No. 5 has become an institution – and as such it is often a challenge to simply enjoy it for what it is - a perfume. However, a close look at the genius construction of the Parfum Extrait reveals a harmony that deserves more attention despite being a classic and a trend setter, and a perfume that has already received all the glory it deserves to get (being the number one bestseller in the world and winning awards for the bottle and what have you).
It is actually a work of art in the same way that Chanel’s fashion design has reached the heights of being an art form and at the same time a concrete, useful piece of clothing.
To prove so, one must re-think it without being bound to olfactory memories and collective subconscious schemes that evolved around this perfume in the last 8 decades or so of its existence (i.e. the first perfume-fashion association; confident business women in pinstripe suits, Marilyn Monroe’s bedtime fragrance, etc. etc.). At first, I must admit I was a bit frightened of it – it seemed so formal, so not “me”, and above all – its history and status made it seem very demanding to me. It was not until I bought the pure parfum (for as far as I know my only reason was the bottle, and the fact it is a classic. And since none of the readily available Chanel perfumes were to my taste at the time anyways – it did not make a difference to me which one I would get). At the moment I dabbed the parfum extrait on my skin, my perception of it changed completely…
A woman should wear No. 5 as if it was created for her alone, and she was the first woman on earth to wear it.
No. 5 is a truly feminine perfume, and is not bound to anything else but a bold portrayal of feminine beauty. It contains flowers, but does not smell quite like one flower in particular, or like a flower bouquet. I believe Ernest Beaux definitely fulfilled Chanel’s vision of creating a perfume that will help women to be proud of their own smell, and not try to smell like a flowerbed.
To my nose, No. 5 smells sweet and ambery, and is both sensual and seductive in a subtle and sophisticated way. The most dominant accord that comes forward on my own particular skin is that of ylang ylang, amber and civet, all with an oily, skin-like nuance from the rich, thick aldehydes. The It radiates a feminine warmth that when worn with confidence can be highly appreciated and enjoyed by both the woman who wears it and the people that are allowed to be close enough to smell her…
Although it is perceived by many as a formal, business-like scent, or the scent worn by mothers (and therefore radiates a certain authority), to me it feels sexy, soft, voluptuous, and despite the high dosage of aldehydes – quite natural.
I prefer to wear No. 5 the way Marilyn Monroe did – to bed.
Top: Aldehydes, Bergamot, Rosewood, Neroli
Heart; Ylang ylang, Rose, Jasmine
Base: Amber, Civet, Sandalwood, Vetiver