Credit: By arz (The photo was taken in Vilnius, Lithuania) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThe Chanel Number 5 perfume is the world’s most famous fragrance and generates more than $100 million a year in sales. This classic perfume was the first perfume ever launched by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and was developed by chemist and perfumer Ernest Beaux in 1920.
(Photo Credit in the Media Gallery)
Ever since Coco Chanel was an orphan in her younger years, this fragrance seemed to follow her. When it came to choosing a scent that she liked for her perfume, she chose the fifth vial presented to her by Ernest Beaux that she felt was just perfect. To her it only made sense for her to name the perfume Chanel No. 5 and she also felt it would bring good luck.
The bottle design for the Chanel Number 5 perfume has been re-designed only once since its launch in 1920 and the stopper has been modified several times over the years. Some say and believe that the design of the perfume bottle was inspired by Charvet toiletry bottles that her lover liked and others say and believe that the bottle design was inspired by the whiskey decanter he used that she admired. The first and original bottles sold to select clients at Chanel boutiques in 1920 were small, delicate and had rounded shoulders. In 1924 they re-designed the perfume bottle because the glass bottles of the previous design were too thin for shipping and distribution. The re-design from 1924 has square faceted corners and it has been that way ever since. Here’s what has been said in a 1924 brochure describing the perfume:
"... the perfection of the product forbids dressing it in the customary artifices. Why rely on the art of the glassmaker…Mademoiselle is proud to present simple bottles adorned only by…precious teardrops of perfume of incomparable quality, unique in composition, revealing the artistic personality of their creator."
As for the stopper, it has been changed numerous times over the years. The original was a small glass plug, in 1924 it was changed to a signature octagonal stopper, in the 50s it was changed to a bevel cut stopper that had a larger thicker silhouette, in the 70s the stopper became even more prominent but then in 1986 it was re-proportioned so that it suited the bottle more in size.
For those who couldn’t necessarily afford to purchase the full size of this perfume had the opportunity to get a “pocket flacon” made to be carried around in your purse. This way a broader customer base could experience a taste of exclusivity.
Andy Warhol had even commemorated the perfume in a pop-art he titled “Ads: Chanel.” By that point, the Chanel # 5 perfume had become such an iconic and identifiable cultural artifact.
Ever since Coco Chanel met chemist and perfumer Ernest Beaux on the French Riviera in early 1920, she had been thinking of developing a distinct modern fragrance for some time. Ernest Beaux was a master perfumer at A. Rallet and Company. This company was the official perfumer to the Romanovs Russian royal family and had created a scent for the Czarina Alexandra specifically for her only. Throughout his time Ernest Beaux had created many successful scents for both men and women.
Over several months in the late summer and autumn of 1920, Ernest Beaux was working on and perfecting what was to become Chanel No. 5. He worked from the rose and jasmine base of Rallet No. 1 and altered it to make it a cleaner and more daring scent. This scent is alike to the pristine polar freshness he had lived in during his war years. He then experimented with modern synthetics along with his own notes that he invented to make up the Chanel No.5 formula. The key to creating this perfume was Beaux’s use of aldehydes. Chanel No. 5 is a perfume that resembles her past places and childhood years as an orphan, her years at Grand Duke Dmitri’s royal court in czarist Russia along with Ernest Beaux’s icy arctic note.
The Chanel Number 5 perfume is a must have for any collector.