I am N°5, an abstract perfume by Gabrielle Chanel, which she created in 1921 with Ernest Beaux, perfumer to the tsars.
This year, the best-known perfume in the world of the world CHANEL N°5 celebrates its 100th anniversary. Its name is universally renowned. Its wake, a revolution. Its bottle, an unmatched masterpiece.
I am the avant-garde, emerging at the same time as cubism, dadaism, and surrealism. I am their olfactory counterpart, and like them, I break the codes; like them, I write a new language and invent a collage of scents. I am the first abstract perfume.
Created in 1921, N°5 threw habits and conventions to the wind from the start. At the beginning of the 1920s, Gabrielle Chanel had already changed people’s views on fashion by suggesting a new allure. Her first perfume is consistent with her pioneering designs, simple yet well thought through.
Revolutionary in its composition, N°5 is also the first perfume imagined by a woman for women.
I am a manifesto, that of modernity, a dazzling bouquet. Mademoiselle boosted the jasmine, the ylang-ylang, and the rose, yet no single identifiable note is left in my wake. Thanks to the magical alchemy of the aldehydes, I throw people off the scent, not evoking any one flower, to become «a woman’s fragrance with the woman scent».
Whether it be Marilyn Monroe turning it into a myth by confessing she only wore a few drops in
bed, or Andy Warhol screen printing it as a pop art icon, over time N°5 has acquired the status
of a global cultural phenomenon.
I am a magic number, the 5, her favorite number which had brought her luck ever since childhood. Mademoiselle is said to have chosen N°5 because it was the scent in the fifth sample, the one she preferred.
First perfume to be advertised on TV, it has inspired some of the greatest image masters — Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Ridley Scott, Jean-Paul Goude or Baz Luhrmann to name a few — and become a visual symbol that has never lost touch with the contemporary creative scene.
I am the perfume of perfumes, embodied by the greatest celebrities.
Because the world’s most popular perfume of all time needs adequate representation, it has chosen muses who, throughout the world, embody elegance and seduction without undermining their own personality: Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Nicole Kidman or currently Marion Cotillard are among the ambassadresses who, by their spirit and modernity, lift N°5 into the eternal feminine pantheon for posterity.
I am a symbol, which the G.I.s took back to America at the end of World War II as a souvenir of Paris and the taste of liberty, the badge of French chic, and the very essence of the CHANEL style.
Mythological status has never consigned N°5 to museum shelves, even though it has been part
of the permanent collections in the MoMA, New York, since 1954. Through its history, its image
and its very essence N°5 remains the backdrop to countless stories, even the most intimate. N°5
is made for those who, like Mademoiselle Chanel, choose who they want to be, and become it.
It is a perfume which, like a coat of invisible armor, gives the strength to face life. Backed with its
100 years of celebrity, N°5 will always be one step ahead.
I am a legend, timeless, continually reinventing myself, as in Verlaine’s «Familiar Dream»: I am «neither quite the same, nor altogether the other». From L’Extrait to L’Eau and from L’Eau to Parfum.
On the cusp of 2021, which is fully dedicated to N°5, the House of CHANEL presented me with this unparalleled coffret. Created in collaboration with the CHANEL Métiers d’Art and Baccarat, this restricted edition is reserved for friends of the Maison and contains five numbered objects. Four of CHANEL’s artisan partners have reinterpreted one of the emblematic aspects of N°5 in their own unique way. I am sure that you can imagine my excitement when I received this beautiful box.
1 The Medaillon Keychain by Desrues
Made of gold-plated brass, this medaillon keychain created by costume jeweler and accessory maker Desrues, is adorned with a black disc embossed with number 5. The inside of the number, the rim of the medaillon and the ring are all trimmed with a twisted braid.
2 The Paperweight by Baccarat
Designed and made in Baccarat‘s famous glass-making studio, this paperweight recalls the faceted edges of the N°5 bottle stopper, which was inspired by the Place Vendôme in Paris.
I am an emblem, a simple bottle in laboratory with sharp angles and crystalline transparency, and a stopper cut like a diamond evoking the Place Vendôme. The ultimate, universal reference in the history of scent bottles. The imprimatur of CHANEL’s triumph.
3 The 5 Patch by Lesage
The number 5 takes the form of a black and gold silk-spangled patch in this piece by the Maison Lesage. Woven in the same style as the iconic CHANEL tweeds and embroidered in sequins and lacquered bugle beads, it can be ironed on to clothing thanks to its heat-activated adhesive backing.
4 The Camellia by Lemarié
Inspired by Mademoiselle Chanel’s favorite flower, this camellia brooch was designed and crafted by the Maison Lemarié using the N°5 packaging. One by one, each petal is cut out using a special punch. The flower is then assembled by hand, a product of the feather and floral designer’s unique know-how.
I am an allegory of modernity, French elegance, and eternal femininity.
5 N°5 Eau de Parfum 100ml
While composing the Eau de Parfums in 1986, Jacques Polge declared that «N°5 challenges the ephemeral nature of things.» By adapting the characteristics of N°5 to the new concentrations used in modern perfumery, he successfully demonstrated the extent to which it is and always will be relevant. A work of style that never strayed from the aesthetics of the original Parfum, the Eau de Parfum became a worldwide success that was represented for nearly 10 years by the unforgettable Carole Bouquet.
The best is yet to come as an exceptional piece has found its way into Sandra’s Closet. A beautiful clutch bag reminiscent of the CHANEL N°5 packaging. A must-have that will always remind me of 100 years of the iconic fragrance. I cannot wait to finally sport it when everything is open again. Stay tuned for something very special coming up…
Photos: © CHANEL and © Sandra Bauknecht
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