We Saw the N°5 Culture Chanel Exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo!

This week, we went to the Palais de Tokyo where the most Haute Couture exhibit of the moment is taking place from May 5th to June 5th, centered around Chanel’s famous N°5  perfume. It was just the occasion to delight our noses with the refinement that is Gabrielle Chanel’s first perfume, as well as to learn her story.
With the Palais de Tokyo calling out to our senses, we got a full view upon arriving through the garden of Danish new wave Naturalist horticulturist Piet Oudolf, which expressed a veritable poetic evocation. The soul of Gabrielle Chanel could be felt in this history-filled place.The epic story of this perfume took off after the death of Arthur “Boy Capel”, Gabrielle Chanel’s greatest heartache. Boy is without a doubt the one who made her a modern woman with a curiosity for everything. He gave her a veritable passion for literature and esotericism. This perfume was for him. This love that Gabrielle would never get over would plunge her into silence and transform her chagrin into the desire to pay “homage”, to honor him by researching the exact scent that represented her love for him. This is how N°5, the brand’s very first perfume, was born.
Once through the garden, the sensation of entering into the intimate sphere of this symbol of French elegance invades you. From Boy’s death to the different portayals of her by her surrealist friends, the other side of the decor is unveiled. You can discover the private connection that Gabrielle Chanel had with certain artists in the Dada movement and surrealism that portrayed her numerous times through calligrammes or other artistic creations. Art had an impact on her designs, notably in the presentation of the flask. The tag recalls Dada butterflies, very short texts printed on white paper. This very same restraint would become years later the chic of minimalism. This very first perfume, reminiscent of a lost love, bears the number 5. A number that has inspired artists, a lucky number that marked Gabrielle’s life and even appears on her tombstone. Our visit then brought us upstairs, where our senses were awakened. An immense flask dominates the middle of the room, surrounded by small plexiglass boxes that let the inimitable odor of N°5 reign over the entire room.
Definitely don’t miss the booklets that are available; they’ll teach you more about this great fashion figure as well as Chanel’s emblematic perfume. One of them especially grabbed our attention. Graphic artist Irma Boom shares her modern vision of Gabrielle Chanel’s universe through the technique of embossage, similar to braille and unique to the artist. Throughout the entire exhibit, we learned more about the artistic techniques that brought the perfume down to its bare bones than about its initial intentions. No one intended for it to become a work of art. It became what it is through Gabrielle Chanel’s relationship with the artistic world of the surrealists, and what they went on to do afterwards. “Time works for me.” With this sentence, Gabrielle Chanel demonstrated the durability of the sacred N°5. Made from a loving memory, N°5 is more than just a simple perfume, it is a work of art that marked the history of Chanel and even today continues to get tongues wagging and crowds moving.“To be irreplaceable, you have to be different.” A beautiful life and fashion lesson provided by Coco.
Get yourself to this exhibit!

N°5 Culture Chanel

From 5 mai to 5 juin 2013

13, avenue du Président Wilson 

75 116 Paris

J’adore by Dior


There are some perfumes that seem to have always existed; we feel like they’ve accompanied us since forever. Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Greta Garbo, and Marilyn Monroe never knew J’adore by Dior, and yet, their presence in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s commercial is natural, even rooted in a compelling necessity.

J’adore is a fragrance for the quintessential Dior woman: timeless, elegant, powerful. This is exactly how Calice Becker, the master perfumer responsible for the fragrance’s initial conception, wanted it. Her only constraint was to respect the true spirit of the Dior brand.

“After women, flowers are the most divine creations”, fantasized Christian Dior. For J’adore, Calice Becker wanted to capture the aura of a bouquet of flowers bathing in soft, ponderous sunlight. A delicate union of violet, champaca flower, and orchid, with undertones of blackberry musk gracefully blending with amaranthine. In distilling the entire concoction, Calice Becker makes the radiant and delicate essence of a flower spring forth into the nostrils.

Embodied by Carmen Kass at the time of its initial creation in 1999, then by Charlize Theron since 2004, J’adore has the power to deck out any woman who puts it on in gold.

Shalimar De Guerlain: A Perfume Legend

In 1828, Pierre-François-Pascal-Guerlain uttered the golden rule for the Guerlain designer brand: “Make good products, and never surrender quality. For the rest, have simple ideas and apply them scrupulously”, Shalimar is a worthy illustration of this. This perfume, created in 1925 by Jacques Guerlain, is the product of pure chance. Indeed, it is said that this legend was born by adding a dose of vanilla to a bottle of his famous perfume Jicky.

A perfume inspired by a love story, that of Shah Jahan, emperor of the Orient, who imagined a magnificent garden named Shalimar, in hommage to his late wife. This translation of “the temple of love” went perfectly hand in hand with this perfume and its romantic undertones. Presented for the first time in 1925 during the Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris, in a bottle created by the crystal-makers of Baccarat, Shalimar of the Orient aroused desire, extended an invitation to the discovery of the senses, evoked a kingdom of nothing but sensuality and the celebration of the female body. “To wear Shalimar is to let your senses take over”, said its creator. One of the designer’s incontestable best sellers, this icon would leave no one untouched, not even Serge Gainsbourg. Perfume of temptation, of desire, that makes you want to get even closer, Shalimar appeared in films like Cukor’s “The Women” in 1945, a comedy of deception and lies featuring a seductive perfume-seller.

An icon of the Guerlain house, this magic potion has gone through the years without getting a single wrinkle; “Shalimar Parfum Initial”, the newest addition to the line represented by muses like Nora Arnezeder and Natalia Vodianova, has been able to hold onto the same formula that made Jacques Guerlain’s original masterpiece so bewitching. Serge Gainsbourg said it all in his famous song “Initials BB” by singing “She wore nothing other than a little bit of Guerlain fragrance in her hair”. Twenty years after his death, Guerlain payed him homage by using this ode to women for its last advertising campaign.

“A Woman Who Doesn’t Wear Perfume Has No Future.” Coco Chanel


1921: After launching the trend of boy’s haircuts for women and making jersey a go-to fabric, Miss Coco Chanel’s style had effectively become a cornerstone for Parisian fashion. Even so, she felt the need to complete her inventory by adding one touch of elegance: fragrance.

At that time, Coco was enamored with Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovitch, in exile in Paris. Through him she was able to meet Ernest Beaux, ex-perfumer for the czars of Russia; she wasted no time trusting him the task of making her very first perfume. He and his captious nose were able to whip up two series of fragrances, numbered from 1 to 5 and from 20 to 24. Chanel chose number 5. But Ernest Beaux wasn’t fully satisfied with his creation: the smell, which was far too heavy, stayed at the very bottom of the bottle and stood the risk of weighing down the wearer’s skin all while failing to fully spread. His genius guided him towards the use of aldehyde (synthetic molecules with a faint scent of alcohol): once injected into the original substance, the perfume was finally able to take flight. This is what brought that needed touch of sophistication, this penetrating odor that tickled the olfactory senses.

What if a woman was defined by her scent? What if perfume was in fact the very aura of femininity? Chanel seems to have embodied in her own way the fragile dichotomy of womankind: passion and sensibility. The aura of Chanel and her lover were also bottled up alongside the fragility of all womankind into a flask-like perfume bottle designed by the Duke himself. The final result was in need of a name that would go down in history, so naturally, Chanel let fate decide for her: “I am releasing my collection of dresses on the 5th of May, the 5th month of the year, and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already; it will bring good luck.” The rest is history.

Miss Dior, The Scent Of Recklessness


In 1948, Christian Dior decided to pay tribute to her sister, Catherine, by dedicating a unique scented perfume. The delicate fragrance draws its inspiration from the “Jardin de Granville” where the designer has spent his entire childhood. “Make me a fragrance that smells like love” says Christian Dior to his longtime friend Serge Heftler-Louiche. Miss Dior was born.

An elegant woody smell, a fresh fruity touch and some floral notes, Miss Dior sounds like a spring love pledge. The fragrance combines complex alchemy and unique expertise which, as a dress Haute Couture, makes it remarkable. Christian Dior used to say “a perfume is like an essential accessory to the feminine personality, it is like the finishing touch of a dress”.

In the past, the exquisite fragrance was curled up in a precious Baccarat crystal bottle which looked like an ancient amphorae. Thereafter, the elegant bottle was transformed, bearing the symbols particular to the Maison Dior. The scent is covered with the “Diorissime” hound’s-tooth pattern and the romantic “noeud poignard”, the symbol of the Dior grace and boldness.

Natalie Portman embodies the ideal beauty, gracious and refined much like the reflection of the Dior spirit. A perfect muse who appears as a romantic heroine in fabulous Paris. Later, the Black Swan will say “To me, a fragrance is not a daily-basis. It’s a way of dressing”. A timeless scent which symbolizes a charm “à la française”, Miss Dior remains forever elegant and insouciant.