Video: How Chanel No. 5 Became The Most Legendary Fragrance In History
Photo: François Kollar
For almost a century, Chanel No. 5 has deservedly carried the proud title of a legend. Nobody has yet succeeded in repeating the perfume revolution that Coco Chanel has made. For the couturier's birthday, we figured out how she did it.
The story begins in 1921, when Coco Chanel's Russian lover Dmitry Romanov introduces her to the former court perfumer of the royal family who fled Russia after the revolution, Ernest Bo. Chanel gives him the directive: "I want to create a fragrance that smells like a woman." Bo takes on the challenge and creates a multi-component perfume. Contrary to the fashion for mono-fragrances, he mixes notes of jasmine, May rose, vetiver, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, orange blossom, neroli - more than 80 ingredients in total. But the real revolution was the use of aldehydes in the composition, artificial substances that enhance the aroma, making it deeper and more intense.
The perfumer provided Mademoiselle Chanel with several samples to choose from, numbered from 1 to 5, 24 and 25. It's easy to guess which one Coco chose. It is believed that Bo's assistant accidentally added a generous dose of aldehydes to this sample. Whether it is true or not, the legend was born. To mark the occasion, Chanel gathered friends at one of the restaurants on the French Riviera and sprayed No. 5 around the table - every lady passing by wondered where the scent came from. Since then, the minimalist bottle with a cap, repeating the shape of the Place Vendome, has become a symbol of the 20th century. On the other side of the ocean, the scent was recognized after the liberation of Paris in 1944, when American soldiers lined up in a Chanel boutique to bring the legendary perfume to their beloved ones.
For Chanel's first ad campaign # 5, Coco poses in person for Harper's Bazaar in her suite at the Ritz. Subsequently, Catherine Deneuve, Candice Bergen, Susie Parker, Eli McGraw, Lauren Hutton, Carole Bouquet, Estella Warren, Nicole Kidman, Audrey Tautou, Brad Pitt and Marilyn Monroe became the face of the fragrance. The latter in 1952 in an interview with Life magazine said that when she sleeps, she has only a drop of Chanel No. 5. Everything is as Coco Chanel bequeathed: "You need to apply perfume wherever you want to be kissed."
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