February 24, 2011
The advent of the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday, February 27 has pop culture abuzz! Like most, I can get sucked into the vortex of the movie madness it unleashes. After all, the Silver Screen still has magic and good stories continue to be told. For a perfumista, the most compelling–and reoccurring– subplot these days is that of fragrance product placement.
In our current era, product placement is a big business. Companies pay a lot of money in order to get their brands shown in the day to day activities of the central characters of big budget films and hit TV shows. Think: Sex and the City and the infamous Coty fragrances contract. These days product placement is valued at billions of dollars per year. However, in the not so distant past, the product placement was more organic and used strategically to illustrate the lifestyle of the character. The following are such Oscar-worthy (and FIFI award winning) examples:
Movie: Pillow Talk (1959)
Character: Jane Morrow (Doris Day)
Fragrance: Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps (1948)
Nose: Francis Fabron
“If I gave you perfume or lingerie that would be personal.” Jonathan quips.
“Then give me perfume next time.” Jane coos back.
Not long afterward we see Jane seated in front of her vanity with a collection of her own perfumes. She doesn’t touch them as she primps; she doesn’t have to. The impression the viewer is left with is that this well-dressed independent woman has pampered herself with her own fragrance choices. One perfume stands out, proud and tall, with its iconic twin doves: Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps. The fragrance is at the height of its glory and Jane Morrow personifies the quintessential L’Air du Temps woman.
Pillow Talk was nominated for 5 Academy Awards. The film won for best Original Screenplay. L'Air du Temps won the FIFI Best Bottle Design of the Century in 1999.
Movie: Butterfield 8 (1960)
Character: Gloria Wandrous (Elizabeth Taylor)
Fragrance: Caron Fountain Fragrance
Nose: Ernest Daltroff
The movie’s opening scene is one of discovery: the viewer is discovering what makes Elizabeth Taylor’s character of the
The message is clear that the owner has the means to buy the finest perfumes, those drammed from urns. Due to the fact that they remain unmarked one must make an educated perfumista’s guess as to their origins. Exclusivity is the key and Caron’s storied fragrances come immediately to mind.
These fragrances would reflect the taste and refinement of the wife, a WASP-y heiress who has grown up with the best but prefers the most ladylike of scents. Gloria rejects the first two bottles so we must assume she found it did not find either suitably flamboyant. She settles upon the third, we think it was as smoky and sultry as her charactor, housed in a large flacon and she generously applies it to her arms. Perhaps it is Caron’s Tabac Blond?
Needing a garment with which to cover herself so that she can catch a cab home, Gloria settles for a mink coat. Imagine her smell? Gin breath, smoking a cigarette and Caron Tabac Blond on unbathed warm skin—all wrapped in a mink coat. One word: decadent.
Butterfield 8 was nominated for 2 Academy Awards. Elizabeth Taylor won for Best Actress. She also won for her perfomance in Who's Afraid of Viginia Woolf in 1966
Movie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Character: Holly Golighty (Audrey Hepburn)
Fragrance: Chanel No. 5 (1922)
Nose: Ernest Beaux
The character of Holly Golighty was adapted from Truman Capote’s novella, also called Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In the story Holly Golightly sports the unisex cologne 4711 by Muehlans. This would be in keeping with both the character’s limited budget and her inclination to play by her own rules. After all, this was unisex way before the concept took off in our current consumer culture and her independent lifestyle hinted at a masculine outlook on life.
Many adaptations to Capote’s story were made to translate it to film, including a
This version of Holly is more aspirational as the fragrance is an affordable luxury. It offers something to Holly more tangible than what gazing into the window of the Tiffany jewelry store can provide. Spraying Chanel No. 5 is a moment of fantasy: a frieze into a parallel universe of privilege!
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was nominated for 5 Academy Awards. Henry Mancini won for Best Score for
Movie: Gypsy (1962)
Character: Gypsy Rose Lee (Natalie Wood)
Fragrance: Mitsouko (1919)
Nose: Jacques Guerlain
A victim of the fall of vaudeville and a controlling stage mother, Gypsy Rose Lee (Natalie Wood) finds a different kind of stardom in the world of burlesque. This may seem quaint to us today during her hey day it was still quite risqué and had connotations of the “loose woman”. However, the gimmick Gypsy Rose Lee employed of presenting herself as a lady with long opera gloves while leaving an air of mystery resonates with the male audience of that day and she is catapulted into international celebrity.
The scene where Gypsy’s estranged mother (Rosalind Russell) visits her backstage after a performance illustrates the new world in which she lives. A radiantly beautiful Natalie Wood is clad in a glamorous pink feathered dressing gown while her dresser is adorned with quite a collection of expensive looking perfumes. The collection helps the viewer to see Gypsy’s newfound personal prosperity.
It is a gorgeous array of fragrances on Gypsy’s vanity. The shapes of the bottles give away their exclusivity. Perhaps some are gifts from admirers? One stands out in its classic Guerlain shape and immediately one jumps to the conclusion that it could be none other than the infamous Mitsouko. It seems fitting that the burlesque queen would smell of this singularly seductive scent.
Gypsy was nominated for 3 Academy Awards but won none.
Since movies are one of our greatest forms of story telling, it is no wonder that perfumes would crop up as props. As character of Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) from the Hitchcock classic Rear Window (1954) declares, “A woman going anywhere but the hospital would always take makeup, perfume, and jewelry. That’s basic equipment!”
Alfred Hitchcock won an after Irving GThalberg Memorial in 1967 after six nominations for Rebecca, Rear Window, Psycho, Suspicion , Lifeboat, and Rear Window. Grace Kelly (aka Princess of Monaco) won two Oscars: for Rear Window and for her performance in the Country Girl both in 1954.
, Lifeboat, and Rear Window. Grace Kelly (aka Princess of Monaco) won two Oscars: for Rear Window and for her performance in the Country Girl both in 1954.
Liza Wade, Contributor
Michelyn Camen, E-I-C: Art Director
Its a trip down the Red Carpet with Liz Taylor, thanks to Caron Paris. Yes if you missed our first draw for Tabac Blond, here is you second chance. We are offering a 3.5 ml flacon of Tabac Blond courtesy of WWW.MiNNewYork.com as we honor Elizabeth Taylor's Oscar winning performances. Draw ends February 28, 2011. Leave a comment on your most memorable Oscar moments, Caron Urn Fragrances, or Butterfield 8.