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N°5: CHANEL’s Iconic Fragrance meets High Jewellery

Feature: Long Read
Words by ALICE EDWARDS

For expert perfumers and fragrance novices alike, CHANEL N°5 is the scent. Designed 100 years ago by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and French-Russian chemist Ernest Beaux with the express aim of bottling Mademoiselle Chanel’s own essence, the fragrance has evolved into an icon. CHANEL N°5 is a cultural as well as a beauty phenomenon: Marilyn Monroe wore nothing else to bed; Andy Warhol immortalised it in art; and Baz Luhrmann directed an advert for it starring Nicole Kidman.

To mark the fragrance’s centenary, the house has designed the N°5 Collection, the first high jewellery collection ever to be dedicated to a fragrance. This sparkling tribute makes far more sense than one might initially realise. There are many parallels between fragrance and jewellery, not just about how they are worn – intimately, against the skin – but also in the way both can become a personal signature, and in the craftsmanship and the realisation of precious materials.

“The standards of this fragrance make it inimitable,” says Olivier Polge, perfumer for the house of CHANEL. “In one little bottle of N°5 Parfum, there are over 1,000 flowers, which shows its opulence. Some ingredients come from France, but others, much farther away – a rare thing 100 years ago. In creating N°5, the house developed a true fragrance savoir-faire, monitoring the entire value chain from flower to bottle,” Polge explains. “This savoir-faire has become integrated, which is exceptional, even today.”

The mastery of delicate, rare materials from far-off places is something high jewellers also know very well. Patrice Leguéreau, director of the CHANEL Fine Jewellery Creation Studio, explains that it is the spirit behind both the scent and the jewellery that binds them together. “These two universes embody CHANEL’s values of excellence and audacity,” Leguéreau says. “In 1921, Gabrielle Chanel imagined ‘a perfume for women with the scent of a woman’ that was a precursor to the fragrances of tomorrow. Similarly, in 1932, her Bijoux de Diamants high jewellery collection introduced new ways of wearing jewellery. She encouraged women to integrate precious jewels into their outfits, to make them their own as elements of style. In both cases, there is the same creative impetus.”

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CHANEL Graphic N°5 earrings

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CHANEL Grasse Jasmine Yellow-Gold earrings

The story of the N°5 Collection began in 2018 when, with the fragrance’s milestone on the horizon, Leguéreau began to immerse himself in the story of the scent. He and Polge travelled to Grasse, the world capital of perfume for centuries; Leguéreau was determined to capture the spirit of the scent and its creator. “Gabrielle Chanel approached these two universes with the same visionary values, focusing on audacity and the quest for excellence,” Leguéreau says.

Patrice Leguéreau, CHANEL Fine Jewellery Creation Studio director


"I wanted to rediscover that creative gesture with this collection, which has been conceived like a journey through the meanderings of the perfume’s soul, from the architecture of the bottle to the olfactive explosion of the fragrance."

The collection is divided into chapters – five, of course. In deconstructing the elements of CHANEL N°5, the collection as a whole is able to realise a visual representation of a fragrance that is both artful and unexpected. A Diamond Stopper bracelet, an ode to the architecture of the Place Vendôme, is rendered in bubbles of effervescent diamonds and pearls, with translucent rock crystal and onyx. Another chapter reflects on The Bottle: legend has it that Chanel drew on the Charvet toiletry bottles and whiskey decanters of her lover, Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel, for inspiration. Eschewing the elaborate designs popularised by the likes of Baccarat and Lalique, the bottle design for CHANEL N°5 was both uncomplicated and brave. Now imagined in white diamonds, yellow diamonds and sapphires, the bottle’s structure melts into cascading tassels of pear-shaped stones. There are fluid sautoir necklaces, classic chandelier earrings and brooches that depict the bottle in bedazzled form.

The Number

CHANEL’s famous N°5 is rendered in graphic fashion, with repeated elements creating geometric patterns balancing mismatched earrings, wraps of bracelets and necklaces. The number is tied in bejewelled bows, a feminine and often-used icon of the house that is reminiscent of haute couture.

The Flowers

Representing the core of the fragrance itself, jasmine, ylang-ylang and May rose are delicately layered around ear cuffs and studs, sit atop Toi et Moi rings, and climb asymmetrically up necklaces. Somehow, the blossoms, carved in precious metals and stones, depict the most verdant and fragrant of plants.

The Fragrance Trail

Named after the term used by perfumers to describe the lingering scent of perfume as it radiates from the skin, the most transient of CHANEL N°5’s elements is captured in light-filled bursts of stones in colours not often seen at the house. Explosions of fiery tones together with an entirely colourless suite are evocative of fireworks – blasts of scent to the synapses.

Patrice Leguéreau, CHANEL Fine Jewellery Creation Studio director


"This is undoubtedly the most personal and intimate high jewellery collection we have ever done. The gold, the stones and our savoir-faire have all been put to the service of creation – and of N°5."

Through 123 pieces, a huge collection by high jewellery standards, we follow the journey of CHANEL N°5 – a scent as modern and vital in its sentiment as it was a century ago. In the N°5 Collection, CHANEL has created not only an ode to the most iconic fragrance of all time, but also a contemporary high jewellery collection that embodies its spirit.

Chanel No5 Perfume
Lucky Number 5

 

Immerse yourself in the magic of CHANEL N°5 with our takeover of in-store events running between November 2021 and January 2022, such as a scented masterclass and a fragrance-themed treasure hunt.

 

Find Out More
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