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The History of Chanel No.5


The best way to spend free time is reading books, because we love the unknown and every story that we read somehow takes us in a different world and we would like to be the protagonists. Somehow, the stories that we read stay with us for quite some time, but we are also fond of stories of other people’s lives, the ones that have lived in a different time period, but are still remembered nowadays. We enjoy reading about the life of Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, etc. We do not want to focus more on the private lives of these icons, but we are eager to learn the story behind some of their creations.

When mentioning Coco Chanel, the first thing that comes through our mind is the fashion house’s iconic fragrance, Chanel No.5. Who chose the notes of the fragrance? Why name it Chanel No.5? Why is it so popular?

Can you answer all these questions? If not, we surfed the internet and found some interesting facts about the most iconic fragrance that has ever existed.

The story of Chanel No. 5 begins in 1920 exactly when Gabrielle Chanel met the perfumer, Ernest Beaux, and asked him to create a scent that would make the one who wears it “smell like a woman, and not like a rose”. The perfumer introduced Gabrielle to 5 different samples and Coco chose the fifth sample as her favorite one. She related to it, because she considered No. 5 as her luckiest one. She showed her collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year, so she was somehow obsessed with that number. The fragrance debuted a year after on the fifth day of the fifth month in the fashion house’s Paris boutique. Chanel wanted to stay out of the traditional way fragrances were made at the time, which consisted of flowery scents. Instead, she wanted to bring something clean and more captivated.

Chanel’s No.5 first campaign was launched in 1937 and it was published in the American Harper’s Bazaar featuring Gabrielle herself. By doing so, the designer also changed the way fragrances were introduced to the mass audience, which mostly consisted on models or actresses posing for the brand. But, despite this famous campaign, we have to admit that the most famous promotion ever made to Chanel No. 5 was from Marilyn Monroe. No one can forget the actress’s words when in 1954 she was asked what she wore to bed and her answer was: “Five drops of Chanel No. 5”. After that it was obvious that the fragrance grew deeper roots and would survive many revolutions.

But, Gabrielle even had her own idea of introducing Chanel No.5 to the others. She invented a group of elite friends at a restaurant in the French Riviera and sprayed everyone with the perfume.

Famous artists such as Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol painted pictures of the iconic fragrance.

One of the most famous publicity campaign of the perfume was the one in 1975 which showed the French actress, Catherine Deneuve, with her face and name only along with the perfume bottle. The campaign was shot by Richard Avedon. In the 70s and 80s, British director, Ridley Scott, directed commercials for Chanel No. 5.

In 2003, it was Nicole Kidman’s turn to be featured in the Chanel No. 5 campaign directed by Baz Luhrmann.

In 2012, Chanel decided to make a change and chose a male figure to advertise Chanel No.5. Brad Pitt was the chosen one, and he was the first male to represent the perfume.


Other famous Campaigns

Suzy Parker by Richard Avedon in 1957


Lauren Hutton by Richard Avedon in 1968


Jean Shrimpton by Helmut Newton in 1971


Carole Bouquet by Patrick Demarchelier in 1996


Audrey Tautou by Dominique Issermann in 2009


Gisèle Bundchen by Buz Luhrmann in 2014


Lily-Rose Depp photographed by Karim Sadli, 2016


By Enxhi Tufina

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