Category Archives: perfumes in tv shows

Servant S02E04 (2:00)

In the Turners’ attic there’s a round tray with some bottles, snow globes and other items covered in dust. The bottle that attracts (and surprises) me the most is the blue one made of glass, a Guerlain product.

It’s a soothing toner from the Odélys line, launched in the early 1990s for the needs of sensitive and weakened skin. Now discontinued, it had an elegant teal packaging.

I’ve spotted many Guerlain products through the years but never one from this line, which is surprising. I perfectly remember when it first came out; needless to say, I was in love with its packaging, which at the time looked impossibly cool (and still does).

The pale pink jar contains Dew of Roses skin softener by Avon.

The tall bottle next to the Wedgwood-style jar is Caron Bain de Champagne (now Royal Bain de Caron), an Ernest Daltroff fragrance first launched in 1923.

Thanks to Alessandra for the screencap and to Kelly in the comments for the Avon and Caron ids.

Pose S03E07 (Series Finale)

After performing at a ball, Pray Tell (Billy Porter) sits at his dressing table and removes his make-up.

The frosted glass bottle with gold stopper is a fragrance by Officina Profumo S. Maria Novella. Too bad we can’t say what scent it is.

There’s also a Hydrabase lipstick by Chanel.

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.

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!

Pose S03E03 (The Trunk)

In this episode we’re brought back to 1983, when Elektra (Dominique Jackson) is trying hard to achieve her goals and to help her three daughters (Blanca, Candy and Lulu). They share a dingy flat, but this doesn’t let Elektra down: it probably gives her a reason to fight and improve her condition.

The deep connection between Elektra and perfumes is nothing new: she name-dropped Caron Poivre in Season 1 and I spotted Givenchy Ysatis on her dressing table in Season 2. I’m glad we get to know her better through another perfume.

In the early 1980s she wears White Linen by Estee Lauder, a floral aldehydic fragrance created by Sophia Grojsman and launched in 1978.

In 1983 this was the advert of the perfume: model Karen Graham, portrayed by Victor Skrebneski, was wearing a chic white outfit with blue details and looked relaxed in an elegant mansion. The imagery conjured here is so different from the world of Elektra, but it represents a goal to reach – money, luxury, comfort.

On her dressing table there’s also an orange OPI nail polish.

Selena: The Series S02E09 (When All the World is Sleeping)

In the show’s finale we are given a beautiful shot of Selena’s vanity. There are several MAC products and two surprising perfume bottles.

The small brush on the left side of the screen is MAC 182 buffer brush.

Then there are some lipsticks and compacts, which could be blushes or face powders.

The intriguing choices can be seen on the right side of the screen, where there are two Guerlain bottles.

One is the refillable metal canister, shown here without stopper.

The other is a small flacon montre with golden conical stopper. The front sticker is not shown, so there’s no way to know what eau de cologne this contains.

I’m quite surprised to see Guerlain perfumes on Selena’s vanity and not the one that was her trademark perfume in real life.

In this picture, taken at the Selena Museum in Corpus Christi, we can see Chanel make-up products (including the famous Brick lip colour, now discontinued) and brushes, and one perfume bottle – Boucheron Pour Femme, a white floral fragrance created by Francis Deleamont and Jean-Pierre Bethouart and launched in 1988.

Since this perfume is still on the market, I wonder why the show’s prop masters haven’t used it in this scene.

Pose S03E01 (On the Run)

In 1994 Pray Tell (Billy Porter) works as sales assistant in the cosmetic department at Macy’s.

A factice bottle of Christian Dior Dolce Vita is displayed. This is an accurate choice because the woody fragrance, created by Pierre Bourdon and Maurice Roger, was launched exactly in 1994.

On the right side of the counter there’s also a bottle of Bijan by Bijan, a white floral eau de toilette created by Peter Bohm and launched in 1986.

Pray Tell is spraying Chanel No. 5 on customers and advertises the iconic product as a perfume that can “reawaken that passion.”

He’s spraying the eau de parfum, the 1986 version by Jacques Polges of the original fragrance created by Ernest Beaux in 1921.