Fifth Element
Female Singapore|September 2016
Fifth Element

When a perfume has repeatedly smashed expectations over 90 years, how does one make it smell truly fresh? Moh shuying reports on the latest incarnation of channel no. 5 from grasse.

When women were wearing tightly bound corsets at the beginning of the 20th century, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was sporting her boyfriend’s trousers. When luxurious textiles like silk and satin were the fabrics du jour, she was crafting garments out of jersey, then usually reserved for men’s underwear. And in 1954 – when she was a grand 71 years old – she introduced her now signature buckled tweed jacket that broke away from the era’s cinched waists and hourglass forms.

Coco Chanel. Fashion vanguard. Always shifting the boundaries of fashion. Those who follow her brand or are into fragrances, however, would know that her revolutionary ways extended beyond women’s wardrobes when she launched Chanel No. 5.

Meant to capture the essence of the multifaceted woman the designer herself championed, this now iconic scent debuted in 1921 – the first to come from a couturier. While most perfumes of the time consisted of a single note (usually a heavy-scented flower), perfumer Ernest Beaux used a medley of ingredients – May Rose, jasmine, vetiver, ylang-ylang, bergamot, lemon, sandalwood and vanilla – but that wasn’t the only thing that set it apart.

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September 2016