Ghosts Of Tiffany’s: Trigère by Pauline Trigère

Last week we covered the new “Feud” and Truman Capote and briefly touched upon Breakfast At Tiffany’s (the story and the movie.) Of course, everone is rightly crazy about Audrey and her Givenchy dress- it’s an iconic image of elegant womanhood in mid-century New York. Often overlooked is the other iconic image of mid-century femininity in the same movie: Patricia Neal’s Mrs Emily Eustace Failensen or “2E” as she is somewhat derisively nicknamed.

We first see “2E” as she arrives in a taxi as Holly is departing for her visit to Sally Tomato, being seen off by her neighbor Paul Varjak. Holly is, as usual, in a little black dress by Givenchy with a wide-brimmed hat and scarf: just the thing for dinner at The Colony, but a bit much for Sing Sing at 11am. The cab she hails opens it’s door to reveal “2E”, Mrs. Emily Eustace Failensen: older, tall, widely smiling, and dressed in a royal blue day suit with matching hat. It’s soft and loose, with ¾ sleeves and just enough slouch at the shoulders to telegraph expensive good taste. The outfit is helped by the addition of a taupe leather day bag and matching suede 6 button gloves- the spectacular diamond brooch doesn’t hurt either. The contrast between the two ensembles neatly quantify the differences between the characters (and please do enjoy the performances of Audrey and Pat here)

and the way they wordlessly size each other up, with “2E” staking her claim and Holly sussing the dynamics of the relationship in seconds is both hilarious and a master class of acting.

Patricia Neal is in only a few scenes in the movie, but she shines in each of them and she is aided and abetted by Pauline Trigère.  Trigère was long noted for her way with fabrics, especially with coats. She apparently didn’t really sketch outfits, preferring to drape the actual fabric and work from there. Here she uses Patricia Neal as a Yang to Audrey Hepburn’s Yin: Hepburn is a wisp in her black dresses, some so tight she can barely walk in them. Trigère dresses Neal in soft-looking knits in cobalt or dark plaid or in one scene in teal satin on a white sofa with matching white standard poodle and Princess phone. All of which highlight Neal’s womanly body and usually with headgear (one an orange turban)  that plays up Neal’s heart-shaped face and her wide, slightly feral smile.

Pauline Trigère

Pauline Trigère doesn’t get anywhere near the love that Hubert gets for this movie and that’s too bad. As a matter of fact I don’t think there are ten people who could tell you who she is that could name Givenchy as the designer for “Tiffany’s”. What I didn’t know is that Trigère put out a fragrance which Basenotes says is called “Liquid Chic” but mine is just marked with her name. In any case they list the notes as:

Head: aldehydes, leaf green, bergamot, coriander, chamomile, peach

Heart: rose, geranium, jasmine, lily of the valley, ylang ylang, iris

Base: vetiver, styrax, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, musk, oakmoss

The bottle I have may have lost some of the ooomph over the years, but still reminds me of “2E”: it has the champagne-sparkly opening and all the pretty-pretty flowers but there’s still quite a bit of kitty-cat in that drydown. A kitty-cat with claws.

Even Audrey can’t help but give “2E” a long look..

How much would I love to see a reissue?

Trigère by Pauline Trigère is discontinued but shows up on eBay at fairly reasonable prices for a little bottle like I purchased- I think I spent $20. I’d send $120 more than happily for a reissue..

Images: my iPhone, Pexels and Wikimedia Commons. Video from YouTube.

  • Musette says:

    Tom – I always loved Patricia Neal! She brought this feral quality to what I consider a rather banal attractiveness (that sounds like an insult – but it’s not) – and she scorches everything in her path.
    I also always loved Trigere’s fashions and knew she had a perfume (maybe more than one?) but don’t think I ever sniffed any of them.

    But omg… what an elegant era.

  • Portia says:

    SO cool Tom,
    I’m enjoying your meanders down memory lane lately. I never even heard of this designer or perfume.
    Portia xx

  • March says:

    Tom, this was so interesting! I knew Pauline Trigere was a designer back in the day, and that there was a fragrance with her name, but that was it. I re-watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s periodically and I will pay attention next time.

    • Tom says:

      I think this was one of the few if only movies she got a credit for. But I love the styles she chose for Pat Neal.

  • cinnamon says:

    I remember this but I don’t recall if I ever tried it. That scene in BaT is epic — for the fashion as well as the acting.

  • alityke says:

    Trigere is new to me. I suspect it wasn’t released on this side if the pond. It maybe that it sold so few here that all were used & it is now a fragrant unicorn.
    Patricia Neal’s own life story is much more interesting than any of her films

  • Maya says:

    I love that film clip! Both women are suburb. I have always liked Patricia Neal. The first time I remember seeing her was in Hud. She won Best Actress for her role in that movie.
    I had never heard of Trigère perfume, but once you say “vintage”, I’m hooked. It sounds like something I could easily like.

  • Dina C. says:

    Good costuming informs the audience so much about character…this is a marvelous example. Love the stark contrast between the two in the clip you shared. And the body language says it all! The Trigere scent sounds very good — love those vintage aldehydic florals. Super post, Tom.