A Look into 100 Years of Chanel N°5 with The Maison’s Nose Olivier Polge – CR Fashion Book

Whether stealing a spritz from the bottle propped up your mom’s fragrance show or catching the wealthy notes of ylang-ylang with vetiver undertones in an embrace, your first Chanel N°5 expertise is one which’s remembered. Though biologically talking, scent is the strongest of the 5 senses as probably the most primitive sense, but there’s one thing far past the olfactory delight of the perfume that makes N°5 so memorable. In the 100 years since its preliminary launch in 1921, N°5 has grow to be one thing of an heirloom handed down from technology to technology that is still untouched by time. The perfume is seemingly unaffected by the cyclical nature of vogue the place the complicated juice has withstood 10 many years of new developments and tastes all very totally different from one another.
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Perhaps, it’s the non-public distinctive expertise we affiliate with the scent that’s cemented its true icon standing within the hearts and drugs cupboards of women and men all over the world. “There’s one thing about N°5 that goes somewhat bit past time,” says Chanel’s home perfumer Olivier Polge. “Maybe by way of its complexity, each of us has a really subjective, particular person tackle N°5, and that explains rather a lot of its longevity.” Polge remembers perfume being a big half of his personal reminiscences as an adolescent the place his father, Jacques Polge, held the identical place at Chanel for 37 years. “I had associates whose dad and mom would come again from their common jobs, however my father got here house bringing again samples of N°5.”

Polge at CHANEL’s perfume lab

When Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel first got down to develop the long-lasting Chanel N°5 perfume with Chemist Ernest Beaux for her non-public shoppers, she wished to create one thing that will be remembered; a composition of scents that encapsulated the essence of the fashionable girl multi functional beveled bottle. At the time, ladies’s perfume was sometimes a single scent, nevertheless Chanel desired to be a lady of firsts. Not solely did she need to be the primary vogue home with a signature scent as she believed the 2 worlds coincided, she needed to set it other than the remaining. “With N°5, it’s such a formulated composition that someway you don’t pinpoint every ingredient. That’s why we name it an summary perfume,” mentioned Polge.

“There’s one thing about N°5 that goes somewhat bit past time, possibly by way of its complexity, each of us has a really subjective, particular person tackle N°5, and that explains rather a lot of its longevity”

She constructed her signature scent the identical manner she created her attire, a perfume that was as multifaceted as its wearer. “A girl ought to scent like a lady, not like a rose,” Chanel as soon as mentioned. “She in contrast the constructing of a perfume with her fashions and he or she needed a synthetic perfume that was constructed how her attire are, one which doesn’t scent like a easy rose or jasmine, however made of a mixture of every,” mentioned Polge.
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The consequence? A complicated system extracted from the world’s most interesting substances. The N°5 scent is a composition of geographical choices pulled from each nook of the Earth: recent jasmine and Centifolia roses from Chanel’s fields in Grasse, heat sandalwood from New Caledonia, bursting citrus oils from Italy, the cocktail of scents just isn’t so simply outlined, but all too acquainted. With a background in classical music, Polge notes the orchestration of the scent is in some ways much like the orchestration of a musical composition – acquainted notes aligning to create one thing magical and fully new. “Each bottle of uncooked materials could be a musical tone, which I feel is kind of poetic,” he mentioned. “What I like about fragrance is that it’s fully enigmatic on the finish, the scent is floating within the air the identical manner music floats within the air someway. In a world the place we’re so visible, it should communicate to a component of our sensibility that’s closed or disconnected.”


100 years later, and N°5’s notes are nonetheless taking part in the identical beloved tune. While Polge famous one of crucial features of N°5 is preserving its system, it’s additionally how Chanel is ready to grasp new parts of the scent whereas staying true to the classics. “Chanel N°5 was created at a time when [perfume] was very valuable. People would put a drop of this very wealthy and dense fragrance behind every ear. Today, we’re far more informal with perfumes; we’re a lot broader with the spray which requires a play on the textures of the perfume, that may lead us to totally different interpretations,” mentioned Polge. The second iteration of N°5 was launched in 1924 as a lighter eau de toilette and the third wasn’t launched till the ‘80s when Polge’s father created the eau de parfum adopted by eau de première in 2008. “We by no means attempt to translate or reproduce something of the character, however we attempt to rework the impression of scents by the development of a perfume. It’s a message for creativity.”



While Chanel takes vital measures to guard and protect the scent with few minor updates to the unique perfume, there have been modifications inside the bottle’s design. “I bear in mind somebody saying that the bottle of N°5 made small evolutions to adapt to the world round it, that means that when the designer of all of the issues that surrounds N°5, he was adapting the bottle little-by-little,” Polge mentioned. Modeled after the Place Vendôme’s orthogonal form that Chanel would stare upon from her balcony on the Ritz Paris, Chanel’s bottle was a departure from the kinds of fragrance bottles through the ‘20s. “Before N°5, you had bottles with rather a lot of decorations, very complicated, and Gabrielle Chanel got here up with this very wealthy and sophisticated perfume,” mentioned Polge. “By opposition, she requested the bottle to be the most straightforward you possibly can discover, as if all of the gold was inside,” he mentioned. “We have made a couple of modifications, however we nonetheless specific the identical message of a really pure and easy line, which generally requires the transfer of a really slight measurement.” When it involves N°5, Chanel meant for good issues to come back in small packages. Or on this case, easy packages. Made up of all parts private to Chanel and her work, she developed a fragrance that, like one’s fashion, is as subjective as it’s common. “The identical manner that you simply constructed your persona with the way in which you organize your self, the garments you put on, how you progress, and the way you communicate, tells rather a lot about your persona, and I feel with perfume that’s much more true,” mentioned Polge. Before exchanging names, earlier than a handshake, earlier than locking eyes, the very first thing observed when assembly one other particular person is their scent. For 100 years, N°5 has supplied that signature for women and men throughout many years in a manner that has stayed superbly unchanged and all the time memorable. “It jogs my memory of the sentence she used to say– “vogue modifications, however fashion endures.” Chanel N°5 perfume is accessible in Chanel boutiques and on-line at chanel.com.

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