Monday, May 19, 2008

Chanel N°5 Revisited: Russian Leather Connection?

I found this 1997 No.5 ad featuring the gorgeous Carole Bouquet and had to test No.5 again. I know many people such as Luca Turin don't agree with me that there is a No.5/Chypre connection, even an implied or subversive Chypre element that makes Chanel No.5 what it is, but the more I test it, the more I feel vindicated that my theory is correct. Not only do I think of No.5 as a woody Florentine iris, I smell the jasmine-rose-patchouli plus an animalic civet note or perhaps the animalic note is honey (a prevalent combination in Russian Leather) combined with the classic Chypre notes of bergamot and oakmoss. Perhaps the amount of aldehydes overrides these Chypre notes, but they are certainly there as part of the composition. So, despite argument against this theory, I stand by my conviction that Chanel No.5, even with its Aldehydic Floral (or Soft Floral) fragrance family categorization, carries within it a strikingly sharp classical Roman stamp dating back to ancient Cyprus. However, I'm starting to think Chanel No.5 is actually even more of a Russian Leather type floral Chypre (Dry Woods).

It has some sweet Oriental elements, too, thanks to softening doses of warm amber and ylang-ylang.

I'm also vindicated by other writings on the subject. Visit The Moscow News Weekly to read about the relationship between Coco Chanel and Russia. "She was inspired by Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich Romanov to create the Russian Leather perfume, a prototype of the legendary Chanel No. 5 brand." --Russian Fashion Hits the Catwalks, 02/08/2007 | Moscow News,№30 2007

Also on Wikipedia: "...Dmitri met Coco Chanel, eleven years his elder just like Natasha had been, with whom he conducted a brief affair in 1921. Through Dmitri and Marie's contacts in the industry, Chanel met perfumers in Grasse, which finally led to the creation of the famed Chanel No. 5 perfume — involvement in the creation of which is Dmitri's second claim to historic importance."

The Scented Salamander isolates the Russian Leather she smells in No.5 as betula alba extract: Read "Perfume Review & Musings: Zibeline by Weil" at this link.

Added on November 20, 2010: Chanel N°5 Revisited: Russian Leather Connection? Part II - Pink Manhattan