No. 5 
Chanel (1921)

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No. 5 by Chanel

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About No. 5 by Chanel

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Fragrance House
Ernest Beaux

What can be said that hasn't been said already? A timeless classic that still is a number one seller over 80 years after its launch in 1921.

Created by Earnest Beaux, No.5 was the first perfume ever created using such a large quantity of aldehydes, which give the fragrance its sparkle. Legend has it that Beaux presented Chanel with ten fragrances to choose from. (Or so the story goes...) Chanel chose perfume number five, hence the name.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Reviews of No. 5 by Chanel

There are 203 reviews of No. 5 by Chanel.

I’m partial to the extrait, which I think has one of the best drydowns in the history of perfumery. My favorite time to wear it is in December, around the holidays.

I was also able to procure a vintage bottle recently, which is slightly darker and more animalic, less bright and sweet, and has a much stronger, more discernible ‘base’. I would still buy and wear the current extrait, but the vintage is a lovely experience.

Did NOT like this as a teen wearing clouds of Love's Rain, relative of Baby Soft. Decided to try it in my more, um, "mature" age. It is pleasant, and I now appreciate the skill and balance of scents that has made it famous, still doesn't feel like "me".

At the moment, I'm seeing this entry for Chanel No. 5 plus entries for No. 5 edp and No. 5 edt. This entry, then, is seemingly for the parfum and the edc. They can smell a lot a like, depending on which versions you get, and I've also smelled an edp of No. 5 that was the same / similar to some parfum and edc versions.

There are interesting versions of No. 5 that vary from the main idea (skanky edc's, really strong, beautiful edt's, and a recent edp that smelled off), but most of the versions I've tried establish the same smell: powdery aldehydes and jasmine plus woods. It's a perfume on the lighter side, but beautiful in its subtlety.

Chanel No. 5 (1921) is an icon of perfumery, respected by people regardless of whether they like it, for what the perfume is, has done, plus how both the art and industry have been shaped in its wake. Perfumer Ernest Beaux proved his worth to Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel with No. 5, and the scent was many things to those who smelled it: a floral, a chypre, a status symbol, and a groundbreaking work of olfactive art with an unprecedented amount of aldehydes for the time, giving No. 5 its trademark plush opening which itself became a hallmark adapted for many future mainstream Chanel perfumes. There really isn't much more that I can say which hasn't been said by better people than myself, and Chanel No. 5 is a perfume nearly everyone in the Western world has either worn or at least smelled whether they're aware of it or not, but I'll try. Simply put: Chanel No. 5 isn't just an aldehyde floral, but is -the- aldehyde floral, and the perfume most people think about when they think of "that perfume smell", with a cosmetic empire carrying the Chanel double-C logo built upon its shoulders. Women predominantly wear it, but men can wear it (and have), with nearly anyone having the potential to enjoy it regardless of age, which is a difficult feat for any perfume to achieve, let alone one from literally another age. I won't lie, once you get past all the historic social impact hurgusburgus, the actual smell of No. 5 is the furthest thing from new and exciting, because like most things made ubiquitous from popularity, the style it pioneered has been done to death by others. Like Fougère Royale (1882) is to the fougère and Guerlain Shalimar (1925) is to the oriental, Chanel No. 5 to the floral genre a foundation that has been pushed, pulled, tugged, and imitated ad infinitum ad nauseam, but I can imagine how impressive it must have seemed in the early years.

The huge aldehyde and bergamot push is soothed by lemon and neroli, a billowing opening that becomes a golden halo instantly recognizable when anyone wearing No. 5 walks past. The four core florals of jasmine, rose, iris, and ylang-ylang have been often featured in many perfumes since No. 5 launched, but here they are blended to perfection and unadorned with additional floral or spiced notes like past perfumes, forming the balanced core which is pure sunshine alongside the gushing top. The base is jam-packed with things from aromatic sandalwood and oakmoss, to verdant vetiver and patchouli, warm amber and vanilla, with a deftly light application of musk and civet to mix with intimate animal attraction of one's skin smell. All the resplendent top and heart notes really keep No. 5 from being anything remotely lewd, but it is alluring in the teasing manner in which one bats their eyelashes at a potential suitor. Most people born long after this scent had seen its heyday won't read even one iota of sexual provocation from the dry down of No. 5, thanks to the cultural ingraining caused by everyone's mom and grandmother wearing the stuff, but such is how it goes with long-lived popular perfumes. Overall, the golden floral that is No. 5 just feels like happiness bottled, with the only real competition it faced being the aptly-named Patou Joy (1930). Gender, age, and context are all illusions with this one. If you like it's voluptuous splendor, wear it and be happy. From my personal experience, Chanel No. 5 is admittedly hard to reach for, even as somebody open to perfumes marketed to the opposite sex from mine, simply because all the matriarchs in my family wore into the ground growing up, so I was enveloped in clouds of No. 5 the same way a man is consumed by fogs of Axe/Lynx spray at a gym.

Even then, I acknowledge a level of comfort and gilded confidence in sniffing No. 5, a grace not found in the bitter 70's green chypres and poise missing from the terrible tuberose bombs of the 80's. Performance is all over the map for a scent with so many available vintages, but pure Parfum is the definite all-day radioactive glow of aldehydes, may rose, and aromatic fullness for which the scent is known. Eau de Parfum is the quietest in my opinion, with a soft-spoken low-sillage introduction to the main accord dialed down for intimate affairs, while the Eau de Toilette is technically weaker in formula, but has sharper citrus for greater sillage coupled with more-evident bite in the base, leaning more-masculine. The long-gone Eau de Cologne was almost "No. 5 for Men", with bergamot, aldehydes, rose, oakmoss, vetiver, and sandalwood stealing the show in the leanest, meanest incarnation ever produced, but also with shortest lifespan. Sampling is super easy because this stuff is everywhere, and of course I recommend trying because in case you've lived in a cave all your life, you need to at least know what all the histrionics and hype are about. I also think enough generations have lived and died that the style of No. 5 is beginning to finally borderline on irrelevant to the tastes of most young adults not versed in perfume history, so while we're at no risk of losing No. 5, recent flanker efforts to introduce "younger" iterations of the legendary accord prove to caution that some level of awarness needs preaching from its long-held fans to ensure future generations understand and appreciate this cornerstone of perfume. That's not to say every woman needs this in their medicine chest the way every guy is indoctrinated by his father to use Skin Bracer (1931), Old Spice (1937) or Pino Silvestri (1955), but No. 5 is an experience very much worth having. Thumbs way up.

Don't go for the lesser versions, or the newer updates (all the various concentrations and new formulations of No. 5). Go for the best: the parfum. The parfum stays with you and adapts through the day. By evening it's out of this world -- not by being overpowering, but in its subtle beauty. It's divine.
And don't save it for special occasions; wear it as a day fragrance and love it.

One of the most disgusting things out there... Chanel No.5 with it's huge dose of civet, giving any girl or woman wearing it a cat pee smell.

It probably somehow triggers a pleasant, primal feeling though judging by its fanbase.

I can only assume this is related to the wearer getting a feeling of being able to 'mark her territory' in modern day society. And also being able to stand out from the crowd, albeit in a bad way.

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