First launched in 1923, it was created to hold the eau de toilette version of the most popular fragrances of the maison.

The taller bottles are flacons abeilles, still used for colognes and eaux de toilette. Originally designed to hold the Eau de Cologne Impériale, it’s decorated with bees, symbol of Napoleon.