Tag Archives: the sweet smell of success

Halston E03 (The Sweet Smell of Success)

Halston (Ewan McGregor) is becoming a regular at Studio 54. Before heading out, he takes a shower and puts on a fragrance by his brand. Unfortunately it’s impossible to tell what fragrance this is because there’s an interesting story behind the men’s scents by Halston.

Halston Z14, with a prominent leather note, was created by Vincent Marcello and Max Gavarry and launched in 1976. It was housed in the so-called “pinch bottle”, which reproduced on brown glass the effect of fingers pinching a soft material.

Too bad that the aromatic green Halston 1-12 was launched on the same year, housed in the same exact bottle (but made of dark green glass)! From the screencap it’s not clear if the glass is brown or green, so it could be both fragrances.

Michael Edwards, author of Fragrances of the World, first published in 1984, revealed in an 2001 interview with Basenotes’ Grant Osborne the truth behind this unusual double launch:

“I had the chance to concentrate on fragrances when I moved to Paris, to direct the international rollout of Halston’s fragrances, Halston (1975), the great women’s classic created by Bernard Chant, and the two men’s entries, Halston Z-14 (still superb) and 1-12 (both 1976). If you wonder why two men’s fragrances, the answer is that Halston couldn’t make up his mind which one he preferred so he said, ‘Launch both’. The names, Z-14 and 1-12? Those were the perfumer’s code numbers.”

Halston E03 (The Sweet Smell of Success)

This episode tells the story behind the creation of Halston, the fragrance the American designer launched in 1974: it became an immediate hit and is still recognized as one of the scented symbols of that decade.

Even if I never write about myself and rarely comment on what I post, I’ve decided to explain what I’ve appreciated in it and what I consider a personal affront.

The episode describes well the designing process of the organic drop-shaped bottle by Elsa Peretti, the original Halstonette: born in Florence, she worked as a model first, but soon became a close collaborator of Halston and later a designer for Tiffany and Co.

The story behind this bottle is accurately presented: it’s true that the manufacturers were not able to fill the curved bottles with the machinery they used and it’s true that Halston paid $50,000 from his own pocket to create an adapter which made the filling operation possible.

The commercial accurately reproduces the advertising campaign with which the perfume was launched.

What has filled me with disappointment and rage is the creative process. When Halston meets for the first time the perfumer who will create his perfume, I literally jumped on my chair. Seriously??? Adèle who??? Poor Vera Farmiga, giving voice to the biggest mistake of the episode.

At least they got something right: the nose who created Halston really worked for IFF. He was the Head Perfumer of the American multinational.

Yes, “he”, because there was no Adèle but Bernard Chant, who gave us fragrances like Cabochard (in 1959), Aramis (in 1966), Clinique Aromatics Elixir (in 1971), Lauren by Ralph Lauren (in 1978) and Estée Lauder hits like Cinnabar (in 1978) and Beautiful (in 1985). In the picture above, he was portrayed by Louie Psihoyos while testing perfumes on human skin.

I understand the reasons behind the narration for TV and I get that Adèle is a reassuring mother-like figure for the troubled designer, but such a gross historical inaccuracy is insulting for the memory of the perfumer, for the designer and for those who were involved in the creation of the perfume.

I’ve covered recent and less recent TV shows by Ryan Murphy and I’ve often praised the impeccable work in recreating the past, but this is too much. What a huge disappointment!