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For now and forever - Chanel N°5

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Chanel N°5 was born out of the desire to please a woman's whims, the creativity of a perfume genius and a fortunate accident. 1921 was the year it was first presented and it still is a best seller, to be coveted and loved by people everywhere.

Browsing through my olfactory memories, I cannot recall smelling it on anyone, throughout my childhood. And, since fragrances became particularly fascinating for me at a later age only, it took me a while to even become interested in N°5. For me, Chanel was just some designer whose perfumes and makeup I would never be able to afford, let alone the clothes. Funny how things can change over time... ( no, I still cannot afford the clothes and their fragrances and makeup are a pain to my wallet ).

So, I first sniffed this fragrance during a visit at a perfumer's shop in Greece about 5 years ago. I bought a generous amount of decant, which will probably last me a very long time. And, considering how pricy this perfume can be, I didn't bother buying any of the bottles on the market.

Sometimes, I will settle for what's inside the precious bottles and not fuss about the packaging.

On to the fragrance...

The top notes, as listed on, are: aldehydes, neroli, ylang-ylang, bergamot and lemon. Middle notes are: iris, orris root, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose.
Base notes: amber, sandalwood, patchouli, musk, civet, vanilla, oakmoss and vetiver.

The composition is so well blended, that I can hardly distinguish anything specific. Instead, I can give you my overall impression, by just closing my eyes and breathing in this exquisite smell.

There is something citrusy, a bit sweet and powdery in the opening. I learned that the "powderiness" of a fragrance is given by the amount of iris in it. The more you add iris and/or orris root in a fragrance, the more powdery the overall impression will be.

And there is something nutty and woody. Something like a green hazelnut. There is the neroli, which smells quite bitter at the beginning but sweetens up over time, and patchouli.

The rest is just lots of flowers and aldehydes - N°5 contains such a high concentration of this synthetic component ( which adds to the soapy/floral/citrusy notes in a fragrance ) that it makes it first of its kind in the perfume world. ( Of course, other perfume houses used aldehydes in their fragrances, but none of their offspring were like Chanel N°5.)

As far as longevity goes, I noticed that, depending on the temperature, it would last between 12 and 24 hours on my skin. It is not a projection monster, unless you use a lot, but that is not an issue, because I prefer subtle elegance to screechy modern scents.

Setting aside all the romance and glamor weaved around Chanel N°5, I must admit this is the best classic elegant perfume ever created. Not for very young people ( I prefer more playful fragrances for the very young ), but for everyone else... who can understand and appreciate it.

What's your take on N°5?


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