2.1 Where It All Started - Chanel No.5


Indisputably the king of the perfumes, the supreme of them all, the masterpiece of Coco Chanel, it’s Chanel No.5.


In 1921, a female couturier firstly created her own fragrance which she called it “a women’s perfume with a women’s scent”. Coco Chanel thought perfume should be a part of the attire for women, and women should wear it on the places that she’d like to be kissed which revolutionized the authority of Fashion designers. 

By smelling it, the floral richness of the scent embodies a idyllic garden. Over 80 types of flowers have merged into this yellow-brown liquid. To achieve that, mademoiselle, again, redefined the process of creating perfume by adding aldehydes. This chemical helped exalt perfumes due to it’s accentuation to different scents, and it’s extension of complexity to the fragrance. 

On one hand, the name - No.5 differed from other contemporary perfumes in the 20s. Commonly perfumers would like to use long and perplex words as fragrances’ name in order to attract attentions. No.5, nonetheless, outshone from the norms with it’s memorability. No.5 was named because mademoiselle Chanel preferred the scent of the fifth sample, and “5” was also Coco’s lucky number.

On the other hand, the design of the bottle was extraordinary as well. The simplicity of the cut and the crystal transparency enhance the significant of the liquid. In the 20s, most of the perfume bottles were very flamboyant; tassels, feathers, jewels, all crowded on a vial. But the effortlessness of No.5 stood out among others, became the popular.

No.5, in many ways was also one of the earliest examples of “celebrity effect”. In 1937, Coco Chanel herself posed at Ritz Hotel for the new ad of No.5; in 1950, Pop artist - Andy Warhol depicted several silkscreens for No.5 at MOMA; in 1952, at there apex of her career, Marilyn Monroe confessed through an interview that she wear to bed nothing but “a few drops of Chanel No.5”; in 70s, Chanel No.5’s commercial was the first ever cosmetic ad that’ve been displayed during Super Bowl. 

The legend of No.5 kept thriving when Jacques Helleu, the artistic director of Chanel, decided to use celebrities to personify the spirit of No.5. All the prettiest women around the globe has been the face of No.5 throughout the years. I typically love the advertisements of Nicole Kidman, Audrey Tautou, and Brad Pitt.

When the TV ad of Brad Pitt for Chanel No.5 first came out, I was astonished by Brad’s willingness for representing the most feminist thing in the world. After I experienced the fabulousness of No.5 by myself, I fully understood why Brad would do this — it’s simply irresistible.

At last, I’d like to quote this sentence which is the best best remark to No.5 I’ve ever heard, No.5 “resisted the whims of fashion and the the passage of time”. This distinctive perfume has secured the prestige with its 90 years of history. 

--------- Alex S


Mademoiselle  Chanel's No.5 Campaign


Andy Warhol's No.5 silkscreen arts


Audrey Tautou's No.5 Campaign


Nicole Kidman's No.5 Campaign


Brad Pitt's No.5 Campaign

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