My very first memory of perfume was of No5, and it clearly had a huge impact on me. My mother's always been a perfume-lover, and she has a lot of it, but No5 in particular usually meant that my parents were going out for the evening to some fancy party or restaurant, so I thought it was soooo very glamorous. I'd watch her get dressed and go through her rituals, and she'd include me by putting a bit of lipstick or whatnot on me, and she'd always give me a little dab of perfume on my wrist, and then I'd feel grown-up and glamorous, too. I suppose No5 defined how beautiful, fashionable women were supposed to smell, and I thoroughly embraced it. There's simply no way I could not love Chanel No5.
I also learned how to layer it from her, though she was usually more subtle in her application, but she'd start with the bath powder, add a few dabs of extrait, then finish it all off with a mist of edc or edt. And now I do the same but with all the ancillary products from soap and bath oil, to body cream, bath powder, lotion, moisture mist, dry oil (whatever they're offering at any given time - these are usually limited editions, but they come back every few years) and of course parfum, edp, edt and edc. I don't usually wear it in public anymore since it is so recognizable (or if I do I don't wear everything at once, lol) but there's just nothing else like it, and no other fragrance evokes quite the same memories or feelings.
That "perfumey" quality you mention is one of the reasons I think it's so stunning, actually, especially in today's fragrance market. It doesn't smell like a wet garden, or a pile of burning leaves, or crĂ¨me brĂ»lĂ©e ...which are all perfectly wonderful smells but I want my perfume to smell like perfume, not a Yankee Candle. But I've never required my perfume to smell natural - I prefer to get my "natural" smells from their actual sources. I love No5's chic and glamorous sparkly aldehydes, and I love its sleek and abstract floral signature. I love it in all its vintages and concentrations, and they all work so well together. I think I take it a bit for granted now - it's not my most-worn perfume, but it's certainly among my most-loved.
But what you're describing, that "very generic, but to me, this smells like perfume that's been sitting in a bottle for 30 years and has lost all the notes and has turned into a chemically mess" sounds literally like you're smelling an old bottle of perfume that has turned. Have you smelled the new edt? It might smell perfumey, but I really don't think it could accurately be described as "heavy" ...unless, of course, you're simply applying too much. But at the very least it should still smell fresh. And if you think it smells "generic", that might be due to the fact that it's been so widely imitated for almost a century.
Edited by Evangeline - 9/8/13 at 8:35am