Scent a Celebrity Series: Fragrant Femmes – Scenting Leading Ladies

Scenting Leading Ladies
Fragrant Femmes – Scenting Leading Ladies

“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”

This episode of my Scent a Celebrity Series serves as a slight change of tack from the norm. The series usually takes a famous person (ranging from Björk to The Muppets) and pairs them with a suitable fragrance (or fragrances) that perfectly capture the many facets of their personality. However, in this episode the focus has shifted beyond just humble celebrities to the characters they play.

Everyone loves a leading lady and a superb performance from a wonderful actress can turn a good movie into an extraordinary one. Here you’ll find a selection of some of my favourite actresses in one of their most impressive roles, and for good measure some perfumes that capture the spirit of their performances. These ‘Fragrant Femmes’ will have you glued to your seats and with a bit of luck the perfumes will too.

Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction
Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction

Are there any other leading ladies more distinct than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? The simple answer is ‘no’, and it’s most definitely true that nobody plays crazy quite like our Glenn (just see T.V. series ‘Damages’ for proof) and we have her to thank for putting bunny boiling on the map. I kid, of course.

As Alex Forrest, Glenn plays the chillingly believable and self-destructive stalker who clings to a brief fling with Michael Douglas (lord knows why). As the film progresses, Glenn’s character spirals further and further into madness, becoming so unhinged that in the film’s climax she is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for her obsession.

Tubéréuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens is a perfume that has always struck me as cold, calculated and chilling. It is the Cruella de Vil of all tuberoses that, whilst strikingly beautiful at its core, is often seen as unpalatable due to its icy dose of camphor. As far as perfumes go it is about as psychotic as they come and much like Glenn Close as Alex Forrest, it will not be ignored.

Tilda Swinton in I Am Love
Tilda Swinton in I Am Love

Tilda Swinton is the fair skinned queen of wonderful acting. An elfin goddess whose androgynous style is almost as captivating as her performances, and with everything she does La Swinton adds more than just a touch of high-fashion awesomeness that always makes for an enjoyable experience.

One of Tilda’s best performances is in Luca Guadagnino’s ‘I Am Love’ (2009), a tragic Italian saga that sees Swinton as Emma, the downtrodden matriarch of the wealthy Recchi family. With Emma, Tilda pays with the ideas of fragility and strength, and how both can exist symbiotically. Vero Profumo’s Onda Extrait is an opulent chypre with the deepest, darkest vetiver roots that feel perfectly matched to the inner-turmoil displayed by Swinton in this role.

Emma is the central pillar of her family and sacrifices her pleasures for those around her. She is strong, but at the same time she is broken and fragile. She gives up her virtuous nature to follow her desires and whilst her actions end in tragedy she displays tremendous strength of character along the way. It’s this strength of character that instantly reminds me of Onda

Julianne Moore in A Single Man
Julianne Moore in A Single Man

Everything about Tom Ford’s directorial debut ‘A Single Man’ is beautiful. Nobody can deny that the man has a talent for all that is ‘aesthetic’ and when he picked the transcendently gorgeous Julianne Moore to play the lead character’s best friend Charlotte (also known as Charley) he knew what he was doing.

Julianne’s character Charley is the somewhat needy and equally miserable best friend of Colin Firth’s character George. Charley dresses wonderfully and probably smells pretty good to. She epitomises 1960s glamour whilst desperately trying to keep up the façade of happiness – a task at which she ultimately fails.

Tom Ford’s beguiling Fleur de Chine is the perfect perfume for Julianne as Charley. It captures American glamour in a warm, aldehydic and abstract floral that, whilst intending to depict the stars of the oriental screen, feels aptly suited to a 1960s housewife clinging on to beauty, happiness and unrequited love. Both Julianne and Fleur de Chine are truly remarkable specimens.

Carman Maura in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Carman Maura in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Perdro Almodóvar’s 1998 movie ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ ( or ‘Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios’ to give it its Spanish title) is easily one of this blogger’s favourite movies. It’s all just a bit silly, but fabulously so (Rossy de Palma and Antonio Banderas are in it for Pete’s sake) and Carmen Maura as the lead character Pepa Marcos is particularly fascinating to watch.

Pepa is a woman on the edge. Having just been dumped by her boyfriend Ivan, she descends in to a haze of madness and despair. What ensues is a mad but wonderful mixture of deadly gazpacho, bad wigs, mambo taxi rides and a ridiculous car chase that cements Women on the Verge as a truly fabulous movie, that is definitely one of Almodóvar’s best.

In her role as Pepa, Carmen Maura plays a big character that, whilst not being entirely in charge of her emotions at times (going as far as setting fire to her bed at one point), has the strength to realise she is worth more than the man she has been left by. She dresses in a big, bright red jacket with epic shoulder pads and the ’80s-ness of it all leads one to think of the big, bold and mad fruit punch of Dior’s Poison – a perfume that will knock you out, just like Pepa’s gazpacho…

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

When it comes to scenting Meryl Streep in character it’s difficult to pick just one, after all it’s hard to deny that the Streep is one of the greatest working actress of our time, if not the very best. She has the innate ability to transform herself with each role, perfectly capturing every aspect of a character – the voice, the mannerisms and the expressions – until she herself is unrecognisable.

So yes, it’s difficult to pick a single Meryl character to scent, so one simply goes for the most enjoyable and that is without a doubt her excellent performance as Miranda Priestly in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. Channeling her best Anna Wintour-esque succubus, Streep plays the cold, calculated and brilliant Editor in Chief of ‘Runway’ magazine (yes, it’s a bit near the mark) who takes great pleasure in torturing her new Assistant, played by Anne Hathaway (wouldn’t you?).

With her steely gaze, chic attire and dismissive catchphrase – “that’s all”, Streep as Miranda can reduce even the most senior executive to mush with just one look. She therefore needs a perfume that is as mean spirited and high fashion as she is and the only suitable option is Chanel’s N°19  – a perfume that is best classified as one hell of a boardroom bitch of a perfume.

Pairing delicate iris powder with the mean, green quality of galbanum and an appropriately ‘Chanel’ dose of aldehydes, N°19 is beautiful yet deadly. Much like Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestley, this Chanel is utterly fascinating and even enjoyable but as with all deadly creatures, one must tread with caution when in its presence.

Join the Discussion!

Who are your favourite leading ladies? How would you scent them?

What scents would you pick for my leading ladies in these star roles?

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