Tag Archives: revlon charlie

Pose S02E04 (Never Knew Love Like This Before)

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 Рnow almost completely gone, thank God Рcould 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.