100 Years of Chanel N°5


Image courtesy of amazon.com

Is there a fragrance more iconic than Chanel N°5?  On the 100th anniversary of this famous perfume, taste makers and fashionistas around the world look back at just how N°5, the first scent created by a woman, has stood the test of time.

Described by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself as, “a women’s fragrance that smells like women,” this perfectly blended bottle of perfume is anything but ordinary.  Crafted by Ernest Beaux in 1921, Chanel N°5 Parfum was designed to be a reflection of Gabrielle Chanel’s personality.  As described by Chanel, the fragrance exudes femininity and radiates a floral richness composed around ylang-ylang and neroli followed by may rose and jasmine rounded out with smooth sensual, Bourbon Vetiver, sandalwood and vanilla.  This revolutionary scent, breaks away from the single-fragrance perfumes popular in its day and adds layers of complexity thanks to its unprecedented use of aldehydes, making it the first abstract fragrance in the world.  N°5 quickly became the tipping point that ushered in the modern era of perfume, forever changing the fragrance landscape.

Image courtesy of chanel.com

Even the minimalistic bottle designed by Gabrielle Chanel herself was groundbreaking for her day.  The white label, simple lines and a diamond cut stopper, inspired by the view from the balcony of her room at the Ritz Paris of the Place Vendôme, was fresh and modern. Linda Wells, founder of Allure magazine, explains in an interview on thezoereport.com, “I love the way Chanel No. 5 invented an entirely new fragrance, bottle, and expression. The handsome, restrained, almost masculine bottle was revolutionary at a time when decorative cut crystal was the norm among expensive French fragrances.”  The look of the perfume has changed very slightly over the years, always honoring the classic juxtaposition of a complex fragrance encompassed in a simple bottle.

It catapulted into the mainstream spotlight again in1954, after Marilyn Monroe famously confessed that she wore a few drops of this iconic scent to bed.  While you may be channeling Coco, Marilyn, or one of the dozens of celebrities who love and proudly wear N°5 over the past 100 years, you won’t be wearing the exact same fragrance.  To stay relevant with evolving tastes, the fragrance has changed slightly over the years.  Each Chanel house perfumer, with the exception of one, has reinterpreted the classic perfume slightly.  Today there are 5 different interpretations on the market.  According to NPR currently, 1 bottle of Chanel N°5 is sold every 30 seconds.

Image courtesy of chanel.com

Today to celebrate, not just the longevity, but the history of N°5 and all it encompasses, Chanel is hosting exhibits open to the public all around the world in Japan, London, and in New York City, with a kickoff party featuring a performance by singer, songwriter, and actress Mary J. Blige before officially opening last Saturday.  Transforming Rockefeller Center to a perfume paradise, Chanel N°5 in the Stars, the brand created a unique historical journey and celebration of the iconic fragrance for their 100th anniversary. Attendees can stroll through architectural bottle sculptures and learn about the changes over the decades.  Immersing themselves into the world of Chanel, visitors can also go on a guided scent tour to try out the 5 different Chanel N°5 variations inspired by earth, water, air, fire, and the classic or try their luck with N°5 inspired games.  Additionally, the famous Rockefeller Ice Rink has officially opened for the season and is dressed in the N°5 logo allowing guests to skate across the most fashionably dressed rink in all of New York or take a break to indulge in a hot chocolate and some galactic baked treats in the Chanel rink side lounge.

Image courtesy of chanel.com

Chanel N°5 in the Stars is open to the public from 11am – 8pm now until November 12th at Rockefeller Center.  To learn more visit N5inthestars.Chanel.com or #N5INTHESTARS.

Janine Silver

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