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How is a legend born? Inside Chanel’s new episode reveals it to us, which traces the 100-year history of the most famous perfume in the world: Chanel N°5. It is enough to say its name to evoke an image of timeless elegance and to feel its unique mix of Grasse jasmine, May roses, and aldehydes in her air. Synthetic molecules that make the essence stay on the skin longer, and almost no one had used it in perfumery before. Chanel N°5 is history, before being a fragrance. Infinite, revolutionary, its iconic cap, which evokes Place Vendôme in Paris, embodies the past and the future.
In the summer of 1920 and Coco Chanel was on vacation on the French Riviera with her lover, Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich. On that occasion, she went to Ernest Beaux, a sophisticated perfumer of Russian origin, to commission him to create a prophetic, revolutionary perfume. It took two months of work before Ernest presented the ten samples to Coco in Paris at Rue Cambon 31, numbered from 1 to 5 and 20 to 24. She chose the wrong number, 5. That bottle contained the result of a lab mistake made by a Beaux assistant who had added an overdose of aldehyde. An organic compound derived from the fermentation of sugars has a very similar scent to soap. But for Coco, No. 5 tasted of a woman, of Coco Chanel’s woman. And in 1921, it hit the market.


I launch my collection on May 5, the fifth month of the year. I’ll let this issue bring him luck.” The rest is history. A story that has made N ° 5, the best-known perfume in the world, capable, from the beginning, of revolutionizing habits and conventions. On the other hand, Chanel N°5 is also the first perfume imagined by a woman (Coco). Marilyn Monroe also helped to turn it into a myth by confessing to wearing it, as the only “garment”, under the sheets. Without forgetting, Andy Warhol screened it as an icon of pop art, elevating it to be the first perfume exhibited at the MoMA in New York in 1954.


Chanel N°5 has inspired some of the greatest masters of photography, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Ridley Scott, Jean-Paul Goude or Baz Luhrmann to name a few, and it has become a visual symbol that has never lost contact with the contemporary creative scene. To represent him, muses who, all over the world, embody elegance and seduction without undermining their personality. Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Nicole Kidman, and currently Marion Cotillard are just some of the ambassadors who, with their spirit and their modernity, raise N°5 in the eternal pantheon of women for posterity.


The new episode of Inside Chanel is already available on the Chanel online site. I’m N°5. I’m the revolution.
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