No. 5 (1921)
    by Chanel




    Average Rating: 4

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    No. 5 Fragrance Notes

    No. 5 information

    What can be said that hasn't been already? A timeless classic that still is a number one seller over 80 years after its launch in 1921.
    Created by Earnest Beaux, No.5 was the first perfume ever created using so much Aldehydes, which gives the fragrance its sparkle. Legend has is that Beaux presented Chanel with ten fragrances to choose from. (Or so the story goes...) Chanel chose perfume number five, hence the name.

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    Showing 1 to 6 of 176 reviews.

    ClaireV's avatar

    Ireland Ireland

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    I come at No. 5 unhindered by any associations with female family members or acquaintances wearing it - nobody I know is that classy. I had been testing the EDP for years now, just a random spritz here and there when I was in a perfume store, just to make sure it was as deeply repellent as I had remembered it. The EDP never disappointed, in that regard.

    But recently, I was on my way back home from a holiday and realized I had forgotten to pack my precious little decant of Bois des Iles for the plane ride home. I am an extremely anxious flyer and have found that the calming scent of sandalwood is practically the only thing standing between me sitting quietly in my seat with clenched buttocks, a silent moan of terror trapped in my throat, and running down the aisles butt naked screaming "We're all going to f*^$#&ÎNG DIE!!!!". It is safe to say that I was mildly disconcerted to find that I had no sandalwood on my person. As was my husband. Anyway, in desperation, I looked at the bottle of No. 5 EDT on the duty free shelf, figured there had to be some good sandalwood in the base, and so spritzed it on liberally. It worked. The EDT has a rather short performance trajectory, so I was well into a glorious sandalwood dry-down by the time I was boarding, maybe 90 minutes later. It is true that I may have bruised my husband's forearm during take-off, but at least there was no screaming and naked antics from me, for which we are all truly grateful.

    The slight similarity to Bois des Iles in the far dry-down had me intrigued. Was it possible, I wondered, that I could get my ruinously expensive sandalwood fix through plain old No. 5, which is, compared to BdI extremely easy to find and not as hard on the wallet? I conducted a little investigation. I bought a small bottle of 1940s/50s pure parfum from a Basenotes member, as well as a small purse spray of the EDT (current version). Here are my thoughts:

    The Good: The vintage pure parfum is simply exquisite. It is a smooth, round thing of beauty. They say that Chanel has secured the harvest rights to all the best jasmine and roses in Grasse for generations, and you can tell. I would not be surprised if they have St. Peter under contract to collect the tears of angels in heaven for this too. The florals are deeply abstract, super-blended, and buttery in the way only Chanel can pull off. I can't identify a single one of the flowers used here - it's like they picked some flowers, dipped them into liquid gold, waited for them to dry, then broke them up into little pieces and put them back together all mismatched, like a sort of Picasso's Desmoiselles d'Avignon, with the the bottom part of the jasmine welded to the top of a rose. It is all very fuzzy and abstract. Later on, I detect something pleasingly animalic in the dry down, as well as that soothing sandalwood.

    The Bad: The extreme abstraction comes close to feeling synthetic at times, and there is this weird plasticky netting cast over the florals, as if the golden, fluid smoothness has been pushed to the brink. In the parfum, this plasticky feel manifests itself as a semi-pleasing sort of nuttiness, like unsweetened almond essence. It is an odd effect, like I said, half-pleasing but half-unsettling and synthetic, and I am not sure that it belongs. I perceive this plasticky, almond thing in the parfum to a small but noticeable extent in the pure parfum, but not at all in the EDT, leading me to think the effect is due to taking the abstract richness a step too far.

    The Ugly: The EDP takes this plasticky effect to the florals and pushes it to the limit of my tolerance. Actually, the EDP smells like burning plastic for much of its development on me, and it is quite unpleasant. It is joined by a synthetic note from the laundry or household detergents aisle in the supermarket.

    I enjoy the EDT a great deal, perhaps the best out of all the versions. But it is surprisingly light and last for only three hours on my skin. What I have taken to doing is dabbing the pure parfum on pulse points, and then spritzing the EDT all over my body, so that I get both concentration and volume. Then I am surrounded by a lovely fug of golden scent all day long.

    I have to add two important things, though. First of all, putting on No. 5 is a conscious act of melding with the madding crowd - there is nothing to tell you apart from the legions of women who put it on just because either their mothers did before them, or just to wear something famous. There is nothing about it that says "Hey! I am wearing No. 5 because I choose to, based on the notes!" You will just smell like everyone else (well, of a certain age). For those of us who like to express some aspect of their individuality through choice of perfume, putting on No. 5 feels like you are willing accepting to be an anonymous face in the crowd. It is so recognizable and such a cultural shorthand for luxury, class, and "poshness" that it has, I find, a depressing sort of flattening effect on your own individuality. And you can't bend No, 5 to your own personality either - forget about it. You can wear it defiantly with shorts and flip-flops, but your smell will still say "I am a posh woman, slumming it today. I have my pearls and twin-set waiting for me at home".

    Lastly, I discovered that although No.5 is an acceptable short term alternative to Bois des Iles for a plane ride home, it really cannot replace Bois des Iles in the long run. Note to self: Just buy Bois des Iles and be done with it.

    11th July, 2014

    bFlay's avatar

    United States United States

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    Thumbs way up for a beautiful classic! This is the singular exquisite fragrance for women...floral and sparking with true read fragrance oils and a wonderful base of sandalwood and aldehydes. Feminine and dignified. Lasts for hours (8+). Exquisite!

    11th June, 2014

    Zenwannabee's avatar

    United States United States

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    Vogue's august editor, Diana Vreeland, as with many other of her pronouncements related to fashion, was spot on when she said that Chanel No. 5 really is the greatest fragrance for women. And although, in the nearly 40 years since she made that statement, there have been other excellent fragrances, it's hard to think of a scent that says "formal" and "ready" like Chanel No. 5. Others work fine for casual wear, but none I think come close to supplanting this fragrance as a woman's armor for the most important and intensely scrutinized of life's activities, engagements, and occasions. The fact that most wearers don't see it as an everyday scent only serves to reinforce this. It is truly a regal fragrance.

    18 May, 2014

    mushroom8118's avatar

    Malaysia Malaysia

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    My mom gave me this perfume as my wedding gift in 2007 and I'm still halfway through. It is and still is my mom's all time favorite though. Honestly it wasn't my total favorite but the scent is acceptable and I usually wear it for special occasions like dinner parties or weddings due to it high silage and superb long lasting power. It is seriously a very strong perfume, so use sparingly. It lasts all day so only a little is needed. Smells as if there is a billion types of flowers being squeezed in a bottle. Classically powdery but nice and warmth. It surely made me feel classy and in control. Super pricey indeed for me but will buy it again if I ran out. Reserved only for special occasions only.

    09 May, 2014

    Mr. Nosenaught's avatar

    United States United States

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    Mistakenly received this in the place of Allure Sport. I had a good fifteen minutes before noticing the sample's label. Plenty enough time to be hooked. Even though my typical favorites are very powerful masculine scents via 70's, 80's, 90's, I will gladly wear this out the door with no fears.

    03 April, 2014

    ChellyBird's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    I couldn't afford it in my youth and always borrowed my mothers. It was my something borrowed on my wedding day. I have always got some in now that I can afford it.

    31st January, 2014

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