Chanel: Le Grand Numero de Chanel exhibition, an olfactory odyssey in Paris

Chanel has set up an emotional journey into the sensory by launching “Le Grand Numero de Chanel” exhibition, a look into some of its iconic fragrances including the much-loved N°5

Photo: Chanel

Until January 9, 2023, Chanel put together an exceptional exhibition at the Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris to celebrate its much-loved fragrances. 

The exhibition decorated with a festive twist is said to deliver an unprecedented experience for experts and non-experts alike. Here, visitors can witness an assembly from classic to the iconic, some of which have inspired the greatest artists – all gathered for the first time. 

Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, head of Global Creative Resources for Fragrance & Beauty, Fine Jewelry & Watches, says, “Chanel perfumery has an existential aim. Le Grand Numero de Chanel is an emotional journey, an opportunity to discover every facet of a fragrance and the role it plays.”

Within this refined showcase, the essence of Chanel perfumery is rife, pointing to the expression of style rather than ingredients. Each Chanel fragrance is made up of complex compositions that result in an olfactory kaleidoscope. 

Not least are they the subjects of adoration by many influential personalities around the globe, including Hong Kong’s very own Justine Lee who made the journey to the City of Lights to be part of Chanel’s festive celebration.

The exhibition will transport you back in time to 1921 when perfumer extraordinaire Ernest Beaux was asked by a celebrated designer to create a fragrance that is “artificial like a dress”. 

Likewise, through virtual reality, you will also encounter Gabrielle Chanel – who patiently waited for the creation of one of the world’s most famous fragrances and named it after her favourite number: Chanel N°5. 

She was best known to present her collections on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year, hoping it will bring luck. 

“When Ernest Beaux presented her with the fifth sample, it was a striking revelation,” says Hélène Fulgence, director of Patrimoine de Chanel. “Gabrielle Chanel didn’t choose this new fragrance, she recognised it.” 

Fulgence adds, “N°5 acts as a magic formula that shows a woman her own power. It is the fragrance par excellence because, far from imposing an ideal of femininity, it embraces it in all its nuances.” 

With Ernest Beaux at the helm of creating Chanel Perfume Laboratory, only three perfumers have since succeeded in carrying on the Chanel N°5 legacy. Their responsibilities lie in maintaining the consistent supply of the high-quality raw materials that go into producing this world-famous perfume. 

Olivier Polge, Chanel in-house perfumer-creator explains, “We know exactly how to source every ingredient for every formula. In the world of perfumery, Chanel has a special history.” 

“We created and own all our formulas, which allowed us to work on each of the ingredients that compose them,” he adds. “For example, I was able to meet a jasmine producer in Egypt who remembered my father’s visit 40 years earlier, and also this citrus producer who had already worked with Henri Robert, my father’s predecessor. This is how we have worked on our supply chains over time, and how we have developed the qualities of our own raw materials, which contribute to the expression of a unique identity.”

With a radically simple bottle, Chanel created N°5 to exude its universal appeal from the moment of its conception. It attracted fans from all walks of life around the globe throughout history, including Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Laurie Simmons, Salvador Dali, Oskar Schlemmer, Burton Morris, Andy Warhol, and more. 

“N°5, it is the French spirit by excellence,” Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur furthers. “It is a luxury that is unafraid of the masses. One that, on the contrary, rose to meet its era while remaining grounded, and without fear of ever losing its value.”

If you think you already know all about this iconic fragrance with a century of presence that keeps enthralling the world, “Le Grand Numero de Chanel” exhibition will surprise you with an exploration of Chanel fragrances’ artistic and olfactory journey. 

Also see: Chanel: Radiate positivity with new Nº1 de Chanel red camellia skincare

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