Chanel N°5 100 Years Celebration

Chanel No 5 : The story of a perfume


Chanel n°5: The story of a perfume<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title" data-lazy-src=

Gabrielle Chanel

A French businesswoman and Parisian social elite created a scent that changed the way women thought about perfume, 100 years later and Chanel No 5 is still the world’s most iconic fragrance. 

Mademoiselle Chanel stepped into the world of fashion by designing hats.
She became a licensed milliner in 1910 and opened a boutique at 21 Rue Cambon in Paris.

Her flagship store opened nine years later at 31 Rue Cambon.  

By 1921, after a series of successful boutiques in Paris, Deauville and Biarritz in the south of France, she wanted to create a scent that would describe the new, modern woman.

The fragrances on the market were not to her liking, most of them were monophoral fragrances that did not express the personality of Gabrielle Chanel at all.

It was then that she decided to create her own fragrance, a sophisticated perfume – fresh, soft and clean, reminding her of the smell of soap she during her childhood.

During a summer holiday on the Cote d’Azur, she befriended a perfumer, named Ernest Beaux who had created fragrances for Russian Tsars and lived nearby, in Grasse, the center of the perfumery industry.

Chanel had a complex background and childhood, she was the daughter of a market-stall holder and a laundry woman in rural France. Sadly, her mother passed away and she was sent to a Cistercian convent where she spent her teenage years.

The fresh smell of soap and clean skin that stuck with her for years, and later was something that seeped into her trademark fragrance.

She worked amongst the mistresses of the rich, and complained about the way they smelled, of heavy musk and body odour. In those days, perfumers did not create fresh fragrances, because they believed it would not last on the skin.

Ernest Beaux was a curious and daring craftsman and took up Mademoiselle Chanel’s challenge by experimenting with fresh ingredients such as citrus, lemon, bergamot and orange.

It took Beaux several months to perfect a new fragrance and eventually presented 10 samples to Chanel. They were numbered 1 to 5 and 20 to 24. She picked number 5

Mademoiselle Chanel later said, “It was what I was waiting for, a perfume like nothing else. A woman’s perfume, with the scent of a woman.”

The scent, imbued with jasmine, rose, sandalwood and vanilla, was an instant success.

Mademoiselle Chanel would invite ladies to dinner parties and spritz the fragrance around their table, each woman that passed, stopped, and asked what fragrance it was and where it came from.

That was the first moment that ladies in the public smelled Chanel No 5 – it was something they had never smelled before.

No 5 was an intervention in the history and art of modern perfume creation. Still a legend today.


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