From the start, N°5 threw habits and conventions to the wind. At the beginning of the 1920s, Gabrielle Chanel had already changed people’s views on fashion by suggesting a new allure. Her first perfume is consistent with her pioneering designs, simple yet well thought through. Revolutionary in its composition, N°5 is also the first perfume imagined by a woman for women.
Whether it be Marilyn Monroe turning it into a myth by confessing she only wore a few drops in bed, or Andy Warhol screen printing it as a pop art icon, over time N°5 has acquired the status of a global cultural phenomenon. First perfume to be advertised on TV, it has inspired some of the greatest image masters — Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Ridley Scott, Jean-Paul Goude or Baz Luhrmann to name a few — and become a visual symbol that has never lost touch with the contemporary creative scene. Because the world’s most popular perfume of all time needs adequate representation, it has chosen muses who, throughout the world, embody elegance and seduction without undermining their own personality: Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Nicole Kidman or currently Marion Cotillard are among the ambassadresses who, by their spirit and modernity, lift N°5 into the eternal feminine pantheon for posterity.
Mythological status has never consigned N°5 to museum shelves, even though it has been part of the permanent collections in the MoMA, New York, since 1954. Through its history, its image and its very essence N°5 remains the backdrop to countless stories, even the most intimate. N°5 is made for those who, like Mademoiselle Chanel, choose who they want to be, and become it. It is a perfume which, like a coat of invisible armor, gives the strength to face life. Backed with its 100 years of celebrity, N°5 will always be one step ahead.
I am N°5, an abstract perfume by Gabrielle Chanel, which she created in 1921 with Ernest Beaux, perfumer to the tsars.
I am a revolution, a defining new departure in the world of perfumery, which at a stroke made all the fashionable fragrances of the period seem old hat. Gabrielle Chanel came up with a perfume like no one had ever before imagined.
I am the avant-garde, emerging at the same time as cubism, dadaism, and surrealism. I am their olfactory counterpart, and like them, I break the codes; like them, I write a new language and invent a collage of scents. I am the first abstract perfume.
I am a manifesto, that of modernity, a dazzling bouquet. Mademoiselle boosted the jasmine, the ylang-ylang, and the rose, yet no single identifiable note is left in my wake. Thanks to the magical alchemy of the aldehydes, I throw people off the scent, not evoking any one flower, to become “a woman’s fragrance with the woman scent”.
I am a mystery, the best-known yet most enigmatic of perfumes. My formula is CHANEL’s best- kept secret and the most successful fragrance in modern perfumery. This cloak of mystery has propelled me from celebrity to posterity.
I am a magic number, the 5, her favorite number which had brought her luck ever since childhood. Mademoiselle is said to have chosen N°5 because it was the scent in the fifth sample, the one she preferred.
I am an emblem, a simple bottle in laboratory with sharp angles and crystalline transparency, and a stopper cut like a diamond evoking the Place Vendôme. The ultimate, universal reference in the history of scent bottles. The imprimatur of CHANEL’s triumph.
I am a symbol, which the G.I.s took back to America at the end of World War II as a souvenir of Paris and the taste of liberty, the badge of French chic, and the very essence of the CHANEL style.
I am a modern myth, founded when Marilyn chose me as nightwear, confessing that she only wore a few drops of N°5 in bed. A coming together of absolute femininity and absolute perfume.
I am an icon of the 20th century, the first perfume to enter the MoMA. The king of pop art, Andy Warhol, reproduced my bottle in a screen print.
I am a legend, timeless, continually reinventing myself, as in Verlaine’s “Familiar Dream”: I am “neither quite the same, nor altogether the other”. From L’Extrait to L’Eau and from L’Eau to Parfum.
I am an allegory of modernity, French elegance, and eternal femininity. I am the perfume of perfumes, embodied by the greatest celebrities.
For my anniversary, the world’s most famous French actress, Marion Cotillard, took me dancing on the moon and left my imprint there.
For centuries yet to come...
Discover the new episode of Inside CHANEL.com from March 19th, 2021.