Symbols of innocence, virginity and virtue, the early 20th century perfumes were inspired and composed around single flower themes. Before the First World War, women felt no need to compete with men; softness, tenderness and femininity were their signature, and “flowery” fragrances were natural extensions of their personality.
The war changed everything. Women were forced to wear the trousers while their men were away. The experience challenged and toughened them. After the war, women embodied a more forceful character in every way they expressed themselves, including their fragrances. But then couturier Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel broke the rules by revolutionizing and democratizing fashion in its various forms—from clothing to accessories, including perfume.
The Chanel No. 5 Juice
“I want to give women…a scent that smells like a woman, not like a flower,” Chanel said.
In 1921, Coco commissioned Russian perfumer Ernest Beaux to create what would become the ultimate Chanel masterpiece and greatest classic perfume of all time—an abstract floral overdosed and overpowered with sparkling yet heavy synthetic chemicals called aldehydes.
Chanel No. 5 was ahead of its time as a composition. It was impactful, long lasting, unique and libertarian in its essence. The juice’s signature hasn’t changed since its creation, yet its attributes have evolved to become aspirational in a more classic and feminine way as opposed to being the edgy, abstract rule breaker it was in its early years.
For decades, Chanel No. 5 has remained a bestseller around the globe. Interestingly, the juice doesn’t test well blind, but when women experience it within the context of the Chanel brand, a certain je ne sais quoi happens just like magic, and women just embrace it.
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