When Rosalind (Tilda Swinton) visits her daughter Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) in London, she sprays the “heavenly scent” the girl keeps in her bathroom.
The “absolutely glorious” perfume in question is a British classic – Penhaligon’s Bluebell, a green/earthy fragrance with a distinctive note of hyacinth created by Michael Pickthall and launched in 1978.
Eikichi (Tatsuya Mihashi) is on a date with his girlfriend Natsuko (Yōko Minamida) to celebrate her birthday. He takes a box out of his pocket and puts it on the table.
Lo and behold! It’s a Guerlain parquet box! First launched in the 1910s, this box contained Mitsouko, Fol Arôme and L’Heure Bleue in their bouchon coeur bottles.
She’s opened it and…
… it’s Mitsouko! Unfortunately the actual bottle is never shown.
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.
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) meets 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 selected 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.”
I think Xavier Dolan must have a thing for perfumes mothers wear. In his films, there’s often a moment in which the protagonist’s mother explains what perfume she’s wearing , so I guess this must have something to do with a personal obsession of the director. In this case, Grace (Susan Sarandon) is wearing Nina Ricci L’air du temps, the classic floral/spicy creation by Francis Fabron launched after WWII, in 1948.
 In Mommy, Diane says she’s wearing Christian Dior Eau Sauvage.
Deep into his identity theft intrigue, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) writes a letter to Marge Duval (Gwyneth Paltrow) pretending to be Dickie Greenleaf, the girl’s fiancée.
The typewritten letter then goes into a gift package bearing a very peculiar logo – Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, a historical Florence-based brand.
The exact perfume Tom bought for Marge (pretending to be Dickie) is never mentioned, but it’s clear it’s her favourite perfume: she asked her boyfriend to get it for her.
The future Berlin envisioned by Duncan Jones has got an unexpected 1980s touch: a neon sign of LouLou, the famous Cacharel perfume created by Jean Guichard and launched in 1987.
When Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) meets Alfred Hitchcock to discuss the role of Marion Crane in his upcoming film Psycho (1960), she focuses on the double identity of the character (a Phoenix secretary who steals $40,000 from her employer’s client).
She introduces this concept through perfumes: Marion is someone who wears an inoffensive cologne like Lenthéric Tweed in the office, but turns to something completely different when she’s with her lover Sam Loomis: her reckless and seductive self wears My Sin by Lanvin.
Tweed, launched in 1933, is a woody aromatic perfume with light spicy notes. My Sin, originally called Mon Péché, was created by Madame Zed in 1924; it’s a scent with civet, musk and aldehydes as dominant notes.