100 Years of Chanel N°5: A Look Back at its Most Exciting Pop Culture Moments
Since its introduction to the world by Gabrielle Chanel in 1921, this fragrance has become synonymous with opulence and luxury—a must-have for women of every age. Its intensely rich, floral scent of rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang has become as recognisable as its vessel: the minimalist square bottle with a distinctive flat stopper, reminiscent of a hip flask, that allowed the amber colour of the fragrance to take centre stage. Through the decades, the understated, elegant design of N°5 has remained largely unchanged but its scent has been reinvented five times, the most recent being the fresher N°5 L'eau in 2016.
With such a tight embrace of this beloved scent by women around the globe, it is only natural that it has transcended beyond the world of beauty. From the glamorous big screen to the world of television, art and jewellery, come with us as we revisit some of our favourite Chanel N°5 moments in popular culture.
1/5 Marilyn Monroe's love affair with Chanel N°5
One of the most alluring figures in Hollywood history, Marilyn Monroe once admitted in an interview that she wore nothing but five drops of Chanel N°5 to bed, becoming one of her most iconic quotes. Until recently, the audio from that infamous interview has remained under wraps but it has been unearthed and makes for an exciting revelation for fans of the singer and actress.
2/5 Barry's gift to Rachel on the sitcom, 'Friends'
It is established from season 1 of Friends that Rachel Green's signature scent is Chanel N°5 and it plays a major role in her relationship with 'evil orthodontist' Barry Farber, the man she left at the altar. She is won over by a bottle of Chanel N°5 from Barry, when they briefly get back together. And later, Barry's fiancée, Mindy Hunter discovers Barry and Rachel's clandestine affair behind her back just from lingering scent of Chanel N°5 —a testament to the distinctive notes of the fragrance.
And this was not Chanel N°5's first foray into comedy. Blanche and Dorothy on The Golden Girls regularly refer to their favourite fragrance and even make deals with Chanel N°5 as the prize.
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3/5 Blair Waldorf's signature scent on 'Gossip Girl'
There are few characters in modern TV that have gained a cult following of such long-lasting admiration than Blair Waldorf, the 'Queen B' of New York's Upper East Side in the CW series, Gossip Girl. Since 2007, the world has been obsessed with being her, from the storyline where she marries a handsome European prince to her entire beauty look, down to her trademark hairbands and signature scent of Chanel N°5. An enduring symbol of femininity, this is not the first time that Chanel N°5 is used as a coming-of-age plot device on cinema and the silver screen.
Find Natalie Portman's troubled character returning a stolen bottle of Chanel N°5 to her perceived rival in The Black Swan as well as Carey Mulligan's Jenny Mellor in the Oscar-nominated An Education, returning from a trip to Paris with her much-older boyfriend bringing Chanel N°5 as a gift for her teacher.
Related: The True Story of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel: The Childhood That She Never Wanted You to Know
4/5 'Moulin Rouge' déjà vu with Baz Luhrmann
One of the most expensive advertisements ever made, with an eye-watering budget of US$33 million, The Film directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman irrevocably changed the world of fragrance advertising. This mini-feature film closed with the seductive voiceover of heartthrob Rodrigo Santoro whispering, "Her kiss, her smile, her perfume", on a rooftop setting similar to Satine, the fictional club in Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge.
Since this iconic ad, Chanel has only upped the ante with equally memorable, cinematic masterpieces, from the opinion-dividing film starring Brad Pitt to their most recent offering starring Marion Cotillard in an out-of-this-world dance sequence on the moon.
5/5 Andy' Warhol's Ads portfolio
Chanel N˚5 is the first perfume to enter the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York City, thanks to one of the most recognisable and celebrated artists in modern history: Andy Warhol. The pioneer of pop art, whose career started as a Fifth Avenue department store window display designer, renders the iconic Chanel N˚5 clear glass bottle in rich hues of blue, red, and gold and green—providing a commentary on vanity and the superficiality of consumerism as part of his "Ads" portfolio.
In 1997, the French luxury brand sought the permission from the Warhol Foundation to reproduce the images as posters for an advertising campaign throughout Paris. Today, these limited edition vintage French posters are sought-after treasures in the art community.