The Story of a Perfume

Written by Teodora Nechita

Chanel №5 is a perfume launched by Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, one of the most iconic French couturier. Chanel chose this perfume for the incredible scent that reminded everyone of the flapper beauty from the 20’s.

At the age of 5, Chanel was handed over to the care of a church. Her mother died when she was younger and her father wasn’t able to take care of her and her sister. For the next six years she spent the time with nuns, who disciplined her. From the earliest days there, the number five had an important meaning for her. For Chanel, number five signified something pure, spiritual and mystic, even her daily routine was made out of patterns repeating the number five.

In 1920, when she started to be famous in the fashion industry, Coco told her perfume master Ernest Beaux to create a fragrance with the modern innovations of the 20’s. Then, when presented with small vials of scent numbered from 1 to 5 and from 20 to 24, she chose the fifth vial saying : “I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck.”

The bottle of №5, as it is known today, is very simple and elegant. Chanel envisioned a unique design for the bottle. She wanted her bottle to be “pure transparency… an invisible bottle.” Because her lover Arthur “boy” Capel favoured the Charvet toiletry bottles, she took inspiration from their rectangular beveled form. It is rumoured that she was also inspired by her lover’s whisky decanter.

The first №5 bottle appeared in 1919 and was very different from today’s models. The original vial had small, delicate rounded shoulders and was sold only in Chanel boutiques. In 1924 when the bottle was proved to be too fragile to sustain shipping and distribution, a significant design change was made. The bottle was shaped with square edges.The pocket flacon was introduced in 1934. This small flacon was designed to be carried even in the small purses. The price of this bottle was accessible, so that a larger group of customers could afford to buy the exclusive №5.

Even today Chanel №5 is considered unique, its composition revealing the artistic and beautiful personality of its creator.

This article was featured in our 8th issue.