Tag Archives: exploding hand

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.