Chanel No. 5, the first-ever fragrance created by French fashion designer and businesswoman Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and perhaps the world’s most famous fragrance, is now 100 years old. It only fits that No. 5 should be celebrated with a bang. To commemorate all that is No. 5, Chanel commissioned a jewellery collection, historical video and intimate dinner in its honour.
The No. 5 story all started in 1921 when Chanel met perfumer and chemist Ernest Beaux. Chanel sought to create a fragrance that could portray the modern liberated woman of the 1920s, which she was the perfect example. She wanted to create a unique and intense perfume for women with a feminine scent. The perfumer made her fragrance with an inventive composition in which aldehydes were used for the first time. Thanks to the magical alchemy of the aldehydes, the scent does not evoke any one flower, to become Chanel’s vision of “a woman’s fragrance with a woman’s scent”.
She chose a completely new bottle for the new perfume, with a white label and a faceted stopper. The stopper is cut like a diamond evoking the Place Vendome; it is the ultimate universal reference in the history of perfumes. After several months of trying to perfect the fragrance, Ernest came up with 10 samples to evaluate, and she chose number 5.
Only the house of Chanel could use a perfume like the No. 5 to inspire a never-before-seen High Jewellery collection. Imagined by the director of the Chanel fine jewellery creation studio, Patrice Leguéreau, he describes it as a way to “Rediscover that creative gesture with this collection, which has been conceived like a journey through the meanderings of the No. 5 perfume’s soul, from the architecture of the bottle to the olfactive explosion of the fragrance.” The exquisite concoction between the parfum and jewellery creates a beautiful collection that dazzles your eyes.
Chanel also hosted an intimate dinner in Sydney to properly celebrate such a historical achievement, filled with women who embody Chanel’s empowering and pioneering spirit. Suitably held at the classic French restaurant Felix Bistro & Brasserie, the outstanding guest list was styled in pops of Chanel, completed with a spritz of No. 5. The night was topped off with a special performance by Ghanaian-Australian singer Genesis Owusu.
The video episode is paying tribute to the icon describing it as a “manifesto, that of modernity, a dazzling bouquet”. It outlines its historical and cultural significance explaining how the G.I.s took it back to America at the end of WW2 as a souvenir of Paris and the taste of liberty. It was the first perfume to enter the MOMA by the king of pop art Andy Warhol.
If the past 100 years have been any indication, Chanel No. 5 is much more than a fragrance. It has cultural phenomenon status working its way into movies, T.V., pop art and museums, while being worn by Hollywood’s biggest stars, from Marilyn Monroe to Chanel No. 5 ambassador Marion Cotillard.