Category Archives: perfumes in photography

Self-Portrait Reflection in the Window of the Guerlain Boutique (1930)

This self portrait was taken by the American photographer Lee Miller around 1930 in Paris. The surface reflecting her image was the window of the Guerlain boutique.

The two bottles are flacons bouchon coeur, designed by Raymond Guerlain in the early 1910s to house three fragrances in their extrait version (L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko and Fol Arôme). The front labels are not readable, so it’s impossible to know exactly what perfumes they contained. We can make some assumptions, though: all the three fragrances I’ve mentioned above are good candidates, because they were released well before the 1930s (L’Heure Bleue and Fol Arôme in 1912, Mitsouko in 1919). One may also include Shalimar as a possible candidate: launched in 1925 in the famous flacon chauve souris, somehow it was available in the flacon bouchon coeur, too, although it’s an anomaly, as beautifully explained by Dimitri Dimitriadis.

Another question that arises is about the location of the shop. Where was this picture taken? The French perfume house was founded in 1828 and had its first shop at 42, rue de Rivoli in Paris. In 1840 the flagship store was opened at 15, rue de la Paix. When Miller took this picture, the flagship store was at  68, Champs-Elysées, the same location it has today. That is where the beautiful picture above was taken and that is where Miller’s picture was taken as well.

Miller took other pictures outside the Guerlain store, and from them we can see the location was indeed the Champs-Elysées (see the characteristic arched windows).

Special mention to the shot Exploding Hand, which shows the scratches left by thousands of rings, worn by Guerlain customers, on the glass entrance door.

Picture source and source.

Thanks to my friend Rocco for sharing this photo with me.

Belles Filles, 1977

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Belles Filles is a photoshoot by Guy Bourdin released in 1977. Some distinctive elements of the French photographer’s style are present in the picture above – the dreamy atmosphere, satin clothes, high heels – along with a beautiful set of famous perfumes.

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The first of the perfumes on the washbasin is Chanel No. 5, originally created by Ernest Beaux in 1921.
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Next is Revillon Detchema, released in 1953.

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Givenchy III, created by Jean François Latty and Raymond Chaillan, was released in 1970.

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The last one is Caron Infini, in the beautiful bottle by Serge Mansau. This perfume was created in 1912 by Ernest Daltroff, but this one is the 1970 reformulation by Gerard Lefortis.

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There are three bottles on the floor, too. The first is Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, created by Francis Fabron in 1948.

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The tall bottle with gold stopper is Rochas Madame Rochas, created by Guy Robert in 1960.

guerlain_chamade_bornunicornLast but not least, the leaf-shaped bottle of Guerlain Chamade, a 1969 creation by Jean-Paul Guerlain.

Joey in My Vanity Mirror, NYC 1999

This beautiful portrait by Nan Goldin was taken in 1999 in New York: Joey – a recurring subject in the photos by the American artist – was sitting at Goldin’s dressing table, her image reflected in a large round mirror.

clarinseaudynamisante_bornunicorndiptyquetallbottle_bornunicornTwo are the perfume bottles sitting on the table: the one with the white stopper is Clarins Eau Dynamisante, the sublime citrusy fragrance created by Jacques Courtin-Clarins in 1987; the one with the black stopper is by Diptyque, in the tall splash bottle which contained fragrances like Vinaigre de Toilette. Unfortunately, the label in the photo is blurry, so I don’t know exactly what perfume this was. But the layout allows me to make some guesses. This could be L’Eau (the first Diptyque perfume, launched in 1968 and created by Desmond Knox-Leet) or L’Autre (launched in 1973 and created by Serge Kalouguine), two classic spicy scents by the French brand.