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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gloria Swanson and Perfume

Famous actress Gloria Swanson was a collector of perfume bottles. Only a few photos survive showing her with some, mostly from her films. I wonder if she supplied her own bottles to be used during filming. I do know that she wore Youth Dew by Estee Lauder, Shocking by Schiaparelli, Fille d'Eve by Nina Ricci, Narcisse Noir by Caron, Breathless by Charbert,  My Alibi by Renoir, Joy by Jean Patou, Cabochard by Gres, Five O'Clock by Gourielli, Casma by Caswell Massey, Black Satin by Angelique, White Satin by Angelique, Sortilege by Le Galion, Command Performance by Helena Rubinstein, Chypre by Coty, Le Fruit Defendu by Rosine, Shining Hour by Jacqueline Cochran.

 The New York Times mentioned in 1973 that Ms. Swanson's vanity was covered with perfume bottles, most of them by Guerlain“because whatever they make is good” and reported that she changed scent according to weather and mood. She also said that “people wouldn't stink so much if they ate properly. Days go by when I don't use perfume just a good decent soap. I'm a nut... so all right.”

In the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, a bottle of Caron's Narcisse Noir was prominently featured. This sparked a massive demand for the fragrance.

In Why Change Your Wife, a 1920 silent film by Cecil B. DeMille, one of her favorite perfumes made its appearance, Le Fruit Defendu by Rosine, also known as Forbidden Fruit. In fact she was given an additional $500 a month that she spent on perfume, owing to her habit of going through several bottles of the apple scented Forbidden Fruit each week.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1927:
"Le Fruit Defendu or the forbidden fruit is a perfume, which has a container shaped like an apple and a cork with a stem to carry out the idea. And it really does smell like apples. Gloria Swanson buys this by the gallon. $11.50 for two ounces."


In the 1922 silent film Beyond the Rocks, in which she starred alongside the dreamy Rudolph Valentino, I read that she applies an irresistible perfume, though, this long lost film won't be able to reveal which perfume this was. 

In another film, Fine Manners from 1926, she plays a chorus girl named Orchid, at one point in the film she sprays some perfume and proudly blurts out, “Jockey Club! Two drops o' that costs your right eye.”


Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties, 2010:
"Gloria Swanson was the first to spend it. Photoplay reported that her annual expenditure in 1924 included nearly $10,000 on silk stockings, $6,000 on perfume, $50,000 on dresses . . . and an unspecified amount on jewels."



Vogue, 1978:
"Chypre perfume, which came out in 1910, was one of Gloria Swanson's signatures. After Coty stopped making it she shopped around and was able to find it for a while. Eight years ago, she finally bought so far as she knows, the last bottle in existence."

The Wichita Beacon, 6 Feb 1921:
“Many persons connected with the motion picture industry in one capacity or another have queer hobbies on the side. Take Gloria Swanson, Paramount star, for example: Her hobby is (or, are) bottles for holding cologne, toilette [sic] water, perfumes, etc. On her dresser there is a collection of bottles of every sort - tall, short, round, narrow, stoppered with cloisonne tops, made of rare Oriental glass or earthenware, dainty or grotesque examples. “These bottles seem to have a personality all their own,” observed Miss Swanson. “One could hardly feel lonely with them about.”

Gloria Swanson in "Tonight or Never" from 1931.





Wallace Reid/Gloria Swanson "The Affairs of Anatol" (1921) probably showing her personal collection of perfume bottles on the set. I see a large Lalique bottle in the front as well as some pretty atomizers.



Image showing Gloria Swanson in 1934’s movie ‘Music in the Air’. Some Czech perfume bottles are displayed on her vanity.

1 comment:

  1. Beyond the Rocks is no longer lost--it was rediscovered in 2003 and I saw it a few years later at the Academy. They even had Valentino's nieces and Gloria's granddaughter speaking beforehand! Unfortunately, it's been too long since I saw it for me to remember the perfume part.

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