Marilyn Monroe
"What do I wear to bed? Why, Chanel N°5, of course"  (Marilyn Monroe)

Since my entry entitled Blogging by Numbers, I have written blogs under the constraint stated as 'Write blogs on topics one can associate with successive ascending numbers' — and still am I now. It was not the first time I assigned myself a constraint as a challenge, and a help to my inspiration as well: I did the same two years ago with a constraint of writing about the 5 senses and Paris. It ended up in blogs about Sight, Hearing, Touch, Taste, and Smell.

When you talk about the five senses, it is but logical to name sight and hearing first, because they are the most important senses in humans. Taste, and essentially smell, on the contrary, will be named last, because they are of much lesser use in humans than many animals.

It is the same when it comes to arts. Arts are usually based on one sense only, and arts based on a sense that acts from a distance — sight or hearing — are seen as noble arts. Painters, sculptors, composers, musicians, are undisputed artists. On the opposite, few people will spontaneously consider that chefs, wine experts and perfumers are artists as well. There is a hierarchy among senses: senses that need closeness are trivial. Touch, taste, and smell, especially.

Every art needs education and practice. It is the case especially with arts that rely upon underused senses. It is probably not only coincidental then that France, a country where even body smell has traditionally been considered a normal feature of men and women, is especially famous for its cuisine, cheeses, wines, and perfumes.

Everybody knows Leonardo, Picasso, Rodin, Mozart, and so many other artists relying on sight or hearing. Few people, on the opposite, have heard of , who invented the Eau de Cologne and served as a model for the character of César Birotteau in the novel by , or who created Chanel n°5, probably the most famous perfume ever.

quote I want to give women an artificial perfume. Yes, I really do mean artificial, like a dress, something that has been made. I am a fashion craft worker. I don’t want any rose or lily of the valley, I want a perfume that is a composition.
Coco Chanel

When Mademoiselle commissioned Ernest Beaux to make several perfumes for her choosing, she was already a famous fashion designer who had imposed her conception of elegance, with modern women feeling free because they wore simple and comfortable clothing.

At the time though, fashion and perfumes were distinct areas, and the idea of creating a perfume that would be an image of the brand was new. Beaux produced two series of samples numbered 1 to 5 and 20 to 24. Chanel chose the bottle labelled as N°5 and decided to keep the name, probably for superstitious reasons.

      [BbN #5]
The new perfume was introduced on May 5, 1921, on the 5th day of the 5th month of the year. In the light of what its destiny has been for more than 80 years, Coco Chanel was undoubtedly right in thinking that 5 was her lucky number.

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