June 25, 2024


Get Into Fashion

A fitting tribute to the feminine classic

Probably the most famous fragrance on the planet, if perfumes were classic works of art, Chanel No.5 would be the Mona Lisa (iStock/The Independent)

Probably the most famous fragrance on the planet, if perfumes were classic works of art, Chanel No.5 would be the Mona Lisa (iStock/The Independent)

Today, Chanel is celebrating 100 years of the perfume Chanel No.5, with the launch of a very cool and quirky limited-edition collection – Factory No.5.

Probably the most famous fragrance on the planet, if perfumes were classic works of art, Chanel No.5 would be the Mona Lisa. While not the first “fashion house” scent, it was probably the first that really shook the world.

Similar to what she did with fashion, Chanel stripped back all the external frills and fripperies associated with perfumery, resulting in a streamlined square bottle, an intriguing numerical name and above all, a “fiercely feminine” bouquet – and one of the first to experiment with synthetic notes, making it highly addictive and worlds away from the many “natural” perfumes women were wearing at the time – and a classic was born.

Launching today, the 17 (yes, 17) piece collection is “inspired by ordinary objects” – a nod to No.5’s original packaging which was a simple laboratory bottle which has since become as iconic as the scent itself. The bottle’s cult status was cemented in 1980 when it was painted by artist Andy Warhol. Warhol was of course responsible for the Pop Art movement which this new limited-edition range pays homage to.

Pop Art elevated ordinary objects to artistic iconic status – the most famous example is Warhol’s paintings of Campbells Soup tins – and this collection aims to do something similar, imbuing mundane objects with some No.5 magic. Think shower gel in paint tubes, body oil in a can and soap in a shoe polish tin. Here are ten worth sniffing out…

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Chanel No.5 eau de parfum blister pack spray

The great thing about this is that you get two iconic bottles in one, the famous No.5 flacon itself as well as a blister pack, to be popped like a pill (natch!). It certainly took the edge off our hangover faster than popping two Nurofen. While the scent itself has been a commercial bestseller for a century, that doesn’t mean wearing it is an obvious choice. Take it from someone who reviews all manner of weird and wonderful perfumes for a living, yet still finds themselves returning to it year after year. Perfumer Ernest Beaux knew what he was doing when he dialled up the rose and jasmine to dizzying effects, and then drenched it in aldehydes – a synthetic note that gives perfume the effect of a diamond tiara when the light hits it. Subtle and unisex this is not (if that’s what you’re after, then try Molecule 01 instead). But for those days when you feel like wearing a tiara – and don’t have the requisite funds – this is the next best thing.

Buy now £120.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 soap shoe polish tin

The humble bar of soap is having a renaissance and this exquisite disc is case in point. Stamped with the No. 5 logo, it makes an exquisite sink-side staple or present for a lucky guest (but you would probably want to keep this for yourself). Due to the saponification process, all soaps have a unique and instantly recognisable ‘fatty’ scent, and this combines it with a good glug of No. 5 – and the result is so delightful that we like to keep ours by our desk and occasionally lift it to our nose for some inspiration. While sadly, the shoe polish tin doesn’t double up as a soap dish (there are no ventilation holes and the soap just goes mushy) it does make a cute holder for odds and ends like rings, headphones, USB sticks and bobby pins, so all is not lost.

Buy now £40.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 body cream paint tube

We couldn’t think of a better way to transform parched, scaly limbs just in time for summer than with this sumptuous body cream. There was something about squishing this thick, luxurious cream out of the heavy metallic paint tube that felt oddly satisfying – plus it allows you to dispense the required amount (as opposed to jars which can be messy and unhygienic from having people’s grubby paws routinely dipped into them). The tube looks fabulous, whether packed snugly into a getaway holdall or standing tall and proud on your dressing table. As well as boasting No.5’s signature components of rose and jasmine extracts, it also contains squalene, a lipid that’s naturally produced by your skin cells but depletes as we age. Hence it’s ideal for mature skin types or anyone whose skin is particularly dry and prone to flaking (but given its perfume content, sensitive types may want to steer clear).

Buy now £60.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 shower gel paint can

This cute “paint can” container was one of our favourite pieces in the collection – when it came to reusability, the options running through our minds were endless. Our top three were a handy pen pot, a plant pot or even a chic handbag (it’s made with cardboard so just don’t take it out when it rains). It contains 20 “paint droplets” of shower gel, each enough for a single generous shower (or two if you’re just washing pits and other bits) encased in recyclable plastic sachets. Handy for travel or gifting to a few lucky friends, the gel itself creates a rich No 5-infused fug which elevated our 7am shower to glamorous new heights that easily lifted us out of our morning grump.

Buy now £56.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 body oil DIY oil can

The Tin Man couldn’t have wished for a more stylish oil can, and what’s inside is even more delightful. This is a dry oil, which melts into the skin and contains a somewhat more delicate iteration of the original No.5 scent (without the heavier base notes). It’s actually a great way to enhance the perfume’s effects if you spray it on top too. And although the packaging is supposed to be tongue-in-chic – it actually has some surprising benefits. Body oil is traditionally messy to apply, as anyone who’s sloshed it into their hands and spilt it all over the carpet will attest. Whereas this has a utilitarian spout for careful and precise application (perfect for knees and elbows and any other rough, bumpy bits). Other brands may want to take note…

Buy now £60.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 sparkling body gel paint bottle

If you want a product that will help you celebrate the return of the party scene (hurrah) this twinkling body gel in a fetching paint bottle not only imbues limbs with hydration, together with the scent of No.5 – it also contains fine gold particles, so for sun-deprived limbs, this was the next best thing to get our skin sparkling and Studio 54-worthy. While some of us tend to find applying body lotion a chore or get annoyed at having to wait for it to absorb before dressing, this gel sinks into the skin pretty swiftly, leaving a subtle scent and a dash of shimmer in its wake – without any residual stickiness. Plus, the paint bottle packaging is guaranteed to liven up any bedside table.

Buy now £60.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 bath tablets tea tin

This took our evening bathing ritual to dizzying new levels of glamour. A bath can be a very sensual place and No.5 has a history of being, well… a damn sexy scent (that’ll be the sandalwood and jasmine, two of the most aphrodisiac notes on the planet), making this is a great addition to bathing with a loved one or an evening of solo self-care. The fizzing, fragrant discs quickly dissolve in water, leave a subtle whisper of No.5 on the skin and will leave your bathroom smelling like a shrine to Mlle Chanel in the process. Plus, the reusable canister makes for the smartest tea caddy we’ve ever beheld.

Buy now £56.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 body lotion flexible pouch

This lightweight lotion is perfect to slather on after you’ve enjoyed a soaking session in the tub (see above), leaving skin soft and exquisitely scented. If you find the original perfume a little too outré for during the day, this milder incarnation is the perfect solution. Imagine Chanel whisked you off for a No.5-themed luxury spa weekend, this is what you’d probably come back smelling of afterwards. Plus, the cute pouch is the perfect shape to pop in a gym bag, so if you manage to get back into the swing of post-lockdown spinning classes, this is the perfect treat to reward yourself with afterwards.

Buy now £48.00, Chanel.com

No.5 shower gel washing up liquid bottle

This probably captures the Factory-theme better than any other piece in the collection – after all, what encapsulates ‘everyday household item’ more effectively than the humble washing up liquid bottle? All that’s missing are some No.5-themed marigolds to complete the look (Chanel missed a trick there). Containing the same shower gel as the paint can, this bottle is worth investing in as a keepsake, perfect to adorn on your bathtub or bathroom sink. Plus, after it’s finished with, you can either display the bottle as a showpiece or use it to have a very glamorous water fight with your siblings when you’re supposed to be doing the washing up…

Buy now £56.00, Chanel.com

Chanel No.5 water bottle

There’s high maintenance and there’s high maintenance… Touting around a No.5 water bottle shows those Lulu Lemon-clad mean girls at the gym that you mean business. No, we weren’t sent one of these (alas, alack) but lets not kid ourselves – this isn’t going to be in a round-up of the best water bottles. You’re buying this purely for the label – and there’s no shame in that. If you can actually afford the price tag, you’re more likely to be using this to sip Laurent Perrier, as opposed to lukewarm tap water. To be fair, it’s a limited-edition piece so it could become very valuable over time if kept in pristine condition. And anything that encourages people to use less plastic bottles gets our vote… OK we’ve run out of excuses. It’s a Chanel water bottle, what’s not to like? You definitely won’t be leaving this under a tree while you go for boot camp in the park.

Buy now £56.00, Chanel.com

The verdict: Chanel Factory 5 collection

Our overall tried-and-tested take? It’s a fun collection and a fitting tribute to Mlle Chanel’s original vision that made her brand a household name. Some of the pieces are definitely worth investing in for anyone looking to elevate their ordinary bathing routine or build a collection of fragrant keepsakes. We particularly love the body cream for its ability to transform our parched, scaly limbs, while the packaging is a joy to use. While lovers of the original scent might want to treat themselves to the blister pack version if their current bottle is running low.

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