Monday, November 2, 2009

Chanel No5 : The forever elegant fragrance.

“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No.5, of course” - Marilyn Monroe Chanel herself is quoted as saying, "A woman should wear fragrance wherever she expects to be kissed." Almost ninety years after it was launched, No 5 still happens to be the very epitome of luxury and still remains one of the best selling fragrances of all time, selling (it is said) one bottle every 30 seconds! What is it about this perfume that makes it such a favorite amidst the sea of fantastic perfumes available today? I would say, like all true classics, it’s time (along with a skill call ‘survival’) that has worked its magic to create an irresistible enigma. This famous fragrance was created for Coco Chanel in 1921 by a perfume creator named Ernest Beaux. And, here is what her brief to him was- "I want to give women an artificial perfume, yes, I really do mean artificial, like a dress, something that has been made. I don't want any rose or lily of the valley; I want a perfume that is a composition...”. This lead to the birth of No 5, the first abstract fragrance in the world. It is said that Ernest Beaux found the olfactory inspiration for N°5, on his return from a military campaign that had taken him inside the Arctic Circle. During the midnight sun, the northern lakes and the rivers give off a very special fresh fragrance, which the perfumer was determined to recreate. Coco introduced her new creation first to her small group of friends only, but soon the product created hype among them. Its name was given eventually because the bottle containing one of those samples of fragrance was labeled with a '5'. No. 5 was one of the formulas chosen out of a series of 10 perfumes presented by Ernest Beaux, from the range of 1-5 and 20-24. The name was kept since Coco Chanel was presenting one of her dress collections on May 5 that year, 5 was also her lucky number. In 1959 Andy Warhol, an icon himself, did a series of nine silkscreens of the Chanel No. 5 bottle, making it the fragrance to covet. The packaging secured a place for N°5 in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The composition of the fragrance is elegant and unique, as is the famous minimalist bottle, perhaps the most recognized perfume bottle in the world. • Top note – Ylang-Ylang and Neroli • Heart note – Grasse Jasmine and May Rose • Base note – Sandalwood and Vanilla Chanel No.5 is meant for any woman who is confident enough to carry herself like a celebrity, thereby maintaining the dignity it has been carrying for years. To know more check this article-


  1. Hello Miss Veena:

    Nice article! From a chromatographer's perspective, the article is technically wanting, but it's nice all the same.

    I stumbled upon your little piece on Chanel 5, during a net-search for chromatographic analyses on famous perfumes.

    No point in explaining what the term 'chromatography' means, except that we chromatographers specialise in the separation and analysis of complex mixtures, perfumery products included.

    A few years ago, I had the opportunity to analyse a small sample of Chanel 5 on a GC-MS (gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer). To a chromatographer, Chanel 5 presents a simple analytical challenge. It is, after all, just a simple mixture of equally simple aromatic chemicals.

    What fascinates me about Chanel 5 is how such an easily concocted mixture of relatively simple molecules, can command such a following - and such a price. 'Absurd', the experienced chemical analyst would say.

    Considering that the perfumery industry that began in France owed its rapid growth to the fact that its wealthy patrons used perfumes in lieu of soap, the absurdity is even more obvious to the dumbfounded chromatographer.

    However, c'est la vie, non?

    Your blog is a good one. To a dreary scientist like me, the world of fashion is completely incomprehensible, but it's a good blog. You obviously are passionate about what you write.

    I'll make it a point to visit your blog at regular intervals, in order to educate myself about the world of style and fashion...although it is unlikely that I will ever be able to gift a bottle of Chanel 5 to any lady.


    SK Srinivas, MPharm

  2. wow thanks for that info !!
    But who knows about tomorrow?
    you might even invent another perfume to rival No5 , c'est ne pas?

  3. Hey there Miss Veena:

    Didn't expect you to actually read my comments, and respond to them.

    It is not difficult to create a new perfume, even one that smells exactly like Chanel, without infringing on its patent rights.

    Several years ago, I read an article in Reader's Digest about an entrepreneur in the US who used gas chromatography to analyse famous perfumes like Brut, Old Spice, etc, and identified their key aromatic chemicals. He built a multimillion dollar business making clones of well known perfumes. Perfectly legal too. One can patent a perfume formula, but one cannot patent a scent, you see.


    SK Srinivas, MPharm.


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