Tag Archives: lucien lelong balalaika

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

While perfume lovers and professionals still believe the urban legend according to which a bottle of Caron Narcisse Noir appears on Norma Desmond’s vanity (it doesn’t), no one has ever taken the time to see what’s actually on that table.

Well, I have and I love what I’ve found – three Lucien Lelong bottles!

Right under the round standing mirror on Norma’s left there’s a short bottle with bow-like stopper: it’s Jabot, launched in 1939.

If we move to the left side of the table, there’s a tall balloon bottle containing Balakaïka eau de cologne, launched in 1939.

When Norma stands up, we can see a golden bottle of Orgueil on a small table on the far left. This Jean Carles fragrance was launched in 1946.

I don’t think my passion for Lelong perfumes is a mystery: I’ve written about them many times and I find their bottle designs very distinctive and original. Seeing some of them on such an iconic dressing table really makes sense: it shows us that Norma Desmond is a fragrance lover and supposedly uses more than one fragrance, as shown by the several bottles sitting on the table (I haven’t been able to identify them all).

Now another question pops up: if we assume she is wearing a Lucien Lelong perfume in this famous scene, what perfume is it? Where does the infamous tuberose come from? It could be from Orgueil, which, according to Basenotes, includes tuberose in its heart notes, along with carnation, iris, jasmine, rose, clove and nutmeg.

To Catch a Thief (1955)

tocatchathief_bornunicorn (1)When John Robie (Cary Grant) visits the hotel suite where Frances and her mother Jessie live, some beauty products can be seen on different dressing tables.

lucienlelong_balalaika_bornunicornIn the picture above, for example, there are a Revlon nail polish (see the elongated cap) and two perfumes by Lucien Lelong – Gardenia and Balalaika.

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On another dressing table two versions of Lucien Lelong Balalaika: the spiral bottle contained the eau de parfum, while the squared one contained the eau de cologne.

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From a different angle we can see there’s another object on the same table: a coffret containing Revlon nail polishes.

An American in Paris (1951)

anamericaninparis_bornunicorn (1)Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) visits a perfume shop in Paris, where he first meets Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron), who works there as shop assistant.

lucienlelongsirocco_bornunicornschiaparelli_shocking_bornunicornIn the screencap above, three bottles of Lucien Lelong Sirocco and a giant bottle of Elsa Schiaparelli Shocking can be seen. Sirocco was launched in 1934, while Shocking – a creation by Jean Carles – was launched in 1937.

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vintage-guerlain-shalimar-eau-de-cologne-splash-1-7-oz-new-rope-sealed-7cc19a1fb031c4c8f019950e9bc5749a (1)Lots of bottles here! On the glass table on the left there’s Lucien Lelong Tailspin cologne; on the right counter, there’s a Guerlain flacon montre and there’s another one on the second shelf in the background. The first flacon montre is confusing because it contains a green liquid and has a golden disk on the front, so I guess it was a promotional factice. The second one has an orange disk, so it’s definitely Shalimar eau de cologne.

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On the counter there are several Lelong perfumes: Orgueil, Balalaika cologne, Sirocco again and Balalaika eau de toilette. Orgueil (meaning “pride” in English) was created by Jean Carles and launched in 1946; Balalaika was launched in 1939.

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lucienlelong_openingnight_bornunicornTailspin cologne and Balalaika eau de toilet make another appearance, along with two beautiful fluted bottles of Indiscret, launched in 1936. The tiny bottle just under Gene Kelly’s chin is Opening Night, whose box can be seen under the glass shelf. This perfume was launched in 1935.

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lucienlelong_parfumn_bornunicornThree bottles and boxes of Lucien Lelong Jabot can be seen on the bottom shelf of the counter, along with two bottles of Balalaika cologne and a bottle of Parfum N. This one could also be Parfum B, since they had the same bottle. Jabot was launched in 1939 and Parfum N in 1928.

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lucienlelong_openingnightpyramid_bornunicornThe Lelong fest is not over yet: the red/white/blue box on the left, under Gene Kelly’s elbow, is Tailspin eau de parfum. The pyramid bottle next to the actor’s hip is Opening Night (Lelong loved using different bottles for the same fragrance).

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

There’s a Revlon red nail polish (vintage bottle) on the small shelf in front of the mirror on Holly Golightly’s dressing table.

 On the table there’s a giant flacon bouchon coeur by Guerlain; there’s no label on it, so it’s impossible to know what perfume it contains.

shultondesertflower_bornunicornThe small bottle with white stopper is Desert Flower, a Shulton perfume launched in 1947.

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lucienlelong_openingnight_bornunicornOn the right side of the table there are four Lucien Lelong perfumes. The small bottle is Balalaika, launched in 1939; the tall bottle behind it is Sirocco, launched in 1934; the bottle with the bow-shaped stopper is Jabot, launched in 1939; the bottle in the blue box is Opening Night, launched in 1935.

Screencap source.

Thanks to Phyl D in the comments for the Shulton id.