All posts by Born Unicorn

Pedantic archivist of beauty products in films and tv shows

Sudden Fear (1952)

Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford), a successful playwright, finds herself in danger when her husband and a former girlfriend of his (Irene) devise a plot to kill her. But Myra fights back with a more elaborate plot.

When she breaks into Irene’s apartment, there’s a perfect perfume moment: on the girl’s dresser there are three Lucien Lelong bottles.

First from the left, the tall fluted bottle of Indiscret, a Jean Carles creation launched in 1936.

Then there’s the wonderful bottle of Opening Night, another Carles creation launched in 1935.

Last on the right, there’s a tall balloon bottle of Tailspin eau de cologne.

Pose S03E05 (Something Borrowed, Something Blue)

After much toiling and suffering, the big break arrives for Elektra (Dominique Jackson), who finally gets to live the dream of a lifetime – living in luxury. The perfumes on her elegant dressing table reinforce the idea.

Maybe a bit predictable, but a glossy black refillable atomiser of Chanel No. 5 never fails to impress.

The second fragrance, in the small black bottle, is much less mainstream. It’s the original version of Shiseido Zen eau de cologne, created by Josephine Catapano and first launched in 1964. The bottle, beautifully decorated by gold flowers, has an elegant shape, characteristic of Shiseido bottles from the 1960s/1990s.

Damage (1992)

There are several make-up and skincare items on a glass shelf in Anna’s bathroom.

The small bottle with black stopper is Shiseido liquid foundation.

There are two Clinique products, too: the jar with pink lid is a face moisturizing cream, while the tall bottle is a toning lotion.

I’ve tried to identify the products sitting on the left side of the shelf: they look like a cleansing milk (in the bottle with gold stopper) and a face moisturizer (in the tube), but no results. Any help would be much appreciated!

Tenebre (1982)

In one of the opening scenes the camera follows Elsa (Ania Pieroni) through the isles of a department store. In the meantime, many perfumes make their appearance.

First from the left, Chloé is shown, both boxed and unboxed. This white floral fragrance by Betty Busse was launched in 1975, when Karl Lagerfeld was at the helm of the French fashion house.

It’s not a coincidence that Lagerfeld Classic is shown in the same shot. There’s not only the perfume, but also the body lotion and the deodorant. This woody fragrance, created by Ron Winnegrad, was launched in 1978.

From this moment on, the audience literally steps into the world of Hermès: all the most famous fragrances by the Parisian brand are shown.

From the left, several spray bottles of Calèche, the Guy Robert fragrance launched in 1961.

On a shelf below, there’s also the refillable atomiser.

Moving from left to right, a display stand advertise the “new spray” atomisers, possibly containing the parfum de toilette version of Calèche.

Next, it’s the turn of Amazone, the Maurice Maurin fragrance launched in 1974. It’s shown in all the possible versions – eau de toilette in the splash bottle with dark red stopper, eau de parfum with the frosted glass stopper and eau de toilette in the atomiser. There’s also the body lotion.

The camera moves to the left and shows the complete Calèche display, which includes the splash bottle with satin ribbon bow and more refillable atomisers.

The camera is almost leaving this section of the store, so the image above is a bit blurry. There’s time to get a glimpse of another Hermès perfume, though: it’s Equipage.

It only appears in poster form, with an advertising image from 1978. This men’s fragrance, created by Guy Robert, was launched in 1970.

Halston E03 (The Sweet Smell of Success)

One of the most interesting scenes of the episode sees Halston (Ewan McGregor) and Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan) going to Bergdorf Goodman to check how the newly-launched fragrance is doing. The sales assistant explains that it’s sold out.

There’s a huge bottle on the counter, but the prop masters have done something weird here: they put the glass stopper of the original Halston perfume on a bottle of Halston Couture, a fragrance launched in 1988 (two years before the designer’s death). The original bottle was all made of glass, while the other had accents of silver, stopper included.

This scene is not all about Halston, though: if we look behind Elsa and Halston, we can see a couple of factice flacons bouchon coeur by Guerlain. It’s impossible to know what fragrance they contain. Maybe Mitsouko?

When Halston and Elsa leave the room, we can see on a glass table a factice bottle of Guerlain Chamade, created by Jean-Paul Guerlain and launched in 1969.

Next to Chamade there’s a flacon montre of Shalimar eau de cologne, a trademark prop in many Ryan Murphy shows. The gold stopper is historically accurate because it was used between 1972 and 1979.

Halston E03 (The Sweet Smell of Success)

Halston (Ewan McGregor) is becoming a regular at Studio 54. Before heading out, he takes a shower and puts on a fragrance by his brand. Unfortunately it’s impossible to tell what fragrance this is because there’s an interesting story behind the men’s scents by Halston.

Halston Z14, with a prominent leather note, was created by Vincent Marcello and Max Gavarry and launched in 1976. It was housed in the so-called “pinch bottle”, which reproduced on brown glass the effect of fingers pinching a soft material.

Too bad that the aromatic green Halston 1-12 was launched on the same year, housed in the same exact bottle (but made of dark green glass)! From the screencap it’s not clear if the glass is brown or green, so it could be both fragrances.

Michael Edwards, author of Fragrances of the World, first published in 1984, revealed in an 2001 interview with Basenotes’ Grant Osborne the truth behind this unusual double launch:

“I had the chance to concentrate on fragrances when I moved to Paris, to direct the international rollout of Halston’s fragrances, Halston (1975), the great women’s classic created by Bernard Chant, and the two men’s entries, Halston Z-14 (still superb) and 1-12 (both 1976). If you wonder why two men’s fragrances, the answer is that Halston couldn’t make up his mind which one he preferred so he said, ‘Launch both’. The names, Z-14 and 1-12? Those were the perfumer’s code numbers.”

Halston E03 (The Sweet Smell of Success)

This episode tells the story behind the creation of Halston, the fragrance the American designer launched in 1974: it became an immediate hit and is still recognized as one of the scented symbols of that decade.

Even if I never write about myself and rarely comment on what I post, I’ve decided to explain what I’ve appreciated in it and what I consider a personal affront.

The episode describes well the designing process of the organic drop-shaped bottle by Elsa Peretti, the original Halstonette: born in Florence, she worked as a model first, but soon became a close collaborator of Halston and later a designer for Tiffany and Co.

The story behind this bottle is accurately presented: it’s true that the manufacturers were not able to fill the curved bottles with the machinery they used and it’s true that Halston paid $50,000 from his own pocket to create an adapter which made the filling operation possible.

The commercial accurately reproduces the advertising campaign with which the perfume was launched.

What has filled me with disappointment and rage is the creative process. When Halston meets for the first time the perfumer who will create his perfume, I literally jumped on my chair. Seriously??? Adèle who??? Poor Vera Farmiga, giving voice to the biggest mistake of the episode.

At least they got something right: the nose who created Halston really worked for IFF. He was the Head Perfumer of the American multinational.

Yes, “he”, because there was no Adèle but Bernard Chant, who gave us fragrances like Cabochard (in 1959), Aramis (in 1966), Clinique Aromatics Elixir (in 1971), Lauren by Ralph Lauren (in 1978) and Estée Lauder hits like Cinnabar (in 1978) and Beautiful (in 1985). In the picture above, he was portrayed by Louie Psihoyos while testing perfumes on human skin.

I understand the reasons behind the narration for TV and I get that Adèle is a reassuring mother-like figure for the troubled designer, but such a gross historical inaccuracy is insulting for the memory of the perfumer, for the designer and for those who were involved in the creation of the perfume.

I’ve covered recent and less recent TV shows by Ryan Murphy and I’ve often praised the impeccable work in recreating the past, but this is too much. What a huge disappointment!

4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971)

Dalia (Francine Racette) has convinced Roberto (Michael Brandon) to take a bath. In his bathroom there are two perfume boxes, a prelude to the bottles which will be soon seen by the tub.

The large bottle with silverish gold stopper is Atkinsons English Lavender, a timeless fragrance which was very popular in Italy in those years.

When Dalia joins Roberto in the tub, we can get a better look at the other bottle, squared with black stopper.

It’s another fragrance by Atkinsons – the eau de cologne Executive.