When Hank (Dean Norris) and Steven (Steven Michael Quezada) find a car abandoned by drug dealers, there’s a very peculiar smell in it. Hank compares it to Drakkar Noir, the Guy Laroche classic fougère perfume created by Pierre Wargnye and launched in 1982.
One of the most intense and emotional moments in a VERY intense and emotional episode was the conversation between Candy (Angelica Ross) and her mother (Patrice Johnson Chevannes). In particular, a memory from the past is brought up: as a young boy, Candy wore her mother’s perfume, a symbol of the “silent pact” she thought was between them. Despite her assumptions and hopes, though, Candy got rejected by her family for being a transgender woman and this felt like an unbearable betrayal.
This scene reminds me of another emotional moment from Paris is Burning (1990) by Jennie Livingstone: Pepper LaBeija, mother of the House of LaBeija, explains how her parents found out she dressed as a girl. Her mother found a fur coat in her closet and realised it was hers from the perfume on it, Tuvaché Jungle Gardenia. The gendered notion of perfume – now almost completely gone, thank God – could really give away a lot about oneself, sometimes with horrible consequences.
The perfume worn by Vivica and Candy is another strong symbol: Revlon Charlie was launched in 1973 and marked the beginning of a new era in perfumery. It was a fresh chypre fragrance, arguably one of the first feminist fragrances: as Barbara Herman explains in her book Scent & Subversion, “it was marketed to American women during an era when feminist consciousness was at its pop-culture height.” No wonder that Candy saw that specific perfume, worn by the most important woman in her life, as a “gate to femininity”.
The advertising campaign of Charlie was about independence, gorgeousness and sexiness: as the slogan said, it was a “gorgeous, sexy-young fragrance”, embodied by statuesque model/actress Shelley Hack wearing trousers.
When Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) first meets Ricky (Dyllon Burnside), he asks him if he took a bath in Kouros cologne.
This is a lovely namedrop, because it refers to the Yves Saint Laurent perfume that really defined a decade. Created by Pierre Bourdon and launched in 1981, it was unforgettable in its original formulation, heavy on civet, honey, leather and musk.
Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson) likes flaunting her luxurious lifestyle and when she goes to bail Blanca out of jail, she reinforces this attitude. She charms a police officer who’s interested in her perfume: she explains it’s Caron Poivre, a very expensive perfume that an ordinary police officer has obviously never smelt before.
This is an unusual choice: Poivre is not among the classic powerhouse fragrances which ruled the 1980s, so it tells a lot about Elektra’s lifestyle. Created by Michel Morsetti and launched in 1954, the fragrance is named after its dominant note (pepper). It was originally advertised as “the dream fragrance for furs” , so it sounds perfect for a woman like Elektra who often wears furs.
 Probably the most famous fragrances “for furs” were created in 1928 by Claude Fraysse for Parfums Weil – Chinchilla Royal, Hermine, Une Fleur pour Fourrure and Zibeline. As a matter of fact, the perfume house’s founder, Marcel Weil, owned a famous furs atelier, Fourrures Weil.
Nash (Ennis Esmer) and other members of the Red Oaks Club staff are having an outdoor party. When asked what his blood tastes like to mosquitoes, he replies: “Cardamom and Drakkar Noir.”
No surprise he namedrops the perfume by Guy Laroche. Created by Pierre Wargnye in 1982, it was basically everywhere in the 1980s.
There has been a bag swap at the Red Oaks Club: Wheeler (Oliver Cooper) realises what has happened when he finds a bottle of Williams Aqua Velva after-shave lotion in the bag which turns out to be Herb’s.
Bella Crawford (Gina Torres) is a very elegant woman, so no wonder she wears an “exquisite” and exclusive perfume. Dr. Lecter’s description is a clear reference to its name: it’s “similar to the aroma on the air just after lightning strikes,” an elaborate nod to JAR Bolt of Lightning.
Created by Joel Arthur Rosenthal and launched in 2001, it features tuberose and green notes. JAR perfumes are famous for not containing “the typical top, middle, and base notes,” as explained on the WGSN Insider blog. “Rather, they blend together for an unpredictable release. The Bolt of Lightning fragrance takes 10 minutes to develop on the skin.”
With Lee Harris on the run, sieged in the Roanoke House, people are desperate to know more about her. Actor William Van Henderson (Denis O’Hare), who played Dr. Elias Cunningham in My Roanoke Nightmare, appears on the news, but he can’t say much about her. They briefly met at Paley Fest 2015: he remembers she wore Shalimar.
Ryan Murphy must be a fan of the Guerlain perfume. You may remember a character from American Horror Story: Hotel (Ramona Royale) wears it.