Let’s Play Questions…. Vol. 2 – Perfume & Television

I’m a TV junkie. Yes, I admit it fully and without shame. Television is one of the few ways I can turn off the endless, whirling dervishes of my mind. As someone who is an insomniac partially because of that fevered mind, television is also a lovely companion at 3:48 a.m. when even the Hairy German is asleep. I watch all sorts of series, from acclaimed dramas to historical period pieces, serial-killer detective shows to every single thing ever released on HBO and, yes, even things of a less… er… reputable nature like reality shows. (Heidi Klum, we need to have a little chat about your new perfume on the recent episode of Project Runway.)

“Kalinda Sharma” on The Good Wife.

One of those (better) shows came to mind the other day when I was mulling over Robert Piguet‘s legendary butch leather perfume, Bandit, and how, in the end, I simply wasn’t tough enough for her. It suddenly hit me who would be the ideal woman for Bandit: Kalinda on The Good Wife. Tenacious, tough, edgy, often in black leather, with a seductive, mysterious, enigmatic side to that Mona Lisa smile. And, yes, sexually open in a way that Bandit’s famous creator, Germaine Cellier, would wholly approve of. After all, Cellier was allegedly not only a lesbian but, also, the woman who supposedly sniffed the panties of models coming off of from the runway in order to absorb the true essence of a woman. (If you’re interested, you can read the story of Bandit and Germaine Cellier in my review of the fragrance.)

So, I started wondering: what other fragrances would be the perfect fit for characters on shows that I watch? I began by going through various series that I adore with a passion (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Person of Interest), those I really like a lot (Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, The Americans), and even those old favorites from the past (The Wire, Frasier, All Creatures Great and Small, Upstairs/Downstairs, Inspectors Morse/Lewis, Foyle’s War, House of Cards, and every BBC show ever made — since I seem to have watched them all).

I concluded that starting with the television show was absolutely the wrong way to go about things! It was overwhelming to think of all the characters and what might suit them. It was much more logical to start with the perfume itself and then cast about for which character — across all possible shows — might fit with it. Even so, it’s still a bloody difficult task!

I’ve got a few vague mental images in my mind thus far, but I’m struggling. For Game of Thrones, obviously one of the “Night’s Watch” up North would wear Frederic Malle‘s Eau d’Hiver, but which one? I think Ned Stark, Sean Bean’s character, would wear something leathery and masculine, but I doubt it would be any of the sweetly spiced ones. And no refined leather like Cuir de Russie for such a warrior, either.

“Dany” on Game of Thrones.

I’m still pondering that one, as I am for the rest of the characters on the show. For example, Daenerys Targaryen could go one of two, very different ways: something extremely light and white to reflect the Targaryen clan’s platinum hair; or a spicy oriental to reflect her time in the desert, and her evolution from an innocent girl who would have once worn a soft floral. Nothing comes to mind on the first front. For the second, however, I could easily see her with some feminine, spicy floral leather fragrance like Serge LutensCuir Mauresque or Puredistance M. The latter, in particular, would fit the molten fires of that critical scene at the end in the first season. (I won’t say which to avoid spoiling it for those who haven’t seen the show.)

Daenerys is much easier than the Lannisters. I cannot imagine a perfume for a single one of the icy, power-hungry, incestuous, and/or mentally unhinged Lannister clan. Perhaps fantasy shows do not lend themselves well to more moderate, civilised scents? That said, the very extreme Secretions Magnifique from Etat Libre d’Orange might suit The Imp, but it seems a shame to saddle such a brilliant, rich, complex character (and the only decent Lannister!) with something so singular. On the other hand, Tyrion does seek to be intentionally provocative to those around him and, also, does seem a little obsessed by sex, so perhaps it fits after all.

“Roger Sterling” (left) and “Don Draper” (right) on Mad Men.

Unfortunately, I’m struggling with modern-era series just as much, albeit for very different reasons. I don’t know enough about true men’s colognes to think of scents for characters like Walter White on Breaking Bad. (What would a chemistry teacher turned meth drug overlord wear anyway???!) I can see Don Draper on Mad Men wearing Eau Sauvage (if only because of the name) and Roger Sterling with Givenchy’s Monsieur de Givenchy — but neither seems like a truly perfect, “Aha!”-type fit.

“Carrie Mathison” on Showtime’s Homeland.

As for the women, on most of the shows I watch, they wouldn’t be the sort for the rich, spicy Orientals or the flamboyantly diva-like florals that I know so well. Bi-polar CIA operatives on an obsessed hunt for a terrorist mole/Marine/Senator don’t typify something like my beloved, boozy Alahine, the happy Bombay Bling, or the ultra-feminine diva, Fracas. (Gaby on Desperate Housewives might be another matter entirely.) On second thought, perhaps the very schizophrenic, creamy Datura Noir from Serge Lutens might fit the very troubled, blonde Carrie Mathison? As for Nick Brody, somehow I see Andy Tauer‘s L’Air du Desert Marocain, but is his purported clean-cut, All-American image better suited for something American, fresh, and conservative? So many questions!

Equally perplexity is the issue of Reagan-era, KGB “Directorate S” operatives living as moles in the suburbs of D.C. Despite the era, I can’t see the characters of The Americans wearing anything as ’80s in its potency or forcefulness as a Tom Ford Private Blend fragrance — or even the actual ’80s powerhouse, Giorgio. But I can see them wearing His and Hers versions of Armani‘s Acqua di Gio. Perfectly innocuous, bland, mass-market, generic scents that completely blend in with their lack of character and, thus, never stand out.

“Betty Draper” on Mad Men.

“Megan” on Mad Men.

Speaking of restrained fragrances, I see Betty Draper on Mad Men wearing an extremely repressed, reserved, haughtily rich-smelling Chanel scent. My guess would be Chanel’s new (and extremely boring) 1932. In contrast, Megan would probably opt for something with a little edge and probably some hippie patchouli in it as well, though I have no idea yet what it would be. Serge LutensBorneo 1834? Or, perhaps, Chanel‘s Coco Noir with its more classic character but, at the same time, with that purple patchouli note? Neither seems to be the perfect fit, though I see the Lutens being more applicable than the Chanel.

My questions for you: Is there a fragrance that you see as the ideal “Aha!” match for a character on a show that you watch? If so, what perfume and why does it so perfectly epitomize that character? Obviously, you’re not limited to the shows I’ve mentioned; I’d love to know what you enjoy. Also, don’t feel compelled to restrict yourself to fragrances that existed at the time in which the characters live or lived. For example, just because Downton Abbey takes place in the very early part of the 20th century doesn’t mean that you’re limited to Guerlain, Coty, or Caron. Lastly, are there any characters whose ideal perfume stumps you? If so, perhaps someone else can help and jump in with the answer.