Chanel No.5 celebrates 100 years of sweet smelling success

One of the world’s most iconic pefumes, Chanel N0.5, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Like all of madame Coco Chanel’s memorable creations, No.5 broke with the traditions of the time to establish a new norm. In 1921, ‘soliflores’ perfumes, or fragrances that smell like a single flower, were the industry standard. Coco Chanel wanted to stretch the boundaries of perfumery and create a scent that could not be attributed to any one thing in nature.

As she told her perfumer, Ernest Beaux, No.5 should be ‘an artificial fragrance like a dress, something crafted’. The result was a revolution in perfumery that blended more than 80 scents, including jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood and May rose, with an unprecedented amount of aldehydes, the organic compounds that amplify a fragrance’s olfactory profile.

The minimal, square bottle, with a clean graphic label, was also starkly different from the more flamboyant perfume phials of the period. The timelessness of the flacon design is evidenced by how little it has changed since 1921, altering just four times, each with only slight adjustments to cap size or label font. Its enduring appeal is yet another testament to the genius of Coco Chanel. 

The French Maison is unveiling a variety initiatives to commemorate this momentous event in its history. To celebrate the ultimate ‘celebrity’ of the perfume world, the brand released a short film called ‘Celebrity’, starring Marion Cotillard (the face of Chanel No.5), ballet dancer Marie-Agnès Gillot, Chinese fashion media icon Hung Huang, psychologist Laurie Santos, former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, and dance star Lil Buck. The film saw this eclectic array of famous faces discussing the impact of celebrity – its role in shaping our culture, its influence on psychology, and its effect on future generations.

Other initiatives include the Chanel Factory 5, a series of pop-up spaces around the world that will launch from the 29 June. It’s sure to be an exciting year for the brand, with more announcements to come – watch this space. Come into the beautiful world of Chanel.

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