Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Perfume that smells like a woman! - Chanel No.5

In 1954, Marilyn Monroe sealed the immortality of the perfume “Chanel No. 5”. When she was asked in an interview what does she wear when she goes to bed, she replied: "Two drops of Chanel No. 5".

In 2011, Chanel No.5 is celebrating 90 years of its existence. In 2008, this perfume was proclaimed as the best perfume of all times. Today, this is the best-selling and most famous perfume ever created. 2011 is also marking 40 years since the death of Chanel No.5’s creator - fashion designer Coco Chanel.

Legend has it that this fragrance got its name when Coco Chanel, after presented with several bottles filled with different fragrances for testing, chose the one with number five written on its label. According to other sources, Coco Chanel chose this name because the fragrance was created on the fifth day of the fifth month, in 1921.

This is not only the first perfume in history that was signed with designer's name, but also the first that didn’t just smelled like flowers - as Coco said, this perfume "smelled like woman".

Woman liberated from fashion and social constraints and “The more feminine a woman, the stronger she is” as Coco Chanel used to say, will become a source of inspiration for her creations, for almost fifty years. Although she didn’t considered herself as fighter for women's rights, her revolutionary ideas (in the first half of the twentieth century) regarding the design of dresses, removal of corsets and other accessories, integration of men's and sports clothes or their elements in women's clothing, and undressing of woman's body, were consistent with ideas on the emancipation of women, and thus with the ideas of the feminist movements. 

There are those who believe that Coco "simply" knew how to follow the spirit of her time. Someone once said that a wheel, the one from a bike, did more for the emancipation of women than all women's rights movements altogether. In Coco’s time, women started riding a bicycle, skiing, and even driving a car. They wouldn’t be able to do all this with corsets on them. Before Coco, women were able to ride a horse, but they were obliged to sit on one side, with gathered legs. Then Coco Chanel came and designed riding pants for women. During World War II, when they were replacing men in factories, women had to go to work in practical clothes and short hair. This new lifestyle demanded from women to dress simply, and Coco Chanel’s clothing responded precisely to this demand. The simplicity of her models is linked with her idea that the elegance is hiding in simplicity, but also with economic depression, which sought efficiency in clothes manufacturing.

Whatever the case, there is no doubt that Coco Chanel was the one who liberated the female body, the one who created a new woman look and the one who invented the fashion of the twentieth century. This was enough for TIME magazine to add her on the list of 100 most influential people of the past century.

Although she claimed that she was born on August 19, 1893, in the French town Saumur, her real birth date was ten years earlier. She was born as Gabrielle Chasnel, but, thanks to the mistake of hospital employees when they were filling up the documents, she remained Chanel till the end of her life. She was illegitimate child in a poor family that was made of a market stallholder, a laundrywoman, and five other children. When Gabrielle was 12 years old, her mother died and her father left the family. She spent the next five years in an orphanage, which was very important to her because there she learned dressmaking.

After the orphanage, she went to Paris where she performed in cabarets as a singer and dancer. There she got her artistic name – Coco. Her career as a singer didn’t last for very long and Coco began to design hats, which were an essential fashion accessory in those times. With financial support from her lover Étienne Balsan, in 1909 she opened her first boutique. With this boutique her ambitions started to grow – to expand her business by creating clothes that would be, in the same time, comfortable, casual, simple and modern. The hats that she designed earlier, and thanks to whom she became very popular in the Parisian fashion world, were just like that.  She didn’t use feathers and flowers, which were very popular then, and instead of wide rims which caused headaches and neck spasms, she designed small and simple hats.

Coco started to dismiss canons - dresses that were in fashion then were truly luxurious, but they changed the natural shape of the body and drowned women in lace and corsets. Her ideal and her great discovery was a fashion in which woman's body can move freely.

Most women dress for men and want to be admired. But they must also be able to move, to get into a car without bursting their seams! Clothes must have a natural shape.” – Coco Chanel said.

It is very common today to see a woman wearing jeans and trousers, but not many people know that Coco Chanel was one who initiated this trend. She was often inspired with men’s fashion and in 1920’s she decided to design clothes for women very similar to clothes for men. This is how the almost boyish designed outfits were created. Such clothes implied and pants for women, something that was almost unthinkable in those times.

Perhaps her greatest achievement was the creation of "little black dress" in 1926. Half a century later, this dress was included in the ten unavoidable clothes that every woman must have, even in our modern times. At the time of its creation, this dress was almost scandalous: black clothing was reserved exclusively for a period of mourning and wearing it on other occasions was not only considered as a lack of taste, but as profanity. The first little black dress also disturbed the conservatives and because it significantly revealed a woman’s body: it was sleeveless and her length was just below the knees. The secret of success of "little black dress" lies in its simplicity, elegance and sophistication, as well as in its wide use. It can be worn during the day, but also in the evening. It can be made from expensive, but also and from cheaper materials. Audrey Hepburn made it even more popular by wearing it in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's", in 1961. 

Her ideas were not only limited to the design of clothes. She is also meritorious for the most famous color of lipstick, pinky-red, which she created in 1924. Coco Chanel stylized her creations by creating additional accessories that made her models unique.  An integral part of her Chanel style were flower on lapel, or costume or real jewelry, and also flat shoes which were consistent with her idea of comfort and simple look. Women might still wore purses in hand, if it never occurred to Chanel to attach a chain on them.

Her inventions are even today essential elements of women's wardrobe: skirts and jersey dresses, scarf, woman shirt, skirt with pleats, cotton blouse-sweater, sweater with high collar, blazer, strapless dress, and raincoat. In her opinion, woman should feel in her clothes just as men feel in theirs. She believed than men and women are equal, despite the fact that women, in her time, were not allowed to vote.

Because of love affair with a German officer, during World War II, she didn’t returned to fashion world until 1954. Her return once again brought liberating creations – she designed the Chanel costume, which was casual and loose model in comparison to uptight fashion of that time. This costume is popular even today.

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1 comments: on "Perfume that smells like a woman! - Chanel No.5"

eula_w said...

What a womanly perfume you have shared in here. Thanks for the great read! :)
pheromone cologne

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