Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere

When I took my thirteen-year-old into Saks with me to explore the Chanels, the first thing she said when she smelled Chanel No. 5 was, “it smells like rich people.” I thought that remark was apt in two ways – No. 5 instantly conjures the old-guard moneyed classes. The other insight was the word “people” – Chanel doesn´t smell like rich women; men could quite easily indulge in its dry, chilled florals. While a random person on the street might be surprised to discover a man wearing No. 5, an adventurous perfumista would understand.

We were there to smell No. 5 Eau Premiere, of course – the new twist on Chanel´s iconic fragrance.

I worked through a bottle of No. 5 cologne back in the day, but it´s been some time since I really paid attention to what it smells like. My first reaction, unsurprisingly, is that I like it much, much more than I used to. I meditated on the spray of EDP on the back of my hand – dry, yes, but sweetly smoky – and realized I´d finally grown into it. I don´t spend my days running around in a Chanel suit, but I can easily imagine spritzing some No. 5 on before lunch with a friend. Now I need to try the parfum, which I´m thinking is probably extraordinary.

I brought Diva along to test-drive some of the Chanel scents I think are targeted to the youth market (i.e., anyone younger than me); she tried Coco Mademoiselle, Allure and Chance Eau Fraiche. I thought Mademoiselle was lovely on her, but she pronounced it “too spicy;” the allure of Allure continues to elude us (and I´m not spraying “Sensuelle” on a 13-year-old). Predictably she liked the Chance Eau Fraiche a lot; I can´t remember Chance regular, but would have assumed it was fraiche enough on its own. It´s a perfectly nice scent and she was immediately on board with the idea of a bottle as her Chanel gateway drug. But I think she likes it because it smells more or less like the ubiquitous fruity-floral of her generation.

Eau Premiere is a different, and interesting, proposition on its own. Its resemblance to the original No. 5 is immediately apparent; while the aldehydic powderiness been toned down significantly, it still retains a velvety texture. No. 5 classic is a “cool” fragrance; in fact the most frequent criticism I read from people who don´t like it is they find it too cold. Premiere is the opposite – warmth, but not the warmth of a blazing (or even dying) fire. It´s the warmth of a blanket or a cashmere sweater, the warmth of a single, spicy rose in a vase by the window, with the snow falling outside.

Eau Premiere snuck up on me, frankly. I tried it first with five other things (typical!), and then twice more as a “normal” person would wear fragrance – all over, by itself. I put it on, thought yes, that´s nice, and went about my day. But there´s something slyly subversive about Eau Premiere. It takes the original construct, the chilly élan, of No. 5, using notes that signal immediately how close their relationship is, and turns it on its head. Warm, not cold. Inviting, not aloof. Closeness, not distance. And for all that, it´s not a “comfort scent.” It´s not your favorite tatty cardigan or a lap robe by the fire. It´s quite elegant – Audrey Hepburn, maybe, instead of Grace Kelly, but elegant nonetheless. My minor complaint is I wish its formulation were a tad stronger – maybe like Allure they´ll come out with one. My quandary now is: do I need a bottle of it and No. 5, or will one do?

October Roses, Liz Lindsey, lizlindsey.com

  • dorothy irwin says:

    I am very very interested as to where i can purchase this perfume, please let my know. thank you

    • March says:

      Dorothy, it’s available at Saks, and they’ll ship it to you if you don’t have one nearby, you can pick a store and order it over the phone. You might also try Nordstrom or Macy’s if you have one near you and that’s any more convenient. The price I believe is set by Chanel and will be the same, but shipping costs vary.

  • Sherman says:

    I’m a male in his 30s. I adore No5 and wear it almost exclusively. Though I love other chanels. No22 being the other one. I am often stopped to ask what I’m wearing as it smells different on different individuals chemistry. I get a lot of women who say they wear no 5 but it never smelled as good on them as it does on me. I also get guys who ask what I’m wearing and they say that I must have spent a lot on it. I don’t tell them what I wear. Fragrance, I feel, is not made masculine or feminine, it’s marketed that way. That’s why I have no problem wearing ‘feminine’ parfum. And yes, all the different formulations of no5 smell different yet related. My fave is EDT and Parfum(extrait).

  • Ayala says:

    Liz,

    Thank you for the lovely story – I love to hear about others’ experience perfume shopping with their kids, because I do it all the time and don’t personally know many that do it themselves…

    I am a bit in shock that they actually *dared* coming out with a “version” of No. 5. AS if the EDT and EDP versions were not different enough from the parfum, which I believe was the *true* intention of the perfumer for this jus originally.
    (The EDP, by the way, didn’t come out until the 80’s, and smells like an 80’s perfume in a lot of ways, and the EDT I can’t remember much about, but I don’t believe it was formulated by Ernest Beaux).

    But shock aside, I shouldn’t be surprised. Plus to me No. 5 is not so much a “work of art” that “tells a story” like other perfumes from that era. It has become so much of an icon of the story of Chanel herself that it’s hard to look at it any other way but a prestigious fashion and status symbol.

    And my final comment – you MUST try the parfum. It is just a completely different story than the EDT or EDP. When you smell it you get none of the distant or cold personalities you were mentioning re the EDT or EDP formulations.

    • March says:

      Another vote for trying the parfum! Well, I’m not springing for a bottle unsniffed, but a stroll down the sinful alleys of The Perfumed Court reveals the parfum… thanks for the thoughts about the various formulations of No. 5, I’d assumed they were supposed to be more or less the same. Although even when they’re SUPPOSED to be, they generally aren’t.

  • Gaia says:

    I’ll need to give them a try and reconsider my stance on No.5. It never felt like something I need to wear. While I adore elegance, my style is much more Sophia Loren than Audrey or Grace, so No. 5 was never quite right on me (I kind of like Coco, though, but not enough to get a bottle, yet). Between you, Chaya and Tom, looks like I really need to try again. Maybe I’ll find my inner rich people…

    • March says:

      If that’s your pic on your blog, you are indeed more Sophia than Audrey or Grace!\:d/ Maybe it’s just not your line, you know? Dior I admire in principle, and I’ve tried to work the formula, but a Dior gal I am not.

  • minette says:

    i thought the premiere was quite good, too – it reminded me instantly of how much i love no. 5. no. 5 just plain smells good. and it never goes wrong on me. and if this new iteration helps bring a new generation into the no. 5 fold, that’s cool. i need to work my way through my edp, but would definitely consider adding this to my collection.

  • tmp00 says:

    I love No. 5, and I did wear it on occasion I like the juxtaposition of those chilly aldehydes and the warm base. I’m such a ‘fume ‘ho, though, I am afraid that I used it up and have moved on…:”>

    • March says:

      I have such a hard time working through a bottle of anything, I want to say: ^:)^ And it doesn’t surprise me at all that you did so, trendsetter.

      • tmp00 says:

        Well, it was the 80’s and New York.

        I affected my version of punk: engineer boots, a Harris tweed overcoat, cats eye sunglasses and Chanel No. 5.

        It was a very confusing image.

  • rosarita says:

    I love Chanel fragrances, too. They’ve pretty much always worked for me, from #19 on and off since it’s beginning and Coco, the love of my life, since day one. My bottle of #5 was given to me back in the day also, and I dutifully wore it but doubt if I finished the bottle. I have a sample and put on a drop in your honor, March….and I must agree with you, it smells much better to me now than then. My daughter has always liked perfume too, and thought my Coco much too strong, but now that she’s a grownup married woman, she’s changing her mind. She still prefers Mademoiselle for herself, and it smells lovely on her – I’m guessing she’ll love Premiere.
    Cristalle is one I revisited lately, I remember liking it but thinking it smelled too “ordinary.” Now I know why – it smells similar to Norell, which I was already wearing at the time. Cristalle smells wonderful to me now, Norell does still, but now I appreciate their differences. Fun post! I’m still trying to remember the guy’s name who gifted me with the bottle of #5 🙂

    • March says:

      Oh, the memories!!! I have Norell EDT, EDP and parfum, and I think it’s stunning. What an amazing fragrance. And of the entire line, Coco is my favorite, the one I think smells most “me.” I have an empty stoppered glass flacon of the EDP I used up years ago. It reminds me of a particular period in my life that makes me both happy and sad when I smell it, you know? I’ve gotten a new appreciation for 22 and now 5. And what a wonderful gift from a man!

  • Robin says:

    Still have to get myself back into the mall and try Eau Premiere, but I’m with Diva: Chance Eau Fraiche beats Chance any day.

    • March says:

      R, I cannot remember Chance *at all.* For whatever reason, Saks was missing the bottle (there was a space for it.) Is it awful? Maybe they’re really different fragrances. I have to admit other than trying Coco Mad, I mostly ignored all the newish stuff…

      • Robin says:

        Chance is easily the least Chanel-ish of the Chanels, IMHO. Very dull for Chanel, and way too sweet. The Eau Fraiche at least lightens up the sweetness.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Tried this today…
    And you are right.
    It’s really that good.
    I like the extra tuberose in it- waaay better than the Bond or EL.
    The Kleenex I sprayed is under my pillow now…

    • March says:

      Confirmation! I want to know if you try it on, what you think of the lasting power. It’s not as potent as most of Les Exclusifs, IMHO.

  • violetnoir says:

    March, I’m not sure what to say about this, but I never liked No.5. It always smelled a bit stuffy and musty to me. But if I see the new one, I will surely test it just out of sheer curiosity.

    Hugs!

    • March says:

      See, you are the PERFECT test. I think you’d really like Premiere, and I want to know at some point if I’m wrong!

      PS Got your pkg yesterday!!!! What a lovely surprise, thanks so very [email protected]};-

  • Divalano says:

    Ha! Chanel as a gateway drug, I love that, lol!
    No5 was one of my first scents when I was too young for it & before I knew what I liked, just wore what was there. I wandered into Bigelow a few wks ago, saw it & sprayed. It was as I remembered it, but yet not. For about 2 hrs I sniffed & adored & loved its depth, complexity & grandeur. And then … it got to be too much. I was done & it was not. Maybe it’s the roses, I hate rose. I’m not sure what but, no it’s not me. It certainly fits better in my 40s than it did in my 20s but … somehow it’s some other lady. I’ll try Premiere next time I see it but for right now No18 is the only Chanel that fits.

    Oh! Must share … today my SF friend is visiting & we’re going sniffing uptown at Takashimaya. Wheee!!!

    • Helen T says:

      Divalano, how lucky are you? I love Takashimaya, its one of my favourite places in the city. I love that its this little oasis of calm and tranquility, not to mention fabulous sniffing opportunities.

      And yet when you go to Takashimaya in Tokyo, its like Macys at sale time! Nightmare!

      • Divalano says:

        It was lovely! Sniffing was fun, and the tea in the lower level was fascinating. But THEN we went to Bendel’s & we got to sniff at the Memoir Liquide scent bar. Swoon! I’ll be at Perfumed Court ordering samples very soon.

        • March says:

          I am =:) with envy! I really need to arrange another trip to NYC.

          • Helen T says:

            Me too, its so far from life here that I could cry :((

            Is this new at Bendels? I don’t remember seeing it last time I was there. Just adding it to my growing list of things to track down to sniff! Or maybe Bendels is the one where the staff were too pushy and I just gave up and walked out. I really, really want to play on my own guys, watch me, not giving out talk to me signals, just want to inhale the scent.

            I think the team at Les Senteurs should give training sessions on perfect fragrance selling. Although selling seems like the wrong word for what they do.

            Also adding to list to have tea at Takashimaya. Never done that, sounds like I should.

            Off to troll round Tescos, which is just about the most opposite experience imaginable :-<

          • March says:

            Bendel … I guess it varies, but when Patty and I were there they were really, really pushy.
            :-w

    • March says:

      I always wanted to love Cristalle, which reminds me of a friend. But it simply isn’t me. My loves are Coco and (more recently) No. 22, after I understand they ramped up the incense. It’s luvly. I think being in my 40s brought me around to No. 5. When I wore it before it was when I was trying to be my idea of a Chanel-wearing gal. Now I can just wear it and love it… but I can certainly see that if there’s some part that bugs you, it would be hard to overlook. I think Premiere is a lot less in your face.

  • Teri says:

    Hmmmm:-? I’m thinking maybe I should give the Eau Premiere a try. I’ve always steered clear of No. 5 because it’s so inextricably associated with my mother. But this just might be different enough that I could wear it.

    (the list gets ever longer….happy sigh)

  • Kim says:

    I look forward to trying the No 5 Eau Premiere – I thought the elixir sensuelle was lovely. I have been wearing No 5 since my early 20’s and all versions do well with my skin chemistry ( but I am a diehard fan as all the Ernest Beaux Chanel’s smell amazing on my skin – Bois des Iles, No 22, Cuir de Russie). I am sad that the parfum strength isn’t available for all the Ernest Beaux perfumes. I agree with Patty and helg that the parfum is the best strength for all the Chanel’s, but especially No 5 and Cuir de Russie.

    I am new to the perfume world and not always sure what the “correct” name is for what I am smelling. But I don’t understand the “cold” perception many have of No 5. On my skin, there is an almost smokey background in there with the musk/wood that helg mentions, and the jasmine sits more in the background. But somehow, my skin seems to pick up minor notes in the Ernest Beaux Chanel’s – in Bois des Iles, I get the gingerbread some people mention as part of the drydown and it is there right from the beginning on my skin!

    It doesn’t bother me that No 5 is so popular – I love my iPod for it’s elegant, simple design, even though the iPod is ubiquitous! Good is good!!

    Thanks for a great review!

    • March says:

      Hon, fear not — I don’t know the correct name for what you’re smelling, either!/:) So you read Helg’s comment and my response — you’re a Chanel girl, it really works for you, and you probably bring out its best. I do think the EDTs (which are what most people get to try) can be thin, particularly of No. 5 compared to the EDP. No. 5 EDT smells almost sour/bitter to me. I get smoky and Helg and you smell woods; whatever, it’s lovely, and any perception of “coldness” is just that — a perception, not shared by everyone. I really need to get busy and try more of the line in parfum.

      And that’s a great comparison to the iPod.:)

    • ering says:

      Oooh–Kim, I’m right there with you–all the Beaux creations work so well on me, and it is heartbreaking not to be able to get them in parfum any longer. (What happens with each successive reformulation of No.22, BdI, and CdR is another matter.) My email pleas to Chanel for rerelease of the extraits go mercilessly unheeded. The ubiquity of No.5, however, has always kept me from acquiring a bottle, which I think I may have to do now. March’s review (thanks!) makes me intrigued to do the side-by-side (or rather, arm-by-arm) comparison of the Eau Premiere and the original. Conveniently, I am already headed to Chicago this weekend;) I should stop being a snob. I have my hard-won bottle of Aldehyde 44 for when I want to smell like no one else…

      BTW, is it wrong to admit to lusting for one of the new iPods already?

      • March says:

        You’re welcome! I’d love any feedback you have, given your hardcore fandom. I’ll admit I have not properly shown the house of Chanel all the love I’m thinking it deserves. Ah, well. Late to the party.

        I love Chicago! A close friend lives there. Great, great place. Have fun.

  • I’m so eager to try this as my “stealth” No. 5. I love No. 5 but DH isn’t that crazy about it.
    All I can find online is a 5 oz. bottle.
    Is that correct or did you see other sizes at Saks?

    Five ounces! 😮

    • March says:

      I only saw one size — and I believe it’s relatively expensive ($175?) so maybe it’s big. Saks.com has a link to buy the fragrance, but when you click it doesn’t work./:) So I’m not sure. I’d be careful buying it online from anyone other than a fragrance retailer (e.g., eBay), there are a ton of Chanel fakes out there.

      Having said that — it does strike me that this is the sort of scent a man would like very much, and I can see equally why he might not care for the original.

  • Marina says:

    Despite the fact that I now constantly smell Chanel No 5 on fellow commuters, I too think it smells like rich people 🙂 Mind you, they all might just be those eccentric millionaires who prefer trains to limousines.

    Any Obsession in the drydown of Eau Premiere? 🙂

    • March says:

      Marina — I think you liked Premiere, right? How do you feel about regular ol’ No. 5, I wonder… I’m guessing thumbs up.

      And NO, thank goodness, I didn’t get Obsession. You scared me to death with that. I wish it wore a little more like the Exclusifs, which are mostly quite tenacious on me.

  • Louise says:

    What a cool mom, you are, March-introducing your girl(s) early to Chanel. My mom wore only White Shoulders…not so sophisticated, but it meant a “date night” for her with dad.

    I still couldn’t do the 5 Premiere-just don’t appreciate 5 (yet). Aldehydes and all.

    But I bet it is soooo nice on you-get you a bottle!

    (shh..I like Sensuelle, but only in private…)

    • March says:

      Louise!! I need to email you. I love the phrase “date night,” it being synonymous with … well, never mind, but I wish my mother had worn her My Sin more often, so I could have surreptitiously enjoyed it. And White Shoulders, while not something I’d wear, strikes me as wonderfully evocative for a scent memory.

      I *think* I like Sensuelle too, having tried it awhile ago. But I’ve been stubbornly resisting most of the newer scents, trying to coax myself into appreciating the classic ones.

  • Patty says:

    Knew it would capture you. it really is well done. And, yes, you need it, and you need to try 5 in parfum, it really is brilliant. I’ve grown into it, even though I just don’t wear it. Coco and Coco Mademoiselle are brilliant in parfum. Heck, every Chanel that I like/love is better in parfum, Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie, too. They just all get an added texture in parfum that they don’t have in edt/edp, though all of them are great in other concentrations.

    I wish I had a girl teenager to go sniffing wif. 🙁

    • March says:

      I need to go survey TPC. The problem around here is they mostly only have the Chanel EDTs to try. And even Saks just has the EDP to sample, although I’m sure they sell the parfum. You’d think I’d have learned by now, huh?8-} But going back and retrying everything in parfum sounds very #-o$-)!

  • Helen T says:

    I’m really keen to smell Eau Premiere. Lee, do you have any idea if anyone is carrying it in the UK?

    I’ve always run away from No 5, its one of those I see/smell as being my mum’s fragrance. And a bit old for me. And a bit grown up. But given I’ve just entered my 4th decade, then perhaps I should try more grown up fragrance……no, decided against that route.

    Going to try Eau Premiere as soon as can get hands on it, which I’m hoping is before my trip to NYC in November. Too long to wait to hear all of you raving about it!

    • March says:

      Here it’s exclusive to Saks, but it’s hard for me to imagine they aren’t going to roll it out in London, maybe as an exclusive to one of the fancier stores like Selfridges or Fortnum.

      Oooh, NY in november! Is that when the sniffa is? Or are you coming for other reasons? I am longing for some NYC sniffage.:x

      • Helen T says:

        Coming out for work (I work in retail marketing as my mortgage paying job aside from my website, so coming out to look at what everyone else is up to stateside) so it means I get to do some sniffing on company time. Will be looking for priority sniffing suggestions closer to the time!

        I am so excited about the trip. I am absolutely a country girl, living in the wilds here, but I love, with a totally irrational love, New York. In my next life, I want to be an expat in NY!

        • March says:

          Carve out a little time for play… I am sure we can come up with all sorts of helpful suggestions for parting you from your money, perfume-wise.

  • helg says:

    Interesting break down of the Chanel frags through the eyes of a teenager.
    As a matter of fact I know of a french actor who does like to wear Chanel No.5 (original) himself and considers it sexy for either sex.

    What strikes me as intriguing is the mention of No.5 being considered “cold”, which to me it is not with that musky-woody base. I consider Apres l’Ondee cold, or Iris Silver Mist, or something along those lines. But this is a matter of perception I guess.
    {As a side note, all Chanel perfumes are superior in parfum/extrait I think. You should definitely try No.5 AND Allure in those. Allure gets a bad rep -or good, considering the source-because of the very sweet, extra vanillic EDP; personally I consider the EDT and parfum far superior}

    Of course Chanel No.5 is not equated to me with “rich people” either, as it is very often worn here being a best-seller and there are quite a bit of non-rich people who wear it regularly (sniffs on the street, even on buses, are a common occurence) maybe as a form of wihsful “belonging to an upper class” touch.

    Nice hearing Eau Premiere getting positive reviews!

    • March says:

      Helg, thanks for your interesting comments. I think I need a bit more coffee! I am glad you know a man who wears it, I think it’s very fitting.

      About the perception that No. 5 is “cold” — I wonder if (going out on a limb here) it’s more an American perception. No. 5 has a certain aloofness that in my mind fits more comfortably with, say, the French character. It’s got a bit of an Ice Maiden quality. Your spot-on description of the notes I think speaks more to the characteristic warmth of the scent itself, rather than a possible perception (as you note) of the perfume as being maybe more formal or strict.

      I can’t remember where you are.:-? Here I would describe No. 5 as aspirational, especially as a business scent, although I certainly smell it on any number of genuinely wealthy women! With our youth-oriented culture I think there’s more of an abhorrence among younger women of wearing something that smells “old.”

      I will be sure to try the extrait — and the Allure EDT, now that you’ve explained about the sweetness which is probably what’s doing me in.

      If you come back, what did you think of Les Exclusifs?

      • March says:

        And please delete “I think” as you read this, which seems to have replaced “actually” as my annoying repetition.;)

      • helg says:

        March,

        I am in Greece :d

        Indeed I would be glad if you did try the Allure and find the differences between formulations as I did. Would be interested in your opinion.

        No.5 as aspirational is not a bad description. It is seen as such, it’s true. And you do have a point about anything being considered “old” being repulsive in a youth obsessive culture. Which is I gather more of a concern than projecting wealthiness.
        As to its “coolness”, if we equate it withs ophistication and what you so eloquently say “the French character”, then yes, it is so; agreed.

        Regarding Chanel’s LES EXCLUSIFS, I have reviewed them one by one on the blog:
        http://www.perfumeshrine.com/search?q=les+exclusifs
        (scroll a bit for reviews on each one of them and an opinion on the whole line in a seperate article)Hope you find it interesting.

    • Rowanhill says:

      Helg, I so agree with you. The extrait of Chanel 5 is in a class of its own. The EdT and even EdP pale next to its elegant smoothness. I bought the EdP a couple of years ago longing for the beautifully rounded scent my mother used to wear when I was a child, and I could not believe that my nose would deceive me so as this was not the scent I remembered. Then some time later I tried the perfume and immediately bought it. This was it. Quoting my mother’s ultimate praise for a wine or a perfume: I could swim in it.
      From the heart of Europe,
      Rowanhill

  • Lee says:

    I’m with Maria – and you, with the not spraying Sensuelle…

    And…

    <:-p Happy 64th birthday, Patchamour! <:-p @};[email protected]};[email protected]};-

  • Maria says:

    March, go for the Eau Premiere. That’s where your heart seems to be. I guess it’s dangerous to try it, huh? Especially if one likes warm fragrances.

    • March says:

      It’s one of those stealth fragrances … you know, I’m sure it’s happened to you. The thrill is not immediately apparent, but over time, it captures you? In your case, though, I’d be worried about sillage/longevity. I wonder how Les Exclusifs worked on you…