All posts by Born Unicorn

Pedantic archivist of beauty products in films and tv shows

Black Widow (1987)

Catharine (Theresa Russell) is the widow of a New York publishing tycoon who has apparently died of Ondine’s curse. The death occurred while she was out on a trip: when she’s back, she’s alone in her luxury Manhattan apartment.

In a short sequence set in her bathroom we can see two interesting perfume bottles – both by Paloma Picasso.

Mon Parfum, created with perfumer Francis Bocris and launched in 1984, is a floral chypre fragrance that perfectly identifies the 1980s. Bold, complex and Mediterranean, it is housed in a fascinating round bottle where the “core” contains the perfume. The choice of the prop master makes a lot of sense: Catherine is a multi-faceted woman who doesn’t hide her sensuality and passionate personality, so I can really see her wearing Mon Parfum.

Catherine is a wealthy woman, so the fact that she uses two versions of the same perfume is not surprising. The frosted glass bottle contains the pure perfume (extrait).

The glossy black glass bottle contains the eau de parfum.

There are other bottles on the glass shelves in Catherine’s bathroom but most of them have a decorative purpose. The green one reminds me of Rochas Mystère, but it’s not.

Thanks to Jane Daly who first posted this on her Instagram account.

Elsa Peretti’s House in Vogue US (1976)

In 1976 Vogue US featured Elsa Peretti’s New York apartment (the one she had taken over from Halston) on its pages. The photoshoot by Horst P. Horst portrayed the Italian artist in a minimalist space and focused on details too.

In her own words, the apartment had “bare bleached white floors, mirrored walls, lemon trees, banquettes covered in white Haitian cotton, white director’s chairs, and a work table,” which also functioned for dining and making up.

The aforementioned work table can be seen in the picture above: on it there are some pieces of jewellery, beauty items and a massive bottle that would be impossible not to notice.

It’s a factice of the famous teardrop bottle Elsa designed to house the first women’s fragrance by Halston [1]. Created by Bernard Chant and launched in 1975, the perfume would soon become a best seller.

The other two perfume bottles – both Joy by Jean Patou – tell us a lot about Elsa’s tastes. I had no idea she was a fan of “the world’s most expensive perfume”, the unique jasmine and rose fragrance launched in 1930. I can’t tell I’m surprised, though: Joy was perfect for her.

Another item I’ve identified is the Lancôme white tube. I think this contained hand cream, but it could also have been a face moisturizer.

The same table and the same objects are seen from a different point of view in the picture above. Elsa was wearing a wonderful vintage kimono she had bought in San Francisco.

Here she was doing her make-up which, according to the interview, consisted in foundation, Roger & Gallet face powder, blush, brown eye pencil and mascara. The dog posing in the picture was one of her two King Charles spaniels.

Another picture featured the beautiful gold and cobalt blue bottle of Guerlain Coque d’Or. It was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1937 and dedicated to Sergej Pavlovič Djagilev, the Russian impresario who founded the Ballets Russes. For its name Guerlain took inspiration from Le Coq d’or [2], the last opera by Nikolaj Andreevič Rimskij-Korsakov.

[1] The process of designing and making this bottle was accurately shown in the Ryan Murphy tv show Halston.

[2] In French “coque” means “shell”, while “coq” means “rooster”. The two terms are clearly related.

Brodeuses (2004)

Mme. Mélikian owns interesting beauty products.

First, a lovely flacon rayonnant of Guerlain Vol de Nuit, created by Jacques Guerlain and launched in 1933.

Second, a gold tube of Christian Dior Diorific lipstick. This packaging has been sadly discontinued.

She also owns two flacons abeilles of Guerlain Eau de Cologne Impériale, famously created by Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain in 1853 to treat the migraines of Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III.

Thanks to Alessandra for submitting this post.

American Horror Story S10E01 (Cape Fear)

Sarah (Frances Conroy) wants Mickey (Macaulay Culkin) to sleep over and she tries to convince him by listing the perks of her house.

There’s heat (a pretty basic feature) and the scent of Rigaud candles, which is definitely a luxurious touch. Produced by the French perfume house founded in 1852, these candles conjure an atmosphere of decadent wealth, perfectly in tune with the personality of the writer.

Even if we don’t actually see any candle on screen, I imagine Sarah burning Reine de la Nuit, with top notes of gardenia and freesia, middle notes of jasmine, rose and coriander, and a base note of patchouli.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

This is one of those posts that have been sitting in my drafts for a long time. I’ve recently got two requests to cover this scene (Madeleine emptying her white Chanel bag on the passenger’s seat of her car), so I guess the time to publish it has finally come.

The white jar with pink lid on the left is from the Christian Dior Hydra-Dior skincare line.

The gold tube is Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv hand cream (old packaging).

The white brush with black and gold handle is Le Fin du Fin sensational make-up brush by Lancôme.

The perfume bottle with sparkling stopper is White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, a floral aldehyde fragrance by Carlos Benaim launched in 1991.

The jar with gold lid is another product by Lancôme. It probably contains a liquid foundation which I have no memory of, or maybe a moisturizer.

The lipstick in the red tube is Velvet Touch by Revlon (old packaging).

The lipstick in the white case looks like Clarins lipsticks from the 1990s. I’m not 100% sure of my ID but it’s my best guess.

Thanks to Alessandra and Ladiesofthepast for submitting this post.

Madres paralelas (2021)

There are two glass shelves in Janis’ bathroom, and both of them are packed with beauty products. It’s interesting to see how most of these products somehow have a personal value for Penélope Cruz, who stars as one of the protagonists.

On the first shelf on the left, for example, there’s a bottle Chanel No. 5. This shouldn’t surprise, since the collaboration between Pedro Almodóvar and the French brand has been well documented since the late 1980s. Moreover, Penélope Cruz has been a Chanel ambassador since 2018.

Another brand which feels personal to Cruz is Charlotte Tilbury, created by the famous British make-up artist who has often worked with Penélope and has named one of her famous lipsticks after her.

On the same shelf there are two Lancôme products – Rénergie Multi-Lift Ultra anti-wrinkle cream in the purple jar and Génifique youth-activating cream in the grey jar. Again, this is personal: Penélope Cruz has been a testimonial for the brand since 2010.

On the second shelf we can see a bottle of Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless liquid foundation.

There are also two products by the Spanish brand Natura BisséC+C Vitamin scrub and C+C Vitamin SPF 30 dry oil.

Next, there’s a travel-size bottle of Lancôme Tonique Confort hydrating toner.

The compact is Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish powder.

The small pot with copper lid is another Charlotte Tilbury product, the sparkle cream eyeshadow Charlotte’s Jewel Pot.

Last but not least, two bottles of Lancôme Advanced Génefique youth-activating concentrate.

Cruel Summer S01E02 (A Smashing Good Time)

When Kate (Olivia Holt) and Jamie (Froy Gutierrez) reunite, he finds her in her bathroom, wearing her favourite sweater and taking a bath.

The pink bottle behind Kate is Skintimate Skin Therapy dry-skin shaving gel.

One of the bottles behind Jamie is White Rain extra-body hair conditioner.

Thanks to my friend Jennifer for the ids.

Cruel Summer S01E02 (A Smashing Good Time)

In the opening scene of the episode, set in 1993, Kate (Olivia Holt) is sitting at her dressing table: she’s getting ready to hit the gym and is putting on some lipgloss. In front of her there’s a classic drugstore beauty product and an unexpected perfume.

The classic is a jar of Pond’s dry skin cream.

The unexpected bottle is Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars, an amber floral fragrance by Sofia Grojsman launched in 1994. There’s a chronological problem here, because the perfume was launched one year after the events narrated in this section of the episode.

It’s an all-around unusual choice: Kate, the most popular girl in town, wearing a perfume that isn’t exactly mainstream (=recognizable) could be interpreted in different ways. For example, even if she’s popular, she’s not like all the other girls: she’s rich, so she can afford a niche-y French perfume.

The episode moves to 1994: Kate is sitting at her dressing table again and the blue bottle is still there, along with a pink-cap bottle.

This is a fragrance which deeply contrasts the presence of the Lagerfeld perfume because it’s an American drugstore classic – Dana Love’s Baby Soft, created by Ron Winnegrad and launched in 1974. These contrasting choices could indicate an eclectic taste or the desire to experiment with different products.