There’s a jar of Pond’s dry skin cream on Jazmine Wintour’s dressing table.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate this screenshot: Elektra Wintour (Dominique Jackson) is gracing us with a rare smile and gives us the chance to get a closer look at her vanity.
The small bottle on it is one of the greatest perfumes of the 1980s, Givenchy Ysatis, an “opulent fragrance that smells like luxury” . Created by Dominique Ropion and launched in 1984, it’s simply perfect for a fierce and unapologetic character like Elektra.
 As reported on Fragrantica. I can’t think of a better description.
One of the most intense and emotional moments in a VERY intense and emotional episode was the conversation between Candy (Angelica Ross) and her mother (Patrice Johnson Chevannes). In particular, a memory from the past is brought up: as a young boy, Candy wore her mother’s perfume, a symbol of the “silent pact” she thought was between them. Despite her assumptions and hopes, though, Candy got rejected by her family for being a transgender woman and this felt like an unbearable betrayal.
This scene reminds me of another emotional moment from Paris is Burning (1990) by Jennie Livingstone: Pepper LaBeija, mother of the House of LaBeija, explains how her parents found out she dressed as a girl. Her mother found a fur coat in her closet and realised it was hers from the perfume on it, Tuvaché Jungle Gardenia. The gendered notion of perfume – now almost completely gone, thank God – could really give away a lot about oneself, sometimes with horrible consequences.
The perfume worn by Vivica and Candy is another strong symbol: Revlon Charlie was launched in 1973 and marked the beginning of a new era in perfumery. It was a fresh chypre fragrance, arguably one of the first feminist fragrances: as Barbara Herman explains in her book Scent & Subversion, “it was marketed to American women during an era when feminist consciousness was at its pop-culture height.” No wonder that Candy saw that specific perfume, worn by the most important woman in her life, as a “gate to femininity”.
The advertising campaign of Charlie was about independence, gorgeousness and sexiness: as the slogan said, it was a “gorgeous, sexy-young fragrance”, embodied by statuesque model/actress Shelley Hack wearing trousers.
Angel (Indya Moore) starts her modeling career as face of the Wet ‘n Wild spring 1990 collection. Her pictures are on the shop display and on products too! Even if the brand launched in 1979, the items seen in this episode are from current collections, not from the 1990s. From left to right there are:
Silk Finish lipsticks
Glassy Gloss lip gels
Megalast nail polishes
Two types of eyeshadow palette – the classic 8-pan palette and the Coloricon 6-pan ones from the Spring 2015 collection.
Last, Coloricon single eyeshadows.
Angel (Indya Moore) finally scores a modeling job for the Wet ‘n Wild spring 1990 campaign. While she’s having her make-up done on set, we can see L’Oreal Elnett Satin strong-hold hairspray in front of her.
There’s a flacon montre of Guerlain Shalimar cologne in the dressing room of the club where Candy works as pole dancer.
It’s clear Ryan Murphy, Pose’s showrunner, is a fan of the Guerlain perfume: you may remember it was mentioned in American Horror Story: Hotel (it was Ramona Royale’s signature scent) and in American Horror Story: Roanoke (it was used by Lee Harris).
In the studio where Angel (Indya Moore) is having professional photos taken, they use L’Oreal Elnett Satin extra strong-hold hairspray.
The most important ball of the year is about to start and Elektra (Dominique Jackson) retouches Blanca’s make-up by using Maybelline Great Lash mascara.
When Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson) visits the nail salon where Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) works, it’s clear she’s not interested in getting a manicure. She asks for a top coat on her already done nails, and she soon points out her likes and dislikes.
She likes Revlon and Max Factor nail polishes. In the adverts above (both from 1987), you can see the design these brands had for their nail varnish bottles.
She totally dislikes Yardley, the British brand founded in 1770 which was incredibly successful in the 1960s and 1970s, but lost its appeal in the 1980s.
She’s not done with Blanca: her former daughter should take better care of herself and her “ashy complexion” by using Pond’s cold cream.
In the screencap above we can see a jar of Barbicide disinfectant on Blanca’s working station.
In the meantime, Blanca is applying the top coat Elektra has asked for. It’s by Seche Vite, even if this product didn’t exist in 1987 (the brand was founded in 1991).
When Blanca puts away the top coat, we can see a display of OPI nail polishes. This is historically incorrect, since the American brand, founded in 1981, expanded its portfolio to nail lacquers in 1989, not in 1987.
When Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) first meets Ricky (Dyllon Burnside), he asks him if he took a bath in Kouros cologne.
This is a lovely namedrop, because it refers to the Yves Saint Laurent perfume that really defined a decade. Created by Pierre Bourdon and launched in 1981, it was unforgettable in its original formulation, heavy on civet, honey, leather and musk.