Chanel No. 5

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future” is one of Coco Chanel’s famous quotes.


My first memory of Chanel #5 was on the deck of a cruise ship. We’d been instructed to don our life jackets and assemble for a fire drill to get instructions on which lifeboat we would board in the event of an “abandon ship” order.


I stood next to my parents thinking this whole exercise was pretty exciting. As visions of the Titanic crossed my mind  I noticed a sweet smell coming from the lady standing to my left. Strong, slightly overpowering but pleasant. She smelled exotic and sophisticated to me.




First introduced in 1921, designed by Ernest Beaux, the fragrance got an unsolicited and glamorous boost in 1954 from Marilyn Monroe. When asked during an interview what she wore to bed, she provocatively responded “5 drops of Chanel # 5.”


The “face” of Chanel #5 in it’s advertising has been very beautiful women.






The shape of the bottle and it’s stopper have gradually evolved to its current very square shape.


Brad Pitt has been chosen as the first male “face” for the iconic Chanel #5.


Apparently the “face” of Chanel #5 will evolve as well.


My fragrance these days is  Bois des Iles by Chanel. It was launched in 1926, created by Ernest Beaux, a Russian immigrant who was the prime perfumer of the Chanel house. I prefer it to #5 and also find it a bit more exclusive. I like to wear a distinctive and uncommon fragrance. When asked what I’m wearing, I usually respond…”I’m not sure I can remember what this one is today, I wear so many”.

It is said that Beaux created Bois des Ilse “while he was rapt by Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, the opera inspired by the Puskin’s novel about love and hazard, and that it was his favorite creation”.

Luckily there is no “face” to my  fragrance so it can be mine without any imagery involved.

What is your current favorite fragrance?

images via


  1. I love love Chanel. It’s funny that it would remind me of my grandma and yet I would wear …

  2. I love perfume and always wear Jo Malone
    her scents are just wonderful.

    I feel naked without perfume!

    Lovely post.

  3. I’ve spent months choosing new ones. The joy is finding that perfect match of where you are and what you want to portray.

  4. My Hermes is down almost to the last drop…
    I am on the hunt for something new and exotic.

    Chanel No.5 is my Mother’s scent so it will not be mine.
    Before her switch to Chanel eons ago she was a Shalimar gal.

    Choosing a new scent can take many months…

  5. Such a lovely and educating post! Only this weekend, I was realizing I need to put more effort in finding some new scents…as i have only one…that I barely wear. I Always become so over whelmed when shopping for perfume…that I just never do… Any tips in making it more doable? I would love to have several to choose from…but alas…that sounds such a hefty goal… i should probably try to find…one 🙂

  6. designchic says:

    What a beautiful post and I can still smell the fabulous scent of my mother when she would go out to a special occasion…heavenly!

  7. I used to wear perfume almost daily and it would be single notes like tuberose or something unusual with names I can’t remember. Since meeting my husband, I haven’t worn any because he doesn’t care for scents (imagine that).

    I know they were not spicy or fruity, those made bad chemistry with me.

    Oh dear, I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to see the MM Chanel No. 5 ad the same way after Brad.

  8. playingwithscarves says:

    Though I don’t really look like Marylin, Carol, or Audrey I definitely vote for Chanel 5. And once in a while for Diorissimo (lily of the valley fragrance).
    I wonder what my daily routine would be without Chanel 5. I may have to reconsider this though, now that you told us Brad Pitt is the new Chanel 5 icon… LOL… Any chance Angelina is taking up the challenge?
    Good to read you, Jennifer. Lovely post and gorgeous pics and drawings.

  9. vintagefrenchchic says:

    I read this a few days ago and loved it. I wear the Premiere version of Chanel #5. It is a bit lighter and I can handle it better. Funny…I just started wearing it again with the advent of Fall. It is better suited to the season than my Jo Malone “French Lime Blossom” or “Vintage Gardenia”.

  10. I don’t wear any, let’s hope I make it through the weekend!

  11. Wish blogger let us “Like” a comment as we can on Facebook — I “Like” this! 😉

  12. Oooh, Mater, Arpege is a favorite of mine, along w 24 Faubourg. I can wear clothes I’ve had for 20years without batting an eye, but pass up a chance on more perfume? Never!

    1. I used to wear Chanel #5 and Shalimar. Sadly my husband is allergic to perfumes and will come down with a migraine if anyone in his orbit is wearing heavy scent. I still wear a hint of Jo Malone Orange Blossom cologne on occasion and he doesn’t seem to react badly to it.

  13. You’re so generous with your blog readers, letting us in on the secret you slyly guard from other enquirers with your pleas of a poor memory. . . 😉

    I posted recently about my current favourite, Hermes Eau de Merveilles. Also really like Terre d’Hermes and Kelly Calèche. And I have a bottle of Creed Vetiver I will pull out when it gets a bit cooler. . . But I have happy memories of my mother wearing Chanel No. 5 as well as Arpège (Lanvin) — I remember that commercial “Promise her anything, but give her Arpèege.” Wouldn’t pass muster with today’s woman!

    1. You really are an Hermes fragrance lover! I used to wear Creed Royal Scottish Lavender! Haven’t thought about that one for years. I remember that commercial too! How times have changed.

    2. Of course, that commercial probably ran about the same time as the one that promised “We’re going to have an Aviance night” . . . and the bacon-frying Enjoli woman . . . those were the days, indeed.

  14. Love seeing that bottle evolution-I had no idea it had changed. However, not a fan of the juice, and I agree that Bois des Iles is far superior. My favorite remains L’Heure Bleue, but I own about 20 bottles of different fragrances so I can definitely relate to your comment that you “forgot”

  15. Yummmm, just beautiful. I just purchased Coco Noir. Love that scent. And love the quote from Marilyn Monroe. Again, yummm….

    1. Barb I just sniffed that in a mag this morning, it’s very pleasant.

  16. I have never found that Chanel No. 5 suits my skin I prefer the Guerlain perfumes although they are not as good as they used to be.

    1. playingwithscarves says:

      Nice meeting you, Chicatanyage!
      Before becoming a Chanel 5 addict – many decades ago – I used to wear Chamade from Guerlain. I stopped the day I found the fragrance was different. I agree that some perfume formulas change sometimes (salepersons will of course tell us they didn’t change anything!) and this is the worse “cheating” a woman can be suffer. Not acceptable!
      All the best,

  17. I like the original No.19, which hardly anyone wears anymore. I’ve been wanting to get some of the 31 Cambon. I’ve also been wearing Hermès Kelly Caleche.

    1. I also wear the 31 Cambon occasionally and a young woman actually recognized it on me!! Shocked the daylights out of me. She said her mom wore it so that’s why she recognized it. I think you’ll love it. For some reason Hermes fragrances don’t smell nice on me. I’ll just have to settle for wearing their scarves!

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