What do you think about when I say Chanel Nº 5? My knowledge about this iconic perfume was painfully limited. I might have sniffed it years ago and deemed it not to be my thing, but that’s about it. I seized the opportunity when Chanel invited me to embark on a perfume-discovery journey. Now I know more than what Chanel Nº 5 smells like: I know what it tastes like!
I don’t know about you, but hearing stories about how something came into existence always adds a lot to the experience for me. Before Nº 5, apparently all fragrances were composed of one note. Gabrielle Chanel had the idea of making a perfume that “smells like a woman,” and she commissioned the Russian-French perfumer, Ernest Beaux, to bring the concept to life. She picked the 5th composition when she was presented with different prototypes, and ended up naming the perfume that way.
The three major components? Jasmine (the tea), rose (the macarron), and vanilla (the cake). Like any perfume (especially complex ones), it is the notes that decide how it will smell on someone.
Nº 5 has an extensive line-up of parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and Eau Première. I knew a little bit about the different levels of concentration, but I learnt that each version has a different note that is more prominent. Theoretically speaking, parfum is like haute couture. It wears very close to the skin and it’s only for those who get close enough. Eau de parfum is like the little black dress that takes you everywhere. Eau de toilette is something you use to refresh the fragrance during the day. In Nº 5‘s case, Eau Première is like a baby sister who wants a bit of what the big sister has. It bears similarities but it’s much more easygoing!
To complete the scent, there is also a whole family of body products. A new idea to try? Layer a different perfume on the body lotion and see what you like best!
My favorite Chanel fragrance so far is Coco Mademoiselle. I was so excited to see the parfum! Did you know the wax seal and string are done by hand? Also, there is not a single drop of water in the parfum form. I would normally go for an EDP over an EDT, but I have never really explored an even more concentrated version. I tried this on and it smelled great till the next day!
(On my nails: Chanel Bel-Argus)
I also got to check out Les Exlusifs de Chanel. The 14 fragrances are only available in selected boutiques. We sniffed some of them and were asked to imagine where we are. It’s amazing that there was almost always some consensus!
Jersey is one of my favorites of the day! If you like powdery scents, this is for you!
I’ll admit something: it is very, very hard to write about what I learnt and did that day. Writing about perfumes is quite a challenge. Writing about perfumes that you were allowed to experience through taste, touch, and exercising your imagination is mission impossible. I hope I haven’t bored you too much!
Is there anyone in your life who wears Chanel Nº 5? Do you have a favorite Chanel fragrance? I need to pick up Coco Mademoiselle Parfum some day!
Sunny, your beauty culture translator xx
PS: I’m on holiday from this week on! I have scheduled as many posts as I can, and you can probably expect a couple more that are live from Taipei. I’ll still be around to reply to comments (might be slower), say hi on Twitter, and so on!