Fragrance references in fiction books or films

Oviatt

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jan 30, 2007
勝美!;3262056 said:
basenotes141009anamericaninparis_zps6017ca37.png

At the Lucien Lelong counter, it seems--Indescret and his standard EdT bottles.
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
In the 1899 novel "The promised land" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Promised_Land) written by the 1924 Nobel Prize laureate for literature W. Reymont, one of the supporting characters is described to wear a fragrance consisting of "ambergris and violettes de Perse mixed with roses", so strong, that the smell filled up an entire luxuriously and exotically decorated late 1800s style boudoir.

Interestingly, the main character, an ambitious, but also rather dandified, rakish and womanizing young engineer of aristocratic origins, with a lifelong dream to become an industry tycoon, despises and avoids perfume, so whenever his fiancee senses a slight trace of perfume on him, her usual suspicions about him are largely confirmed.
 

Oviatt

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jan 30, 2007


I recently re-watched the 1969 James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, adapted from the 1963 book. One of my favorites, I always remember that Tracy, who becomes Bond’s wife, is described as wearing Ode: “But the girl reached up a swift hand that smelt of Guerlain's Ode and put it across his lips. "I said 'no conversation'. Take off those clothes. Make love to me.” Later in the book, he notes that a parka she has been wearing still smells of Ode.
This makes perfect sense to me, as Tracy is a modern, stylish, jet-setting woman and at the time of the book’s publication, Ode, which was launched in 1955, was still a new offering from the Guerlain stable: their latest scent until the launch of Chant d’Aromes in 1962, by which time the book was already written (Fleming wrote it while in Jamaica for the filming of “Dr. No,” which was released in 1962).
What I hadn’t remembered is that in the film of OHMSS, Tracy’s signature scent is changed to L’Heure Bleue—Bond even comments that it might be a little “heavy.” So why, I wonder, would the writers, Richard Maibaum (screenplay) and Simon Raven (additional dialogue), change her scent from a current, modern perfume—actually noted by the author--to a well-known classic from 1912, created decades before Tracy was even born? In 1969, L’Heure Bleue would have been a famous name and well known to movie-goers, but then, so would Ode have been, at least compared to its obscurity in today’s public awareness. If they had wanted to update the scent to reflect the 1969 film release date, why go with an older perfume? And one that might be too “heavy” (matronly?) for the young and beautiful Tracy? That said, I can totally see a young Diana Rigg wearing L’Heaure Blue, but that is beside the point….
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
In the very little known Moroccan short film "Houkak" (2014) managed to sight a few assorted Yves Rocher cosmetics and fragrances during an accordingly brief bathroom seen, however given their extremely minimal appearance, did not manage to identify them more closely nor use/activate the still button of my TV just in time
 

gandhajala

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2010
From John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:

p.24 'As Martindale drew closer, Smiley caught the odour of one of Trumper's most sensitive creations'.

p.206 'It wasn't his coat she wanted to kiss. Yielding to it, Guillam inhaled the joint pleasures of Je Reviens​ and a high concentration of inexpensive sherry'.
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
Even if it may have been posted here before, in one of the two recent biopics about Yves Saint Laurent, the film details, among other plot lines, the comparatively difficult and lengthy initial struggle to introduce the fragrance Opium on the American market, via a pharmaceutical and cosmetics company with very staunch and rigid principles as sole distributor
 

EasyToAssemble

Well-known member
Jan 3, 2016
In Manhunter (the forerunner to Silence of the Lambs), Detective Will Graham visits Hannibal Lecter in prison where Hannibal starts analyzing Graham, trying get under his skin. One of the things he says is "You're very tanned, Will. And your hands are so rough. Not like a cop's hands anymore. And that shaving lotion is something a child would select. Has a little ship on the bottle, does it not?"

Hmm. Ship. On a bottle..........
 
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panope7734

Well-known member
Oct 14, 2014
In Manhunter (the forerunner to Silence of the Lambs), Detective Will Graham visits Hannibal Lecter in prison where Hannibal starts analyzing Graham, trying get under his skin. One of the things he says is "You're very tanned, Will. And your hands are so rough. Not like a cop's hands anymore. And that shaving lotion is something a child would select. Has a little ship on the bottle, does it not?"

Hmm. Ship. On a bottle..........

Manhunter! One of my all-time favorite movies!
Thanks for the quote!
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
In "Henry and June" (1986) the character Anais Nin is shown to apply a certain Guerlain fragrance by means of a pique-shaped glass stopper (it could be both L`Heure Bleue and Mitsouko, since both have this particular bottle design and both are consistent with the chronology of a film set in the 1920s-1930s)
 

EasyToAssemble

Well-known member
Jan 3, 2016
This is more of a TV reference, and possibly only recognisable to UK viewers but there is a mention of fragrance in the recent BBC show The Detectorists. Andy and Sophie suspect Lance is off on the first date in about a decade, and decide to tail him into the supermarket.......

"She saw him in the supermarket buying all the materials required to make a romantic evening.""
"Oh, God, he must have got the instructions off the internet."
"I've got to wash my hands. What was he buying?"
"Flowers, chocolates, aftershave"
"What kind?"
"Freesias, Ferrero Rocher, Fahrenheit."
"Christ....".
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
In 2014 French comedy "Amour sur place ou a emporter" two broke and rather down on their luck, but otherwise likable male friends go to a supermarket and spray on some Brut directly from the deodorant bottle without buying it, before meeting their respective dates later that evening, stating that: "No woman can resist the smell of Brut".
 

gandhajala

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2010
What a bathroom! Dear God, talk about 'is 'alls were made of marble! And towels an inch thick! And bags of water steaming out of the taps! This is the life, I thought, and poured in half a bottle of Trumper's Essence of Lime before I immersed myself in the aromatic tub. But first of all I hung my petticoat over the keyhole so Mr Rosencreutz couldn't take a peek.

Nights at the Circus, by Angela Carter.
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
Another, less known fragrance reference/sighting during "Scent of a woman" (1992): Pinaud Clubman and a few more classic, mostly inexpensive aftershaves are visible when Lt. Col. Frank Slade gets an old fashion straight razor shave in an upscale NY barbershop
 

panope7734

Well-known member
Oct 14, 2014
In DBC Pierres book Lights out in Wonderland (set in the culinary world) the main character carries a bottle of Jicky with him , which he drinks from occasionally.

In Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain, the main mobster lathers himself with Bijan For Men before going out.

Any others?

Or fragrances mentioned or spotted in films?

Please forgive me in advance for vagueness, error and/or misspellings; I think the television show American Horror Story: Roanoke (sp?) had a funny line in episode nine... a remark one character made of another called 'Lee'..."she wears Shalimar".
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
A comparatively rarer and also slightly off-topic reference I just noticed today while watching a documentary about Hollywood legends on the History Channel:

during the festivities of the marriage between Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan, reportedly an entire swimming pool of a villa in Southern France was filled with EDC instead of water, although the actual name/brand of the respective EDC is not mentioned
 
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IsoESuperman

People of Zee Wurl, Relax
Basenotes Plus
Dec 30, 2015
I'm re-reading Brave New World, Huxley's classic novel, and the following passage was lost on me when I read it as a teenager. I guarantee it must have been the first time I saw/heard the word "chypre":

"Eight different scents and eau-de-Cologne were laid on in little taps over the wash-basin. She turned on the third from the left, dabbed herself with chypre and, carrying her shoes and stockings in her hand, went out to see if one of the vibro-vacuum machines were free."
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
A bottle of Old Spice Original is seen during a bedroom scene of American sitcom series "The Middle" (2009-present), as the main and possibly only fragrance (or, rather aftershave, occasional dabbing scent) of Mike Heck, one of the main characters
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
A quite descriptive quote from "American Psycho"- the novel, about 1980s fragrance habits:

"The fragrances of Xeryus and Tuscany and Armani and Obsession and Polo and Grey Flannel and even Antaeus mingle, wafting into each other, rising from the suits and into the air, forming their own mixture: a cold, sickening perfume"
 

deadidol

Moderator
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Jan 19, 2013
I've been doing a bit of writing on the British TV show Shameless and there's a "virtual" tour that you can take of the set on the Channel 4 website. For the unfamiliar, the show's known for its problematic class stereotypes, and I couldn't help but notice this bottle Creed's Himalaya sitting on a dresser next to the matches and mask that one of the characters uses to commit arson. A loaded choice, it seems!

Shameless.jpg
 

Kaern

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 2, 2008
In 'Pronto' by Elmore Leonard

'Oh yeah, and bring me a couple of bottles of after-shave. Caswell-Massey Number Six'
'That's after-shave'?
'His favorite'
'It sounds more like an East Kentucky coal mine'
 

Kaern

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 2, 2008
In 'Pronto' by Elmore Leonard

'Oh yeah, and bring me a couple of bottles of after-shave. Caswell-Massey Number Six'
'That's after-shave'?
'His favorite'
'It sounds more like an East Kentucky coal mine'

God, that is so Elmore Leonard.

I miss him.

How Tarantino never visualised this book on celluloid is amazing -- well maybe he did but chose Rum Punch (Jackie Brown) instead. The book has everything.
 

Cook.bot

Common Lackey
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
How Tarantino never visualised this book on celluloid is amazing -- well maybe he did but chose Rum Punch (Jackie Brown) instead. The book has everything.

Pronto is a gem, but Rum Punch was the perfect pick, and Jackie Brown is still my favorite Tarantino film.

But my favorite Leonard book is far and away LaBrava. And it's perfect cinema fodder, with its faded movie queen at the center. Amazing that no one has filmed it yet.

One time Elmore Leonard was on a call-in radio show, and I called in and asked whether anyone had plans to film LaBrava. There was a lot of hemming and hawing and no real answer given. Later, I read that the attempted film sale of LaBrava was what inspired his book Get Shorty, and its vicious parody of Dustin Hoffman, who had been the fly in the ointment that prevented LaBrava getting made.
 

Oviatt

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jan 30, 2007
In Sartre's L'âge de raisona character steals a five franc note from a woman's steamer trunk and it smells of chypre--I think that might have been a clue to solving the crime. As I recall, but it has been a while. Great book, first in a series called Les chemins de la liberté.
 

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