Chanel Nº5 turns 100 years old as the best-selling perfume in history

“There is no elegance possible without perfume”, this is how resounding Coco Chanel expressed her passion for perfumes. The designer, famous throughout the world for revolutionizing the feminine wardrobe, also became eternal thanks to the creation of the iconic Chanel No. 5 that this year 2021 is a great anniversary to fulfill the round figure of 100 years.

The story behind the fragrance that completely transformed the perfumery universe is worth knowing. Chanel, a French orphan with a miserable childhood, and virtually no education, managed to build an empire from nothing. What Coco could never aspire to is that what would make her a millionaire woman would not be her designs, but her perfume.

Today, a century after its creation, Chanel perfume continues to be a success and can boast of being the best-selling perfume in history. The following data is enough for us: the firm sold almost two million bottles during 2019 in England alone. Its formula? A secret that can only be compared to the composition of Coca Cola and that they keep safely in the House French connoisseurs of the value they have in their hands.

In Vozpópuli we are going to learn more about everything that surrounds this historic perfume that has managed to make women like Catherine Deneuve, Nicole Kidman, Gisele Bündchen or Carole Bouquet fall in love, who have worked on its advertising campaigns. The latest name to be added to this impressive list is Marion Cotillard, chosen image of perfume on its anniversary. The actress debuts in her role as the image of a perfume but it is one of the best hangers that Chanel has had in recent years on the red carpets of half the world.

The birth of an empire

After her great love died in 1919, Coco Chanel decided to travel to Italy to escape her situation. During his tour of the country he met the Grand Duke Demetrius Romanov, cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who became his lover and with whom began to cultivate his interest in the world of perfumery.

The designer Coco Chanel Chanel

In the 1920s, Chanel was already a prestigious designer in France and the United States. At this time, the French woman could not find a fragrance that she liked because they were all monofloral so decided to create her own perfume. To achieve this, Chanel turned to Ernest Beaux who had worked at the court of the tsars until the arrival of the revolution.

A woman’s perfume with a woman’s scent

The order was “a woman’s perfume with a woman’s scent. Something very special, that does not stain, that smells very good.” With these ideas, in 1921 one of the great inventions of the 20th century came to light. Keep in mind that when Chanel decided to create its own scent, fashion firms only designed clothes and did not cover other worlds such as beauty or accessories. That is why her passage was a complete revolution and it is to her that He is credited with the idea of ​​expanding the brands to other areas of business, a task that in the following years would be imitated by several of his colleagues.

The success of the perfume was not only due to its revolutionary scent, but to Chanel’s prodigious mind to do business. His marketing strategy was another breakthrough since he dedicated himself to giving away some jars and to vaporizing the product in some haute couture salons so that his clients could smell it and arouse their curiosity.

The famous perfume No. 5 Chanel

The campaign triumphed in style and soon Chanel realized that its production was not enough to supply all the demand, so in 1924 it created the company Chanel Perfumes together with expert perfumers. In this association the designer, unaware of what was to come, He renounced the creation rights and signed to receive only 10% of the sales.

In a few years, No. 5 became a best seller, especially in the United States, and Chanel realized her grave mistake by signing the partnership contract. From the 1930s on, he began his particular battle to regain the rights of his creation, something that he could only achieve with the Nazi occupation of France when, thanks to his contacts and his sympathy for Hitler’s party, he seized power from his former partners who were of Jewish origin.

However, with World War II the firm ends in bankruptcy and it was precisely the perfume primarily responsible for recovering from economic ruin. Chanel No. 5 became the souvenir Favorite of the American soldiers who, standing in long lines, bought it in Paris to give it to their mothers, sisters and women when they returned to the United States.

Perfume advertising in the 1950s Pinterest

After the post-war period, in the 50s, a phrase from the blonde temptation, Marilyn Monroe, was enough to confirm her leading position in an eternal way. “People ask me if I sleep in pajamas and I answer: with Chanel No. 5”, confessing in a subtle way that he did not use any type of clothing to sleep. The best promotion ever.

Since then, the Chanel house it has been practically faithful to the original design of the perfume. If something works … why change it? Thus its composition has just been updated twice to adapt it to the tastes of the moment, being the first in 1986 and the next in 2008.

This is Chanel No. 5

Chanel was very clear about what she was looking for with the creation of her perfume. His guidelines set it to be a timeless scent, that was not subject to the trend. “A perfume that no one had made up to now, with multiple facets, luxurious and seductive for women”, affirm the current heads of the firm.

At a time when perfumes had only a floral note, No. 5 arrived with a blend of over 80 ingredients. A different essence, with exceptional raw materials, and presented in a simple bottle, reminiscent of those used in laboratories, and which incorporated a sealed pearl thread on its neck “to prevent its fragrance from evaporating”.

Another of her great innovations is that the freedom that the designer gave the perfumer allowed her to investigate with aldehydes, components that help the aroma smell more and for longer. No. 5 was the first to use aldehydes and a secret mix of flowers of which the ylang-ylang of the Comoros, the jasmine of Grasse, the roses of May, the neroli, the vanilla of Bourbon or the sandalwood are known.

The bottle was personally designed by Coco herself

In addition to the content, its continent was also very important to its success. Chanel’s perfume totally broke the usual baroque aesthetic of the jars of the 20s choosing a completely different design with simple and sober lines that was personally designed by Coco herself.

Evolution of perfume bottle design Pinterest

A flat transparent glass container with cut out angles was created. Above it, just a small white label with black edges, a color combination that is irretrievably associated with the signature and that is repeated on the product box. One of its most famous features is the stopper that was designed to imitate the silhouette of Place Vendôme from Paris.

Since its birth in 1921, the design of the bottle has hardly been altered. The first model had rounded edges and in 1924 it was changed to make it more resistant. Since then, it has only been revised seven other times with minor modifications.

Where does your name come from?

The origin of the name with which the Chanel perfume was baptized is a mystery. There are two legends, but it is unknown which of them is the true one. The first account that the creator proposed to the designer a total of ten alternatives to choose from, all of them numbered from one to ten, and she chose the one with number five.

Other versions tell that the five it was the lucky number of the French designer for multiple reasons. He related it to his astrological sign, the fifth of the zodiac, with the five fingers of the hand, with the five points of a star, with the five goods of happiness, the five senses or the five flavors. The superstition for this figure was well known and he always chose to parade in fifth position.

Advertising of the firm with its iconic number Chanel

What did Chanel herself say? The French woman always expressed that it was a name that radically distanced itself from what the perfumes of the time were called. What’s more it was easy to remember and does not need to be translated to any language. A name that also fit perfectly with the simplicity of the container and that left all the prominence to the aroma.

The anecdotes surrounding Nº 5

Although the date of origin of the fragrance is 1921, the perfume itself already existed before its creator presented it to Chanel. It is actually Rallet No. 1, a perfume that was created for the Romanovs shortly before the end of Imperial Russia.

The Chanel No. 5 can also boast of being the first perfume to be exhibited in a museum since, since 1959, it has been part of the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York. But his relationship with art does not stop there, in the 60s the genius Andy Warhol used it for one of his famous series of works.

Reinterpretation of perfume by artist Andy Warhol Pinterest

Perfume is one of the main responsible for turning Coco Chanel into a millionaire But the designer had to wait until the 1940s, twenty years after its launch, to receive the fortune that her creation was generating around the world because of the fateful initial contract she had signed with her partners.

It is a feminine perfume and has had ambassadors such as Marilyn Monroe, Nicole Kidman or Catherine Deneuve, but its success is so great that it was possible to hire a man as the image of one of its advertising campaigns. Who was? Well, the chosen one was neither more nor less than Brad Pitt who has been, for now, the only male face that has had the perfume.

Source: Vozpópuli by

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