Chanel’s Golden Girls

By Bella Pallett

Just because the number is small does not mean that Chanel No5 does not carry a big impact. The elegantly crafted golden-hued fragrance housed in the architectural lines of its bottle has rallied against the test of time to remain prestigious and modern whilst being represented by some of the biggest names in film and photography. Read more in Chanel’s Golden Girls.

There are women from days gone by to today that we associate with the glamour of the highly regarded brand, Chanel. Posing against a luxurious fireplace at one of the finest suites at the Ritz, Gabrielle Chanel became the very first woman to be the face of her own fragrance, Chanel No5, at the very height of her notoriety. Stood in front of François Kollar’s camera, the advertisement that later appeared in Harper’s Bazaar was revolutionary and began a series of images that would help ensure the scent’s success.

Are those most renowned of women the ones that made the silver screen? If so maybe you were not aware that some of these golden girls also wore the most famous perfume in the world. The sensuous Marilyn Monroe made a big statement when she told the world that she wore nothing but “a few drops of No5” to bed which consecrated the power of the scent. Being a big icon in pop culture and one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s, Monroe helped No5 become associated with feeling sensual and confident much like the beloved blonde bombshells that she artfully portrayed on screen. Only ever established with the most gorgeous and successful of women, the scent took on a life of its own.

In the 1960s, Jacques Helleu, the artistic director for Chanel Fragrances for over 40 years, began the era of brand ambassadors by choosing some of the biggest names in photography and film for advertising campaigns. Selecting the most gorgeous women who were giants in their fields, he ensured the campaigns would go down in history and ensure the success of the scent.

The list of renowned actresses who have represented the scent is endless, including industry giant Catherine Deneuve, who gained recognition from portraying icy and aloof beauties, quickly becoming considered one of the greatest European actresses. Posing for Chanel with wide eyes and a subtle smile, the black and white photo captures the scents simplistic effect of pure luxury and elegance.

Chanel's Golden Girls, Catherine Deneuve

Lauren Hutton was also handpicked to star in a campaign representing the luxury scent, known for her beauty and confidence the photo became highly dynamic and bold. By capturing Hutton seemingly leaping into the air, arms outstretched with a look of certainty, the effect is a big contrast to the image used to represent the scent with Deneuve. No5’s apparent ability to present a multitude of aesthetics and the most luxurious of lifestyles was captured through these incredible visuals and big, industry giants.

Chanel's Golden Girls, Lauren Hutton

Best known for her role as bond girl Melina Havelock in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, did you know that Carole Bouquet was handpicked to become the face of No5 in the 1980s? The French actress and fashion model quickly became synonymous with the scent, as did her intelligent and sultry character. The sophisticated and determined Bond girl becoming the face of Chanel No5 powered the scent to make an even bigger impact.

Ali MacGraw became the face of Chanel No5 in 1966 when Chanel released a set of products using the No5 scent for the bath. Including a bath oil spray and bath powder, the expansion of products mixed with the glamour of MacGraw captured a whole new sense of luxury. Photographed in water and looking directly at the camera, MacGraw portrayed a sense of elegance that could be achieved even throughout each day, that even a quick bath could be turned into a pool of luxury.

Chanel's Golden Girls, Ali MacGnaw

One by one these wonderful women posed to become the faces of Chanel and ensure that the scent represented the highest level of luxury and elegance. The perfumes ability to suit a multitude of industry tycoons who all had luxurious lifestyles that most people could only dream of, despite having various aesthetics and styles, meant that the scent was accessible to every woman.

Presenting the perfume as something not only luxurious and beautiful but also individual and adapting, meant that it became a part of every woman’s dream.

The sensuous top notes are Aldehydes, Ylang-Ylang, Neroli, Bergamot and Lemon which softly blend into the middle notes. Iris, Jasmine, Rose, Orris Root and Lily-of-the-Valley are luxuriously mixed and lend to the base notes which are Civet, Amber, Sandalwood, Musk, Moss, Vetiver, Vanilla and Patchouli.

It is believed that with just a few drops of the deluxe perfume you can channel beauty and opulence no matter who you are, and this message has remained true throughout its time.

The connotations of the fragrance have been established through women and their lives of luxury, the modernity of the fragrance is forever sealed by the people who have been known to love it.

The pure luxury and elegance that has been built around the scent by the beautiful and talented women who have represented it, is undiminished. As Chanel celebrate the 100th anniversary of the iconic N05, it is apparent the scent has always been held in high esteem, a true icon in the world of luxury perfumes.

If you enjoyed reading Chanel’s Golden Girls, read The Barbour Way here.

Discover Chanel No5 here.