Coco Chanel & Chanel N°5
In 1921, Gabrielle Chanel launched her first perfume – N°5.
She entrusted this task to Ernest Beaux, a French perfume creator to the court of Russia until 1917, whom she later met in Grasse in 1920. Together they invented a fragrance “with the scent of a woman” as she would like to qualify it. Thought out like a designer-dress, N°5 was the first “abstract” fragrance. Unlike the fragrances in fashion at the time, which often suggested a single “figurative” scent like rose, jasmine or lilac, N°5 had no identifiable dominant note among the eighty ingredients that made up its composition.
New and audacious, N°5 evoked a mysterious flower. This olfactory revolution succeeded in outmoding all other fragrances. If Mademoiselle Chanel conceived her N°5 to be a manifesto, she also carefully and intentionally decided on its stark name, once again defying conventions of the time with just a simple laboratory sample number, which also happened to be her lucky number.
The same minimalist rigor was applied to the N°5’s visual presentation, with its squared edges and clean graphic lines, it was slid inside white gros-grain packaging edged with black, which echoed the pure lines she used in her fashion creations.
Mademoiselle Chanel knew that this radicalness would launch her off into the avant-garde of her time – N°5’s destiny was to become an icon of modernity.
N°5 Culture Chanel
From May 5th until June 5th, 2013 the Palais de Tokyo in Paris will house the N° 5 CULTURE CHANEL exhibition as part of its Guest Program. This exhibition has once again been entrusted to Jean-Louis Froment, the curator of the previous editions of CULTURE CHANEL, held successively in Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum for Fine Arts, in Beijing at the National Art Museum of China and more recently in the Opera House in Canton.
Made up of subtle plays of correspondences, N° 5 CULTURE CHANEL cracks the N° 5 code to reveal the links which connected it to specific moments in time and to the avant-garde movements it spanned.
The works of art, photographs, archives and objects exhibited provide an account of the many inspirations which fed the imagination and world of Mademoiselle Chanel. They echo her inner thoughts and shed light on this unique and timeless perfume; whether through her favorite destinations like Venice, Russia or her villa, La Pausa or through the creations of her artist, poet and musician friends Cocteau, Picasso, Apollinaire, Stravinsky, Picabia.
Focusing on the long lasting attachments between CHANEL and the arts, N° 5 CULTURE CHANEL seeks to reveal the timeless and iconic artistic essence of the N° 5 perfume. The N° 5 CULTURE CHANEL exhibition has been put together by Jean-Louis Froment with the participation of Irma Boom, Piet Oudolf, Laurent Burgisser and Jérôme Schlomoff.
Learn more on 5-culture.chanel.com.