THEY SAY THAT NOTHING HAPPENS WITHOUT A REASON, SO WAS THE MYSTERY OF AN ENCOUNTER THAT RESULTED IN BOUNDLESS CREATIVITY AND THE MOST PRECIOUS ESSENCE THAT THE WORLD HAS EVER SMELLED.
The birth hour of Chanels N° 5 striked when Gabrielle Chanel’s and the pioneer of perfumers, Ernest Beaux’ paths crossed at a dinner. Within the same year, the most complex fragrance so far officially launched in the Paris label’s boutique at Rue Cambon on the fifth day of the fifth month in 1921, with Beaux remaining the brands perfumer until 1956.
Against the trend of scents of the time, with one dominating flower, 80 ingredients compose the bouquet of N° 5. To Ylang-Ylang and roses, amongst others, Chanel generously added Jasmine to create a clean smell that reminded her of the soap she used as a child and at the same time, expressed a spirit of fashion and seduction. At the beginning, they only produced enough to treat her best clients with the still unknown perfume and using small marketing ideas, (that actually did not even exist at that time) she made it an unforgettable odour.
Celebrating the fragrances’ birthday, an idea occurred to Gabrielle and she secretly sprayed the perfume around, under the table and literally stopped the tracks at the restaurant with people wondering where that precious smell came from.
In 1924 she partnered with Pierre Wertheimer, the proprietor of Bourjois perfumes and brought the production to other dimensions. But why did she choose to name her perfume with a number remains a mystery. Some say it was simply because of the fifth sample presented to her by Beaux, others say because five is a magical number, while again others say that she wanted to make it free of description and names to always keep it modern. But one thing is sure: Chanel’s N° 5 marked a revolution and rang in a new era in the fragrance market, especially in the United States, and later in Europe.
When she was forced to close her boutique in 1939 because of the second world war, it happened, that GIs queued in front of the Parisian boutique to bring home one bottle of the much sought-after scent, which was by that time well-known from advertising since the possibilities offered more potential in the United States way before they did in France. Starring in her own campaign for Harper’s Bazaar US in 1937, Chanel was captured by François Kollar, but the instantaneous success came in 1954, when Marylin Monroe was asked about her night-time attire in an interview and admitted that she would only wear a few drops of Chanel N° 5. That’s when the scent went down in history and became the world’s best-selling fragrance.
Since the 1920’s the flacon has only been updated 8 times. A classic for almost a century, Chanel’s iconic scent revolutionised the fragrance segment. It was the first perfume created by a couturier and also today, almost a century later it is without a doubt the one and only perfume that has entered eternity.