Reviews of No. 5 by Chanel

    Find out more about No. 5 by Chanel in the Basenotes Fragrance Directory


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    New San Antonio Rose's avatar

    United States United States

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    All I can smell is bug spray. Like the exterminator was just here. For four hours straight, in the pure parfum concentration. Please don't let this stop you from trying from trying this classic scent. But if you do smell bug spray or any other weirdness, try Guerlain's Liu. It's a beautiful floral aldehyde that's not from the House of Chanel. Not that I'm hating! Cuir de Russie is beautiful. Just not No. 5. Not to me, anyway.

    02nd December, 2008

    Ms Rochambeau's avatar

    United States United States

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    Hell has frozen over. I never thought I'd say this, but I love Chanel No. 5. Between reading books on the history of fragrance and reading reviews on Basenotes I am learning a lot and that has been instrumental in opening my mind (and my nose ) up to things. I was always puzzled by the populatity of Chanel No. 5, but I didn't want to give up on it. Periodically I would go to my perfume stash over the years and spritz on some Ch5 from the refillable EDT atomizer my mother had given me years ago, and each and every time, the opening blast of aldehydes would repell me and I would run to scrub it off. Then about a month ago I deceided I was going to get to the bottom of this Ch5 thing once and for all by trying various strengths and vintages of the scent. I already had the EDT (from the early 1990's), then discovered I had an EDP (new) strength among my many perfume samples. All I needed now was a vintage pure parfum. I managed to get my hands on a half of a half oz. vintage bottle (from the 50's judging from the stopper' shape).

    From what I read, it was Chanel's intent to have a perfume that did not smell like any particular flower or any other immediately recognizable thing. She desired something that was more of an abstract scent, free of perconceived associations, something that was it's own thing. As a painter I immediately understood that and proceeded to test all 3 versions of the scent with that in mind. I started with the EDT which I had had the longest. This time I waited patiently for the strongly aldehydic phase to wear away and was surprised to discover subtle leathery and animalic notes (does anyone else get that leather note?), that I absolutely love, in the drydown. Wow!. Next I tried the newer EDP. Interestingly, I detected a slight "fruity" note leaving me to wonder if this newest version had been slightly reformulated to satisfy the trend for scents with fruit notes. Last, I tried the pure parfum. That's the one that did it fro me. I don't know if time has mellowed the blast of aldehydes, or what, I just know that this version is beautiful from start to finish. The notes are blended so well that I can't single anything out. It is just it's own beautiful thing that changes and surprises me the whole time I'm wearing it. I love layering the EDT with the pure parfum. Not surprising, the new EDP is my least favorite of the three. I understand now why Marilyn Monroe would wear Ch5 to bed: when you smell your wrist in the morning, there are no words to describe how pretty that last faint trace of this scent is.

    There is nothing "old lady" about this as far as I'm concerned. In fact, I have no idea of what certain reviewers mean when they describe something as smelling of "old lady" and even though I'm not an old lady, I still find it limited and insulting. Do they mean smelling of a "classic scent"? Because that's the way I take it. I know that when some one says this about a scent, they mean it as a negative. However, I take it as a positive, and a cue that the scent they are describing is probably as far from a cheap, trendy, Paris Hilton or Britney Spears tooty-fruity gourmand as you can get.

    I can now see why Ch5 has been around for almost 90 years and will probably be around for 90 more. Thanks Basenoters for helping me to discover this gem!

    18th November, 2008

    pasha's avatar

    United States United States

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    Just a few drops of Chanel No.5...

    It is all you need.

    03rd November, 2008

    SirSlarty's avatar

    United States United States

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    I could not resist getting this classic. I purchased a mini of the parfum after watching the Chanel bio-pic that was on a few months ago. I've always been drawn to Chanel's philsophy "simplicity is elegance". No. 5 does just that. A simple and elegant baby powder floral. I actually wore this on my skin, dry men's skin, and it smells wonderful. Some would say "old lady" just because now the elderly wear it because they wore it when they were teenagers! Teenagers now can wear it but I suppose they are too used to dousing themselves in perfume to understand only a dab of No. 5 is all you need. If you smell it directly from the bottle or from the atomizer on a sprayer, you do not get anything as remarkable as you would on skin.

    Beautiful and timeless.

    31st October, 2008

    jauraistoujourfaimdetoi's avatar

    United States United States

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    My mom and my dad's cousin used to wear this incessantly as I was growing up. I hated it and thought it smelled totally over-the-hill. In my early twenties, I launched a full scale offensive that ultimately got my mother into more "up-to-date" perfumes. I'm now on the wrong side of thirty-five and recently smelled No. 5 again. I found myself saying, "Y'know, this isn't half bad..."

    I'm officially old.

    21st October, 2008

    Asha's avatar

    United States United States

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    No.5 EDT and No.5 Eau Premiere Comparison (see No.5 Eau Premiere for an extended review which includes more about EP)

    Left arm: Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere
    Right arm: Chanel No.5 EDT

    I own No.5, and received a healthy sized sample of Eau Premiere from the SA at Macy's. My No.5 is relatively new, so I am sure it is the latest formulation.

    Upon initial application, the main distinction seems to be a vast difference in the amount of aldehydes. The Eau Premiere does have a bit of waxyness (which I am sure is also from aldehydes), but it is not the extreme level that No.5 has. Also, since the aldehydic blast is less severe in EP, some fruit and floral notes are a bit more apparent.

    About 10 minutes in...the aldehydes have mostly burned off in the No.5 and are now down to a more approachable level, and ironically is less waxy than EP. The peach and white floral are coming through, along with a hint of spicyness. I cannot detect any peach in the EP. Right now it smells like a rather straight white floral with a hint of spice, and the waxy aldehyde still present. It definitely smells more "clean and modern", but so far is not as interesting as No.5. I am wondering if this really is just a No.5 without the aldehydes--any real differences are incredibly subtle.

    About 30 minutes in...the No.5 has settled into its typical peach, floral, spicy skin scent (beautiful, as always). The EP still is a bit waxy, but the spicyness is coming through more. I still do not smell any peach, but rather a rubbery synthetic note (latex-like), and some light powder.

    It will be interesting to see how these two wear on through the day. I can see that I might want a FB of the Eau Premiere, especially if it has decent longevity. It is definitely very "wearable". I am just not sure it has the same classic beauty of the original No.5. And owning a bottle of No.5 means I may have less of a sense of urgency about owning the EP.

    20th October, 2008

    DebraJean's avatar

    United States United States

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    There is a reason this is a classic. It's not inaccessible in any way. It's lovely & light yet rich & classy. Men adore it. Women want to be your friend when you wear it. & it only gets better as time goes on. It's perfect for work....& it's Chanel!

    Don't make the beginners mistake of smelling this out of the bottle or even on paper. It won't give you a migraine; just spray it right on your arm.

    28th September, 2008

    Celia.D's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    My mother had this perfume and i used to try it as a child. After five minutes it had disappeared without a trace. I have perservered and sampled this on numerous occassions in an attempt to understand what all the hype is about. I have never been able to get past the top notes ( which are frankly uninspiring) due to the short longevity of this scent on my skin.I do wonder if it is a case of the 'emporors new clothes' .

    04th September, 2008

    jalexhrovat's avatar

    United States United States

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    I really couldn't get a good sense of what this actually smelled like in the store when I sprayed it on a tester card.
    It did have a sparkling opening which intrigued me...but I'd never get this one for my wife.
    I know its a classic, but I just don't care for it too much.

    26th August, 2008

    mediterranean's avatar

    Spain Spain

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    The good thing about chanel 5 is that you can wear it everywhere, to the office ,at weekends,to a date...
    I love the cream and the perfume.

    26th August, 2008

    Moondew's avatar

    United States United States

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    I know how famous this fragrance is, but to me it's an all around putrid, old lady smell. It was made in the 20s, so that doesn't surprise me all that much. I will never understand the rave reviews.

    14th August, 2008

    janeypie's avatar

    New Zealand New Zealand

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    Everyone needs to own this at least one time in her life. It really is "the standard by which all others are judged". It makes you feel old fashioned and wealthy - and reminds you that a really good fragrance shouldn't just smell good, it should also make you FEEL a certain way when you wear it. That's the magic . . . and that's the big difference between a trashy Paris or Britney scent and a true masterpiece.

    12th August, 2008

    vintage*red's avatar

    United States United States

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    I had not smelled No 5 since my grandmother's death in 1970. This was her favorite, but I had not given it much thought until I was thumbing through "Perfumes: The Guide". I rushed online and ordered the EDT, EDP and parfum from the Chanel website. When my package arrived, I quickly sprayed the EDP and suddenly was taken back in time. In spite of the reformulations, I immediately recognized that beautiful scent! No "old lady" smell, no pretense of the eighties, just a wonderful, bright floral that could go to a grand wedding or to a baseball game. If you have never tried it (which I would find hard to believe if you are on this site), please do. It's perfect! It has just enough sillage to be pleasant but not overpowering. And it stays with me for a few hours which is unusual except for some very loud fragrances. Thumbs way up for this one!

    02nd August, 2008

    maramica's avatar

    Yugoslavia Yugoslavia

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    All I can say is public urinal with a dash of stale used products.
    Disturbingly over popularized and commercially shown.
    Excuse me while I crawl into a hole, thanks.

    30th July, 2008

    rachelsf's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    No.5 is undoubtedly beautiful and timeless but on my skin, sadly, has absolutely no staying power. I get 10 minutes of sparkling aldehydes, before skipping straight to the powdery drydown. After an hour it's all gone. For me there is no radiant heart in this fragrance. Tragic, as I have experienced its beauty on other people. However, this disappointment is with the EDT which is the only formulation I've tried. I've read recently that the EDT, EDP and Parfum are three very different experiences. In fact, it seems, they are probably three very different fragrances - the EDT being a 50s or 60s reformulation, the EDP an 80s take, and only the Parfum true to the original 1921 conceit. This said, the varied experiences in the many reviews here are for 3 different fragrances with 3 different characters. My hope is that I am still to find the No.5 that works for me. I look forward to trying a sample of the EDP and Parfum to compare. To be continued...

    26th July, 2008

    taliaseki's avatar

    Turkey Turkey

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    I have tried EDT and EDP of no 5 before. And every time i thought it was soapy, nice and ordinary.
    Then i have read a review here telling to try perfume form to love it.

    Pure perfume is really splendid. I can only tell ylang ylang and aldehyde in it for the first hours. then comes the sweet rose. It is a perfect floral at the fourth hour. Goes a long way on rosy sandalwood.

    It is must have, but in pure perfume form. I must be sure that it is not the reason for my present headache before ordering one.

    15th July, 2008

    tanto's avatar

    United States United States

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    To me, this is still in a class of its own......Timeless!
    Anyone who can not appreciate this fragrance should not comment on it because by so doing, you are actually disclosing your ignorance to the world.

    12th July, 2008

    Midnight_lulu's avatar

    United States United States

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    Chanel No.5 is a very odd creature to me; there is some nostalgia tied to it, as my grandmother wore it as her favorite. Since its release in the twenties, numerous public hand soaps and baby powders have mimiced the popular combination, interferring with modern first perceptions of No. 5----those that weren't spent in 1930's speakeasies and 1950's drive-ins. In fact, the scent was so popular in the early to mid part of last century, that some of those who first wore it at debutante balls are now using it to mask the unfortunate situation of incontinence, i.e., you might pick up "Chanel No.5" wafting from adult briefs and nursing homes. Of course, fragrance isn't simply for the young...but memories and associations remain its core means of communication. For me, an odd thing happens when any major combos of jasmine, neroli or tuberose come in contact with my skin---grubbiness abounds. Not necessarily dirtiness, but the odd sensation of bodily sebum encased in powder. Chanel No. 5 wears grubbily on me, despite the dancing charm of its aldehydes and their playful attempts to fool my nose. With such a saturation, I'd have expected there to be some "cut" or a sharp contrast to oily, powdery florals. No. 5 just stays sweaty and intimate the whole ride through and seems more suited to morning tea than an evening gala. It is lovely in its own way, but remains die-hard feminine without one drop of masculinity with which to inject some carnal aggression; it's like a big, motherly cuddle. I personally prefer a little more androgynous spunk to my poison. If I were thinking along the lines of "skintone, bedspread femininity", I'd find the honeyed mimosa of Guerlain's "Champs Elysees" as a more suitable skin-essence replacement to No. 5's ylang-ylang/rose combo. Either way, I'm sure I'll crave this womanly powder-bomb from time to time and I've yet to be able to dismiss it from my wardrobe completely. But if I were craving Chanel, I'd probably grab for "No. 19" or "Cristalle first".

    28th May, 2008

    hester's avatar

    South Africa South Africa

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    This is for the Sensual Elixir version: If you want a good musk, go for this if you're in the money. It seriously smells like nothing more than an ordinary 'drugstore' musk, taken to an expensive (and high-quality, let's be fair) extreme. I like it, I'd wear it if given it, but I think the emperor is in the alltogether.

    26th May, 2008 (Last Edited: 30th June, 2008)

    dainty's avatar



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    im 27. and this perfume i think is best for my great great granny!! yuck! old smelling pefume! waste of my money

    15th May, 2008

    sanziana29's avatar

    Romania Romania

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    I bought it because of it's huge fame, but I was very disappointed. Not staying power, smells artificial and a little cheap. I wonder if old version was different!

    01st May, 2008

    sniff-sniff's avatar

    Russian Federation Russian Federation

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    Absolutely agree with Lilybelle! Chanel Number 5 Sensual Elixir is definitely my top "boudoir fragrance". Classic Chanel N 5 is more likely to produce desired emotional response in the altered EDT version, again, slightly layered on Sensual Elixir. The powdery reliance is absolute retro in Chanel number 5, but it is an iconic fragrance that becomes YOU. Primitive response I heard from men upfront about it: "Smells like an old lady". Well, somthing to think about: does it mean it is recommended for young, slim, beautiful women? I think it is for a sensual "woman within" for all ages, but is even more relevant for the ones in search of their sensuality.

    20th April, 2008

    rasputin's avatar

    United States United States

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    I had forgotten that No. 5 debuted before Guerlain SHALIMAR (1925), because No. 5 definitely smells more "modern" to my nose.

    People say they don't "get" No. 5.... I feel that No. 5 is all about that urinaceous musk note in the base, and all the other notes are simply the dazzling camouflage leading to the unveiling of the musk...

    No. 5 smells like a woman who bathed herself, powdered herself, and peed herself, in that order.

    What's amazing about No. 5 is its curiously "vacant" quality.... there are so many notes going on in this fragrance, yet they combine to form a scent which is none of its components; rather, it's a kind of diaphanous veil....

    Perhaps the masterstroke of No.5, IMHO, is that vetiver in the base... it is a kind of stern resiny-woody quality which imbues great serious to the overall fragrance.

    One thing which must be said about No. 5 is, it always surprises. Everytime you catch a whiff of it on yourself or others, there is always that initial surprise; "Oh! What IS that?" And any fragrance which can command that response is well on its way towards being a classic.

    I have long thought that the powder note in CHANEL No. 5 is a dead-ringer for DESENEX Foot powder. I cannot retract that critique, because it most certainly does smell like DESENEX... Or maybe it's vice-versa....

    Another interesting quality in No. 5 to me, is that curious middle-note, which to me, smells something like salted butter, or buttered popcorn. Or maybe even roasted cashews. It's a totally unexpected salty-sweet buttery note--- it smells 'horizontal' to me, whilst all the other qualities in No. 5 smell 'vertical' to me!---- which provides the gateway to the basenotes....

    16th April, 2008

    akinyildirim's avatar



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    A CLASSIC !!!

    No.5 is a true (and maybe the only) classic that really stood the test of time. It's almost like a synonym for perfume and sooner or later everybody becomes a fan of this one.
    It's outstanding and unconventional because of the aldehydes but also very sexy and adorable thanks to the florals in it. It has a perfect balance and is noticeable immediately, but not importunate.
    Much can be said and will be said about "Chanel No.5", and there will be lovers and haters, but it's definitely in a class of it's own!
    Even if you don't like the fragrance, you have to love the bottle.
    I love Coco a little bit more, but that's just a matter of taste, and it doesn't increase the importance and beauty of No.5

    (I would prefer the EdT on a woman, because it seems a little sweeter, but however it should be applied sparingly.)

    17th January, 2008

    syracusa's avatar

    Romania Romania

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    It is superb, classy and distinguished, the prettiest fragrance I have ever smelled. The only drawback is that, at least ON ME, it is not strong enough and does not last long enough. But then again, I am one of those who cannot smell their own perfume (whatever I apply) less than an hour after application and no matter how much I apply. My sense of smell may be desensitized...so I gravitate towards strong perfumes, which unfortunately, are not as pretty as the refined, classy ones - the best of whom is #5.

    09th January, 2008

    Meliscents's avatar

    United States United States

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    Chanel No. 5 sits quietly among many, many bottles on my shelf. She sits lady-like, patiently waiting for me to flit from one to the other knowing I'll ALWAYS come back. It's a fragrance that seems well suited to any mood or any outfit and forms to the skin like a comfortable pair of jeans or a favorite cashmere sweater. Pearls optional. I can't see being without it.

    13th December, 2007

    Oriental Muse's avatar

    Malaysia Malaysia

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    Honestly, No.5 is robust, complicated, strong, classic and almost too mature for anyone under the age of 25. Its opening notes have the potential to drive people away, its middle notes could disguise as a freshly showered smell of soap, while its basenotes linger seductively for those close enough to detect it.

    But for me, the beauty of this perfume lies exactly in this Jekyll and Hyde persona. The woman who chose to wear this and wears it well, knows how to have her cake and eat it too, sans guilt.

    16th November, 2007

    FullCircle's avatar

    United States United States

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    Have tried the Elixer Sensual Oil recently, and it's a no-go for me. I've never been swayed much by history and hype, so I take #5 only on its merits.
    Compared to other florals out there, it just doesn't measure up for me. I find it dated and odd. My mother wore #5 and I didn't like it on her...on me it's even worse (and I'm of the proper 'age' to wear it.) I know some fragrances grow on people, but given my history with it and a recent trial, I don't have much hope of that happening. I will try it again, no doubt, but for now, there are other fish to fry.

    08th November, 2007

    tvlampboy's avatar

    United States United States

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    Incredible use of neroli in the opening, and ingeniously (and yet oddly) placed civet and (!!!) vetiver in the drydown.

    It's mythic for a reason, folks -- get over it. If you don't like it, fine, but don't knock the great lady without at least giving her her due.

    Also, treat her with all fairness in sampling -- everyone should experience #5 in its perfume and EDP form at least once. The EDT version is acceptable, yes, but a pale reflection of the purer form itself. That's funny enough, as I actually prefer Cristalle in its EDT form.

    16th October, 2007

    nthny's avatar

    United States United States

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    The thing I love about No. 5 is that it is so opaque in the lightest way. It's so light pink in color to me, but the scent itself is rich, like seeing light pink paint freshly mixed in the paint can. Some fragrances allow light to shine in, some are dark and we're caught in their molecule cloud, things wizzing around this way and that. But this is so settled, so serene in its uncluttered beauty. Perhaps if this were Guerlain and it sat on the shelves next to Mitsouko and L'eur Bleu and Shalimar and Jicky, it wouldn't stand out quite as much, but whatever the case, it is what it is... an icon.

    01st July, 2007

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