Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chanel No.5-- A Journey

Happy Saturday night!  There's nothing as constant in my beauty routine as spritzing on perfume, and I just made a purchase I'm totally jazzed about.  Some things are an acquired taste, though, Chanel No.5 is definitely one of those things for me.  I've mentioned an old perfume blog once or twice, and so, since I have no further thoughts on the matter except how much I've grown to love this stuff, I thought I'd share my old post with you.  I wrote this back in 2009.  I hope you enjoy :)


Long Time Coming

I first heard of Chanel No. 5 at age 13, when I began to read YM, Seventeen, and Sassy. I was not born of high circumstance, and my sisters and I went to private schools my parents made sacrifices to send us to. These magazines, while entertaining enough to read, had very little in common with middle- and high-school life as I knew it. Chanel No. 5 was spoken of as the ultimate in preppy, popular, prom-going sophistication, something that they needn't advertise because any teenaged girl who was anybody already had it in her wardrobe. My modest upbringing and unspectacular appearance had automatically put me at a disadvantage.

I became instantly skeptical.

So much was this Chanel No. 5 mentioned that, as I walked through the local mall with my mom and sisters one Saturday, I ducked into the sterile, luxurious, heat-lamped atmosphere that was the Nordstrom makeup department. Undetected amidst the well-heeled and coiffed women bustling about the Chanel counter, I picked up the clear glass bottle and sniffed the atomizer.

And set it back down again, haughtily. This was what all the hubbub was about? I thought it was supposed to smell like flowers. I didn't know what that smell was, but I did know that there were a lot of people buying into a lot of hype. I became smug. I knew better. Those preppy magazine girls, whoever they were, didn't know anything.

Fast-forward through the rest of high school, and through my college years and early 20s where my tastes ran decidedly all over the board. Here we are, 16 years after I had first heard of Chanel No. 5, and I'm trying on a new hobby for size. Nicole Kidman is its spokesmodel, the Baz Luhrman ad has come and gone, and the Chanel name in general has gone from the height of sophistication to one worn by desperate starlets in an effort to appear something they are not. I see the perfume itself as a cultural juggernaut, now too readily available, much more about the image and the history than what it actually smells like, and still unworthy of the hype.

I walk into the Nordstrom makeup department I have since become familiar with and request a sample of Chanel No. 5. It deserves a wear, I think. But I am bound and determined not to like it. I wish I could try it blind, because I find it so hard to be objective about it. I try. I wear it out to my mom's house one day, after determining the headache that plagued me in the car was caused by this perfume (strike ONE!). Mom and I are doing housework and the stuff wears off after two and a half hours. She doesn't like it, anyway. (Strike TWO!!) I go home and reapply (those aldehydes hitting my skin are kind of nice) for my husband to smell when he comes home. He doesn't like it either, I knew he wouldn't, and now I think I smell Johnson&Johnson baby lotion. (Strike THREE!!! OUT!!!) I go to write my review and give that it wasn't really that bad, agree with the gal who speculated that its inception was the right place at the right time, and wrap up with a scathing remark that if it weren't for its surname, nobody would care. One of my first SotD posts was No. 5, where I again expressed my disdainful indifference towards it and decided I need not wear it again. 


The curiosity this hobby awards led me to spritz on some Eau Premiere when I was in town earlier this week. The SA offered me a sample of the original. "No," I said. "I don't like it." She gave me a sample of Eau Premiere along with that which I had originally declined, saying I could layer them for the evening. I met my husband for lunch, awash in bright, sparkly, creamy flowers that I was beginning to fall for. I proffered my wrist for his judgment. He liked it, too, in fact, it was the most positive response my incessant sampling has elicited from him yet. It smells just like the original, to both of us, but without...the...aldehydes.

Wait a sec. I like aldehydes. In fact, they were my favorite part of No. 5 when I first tried it this winter. Why is it that I am almost instantly enamored of Eau Premiere but am in steadfast dislike of the original? I decide, since I have my new sample, that it is worth another wear. I suspect I have been too judgmental.

I spray myself with original Chanel No. 5 for work the next day. There are those sparkling aldehydes, mmmm. As I drive to work, I am once again awash in beautiful, creamy flowers, not quite as fresh but with the added sparkle and lushness of the aldehydes.

I get out of my car and begin the short walk in, and I feel a change come over me. I can't say what, exactly, or why, but those lovely, creamy, indescribable flowers are surrounding me like a perceivable aura, and I feel exquisitely me.

I have decided I want a bottle of both. Eau Premiere because it is an increasing rarity that my husband and I agree positively on a fragrance. And original Chanel No. 5, just for me, because I have learned to listen not to hype, or to preconceived notions, but only to nose and skin.


And there is is.  I've worn this for three days straight and can easily see this being my next empty bottle.   Thanks for reading! 

20 comments:

  1. Oh this is such a wonderful post. I am walking through creamy flowers with you <3 I NEED to smell this! I need to smell them both and I need to layer them. Oh do more posts like this :)

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    1. Thank you so much, dear :) I hope you do smell them and I hope you share your thoughts with me!

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  2. No.5 was my Granny's signature scent. It was the ONLY thing my grandfather could tolerate & she had practically every product. I always loved using the powder right after stepping out of her shower. Now every time I go into a store that sells it, I have to spray myself. :D

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    1. Ohhh, I would have loved to smell this in your grandma's heyday, I bet it was to die for! And how luxurious, dusting yourself with No.5-scented powder. Thanks for sharing your memory :)

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  3. This was really fun to read :D. It is such a wonderful thing to have a perfume that you really enjoy (I finally found mine about two years ago and I still love it!!)

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    1. Thank you so much! :) Oh, please tell me what it is! I have a small handful I rotate through the seasons and one constant... It truly is a wonderful thing.

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  4. Nice read, I purchased my first bottle of Chanel no.5 back in 08 and still have a bit left. Another olde school classic (redundant?) If you enjoy inscence-y scents is Estee Lauder Youth Dew. Btw- I found your blog by bc I googled a nail polish and I'm pretty sure we've met online many moons ago...did you ever chat on Winmx? Sorry if I'm weirding you out, but I just have a good memory and fondly remember everyone I've chatted with. If you are who I think...MamaHemp??? ;)

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    1. You're not weirding me out at all, my memory's pretty good, too, lol... But it wasn't me :) I used to hang out on Basenotes, though, if that rings a bell.
      I do love incense-y fumes, and I LOVE the classics but surprisingly haven't really explored Youth Dew. It's probably high time I did! Thank you for the rec. ;)

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  5. What a joy to read this post, thank you Liesl!!!! I think one needs to grow into Chanel No 5 - you know what I mean? I never saw this scent going well with a very young woman. I'd rather see it with worn with a certain sophistication and elegance that starts to grow on a woman only after Highschool or College. While I don't own it - Chanel No 5 and my skin will never become friends, I appreciate it's class and timeless quality. If there is one beauty product I could not live without it is perfume. I don't feel dressed leaving the house un-spritzed ;-). My favorite and constant companion since about three years: Profumum Roma Vanitas (vanilla candies) - I still don't have enough of it :-)

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    1. It's an interesting discussion, age and perfume. Generally I subscribe to the idea that you are entitled to wear whatever you want, whenever you want, at whatever age, but I definitely agree thyat there is a certain place for some of the heavier hitting scents, and while, say, Patou Joy would be a beautiful scent on a young gal, it certainly seems more befitting of a woman with some life and experience behind her. On the same token, a sweet sugary scent is fun and playful on an older gal but maybe more age appropriate for a teenaged girl. But then again, what is scent and what does it know of age, or gender? We're the ones placing associations on these things, you know? It's a funny thing. Blah blah blah. ;)

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    2. An interesting discussions it indeed is!!! Patou Joy has also graced my shelf in the past (oh I am definitely of a 'certain' age). Let's see if I find a sample of Profumum Roma someplace - it is totally unique and while totally sweet not really inspiring thoughts of pigtails and pink but more of a Dessert ladden table full of freshly baked pastries and glazed almonds. Turning your stomach yet? Before going on an endless roll: perfume is about individualism so indeed the field is open vast for discussion. :-)

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    3. Oh my gosh, I totally didn't intend to group your soul scent into that context! I was thinking very specifically of the Pink Sugar types and the Britney Spears fragrances, those things. There is fruity-sugary and then there is gourmand...I have a soft spot for delicious smelling fumes done right and yours sounds absolutely divine. Dior Hypnotic Poison was my holy grail fragrance until I discovered the leather and incense scents, and I still do love to wear HP in the early fall.

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  6. Chanel perfumes are great!
    I do like No 5 but I still think it is a little too much for me. I use Chance eau fraîche and Coco Mademoiselle regularly :).

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    1. Beautiful! The original Chance was the first fume my DH ever gave me (and my first Chanel). They do have a great lineup. Have you smelled any of the Exclusifs?

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  7. This is a fantastic post - thank you for sharing with us!

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  8. Wonderfully written post, Liesl! I don't own Chanel No 5, but I smell it occasionally when I'm at the beauty counters, and I always really like it. It smells feminine, soft, and sophisticated. I'm glad you have discovered your love for it. :-)

    ~ Yun

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    1. Thank you, Yun :) :) It's got this creamy, sparkly addictive thing going on and my only complaint is that it doesn't wear any bigger than it does. It stays pretty close to my skin.

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  9. You write the best posts! So detailed, I love your stories and your descriptions. I don't recall if I've ever smelled Chanel No. 5. I will sample it the next time I'm at the mall. If it smells like something an older lady would wear I wouldn't like it. No offense to you, at all (about liking Chanel No. 5, because you definitely aren't old). :)

    A friend gave me a White Diamonds set for Christmas...I don't really think she knows my taste in perfume. I don't like it...it smells old lady(ish) to me.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! :) I think it's really hard to get fume for another person because sense of smell is SO very subjective and unique. I don't think I've ever smelled White Diamonds...there's definitely a difference in eras in perfume, even over the course of decades, and lots of stuff definitely smells of its era, even as they go through "modernizations". I love the classics and I'll happily smell "old ladyish" up until I am one ;)

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