Chanel Defies the Status Quo with a Radical New Scent

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When it came to social norms, what was popular, and what ‘everyone else was doing’, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel always defied to the status quo. She established trousers for women as a chic wardrobe staple and transformed plain old bolts of jersey into high-end RTW creations. As for fragrance? She broke the proverbial mold.

Before Chanel, perfumes and fragrances were comprised of entirely natural ingredients and contained nothing artificial – but they also didn’t last on the skin. In fact, even the strongest essences evaporated after a few hours of wear. In 1921, chemists chanced upon a groundbreaking invention, a chemical called aldehyde that was safe to wear, made scents last longer, and had a sparkling quality. When Chanel approached perfumer Ernest Beaux to create her first fragrance, ‘Nº5’, the results came about because of a happy accident. Too much aldehyde was added to the mix. It smelled glorious. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Since the introduction of Chanel ‘Nº5’ in 1921, practically all the house’s fragrances have reached legendary status. One after the other, it was guaranteed that a new Chanel fragrance – united in name under the qualities and muses beloved by the house – were going to be hits. The new ‘Gabrielle Chanel Essence’ is an exemplary representation of Chanel’s position as a fragrance hitmaker, with Margot Robbie starring as its embodiment in the campaign video, above. And like its namesake, it defies the status quo.

Conceived by perfumer Olivier Polge, the new scent is a heady contradiction of florals like jasmine and tuberose, supported by earthy sandalwood and fresh citrus scents like mandarin peel, grapefruit, and orange blossom. Even the bottle is a feat of creative engineering; it took years to develop the thin-walled container for this incredible fragrance. But you’d never know the technical wonders of the bottle just by looking at it. Why? Because as Chanel herself put it, “Luxury is what you don’t see.”

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel
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