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Tis the season to be jolly, almost, which means one thing and one thing only: Candy Crush becomes Christmas Crush as I share a few of my favourite gift ideas for the upcoming holidays. These are the fragrant things I’d like to find under my tree this year and perhaps, you would too!

Red is the colour of passion, danger, and blood.
The colour of lipstick, anger, and roses.

But now, this Christmas, red is the colour of CHANEL Nº5. Now, I don’t know about you but when I think of the iconic Nº5 my mind instantly moves straight towards the colour gold. Perhaps it’s the amber-coloured juice, or maybe it’s just the olfactory sparkle of the fragrance, but Nº5, to me at least, has always smelled of shimmering flecks of gold. But Nº5 and the colour red red actually have a bit of a history, and more than just a touch of chemistry…

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Pack your bags because CHANEL is taking us on holiday. They’ve booked the most luxurious mode of transport – no, not the Orient Express or Emirates First Class, it’s something much more special than that for this is an olfactory odyssey that takes one on a historical trek though the life and times of their inimitable founder: Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. There are three stops on the journey, so prepare to explore the green countryside of Normandy, dip your toes into the Atlantic coastline, and take long, endless strolls through a Mediterranean city. Don’t worry about packing any perfumes because CHANEL have got you covered with their latest collection: LES EAUX DE CHANEL.

With LES EAUX DE CHANEL, CHANEL say that it is not the destination that matters, but the journey. It is the idea of escaping – of exploring, losing oneself and finding oneself. It’s about traversing unchartered territory and experiencing new things. For the collection, CHANEL has called upon their in-house perfumer to create three contemporary eau de cologne-style fragrances (which are actually Eau de Toilette concentration) inspired by locations of historical significance to the brand. Housed within a new, travel-flask inspired bottle (which takes inspiration from vintage alcohol canisters carried in one’s waistcoat), these three ‘eaus’ mark a new chapter in the olfactory story of CHANEL. So let’s embark on an exciting journey and explore LES EAUX DE CHANEL.

Nobody Can Deny, The Power of Nº5
Nobody Can Deny, The Power of Nº5

A bottle of CHANEL Nº5 is sold every thirty seconds – just digest that fact for a second –  that means by the end of this sentence, someone, somewhere around the world has bought themselves, or someone they love, a bottle of a fragrance that is as iconic as the Volkswagen Beetle, as timeless as Cartier diamonds and as beautiful as Paris at night. Nº5 has been a consistent bestseller since its launch in the 1920s putting it in the unique position of being the scent of many generations – it is our scent, the scent of our mothers and grandmothers – the smell of first dates, goodnight kisses and heart wrenching goodbyes. Nº5 is so much more than a perfume, it’s a friend that has accompanied us on life’s many journeys and it is someone we all know oh so very well.

Writing about CHANEL Nº5 is like photographing the Eiffel Tower – others have been there, done that and said all that can be said, snapped all that can be snapped, sniffed all that can be sniffed, even, but still there is a yearning to experience it for oneself and to speak of that experience. CHANEL Nº5 is a legend of the perfume world. Scrap that, Nº5 is the most famous perfume in the world and when most people think of perfume they think of Nº5. So it’s a daunting fragrance to approach as a writer because how could one ever do it justice? For me, Nº5 is the elephant in the room – it simply has to be written about. In this piece I’ll be celebrating CHANEL’s flagship fragrance by taking a look back at its history as well as sniffing its five incarnations, guiding you, Dear Reader, through the fabric of a perfume that can only be called a legend, and even then the description doesn’t quite do it justice. This is Nº5 to the power of five.

The New Boy in Town
The New Boy in Town

If last year’s Misia was anything to go by, perfumer Olivier Polge is definitely finding his feet at CHANEL, having taken over the position of perfumer-in-residence from his father, Jacques Polge, the man behind the likes of Antaeus, Coco, Coco Mademoiselle, Égoïste – need I go on? Big boots to fill, most certainly, but M. Polge Jnr certainly has a fair few hits under his own belt, scents such as Dior Homme, which, lets face it is already a modern classic, so perhaps those shoes aren’t quite so big after all?

For his second outing in CHANEL’s niche line, ‘Les Exclusifs’, Olivier Polge pays homage to Arthur Capel, Gabrielle Chanel’s patron and lover. ‘Boy’, as he was called, lends his name to the fragrance, which is a feminine take on the typically masculine fougère inspired by Chanel’s clothing, couture that borrowed heavily from the codes of menswear and tailoring. BOY the fragrance has been created to capture Capel’s “irresistible elegance” and “virile strength” and is a gender-bending scent that borrows from the olfactory codes of men and women. As CHANEL describe it, BOY is the “mark of a man on the skin of a woman”.