DOES MICHAEL DOUGLAS WEAR PETITE CHERIE? – the secret and fascinating fragrant world of the rich and famous…..



















By chance, I stumbled across a rather fascinating website the other day, an ongoing list, painstakingly assembled by its author over many years, of the signature fragrances of the rich and famous. While for the average (non perfume obsessed) person it would undoubtedly make for an astoundingly mind-numbing read, for the manic perfumista, especially one who is drawn to Hollywood, the world of music, art, and even politics, this list is absolutely required reading.


In matching up familiar names with perfumes, we learn something of the intrinsic nature of those scents: (their soul, their identity, the emotion produced by a particular perfume that draws people in empathetically); for it would seem that, despite our difference in wealth, on the whole, ‘the stars’ wear the same perfumes that we do, not only those bespoke creations made exclusively for them that can cost in the thousands.


Last night I went out to meet a friend in Yokohama drenched in Shalimar, even though it was a startlingly warm and sultry evening (it smelled fabulous, as usual), and I apparently share my unvoidable attraction to this smooching, deathless sex-bomb with Rita Hayworth, Gina Lollabridgida, Brook Shields and Joan Collins (what does this say about me?)


Yet look how Shalimar differs in its clientele from Mitsouko, that mossed enigma I could never convincingly wear myself: Diaghilev, Charlie Chaplin (!), Ingrid Bergman, Wallis Simpson….



Yes. The more arch, mysterious and dignified scents attract celebrities we tend to associate with those very qualities (both Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich are said to have worn the divine Vol De Nuit, while Dietrich also, and famously, wore Bandit, Tabac Blond, and her own bespoke fragrance by Creed, Angelique Encens), while the brasher, more obvious perfumes tend to attract their parallel brethren in the world of entertainment and media  (Calvin Klein Obsession – another of my favourites, I am almost embarrassed to say –  is/was worn by Bill Clinton, Liza Minelli, Jane Fonda, Whitney Houston…….)


Green Irish Tweed, a brilliant, but to me extraordinarily objectionable perfume that just seems to scream out SEX, POWER, DOMINATION, is unsurprisingly and predictably, worn by George Clooney, Russell Crowe, Robert Redford, David Beckham and Pierce Brosnan (though James Bond himself wears Floris 89…), while women who are also not afraid of a bit of attention – Ivana Trump, Courtney Love, Madonna,  all seem to plump for tuberose-whore Fracas (Ms Ciccone gets the longest list of scents attributed to her, incidentally:  a perfume lover extraordinaire, she buys it in bulk, from Apothia IF, to Tubereuse Indiana, to Caron Nocturnes…I love her even more now, having read this, if that were humanly possible). Other rock stars are also mentioned in the list, including the simple but seductive, scent of Elvis Presley and Jon Bon Jovi, one that beautifully captures the hip-swaying bulge of their testosterone denim: the suave and insinuating, if cheap and redneckish, Brut by Fabergé (though Elvis is also said to have worn other similar fougerès, including Dana’s Canoe and one of the cheapest perfumes ever made and a vivid scent from my own childhood, Hai Karate.)


While celebrities bizarrely find inspiration for their signature scent in many different realms, including the vegetable –  Stella Mcartney is supposedly drawn to Demeter Lettuce, while RuPaul is said to wear Carrot, the analytical psychology of which I will refrain from  attempting at this particular juncture –  in politics, the perfumes worn by those in power speak volumes about their policies and philosophies; Hilary Clinton wears Adoration; Imelda Marcos Mad Moments, while Laura Bush, demure and lady-like, smells, naturally, of Estee Lauder’s White Linen (her mother-in-law, the great Barbara Bush, sports White Shoulders…..)


Though Jacqueline Kennedy, forseeably, selected very stylish perfumes for herself (Patou 1000, Jill Sander 4, Bal A Versailles, Joy), another First Lady, Nancy Reagan, went for Giorgio, a perfect choice for world domination (you could take out the whole of Guatemala with that one), alongside her husband Ronald’s Gendarme (also worn by Janet Jackson). His fervent ally, ‘iron lady’ Margaret Thatcher, is said to have hidden her true, grim and heartless intentions behind the decorous and bashful, prettily English facade of the Penhaligons Bluebell…



The mesmerizing list, whose sources I have no idea of, or how much it can be relied upon (the ‘Queen Of England’ is said to have worn Caron Muguet De Bonheur since 1952, while ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ apparently wears a whole barrage of perfumes from L’Heure Bleue to Fleurissimo and the vulgar Chlöé Narcisse), includes hundreds of people, from cultural giants such as Sigmund Freud (Creed Selection Verte), through to the latest teen stars such as Selena Gomez (Pink Sugar: I saw the phenomenal ‘Spring Breakers’ last week, twice actually, and this is EXACTLY how you imagine she must smell, along with all the other young nubiles in the film such as Vanessa Hudgens); we see the trends that run through the  world of film: it would seem that any Oscars’ ceremony must reek of exotic, swaying island gardenias, as that green, creamy floral überhit KAI is exceedingly popular among all the leading ladies of today, from Julia Roberts to Jennifer Garner, to Mila Kunis and Charlize Theron ( you will make your own value judgments reading this list, based on how you view the celebrity; I was unsurprised to find out that the dull Ann Hathaway wears Chanel Chance (urgh!), that ‘Transformers’ totty Megan Fox likes Armani Code Sport, and that the irritating Carey Mulligan wears Marc Jacobs Lola (double urgh), but I am delighted, personally, that Black Swan beauty Natalie Portman wears the dark and exquisite Sisley Eau Du Soir…)



In America, the eighties powerhouse fragrances for men and women by Rodeo Drive designer Bijan seem to still rule supreme (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzegger, Aretha Franklin, Jack Nicholson, Annette Bening, and Steven Spielberg among others are said to wear these creations), while Annick Goutals’ high class, taut-structured citruses, such as Eau D’Hadrien and Eau Du Sud, have a huge number of followers as well (Prince, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman (did they share it?) Tina Turner, Celine Dion, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo Di Caprio, and our own Prince Charles….)


Amusing, predictable entries can be found throughout (Zsa Zsa Gabor, bless her, scents her swimming pool water with bottles of Florence Gunnarson N°67 – now that’s what I call Hollywood Babylon), but what is also wonderful about it is the unusual choices you occasionally find, those that initially seem unlikely, but when you think about them, strangely make sense.


Freddie Mercury, for example, is said to have worn Audrey Hepburn’s L’Interdit (she herself of course wore this as well as it was created for her specifically by Givenchy, though the gamine actress is said to have worn the sublime Chamade and Ivoire by Balmain as well). On Mr Mercury, though…how interesting. His other signature scent, the civet-laden, musky, aromatic lemon leaf that is Monsieur De Givenchy, makes more obvious sense with his bare-chested stompings, but I wonder how he smelled in the powdery aldehyde L’Interdit? 


Isabelle Adjani, always an interesting actress, apparently wears the mysterious and alluring Caron En Avion and Après L’Ondée; Brigitte Bardot Jicky and Vent Vert, (a lovely idea, I think), while Sophia Loren apparently enjoys the underrated and beautiful Irisia by Creed, along with Ungaro’s Diva. Yoko Ono in Ma Griffe intrigues, as does Jodie Foster in Guerlain Vetiver; and the idea of the incomparable Eartha Kitt in Givenchy Gentleman, leathery and doused in patchouli as she purrs in some smoky Parisian club, gives an inspiring olfactory portrait I could linger over all day.   


Ultimately, perfume does reveal who we are, I believe, whether exteriorizing our basic inner traits, or,  knowingly or unknowingly, revealing hitherto unknown facets. Who could have imagined that Billy Idol, Rebel Yell pop-punk rocker of the mid eighties, with his fixed-in snarl and peroxide do, would wear the delicate and poetic L’Ombre Dans L’Eau by Diptyque?


Or that Michael Douglas, sex-addicted star of Fatal Attraction and Black Rain, Gordon Gekko of Wall Street, and husband of the terrifying Catherine Zeta Jones (Creed Millesime Imperial, Coco), would be inexorably drawn, somehow, to the delicate, icing sugar innocence and spring time peach pear envelope that is Annick Goutal’s Petite Cherie?












Filed under Flowers

53 responses to “DOES MICHAEL DOUGLAS WEAR PETITE CHERIE? – the secret and fascinating fragrant world of the rich and famous…..

  1. Dubaiscents

    You are right, what would probably be boring to 99% of the population is a great read for us fume-heads! Now I have another thing to do when procrastinating 🙂

  2. Thanks for the link! 🙂
    I also find this information interesting.

  3. Lilybelle

    So interesting! I read some years ago that one of my favorite actresses, Juliette Binoche, wears Cristalle. And I read somewhere that Karl Lagerfeld sprays Mitsouko on his curtains.

    • Were it not for that musk in the base, I might do the same thing myself!

      Yes, I remember Ms Binoche wearing Cristalle, one of my personal favourites. And I think KL wears something delicate and mournful as well (it’s in the list). Was it Apres L’Ondee?

      • Lilybelle

        Yes, now that you mention it, I think it was Apres L’Ondee. I think KL must have exquisite personal taste. I think he is very interesting.

      • He also loves to spray all around his house or wear Nuit de Noel at Christmas time. And I believe he was addicted to Shalimar at one point, which is why his Karl Lagerfeld cologn (one of my all-time favorites) is an ode to Shalimar.

  4. emmawoolf

    how utterly fascinating! I am particularly delighted by the Jodie Foster and Vetiver connection!

  5. Most interesting. The most fascinating, to me, is Margaret Thatcher in Bluebell. What a fascinating piece of protective coloration. I do think that sometimes we use scent to bring out something in ourselves that’s been forced into latency. Bluebell on the Iron Lady is a good example. I know that sometimes when I come home from work really drained and exhausted, a few dabs of Fracas pure parfum will perk me up. It may be a way of saying that the hours of being intently focused on the needs of others are over, and it’s time to play.

    • And how gorgeous to have it in parfum….

      Who knows what Margaret Thatcher was like in reality, how she felt when she lay in bed awake at night – I know she only slept three hours or something, like a bat – but Penhaligons Bluebell, like the Gothic Bluebell by Union, does not stay pure and forget me notty forever. Kate Moss also wears it, and the rotting, breathy base notes are difficult to say the least .

      For me the most horrifying, though, is Laura Bush in White Linen…imagine how bloody sanctimonious she must have smelled.

      • Ugh! Mulchy. Blue to the core! For some reason, this reference to Thatcher and Penhaligons Bluebell is conjuring an image of her in my mind in close-up. She has cold sweat on her upper lip and in the folds of her lily-pale neck. I’ve never thought of Thatcher sweating before, but for some reason this is bringing a notion to me that she did profusely, and that her sweat was permanently cold! Like the dank dew of a shadowy bluebell wood.

      • ninakane1

        As for White Linen, it’s utterly sanctimonious, but when I wore it as a 13 year old, it felt the height of glamour! I was given a box of the talc by my (in my eyes) utterly glamorous 18 year-old step cousin, who’d brought it back from America (Florida – height of glamour! And she later moved out there!). It felt SO luxurious to use! She used to give me all her hand-me-down clothes – pastel pink and blue stripe two-piece sailor suits, tight white skirts with a slit up the side, copious ‘Choose Life!’ and ‘Frankie Says RELAX’ t-shirts and white string vests a la Madonna in the Like a Virgin video (though my mum wouldn’t let me accept the black string vest as it looked ‘tarty’!). She also gave me my first pair of miniature-heeled white stilletoes! I was in a choir at the time and would appear at the church for practice, a dazzling vision – white skirt, vest-top, mini clack heels, alice band – and in a haze of liberally-sprinkled White Linen talc! The joke that I looked like I’d fallen in a sack of flour was made more than once! But I gave not a toss. I was glamour on legs! Funnily enough, it co-incided with the craze for reading Shirely Conran’s ‘Lace’, and during the church services, all the older girls in the choir had copies of it hidden under their psalters to read while the canon droned on, and passed the book along the lines to us younger ones with key rude pages marked! I felt too embarrassed to read it, but got fixated by the image on the front of a woman’s leg in black suspenders and fishnets. So White Linen and Black Lace have been strangely fused in my mind ever since n a kind of strange, naff, not very appealing, suburban virgin-whore dichotomous connotation! I can’t really recall what it smells like – well, I can dimly…but the thought of a sanctimonious Laura Bush sorta chimes well with it for me here!

  6. Dearest Ginza
    It’s a splendid site, isn’t it?
    The fact that the Clintons wore his and hers Obsession was perhaps the most chilling fact I found.
    As to Shalimar… how odd you should be turning to it too… I have been wearing much of the stuff come evening in this uncommonly warm London summer.
    I’ve never thought of Mitsouko and it as mutually exclusive though and love the mossy one just as much….
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • I remember your Mitsouko review being unbelievably good..

      For me it just isn’t wearable, as much as I appreciate its beauty ( I have had several bottles, and somehow got through them). Right now I am finding vintage Rochas Femme more appealing for some reason; brighter, more uplift, but with that similar structure (it might almost be called a rip-off, do you think?)

      Shalimar is just so EASY to wear, though.

      • Dearest Ginza
        That’s an interesting take on Femme.
        I guess there was so much competition in that market after Mitsouko (itself of course an alleged ‘rip off’ of Chypre).
        I shall smell it afresh before committing pen to paper, or fingers to keys.
        Shalimar is impossibly facile, in the French way.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Martha

    Aside from her perfume, I really had to wonder about Laura Bush. Imagine being married to George H.W. And Barbara? Wearing White Shoulders? She is similar to Margaret Thatcher (RIP) only lazier.
    I’ve always like White Shoulders, but now… Actually I have a very large bottle of the EDT – I pour it into the wash water when I’m doing the laundry.

    • In England we never got the famous White Shoulders, but I have smelled it once and quite liked it, as I love those powdery, No 22 ish tuberosey things.

      Purely linguistically it amused me collating everybody and putting the ‘great Barbara’ in the paragraph together.

      I hope it doesn’t put you off the perfume!

  8. I wouldn’t mind hearing what perfumes celebrities are wearing at Oscars – since I’m listening to their dresses and jewelry designers names anyway, but no matter how much I like perfumes, most celebrities’ choices in the day-to-day life do not interest me – same as most other details of their lives.

    • Really?

      For me, though I know it is mere froth and flotsam and means nothing, it is strangely intriguing.

      I don’t watch, or even have, a TV, and spend almost no time hearing about the ‘stars’ or the ‘celebrities’ or whatever, but once in a while I like to dip my toe into the glittering trash ( I love watching, gawping at, and often mocking, the Oscars, for example, and once in a while will find myself leafing through one of the shitty celebrity gossip magazines. )

      Too much of it makes me feel dirty, but for me there is definitely at least SOME fascination.

      And I am really surprised at how banal and cheap some of the choices are. I would have imagined that everyone had a really niche niche exclusive scent, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

      • Just wait: in a year or two every celebrity will have an “official” favorite perfume which will be very expensive and very niche: it’s just not “a thing” yet 😉

        Oscars is probably my extent of following stars – that’s why I wouldn’t mind adding the information about their perfume wear to that blob of useless information during the Red Carpet arrivals. I think they aren’t talking about it yet because most celebrities are wearing something boring and widely available – unlike those dresses, clutches and necklaces. So why would they want to acknowledge that they are wearing something that anybody can get at a department store?

      • But I honestly think that the world isn’t interested in perfume, or smell at all. Only us perfumisti weirdies. The subject simply doesn’t feature in most people’s consciousness, except vaguely.

        But it would be interesting if you were right.

      • I can explain why I think it’s “coming”:
        1) We see more and more niche brands popping up;
        2) Perfume prices go up;
        3) Niche perfumes are discussed more often in the mainstream magazines (Allure, Cosmo, etc.)

        But we’ll see.

      • And look forward to it.


  9. Rafael

    This list was/is a complete distraction making it impossible to really get anything else done! I woke up at 3AM and thought about Anne Francis who played “Honey West” and “Miss Kitty” in the TV series Gunsmoke and thought “She wore Sortilege.”

    • I saw a mini of Sortilege the other day in an antique shop and was wondering if I should get it ( no one else will..)

      It smelled quite interesting.

      (No idea who Anne Francis is, though!)

      I have been deeply disturbed by the fact that Stevie Wonder wears Green Irish Tweed. I can’t bear it. I keep imagining the studio being stenched up with that macho horror, when his music is so warm and un-Creedy.

      It IS a distraction!

  10. I fell down the rabbit hole of this website once. I believe I emerged three days later, blinking at daylight, looking ravaged and disheveled, smelling a little, and having a complete jumble and blur of celebrities and perfumes in my head. Okay, well, not quite, but it certainly FELT like it once I emerged from the stupor. *grin*

    I loved this post and could go over parts of it for days, but I have to say, the Michael Douglas one has left a particular impact after seeing his performance as Liberace in the spectacular, deeply (DEEEEEEEEPLY) disturbing HBO movie: “Behind the Candelabra.” I saw your comment up above that you don’t have a television but I beg of you, try to get your hands on this if you can. His performance, as well as that of Matt Damon as his teenage lover, is deeply… er…. well, you just have to see it. And, somehow, his performance and Petit Cherie make a hell of a lot of sense.

    As for Freddie Mercury, I remember doing my review of Monsieur de Givenchy and going, “WTF? Freddie Mercury would wear this?! Was it while bare-chested and in red leather pants?!” Such an odd combination to me.

    And the Duchess of Windsor was a big fan of Téo Cabanel perfumes, ordering “Julia” and another one from the house in vast quantities. The house makes my beloved Alahine, so I always remember that. Julia involves rhubarb, if I remember correctly, and I could never imagine Wallis Simpson wearing a perfume with rhubarb in it. I always saw her as someone who would wear Mitsouko perhaps, or something that was simultaneously very dangerous, very aloofly cold, but also with a hint of a very sexual edge.

  11. What a fascinating article and a fun read. Hmmm, so Mitsouko can help a king to abdicate the throne huh? Maybe I need to wear it more often to get what I want 🙂

  12. ninakane1

    So frustrating!! I’ve just written loads on this and it disappeared! I’ll try again and say – I LOVE that Jodie Foster wears Guerlain Vetiver! I adore the fragrance, though it’s such a dirty one and always makes me laugh. Incisive, intense but calm, with passion bubbling under a cool surface that never lets the extent of the depths be seen – an intelligent fragrance, and utterly suited to Ms F!

    Am wondering also what perfume Neil Tennant of the PSB wears, also Morrissey.

    • The list gives Morrissey as wearing Comme Des Garçons incense, which is boring but kind of makes sense.

      Neil Tennant I wonder too : I am currently on a big PSB tip for some reason, especially the beautiful b sides.

      • ninakane1

        Ooh have you got that double CD of B-sides? I ADORE that! Hit and Miss, Between Two Islands, Bright Young Things, silver age, always, The Boy who couldn’t keep his clothes on ‘you get down here right now …I won’t have you dancing for all these men… ‘Hilarious! – SOME of my faves on that!!!! I’ve had a complete CD hiatus since finishing the PhD but was listening to this incessantly in the final write-up! Anyway. Neil T. I reckon he’s a Creed man – but older Creed.

  13. Katherine

    I don’t know how I missed this one. Firstly yes Anne Hathaway and Carey Mulligan are rubbish. I don’t know why I haven’t gotten round to Spring Breakers yet, but I was thinking I might like to try pink sugar which is a totally ridiculous idea. But Freddie Mercury that is interesting, for some reason as I don’t know much about his character only his performances I remember as a child I always thought he was a lovely man, despite never being a Queen fan (though maybe killer queen), I just thought he had a special aura, and maybe I was just sad at the knowledge of his early death and the idea of aids. Anyway it’s fascinating, but I’m not going to click on that link as it’s already 3am :(!

    • jennyredhen

      Freddie Mercury was absolutely gorgeous. 100% authentic and a complete one off. One of those who are destined to not be long amongst us. Like a meteorite… to burn brightly, then be gone.
      I dont think its possible to maintain his level of intensity for a normal length life. Doomed

  14. Katherine

    But also, Billy Idol did do the SUBLIME Eyes Without A Face, which was quite a different side..

  15. Lilybelle

    Fun to read that again. Nicole Kidman was asked a few years ago while walking the red carpet what scent she was wearing. She said, “Tea Rose!”.

    • As in Perfumer’s Workshop? I can imagine she smells divine in it. I have a bottle and it smells extremely good on me for about thirty minutes (which is why I use it as a ”party entrance’ scent layered with other things, but then it goes all sour and unpleasant. I imagine she could make it last and smell beatifically good.

      • Lilybelle

        I presume that’s the one she meant. I can imagine it smells wonderful on her. I have a discount store bottle that will last me my entire life. Tea Rose was my signature for a time in my life many years ago. When I talk about it, it makes me want to go spritz it everywhere.

      • I think my discount store bottle will also last me a lifetime, though I am glad it is there. I think it makes a brilliant top up note for patchouli chypres or anything that might warrant an extra rose spritz. They really did nail the scent of tea rose with that one. I saw their Jasmine the other day – I wonder what it was like…

  16. Missionista

    As someone who loved Billy Idol in the 80’s, I think I just fell a little more in love, reading about the Diptyque.

    • Strange: I was looking at my bottle of L’Ombre Dans L’eau the other day and thought exactly the same thing. I wasn’t in love with him (although I ADORE Eyes Without A Face), but I think it is incredibly cool of him to wear that scent. I would love to stand next to him in a bar and sense the Diptyque.

  17. Another one is; Parure, which is Kim Catrell’s (sex in the city) signature scent. Fabulous, no?

  18. Definitely what The doctor ordered for waking up, Reading And getting up , quite a feat for me. Now I wonder …. And guess whom to discover in my Guerlinade of Chant d’Aromes, Chamade. Are we Family? Or does the Olfactory Family Tree have some Horrible Surprise, read Nancy Mitford in Don’t tell Alfred, in stock for me? Going to find out. I do hope for the Hiroshima mon amour actress , can’t recall her name, Delphine Seyrig, Charlotte Rampling? Alas no Hepburns, both of them, although Ivoire is a trait d’union; i’m going to dive in your Lovely link and be amazed

  19. Hurray! Audrey a guerlaine after all, but no Katherine! And there are quite a few M F cross-overs! Interesting. And imagine Venus And Serena both wearing The same perfume, Gendarme!! Going to look iT up in Fragrantica! Nice link, sets you wondering about scent Genesis and kinship.

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