Venetian Romance is a fictional perfume which has an important role in this episode. It’s Penny’s signature scent, the one she wears when she meets her lover Paul (Mat Fraser).
Paul goes to a drugstore to buy it for Penny. Thanks to the screencap above we can see its bottle is actually the one of a historical and extremely popular perfume, Evening in Paris by Bourjois. The cobalt blue bottle with the curved label began appearing in the late 1940s/early 1950s, so the choice to use it is historically accurate. A cobalt blue talcum powder bottle of the same scent can be seen on the drugstore shelf, too.
In the episode we also learn that Paul is Elsa Mars’s lover. She smells Venetian Romance on him and understands he’s having an affair with another woman.
As a revenge, she badly wounds Paul: she straps him to a bullseye wheel and stabs him on purpose. Penny arrives to the circus and finds Paul fighting for his life. Elsa immediately realizes she’s the one Paul is having an affair with. “Speaking of cheap perfume” conveys her contempt for the perfume and for its wearer (let’s not forget she wears Caron Nuit de Noël), but also her envy for the two star-crossed lovers.
A gold bullet-shaped lipstick on Elsa Mars’s dressing table means one thing only: Bésame Cosmetics!
Several products from the American brand have been featured in Freakshow so far: a lipstick and a cream rouge pot on the Tattler twins’ dressing table; a mascara, a powder compact and a lipstick on Elsa’s dressing table; mascara and lipstick again at a drugstore. The lip colours have been extensively used in the show, as well. Now that only two episodes are left, I hope we will be given more eye candy from the vintage-inspired company.
The unique tassel box of Caron Nuit de Noël can be seen on the dressing table of Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange).
The oriental floral fragrance, created by Ernest Daltroff and launched in 1922, is mentioned in Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh and was among Marilyn Monroe’s favourite scents.
Bette Tattler (Sarah Paulson) pretends to remember her mother’s murderer, scent included – Williams Aqua Velva after-shave.
Cartier Santos de Cartier perfume can be seen on Fiona Goode’s dressing table. I can’t say I’m not surprised by this choice: I was surely expecting her to wear a very different perfume, but this adds further mystery to the character. This men’s fragrance, launched in 1981, was created by Daniel Moliere.