Screen Time: “Inventing Anna”

Julia Garner as Anna Sorokin in Inventing Anna

Last week I “binged” Inventing Anna, a nine-part Netflix series inspired by the real-life scam perpetrated by Anna “Delvey” Sorokin between 2013 and 2017. I remember being fascinated by Jessica Pressler’s article detailing Sorokin’s con. I also remember feeling, well, not terribly surprised that she managed to pull it off.

As Pressler writes, “Anna looked at the soul of New York and recognized that if you distract people with shiny objects, with large wads of cash, with the indicia of wealth, if you show them the money, they will be virtually unable to see anything else.”

I wouldn’t know from personal experience, but many people in NYC are easily blinded by youth and confidence and the right handbag.

Anyway! This isn’t a review of the show, although I did enjoy it. This is a quick look at some perfumes that appeared in the series, which is impeccably styled throughout.

Caitlin Fitzgerald and Adrian Moayed

Inventing Anna places a few scenes in the home of Anna’s defense attorney, Todd Spodek. Todd’s a working-class guy from Long Island married to an old-money glamour gal named Margaret Vanderburn-Porter (also an attorney). Their whole relationship, with his poor-guy-who-married-rich guilt, is mind-numbingly clichéd, but it gives the writers an opportunity for some expository dialogue and gives us a look at a fantastic walk-in closet.

Here (in episode 1), getting ready for “opening night at Ailey” (that’s the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, of course), Margaret (Caitlin Fitzgerald) spritzes herself with a fragrance that I can’t identify. That green ribbed bottle on her dressing table, however, is definitely Gucci Mémoire d’Une Odeur (Alberto Morillas, 2019).

Mémoire d’Une Odeur is a “universal” scent (according to Gucci) with notes of chamomile, jasmine, sandalwood, cedar, and musk. By all accounts it’s light and wearable…probably something Margaret could wear to work at the offices of her father’s prestigious law firm.

Slight error, though: it actually wasn’t available at this moment “in real life,” since it was launched a few months after Sorokin’s trial.

Here’s a later scene (episode 9) with a view of Mags’s enviable shoe shelving and jewelry table, where we can spot a honking big bottle of Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori (Alberto Morillas, 2018).

All the Gucci Blooms

I remember this particular Gucci series from the week (month? it felt like a month) that the various Blooms were being “demonstrated” (and sold) in the World Trade Center transit hub/mall in 2018. They’re all white florals and I don’t really care for any of them, but Mags does seem like a gardenia/tuberose kind of woman.

I’m assuming that Gucci arranged some kind of product placement here?

Anna Chlumsky and Anders Holm

I caught one other fragrance moment in Inventing Anna. In this scene (episode 2), journalist Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) is visiting the Hamptons to interview a socialite-entrepreneur named Talia Mallay (Marika Domińczyk) who was one of Anna’s marks. Their interview runs late and Talia invites Vivian — and her husband, who drove her out to the Hamptons for the interview — to stay overnight in her guest house.

Here we see Vivian and husband (in borrowed pajamas?) inspecting the contents of a cabinet in the guest-house bathroom. You can get a good idea of the subtlety of Chlumsky’s performance from the screen cap above.

And what does this well-stocked cupboard contain?

A partial list: Elemis skincare (with silver caps). Possibly a small jar of Nuxe skincare? Aesop facial cleansers or shower gels (in the dark bottles and jars with black-striped labels).

And…Aesop facial creams or masks. L’Occitane shea butter skincare and Immortelle Divine Cream (in the yellow jar).

Le Labo body lotions and body washes in convenient small sizes. Sabon body wash, shower oil, and body oil spray in various scents. The Le Labo is a good fit…I’m not so sure about Sabon, but my personal tastes may be clouding my judgment.

Kai perfumes (1999) and body lotion, on the right. Kai was a longtime best-seller and cult-favorite at Barneys, so it’s very appropriate for Talia’s place.

Bond No. 9 Hamptons perfume (2005), at the far left. (And there’s another Bond lurking behind it.) Very “on the nose” (hah), but as they say, when in Sag Harbor…

Here’s the lower shelf.

More L’Occitane — a Shea Butter Ultra-Rich Body Cream. (L’Occitane makes sense. It’s kind of boring, but their shop on upper Madison Avenue was always busy back in those days, with a similarly affluent clientele.)

Soooo many unlabeled jars of bath salts. And a green box that might belong to another Bond, possibly High Line (2010) or New York Musk (2012).

I’d be pretty excited about the Aesop products, personally. I like their skincare a lot, but the prices keep me from being a regular customer.

How about you? What would you grab first?

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