Tag Archives: brian de palma

Body Double (1984)

In one of the most dramatic scenes of the film Gloria (Deborah Shelton) is attacked in her own room by the “Indian”, a disfigured man.

When one watches this scene, all the attention is focused on the horrific violent act in it, certainly not on the furniture and objects in Gloria’s bedroom. But this is one of my favourite films ever: I have watched it a lot of times, so at a certain point my attention shifted to other details in the scene. That’s why I have been able to identify three of the bottles on the dresser. All of them refer to one fragrance – Arpége by Lanvin.

The black bottle with gold-accented stopper is the refillable atomiser.

The tall bottle with square black stopper contains Arpége Eau de Lanvin.

Last, the round bottle with black stopper contains the bath oil.

It’s clear Arpége is Gloria’s favourite fragrance – she keeps three different versions on her dresser. This floral aldehyde perfume was created by Paul Vacher and Andre Fraysse and launched in 1927.

Scarface (1983)

When it comes to identifying beauty products on screen, one of the most challenging scenes ever is from the seminal film by Brian De Palma and features Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer), the glamourous trophy wife of the protagonist. Over the years I have tried many times to give a name to the products on her vanity, with no real results. The screenshot above is from the famous Jacuzzi scene set in the Montanas’ baroque bathroom [1]: Elvira is doing her manicure while snorting cocaine.

In the set photo above we can see there are two bottles of nail polish in front of her. Both are easy to identify.

The pale pink nail polish is by Lancôme, and dates back to the late 1970s.

The pale champagne bottle is unmistakable: it’s Chanel Le Vernis nail colour, which in the 1980s had the same squared packaging with shiny black stopper it has today.

[1] In 2020 I wrote about the same scene by identifying the perfumes sitting by the Jacuzzi.

I have lost count of the people who have submitted this picture to my attention, so sorry if I can’t credit everybody. Among them there are certainly my friend Rocco and LadiesofthePast.

Scarface (1983)

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I’ve been curating this project for more than 10 years now. I’ve covered hundreds of films, thousands of products, but believe me when I say that I still get excited when unexpected gems hide in films that are part of our collective imagery. Take Scarface, for example: the epic crime tale of the rise and fall of Tony Montana has been analysed in all its tiniest details by virtually anybody who loves or studies cinema. But there’s still more to be revealed. Have you ever noticed the two perfume bottles in this specific moment?It’s the famous Jacuzzi scene and it’s a couple of minutes; then the camera moves on and the bottles are gone.

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The first bottle has a metal cap with a peculiar ring: it’s Lagerfeld Classic by Karl Lagerfeld, a woody fragrance created by Ron Winnegrad and launched in 1978. Can you imagine Montana wearing a Karl Lagerfeld perfume? I personally don’t but I guess this bottle was probably chosen for its decorative value.

pacorabanneeaudecalandre_bornunicornThe second bottle is Eau de Calandre by Paco Rabanne, a flanker of Calandre, the Michel Hy fragrance launched in 1969. This is an unusual choice. Eau de Calandre was marketed as a women’s fragrance, so the question is: did Montana wear it, thus showing an expectedly modern taste in perfumes? Or did Elvira wear it? The answer could obviously be simpler, if we assume that this one too was chosen only as a decoration.

Body Double (1984)

Porn actress Holly Body (Melanie Griffith) has a refined taste for perfumes, as shown by what is sitting on her dressing table.

armanidonna_bornunicornThe almost empty bottle with black stopper is Giorgio Armani Armani, a chypre floral perfume created by Ron Winnegrad in 1982.

ysl_opiumbox_bornunicornThe red box with gold accents is unmistakably the packaging of Yves Saint Laurent Opium, one of the most famous perfumes of all times, hugely popular in the 1980s. Created by Jean Amic, Raymond Chaillan and Jean-Louis Sieuzac and launched in 1977, it redefined the concept of oriental spicy perfume.