Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Perfect Bottle, The Perfect Perfume? Chanel No. 5 Still Reigns

THE PERFECT BOTTLE, THE PERFECT PERFUME? CHANEL NO. 5 STILL REIGNS.  How can it be that a bottle and the perfume within it can mesmerize one generation after another -- and never lose its enchantment?  We realize that this is probably a rhetorical question because, after all, the bottle and perfume in question is the quintessential of all bottles and perfume: Chanel No. 5.  What magic is at work here?  How is it that no scent has ever captivated one's senses decade after decade such as this one has done?  Both men and women fall under its spell -- from its ylang ylang, bergamot, neroli top notes to its middle notes of jasmine, rose, lily of the valley and iris, to the heady sandalwood and vanilla, amber and patchouli base notes -- and there is almost nothing one can do once under that spell but to be in love, think in love, act in love.  It was the summer of 1920, and master perfumer Ernest Beaux with A. Rallet & Company located near Cannes in the South of France was busily working on a new fragrance "Bouquet de Catherine" -- which morphed into "Rallet Le No. 1." Somewhere in this fragrant mix were a number of formulas -- one of which would actually be selected by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (it was labeled #5 from a series of bottles numbered 1 through 5, and another group of bottles numbered 20 to 24 for Madame Chanel to select from).  As far as the bottle is concerned, the one first produced in 1919 is not the one which we know today -- it was originally much smaller, more rounded in profile, and the glass much thinner.  Numerous modifications -- especially to the stopper -- occurred in 1924, in the 1950s, and later in the 1970s and then in 1986.  As Madame Chanel herself would later say, "Yes, that is what I was waiting for -- a perfume like nothing else." Style Tip: Why not create your own crystal palace at home by gathering lots and lots of glass bottles and accoutrements for tableaux, shelf arrangements and window displays to capture the exquisite transparent nature of glass? Mix different heights and shapes in a single row for a dining tablescape.  Final Note: Look again at your collection of perfume and cologne bottles and really appreciate them!  Hold them often, feeling their shape in your hand.  Enjoy them as the objets d'art that they are! PS: Studio of Style keeps a bottle of Chanel No. 5 parfum nearby at all times -- after all, you never know when it will be needed to work its magic!!