Prior to Chanel No. 5 only two types of perfume existed, the respectable type based on a single garden flower and the more Sexually proactive perfumes heavy with heavy with animal musk or jasmine. However In the early part of the 20th Century women where becoming liberated, women wanted more, the stage was set for Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel to create and launch what has become an icon of the 20th Century – Chanel No. 5.
The principle ingredients for this icon of course is the perfume. The fragrance was developed by Ernest Beaux. Beaux was the master perfumer at A. Rallet and Company, where he had been employed since 1898. The company was the official perfumer to the Russian royal family, and the imperial palace at St. Petersburg with it’s famously perfumed court.
Beaux perfected what was to become Chanel No. 5 over several months in the late summer and autumn of 1920. Beaux prepared ten glass vials for Chanel’s inspection. Numbered 1–5 then 20–24, the gap presented the core May rose, jasmine and aldehydes in two complementary series, each group a variation of the compound. “Number five. Yes,” Chanel said later, “that is what I was waiting for. A perfume like nothing else. A woman’s perfume, with the scent of a woman.”
So the fragrance was born!
The bottle or the ‘invisible bottle’ as it is sometimes known was developed oppose the fussiness of crystal fragrance bottles then in fashion popularized by Lalique and Baccarat. The first bottle produced in 1919 is not the Chanel No.5 bottle known today. The original container had small, delicate, rounded shoulders and was sold only in Chanel boutiques to select clients. In 1924, when “Parfums Chanel” incorporated, the glass proved too thin to sustain shipping and distribution. This is the point in time when the only significant design change took place. The bottle was modified with square, faceted corners.
The label is perfect, less is most certainly more.
Chanel No 5 through the years has remained iconic, loved by celebrity and a symbol of aspiration through to the 21st Century.
What do you wear in bed … “five drops of Chanel No. 5”.
An unsolicited endorsement from Marilyn Monroe.
As with all iconic products – it’s not the bottle, the branding, or even the perfume that makes it’s something more than that.
It’s the the perfect balance of form and function. One thing is for sure, when it comes to evolution to meet market needs, Chanel take a considered approach to ensure the spirit of the original is maintained, it’s pure evolution and zero revolution.