The Nuances of Woman

By Gabrielle Delgado

Chanel’s No. 5 is not an inconspicuous perfume; it has a century of iconography behind it, known widely through varying facets of society and corners of the world. The scent is not only what the woman behind the brand brought to the world; Gabrielle Chanel revolutionised fashion and crafted a timeless aesthetic that will live on forever in the streets and palaces of the City of Light. Find out more in The Nuances of Woman.

How does one begin to define femininity? Even the most admirable attempts to describe such a quality of being fall short of reality, as words cannot fully encompass the graceful ebbs and flows of the feminine. Nonetheless, one brand came close to exacting this ageless character, not so much in language as the spell of a fragrance. The year was 1921, and the scent, Chanel No. 5.

Despite this name recognition, many may not be aware of the story behind this legendary scent, one that lay a foundation not only for the fragrance industry but for the future of Chanel.

As these things do, it began with heartbreak. It was the winter of 1919 when Gabrielle Chanel learned of her teenage sweetheart’s passing. She became a devoted reader, devouring books that her late English businessman once showed her, and began to wonder what could possibly link you to someone; to reflect on their presence, without it there to witness.

As literature creates connection, so does the magic of scents. Her reading lead her to discover her affection for design and soon after, perfumery. Following a painter friend to Venice one summer, Coco Chanel began to craft an idea, inspired by the lively scent trade passing through the seafaring city.

Not long after, when Chanel met the ‘Nose’ Ernest Beaux, it was then clear that a fated path seemed to be in the works. A Russian-born French perfumer of royal blood, Beaux carried with him a unique style, charisma, and sharpness of mind. In each other, the two found they spoke the same language, and soon the creative sparks began to fly.

The aim was to make something that required no explanation, no story-telling; let the woman who donned the fragrance illuminate with the scent instead of being outshined by it. Her feminine power is her own, and Chanel No. 5 is the catalyst.

But this story is not only about a scent, but an experience of fashion, art, and the craft of designing memories, gifts, and treasuries for the mind.

To showcase these divine archives, Chanel invites those curious about the brand’s mystifying history to attend the free exhibition Le Grand Numéro de Chanel, a private viewing event and tour of Chanel’s iconic pieces and the history behind them at the Grand Palais.


The tour opens on December 15th, and then attendees will have in-person access to an immersive experience of Chanel’s history. In the midst of the Parisian art scene, one can witness the revolutionary moments of Chanel.

During the visit, one will get to explore an entire room devoted to the Chanel N°5, along with showcases including everything from the 2.55 quilted bag to the 1916 marinière sailor blouse, portraying Gabrielle Chanel’s journey of fashion and design.

Guests can wander the exhibition to see 360 views of over 350 famous Chanel pieces, including the legendary Little Black Dress and tweed suits. Explore the style journey chronologically and thematically; follow the timeline of the brand’s path from the Roaring Twenties until now, and then observe the themes and aesthetics of Coco Chanel over the years, from the two-tone pumps to the classic jewelry, and more.

Attendees are given the opportunity to find their signature scent via the fragrance version of the Rorschach test. Each perfume holds a mystery, and an elegance unique to the skin it graces.

Chanel poses quite a contradictory statement, one bearing truth from its first days of perfumery to its modern revelations today; that, yes, femininity is composed of elegance, luxury, and cool sensuality, but furthermore, is a definition a woman can only make for herself. Staying grounded and true to the self allows for feminine energy to blossom within, and therefore display externally to the world.

Le Grand Numéro de Chanel Exhibition takes place in le Grand Palais Éphémère, located at 2 place Joffre, 75007, PARIS.

Purchase your tickets Here. Admission is free and is open from December 15, 2022, to January 9, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition will be closed on December 25th, 2022, and January 1st, 2023. See the detailed calendar for the schedule Here.

To find out more about Chanel and the Exhibition, look Here.

If you enjoyed The Nuances of Woman, why not read Gem of a Scent Here.

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