chanel No. 5

As Marilyn Monroe once famously said “What do I wear in bed? Why Chanel No. 5 of course”

what a world. it’s all gone to pot. take a poll of how many people in the room have read “A Rebours” by Huysmans. No one. After all, it was read at Oscar Wilde’s “sodomy” trial as evidence!

or, this poem by Baudelaire:

Le parfum

Lecteur, as-tu quelquefois respiré
Avec ivresse et lente gourmandise
Ce gravin d’encens qui remplit une église
Ou d’un sachet le musc invétéré?

Charme profond, magique, dont nous grise
Dans le présent le passé restauré!
Ainsi l’amant sur un corps adoré
Du souvenir cueille la fleur exquise.

De ses cheveux élastiques et lourds,
Vivant, encensoir de l’alcôve,
Une senteur montait sauvage et fauve,

Et des habits, mousseline ou velours,
Tout imprégnés de sa jeunesse pure,
Se dégageait un parfum de fourrure


Chanel No.5 Parfum is made from jasmine petals. grown in a special field in southern France, tended by the same family for this long – almost 100 years. the jasmine blossoms between midnight and 6 a.m. around 70 pickers must rise early and capture the petals with dew on them still. To have a kilogram of petals, they have to pick about 8,000 flowers –  priced from 9,000 to 10,000 euros.(read this article).

now, in case you want to destroy this for yourself, the truth is this:  there are currently 3 types of Chanel No. 5 at large (Luca Turin points out in an NZZ Folio essay). Chanel No. 5 Parfum is “the 1921 original, and smells fresh as paint and changed from day 1.” Eau de Toilette under the same name, is “all soft and peachy, a fifties mom in a fur coat coming to tuck you in bed before going to the theatre.” Turin goes on to completely dismiss the Eau de Parfum formula – an abstract perfume, the first modern perfume, made completely with synthetic chemicals –  calling it “an eighties lapse of judgment.”


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