Revisiting Chanel No 5

We appear to be above freezing now consistently, including over night. So, the three dahlias have migrated outside. So far, they seem to like it ok.

Last Friday, I went into town armed with my old (eight years) iPad which no longer held a charge and blacked out every once in a while when it got tired plus two long-ago iPhones, one of which was red.

The destination was the Apple shop; the plan: to obtain a far newer iPad. This was my late birthday gift to myself. The point of all the used tech was trade in with the hope of money off the new iPad. The nice young woman who took care of things said she has a drawer full of old tech which she can’t part with for sentimental reasons. I ended up with a new iPad 10th generation (not as new as other iPads, but 2022 isn’t bad). She tended to all my well used gear and very kindly gave me £130 off the price of my iPad.

I came home a happy bunny. No more blackouts and it doesn’t take hours to charge (and an hour to lose charge).

Anyway, in her last post, March mentioned Chanel Crystal Eau Vert, and closed the section of her post about it by saying it was “still a little chilly and chic in that Chanel way”. I thought ‘chilly and chic’ was perfect regarding Chanel. My classic house favourite is Guerlain. I like some Chanel but even the warmer ones aren’t warm on me.

In any case, in my post of last Monday I vaguely mentioned long ago having worn Chanel No 5 and that stayed with me all week. So, post Appling, I went to the local department store (we now have one – we used to have three for no good reason) and had the somewhat befuddled Chanel SA spray me and a blotter with No 5 eau de parfum.

I wore this for a period in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I know only that it was when we lived in an apartment in Queens and the next door lady commented on it one day, the same day she complained to me that she, her husband and her kid should be living in my apartment because they needed the space as theirs was smaller than ours. Like I should trade with her there and then?

I got a lot of compliments on Chanel No 5 but it was one of those that sat on my skin rather than being a part of my being. It was lovely but it wasn’t me.

But it’s always fun to retry something.

Floral aldehyde and boy oh boy is it. From 1921 by Ernest Beaux notes include aldehydes, ylang, neroli, bergamot, lemon, iris, jasmine, rose, orris root, lily of the valley, civet, musk, sandalwood, amber, moss, vanilla, vetiver and patchouli.

This opens on me with a blast of powdery flowers. I could discern ylang, rose and a very fizzy jasmine.

As the fizz recedes it moved to florals plus a bit of iris and interestingly after a couple of hours a very discernible lemon note.

The drydown was soft floral vanilla-moss-musk.

It reminded me of why this is so popular – but also why I stopped wearing it when my bottle was finished.

It’s beautiful but it’s strangely removed and austere.

Anyway, I really enjoyed revisiting it but in no way feel I need a bottle in my life.

Is this one of yours? Has it ever been? Does Chanel mostly leave you cold or are there ones you adore?

Pic: Pexels

  • Musette says:

    No5 is my QUEEN! But only in the EdT and Parfum- the EdP smells … different.. to me.

    I love the chilly austerity of Chanel – it matches my overall demeanor- and when I need armor there is nothing better-heck! There is nothing better, period!

  • Tom says:

    Nope. Not me. I love it and I am glad that it’s never really strayed from being what it is, but it’s just not me.

  • ElizaC says:

    I consider many of the Chanels (No. 22, Boise Des Iles and Bel Respiro for example) icy and elegant. I love wearing them as sort of an armor. The No. 5 drydown, the No. 5 body lotion and Coromandel are warmth and cashmere blankets to me. Coromandel is the Chanel that is “me”.

  • Dina C. says:

    Chanel is my favorite house. Where Guerlain puts vanilla in their base a lot, Chanel seems to use iris as their touchstone, and I adore it. I have 12 of their scents, a mix of main line and Les Exclusifs. Jacques Polge and Henri Robert seem to know how to compose scents that make all the scent receptors in my brain light up like a fireworks finale. I wore No 5 parfum and body oil yesterday. Apparently when Ernest Beaux asked Coco Chanel what to name sample number five, she said No 5 because she launched her clothing line on the fifth day of the fifth month and thought it would be very lucky.

    • cinnamon says:

      Nice story on use of No 5. I like the idea of iris but very few strongly iris perfumes work on me. Vanilla sits much better.

  • Kathleen says:

    No 5 is my all-time long-term favorite perfume. I mostly wear EDP and layer the body cream. I love all Chanel fragrances, except for Coco Mademoiselle. Now I wish to try Comete.

    • cinnamon says:

      I tried Coromandel when it came out but it was better in bottle than on me. I am interested in trying Comete.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    L’Eau has no resemblance to any of the no 5 offerings. It might have well been named something else and not be associated with no 5. I loved Cuir de Russie for a while but something changed to where I just like it. I have no 5 in edt, edp and extrait form. I also have no 19, no 22, Coco, Coco Mademoiselle and Coromandel. Amouage and Chanel are more of my jam along with most of the Tauer offerings.

    • cinnamon says:

      Of all the Chanels I most wish No 19 worked on me. I have smelled it on others and it is glorious. But not on my skin.

  • Anne says:

    Bois des Iles goes well with me, although my skin tears through it in about an hour, so it is more of a ‘spray on clothing’ number. Otherwise…. that is about it. I like the smell of Cuir de Russie, but it fades too fast. The rest have too much iris and that always smells a bit like rotting vegetation on me.

    I like Chanel No 5 on others!

    • cinnamon says:

      You see, I don’t remember them fading quickly — my old iteration of No 5 lasted and lasted. Neither BdI or CdR worked on me. Too much iris. That’s interesting.

  • March says:

    Team Guerlain as well. I certainly wanted to be a No. 5 kind of gal for awhile, and I’m pretty sure I worked my way through most of a bottle, it was like wearing a chic but ill-fitting dress. I prefer Coco (which I also wore) and Coco Mad if I’m in the mood. I do understand why it remains a classic, just not on me.

    • cinnamon says:

      You’ve hit it again: a chic but ill-fitting dress. Chanel just doesn’t fit on me. I did really enjoy the fizziness and then the lemon popping out though.

  • Portia says:

    LOVE CHANEL Cinnamon and have a bunch of new and old No 5 from cologne to extrait and a few of the flankers, same with Coco, 19 and 22 (though most of the 22 has been moved on for causing severe headaches including sight colour warping). Also a selection of the Les Exclusifs and various single bottles of other regular range.
    No 5 was Mum’s going out perfume for decades and it always smells like magic to me.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      Do you have the perfumes arranged so you can see everything you own (ie, rather than in boxes)? I remember trying Coco several times and really wanting it to work but no go. That’s awful on 22 — definitely not something you want happening. Do you think it’s a specific note or the whole nine yards?

      • Portia says:

        Jin built me cupboards for the main collection Cinnamon. Most are in boxes within boxes but anything that got a lot of wear at some time has its box stored in the garage and sits within a box of unboxed to type. Celebuscent, 3 x Guerlain, 2 x CHANEL, Niche, Designer x umpteen. Then I have the most worn on a large round grab tray and my desk. Plus a few overflow around the sewing machine table.
        I’m not quite sure what happened with 22. One day it was amazing, next wear it attacked. Sadly it now attacks across all iterations. It’s a bummer.
        Portia xx

  • Tara C says:

    I’m not a Chanel person, they leave me cold as well, although the new Comète is more light-hearted. I am team Guerlain, Dior and Serge Lutens. Aldehydes in particular are definitely not my thing.

    • cinnamon says:

      I can do some Diors and appreciate many Lutens even if I don’t want to wear them. Doesn’t happen with Chanel any more. I like the fizz of aldehydes but probably more on someone else.

  • Cyndi says:

    I love Chanel No.5, and I have worn it off and on for many, many years. My favorite is the edt, however, instead of the edp.

    • cinnamon says:

      How is the EdT different from the EdP? I love the Chanel bottle design. So utterly chic and timeless.

  • alityke says:

    Yes No 5 EdT, Extrait & Eau Premiere are all in my collection. I’ve never even tested the EdP! I was gifted the L’Eau flanker but didn’t wear it, so sold it on. I admit DH isn’t very imaginative with fragrant gifts.

    • cinnamon says:

      Same question as to Portia: can you see your whole collection or are things in boxes? Be interested to hear what you think of the EdP. Maybe sneak DH a list of things that he can choose from?

      • alityke says:

        They are stored in drawers or on a shelf in a wardrobe. The Chanel’s, SLs & Guerlain are in a bedside drawer. The really expensive stuff are in their boxes at the back of my wardrobe. This is against an outer wall that doesn’t get warmed by the sun. Decants & samples are in dark boxes in one of the spare bedrooms that I use as a dressing room. All other bottles are kept in a chest of drawers in the same room as the samples & decants. The radiator in that room is kept off & it’s north facing. Nothing is on show. I just know where everything is now I found the two that were in bags that I hadn’t used for years.

      • alityke says:

        Oh & his last trip away with his mates I gave him precise instructions for CD Dune