Reviews of No. 5 
Chanel (1921)

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No. 5 by Chanel

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Reviews of No. 5 by Chanel

There are 206 reviews of No. 5 by Chanel .

"This was my mother's perfume..." Thus probably begins many reviews of Chanel No. 5. I have seen people accuse it of being an "old lady" perfume. I can't say I find the scent to be "old lady" so much as "perfume." For me, those perfumey aldehydes just don't work. On me, it smells like hostess soap. As a young woman, just establishing herself after college, I preferred the crisp, green of No. 19.

On my mother, however, it was lovely. She had many fine fragrances in her collection, but No. 5 was "hers." My cousin Joan wore Shalimar, her sister Irene wore Je Reviens, and their mother, my Aunt Mary, wore Joy. On each, her chosen perfume was lovely, but whereas my 20-something-cousins seemed to "wear" their perfume, my mother and my Aunt became their fragrance, or rather, it became them. After having so often complimented my cousin Irene on her Je Reviens, she gifted my mother with some. It was awful on her; it smelled like the worst possible cheap soap (even worse than No. 5 smells on me). It was hard to convince her that on her this wasn't the exquisite essence it was on my cousin, and I was left with no great opinion of Je Reviens. Thankfully, my mother returned to her No. 5.

Many years later, as I kissed my cousin Irene good-bye after a visit, I was greeted with the most entrancing scent. "What are you wearing!?" I asked, astonished. "Je Reviens," she answered, as if to say, "what else?" I had not remembered it being so wonderful. Not long after, when I visited her sister Joan, I was greeted by the most celestial garden of spice, and after the same, shocked "What are you wearing!?" she nodded, knowingly, "Shalimar." Years earlier, I had not sensed the spiciness of that "powdery" vanilla.

What is this long tale meant to illustrate (apart from that the women in my family have excellent taste in perfume)? That, even among the closest family members, there will be great variation in how fragrances present. We all know as much. But there is a theory I have developed from this experience as to why some people consider perfumes like No. 5 to be "old lady" perfumes--because their best expression is achieved on older women, and so we associate the scent with older women. My cousins had to grow into their perfumes; the fragrance, likewise, evolved on them. This isn't simply a matter of maturity or class. As women's body chemistry changes, as their skin density changes, so too, I believe, does their fragrance. (Not to be too sexist, here, I imagine the same happens with men, but we don't yet have a generation of mature men here in America who boldly wear what are considered "women's" perfumes to test this theory.)

Not long before her death, as I brought my lips to my mother's cheek to kiss her goodbye, I smelled the most perfect perfume. I couldn't describe it as anything in particular--just the most wonderful and perfect scent of a woman. When I asked the inevitable "What are you wearing!?" she said, "Chanel No. 5, as always."

I wish we had the option to rate with simultaneous thumbs up–thumbs down. Neutral is never appropriate for Chanel No. 5…

Thumbs up:
This is a post-modern work of art. (OK, a very pretentious statement, but let me explain). Whenever I smell Chanel No. 5 a classic symphony orchestra innocently chugs away while a loud distorted guitar screeches relentlessly in the top register. Somehow, the orchestra was brilliantly tuned to the guitar, allowing the dissonance to coalesce with the violins resulting in a haunting Gothic architecture (complete with flying buttresses–haha). This is the stench of bodies rising from the dead. Superb.

Thumbs down:
Chanel No. 5 is the opposite of inviting; it is telling everyone around the wearer to stay away because we are going to war and expect to die. As a fragrance, it is more like war paint instead of make-up. Maybe that is the whole point, but yuck. Please stay away from me, Chanel No. 5.

This was my fragrance many years ago; given up at a time of great change. I always liked it's heady presence. It is unmistakeable. Anyway, here I am years later feeling nostalgic. I've invited it back into my life, wearing it occasionally when I want to noticed, and remembered. Welcome back my friend.

So disappointed with this one. I purchased it without first trying on a sample, going simply by all the rave reviews out there and its classic stature. Too powdery, and despite having the EDP, it did not last well on me either. Just shows how subjective this world of fragrances is :)

Timeless, classic and classy. I love the complexity of No. 5. Over the many hours that it lasts with my chemistry it magically morphs from one very recognizable scent to another. I haven't tried another perfume that manages that feat.

While the scent is amazing, it's really too powdery to really be "me" (I'm more of an amber/citrus/floral girl). That being said I do enjoy wearing No. 5 from time to time. My mother has a bottle and I "borrow" some from her occasionally.

This perfume was so avidly promoted on a friend's Open Diary page a few years ago, that I went out and bought it. To me it has a baby-powder esque-ness (that is so not a word, lol!) that cannot possibly be escaped. When I think sexy I think My Sin by Lanvin, or Coco by Chanel. When I think, what bottle of perfume is still sitting in my car? Oh yeah, Chanel No. 5... picture the really attractive blonde in the corner that is gorgeous right up until she opens her mouth, and yes, there you have it...

As a perfume fanatic, I thought I ought to own it. But I didn't wear it. Occasionally I would spray a little onto my wrist and sniff it on and off over an evening at home. To me No.5 is a bit like going to a gallery and looking at a painting you find ugly but it just sold for $100m so you think you should admire it without really understanding why. I had EDT.

I am a (gay) man and I love #5 so much that I wear it myself as it works well on my skin. I can also be perfectly layered atop a more masculine woody or leathery scent.

It is the purest jasmine scent I know, and it is so well constructed with all ingredients in perfect harmony that it is like listening to the London Symphonic orchestra or probably more accurately some French opera.

Though preferably used as an evening scent (perfume) this is the olfactory equivalent to a floral burst you get after prolonged rain, when the sun pops open all flower buds and they all ooze their fragrance into the open air on a perfect spring day.

If >>Shalimar

No. 5 is always the smell you have to be patient for. It begins so blunt and rides out so slowly and with unflustered ease, you begin to wonder what's so special about it. I remember smelling it for the first time as a teenage girl and thinking "Dust? Dried roses? Doilies?" Foolish, youthful me.

Now I it's my black boots, my beige sweater and my nude lipstick of fragrances. It seems to go with everything.

The powerful jasmine and ylang ylang that sparkle like matte sequins, the inviting sandalwood finish and the hint of rose are all part of the experience. I find the EDP to be long lasting, but not as whisper smooth as the other formulations. I find myself using the Sensual Elixir like parfum when I go out and applying it before bedtime. It should be noted that the Elixir does have a thrust of vanilla not found in the other formulas.

The drydown is intermittently my favorite part, especially as I go to bed. It's powdery, but cool and not heavily spiced or laden with sweetness. It's almost green, but not as green as No. 19.

Now I wear it almost every other day. It's definitely my "safe" choice as the familiar aldehyde and jasmine scent is not exactly groundbreaking or thought provoking. It's just that aura of simplicity, svelte spirit and the feminine that keeps me anchored and confident.

I'd never wear it for two reasons. Firstly, I feel it's still a wee bit old for me. And secondly, it reminds me of my darling mum. To have this scent, so evocative of mum, every moment of the day, would just be too much. She's in my thoughts all the time anyway. But as it reminds me of her, and she was a very beautiful, way ahead of her time, feisty but gentle, very feminine little star, I have to say it is a stunningly beautiful, elegant scent. I wish I could wear it, as I think it oozes class. But even at 44, I still don't feel grown up enough for Chanel No 5.

THE CLASSIC! Well... maybe. but its not that good. Since i wasn't quite familiar with this fragrance till relatively recently, i was stunned by the fact that it smells THAT soapy. Its really prevalent.
Yeah, its a decent scent, i wouldn't dismiss it or want to tell people to wear something else since it is pleasant. But its really nothing far-out there. Buy it if you want, i like it, but wouldnt fall in love with it. Neutral.

If there is no Chanel No. 5 in heaven, I am not sure I want to go! This regal fragrance is sophisticated and classy to a fault. This is THE classic perfume par excellence. In fact, I would be as bold as to say it is an eternal fragrance. It is still going strong after 90 years which in itself is no small accomplishment. I wonder how many fragrances created in the 2000's will still be around in 2090... My guess is: not too many. Ernest Beaux was a real genius.

So this is the one that started Attack of the Killer Perfumes.
I can't wear this because of the aldehydes. It comes across on me as harsh with airy hairspray florals, and develops surprisingly little. I suppose if my skin and nose liked aldehydes I might see the loveliness of this classic, but I do not. This strikes me as the start of that slow slide toward the dreaded department store perfume smell. It also had a little funky note to it from the animalics that didn't sit well with me - it tended to separate out on my skin instead of blend, so I smelled it on its own instead of, let's say, a dirty floral - so N°5 isn't destined to be a fragrance I will wear.
Edit: I tried N°5 in parfum formulation and its beauty shines through reduced aldehydes, so I've revised my review to neutral. They seem almost like different fragrances to me. As a parfum, it is luxurious, smooth and feminine. It still had the problematic little funky note, so I won't wear it, but the parfum is the one way I can understand it's beauty.

Just imagine for a moment that a scent was a piece of music, No. 5 would to my mind be The Flower Duet by Delibes, now every woman wearing it is hearing the Flower Duet in their mind and they're entranced, floating along lost to the outside world.
It's lovely but everyone else has to listen to the music too, and just once in a while we'd like to hear something else.
A great scent but overexposure has dulled it's beauty.

This is an absolute classic. If I had a love of my life this would be it. I have been picking this out of my mothers dresser since I was 5. 15 years later, it is still my signature fragrance. So warm, so luscious, so sophisticated - a real masterpiece.

The challenge of Chanel No. 5 is making her your own.

It can feel weird to try to fill the big mommy shoes of this fragrance but so worth it when you do. Dry and warm and sweet and floral and legendary, basically the whole package.

This venerable aldehyde-laden floral potion holds her own, even after all this time.

This get three thumbs up from me: for the parfum, the edp, and the edt.

Radiant and futuristically chic back at time of its inception this chemical concoction stands out still on the stage nowadays. It's unique, indeed instantly recognizable. Synthetical and floral-aldehydic Chanel N. 5 is a chilly-radiant, cosmetical and powdery-gasseous scent that smells like a cloud of soft ambery musk over which are scattered petals of pink and white roses side by side with jasmine. A proud iris enhances the powdery sophistication in the central part on the side of lily of the valley and this middle stage performs as a perfect balance of floral patterns. After few minutes of a slightly hesperidic fickle blast this blend turns out incredibly cool, spacious and glamour with its initial floral blast of sensual ylang-ylang but it does it paradoxically with a retro, luxurious and nostalgic touch as well as you'd take a plunge in a colonialistic age of high class ladies in white dresses strolling along the Royal Pavilion with their umbrellas under sun. Some sweet woods provide a right dosage of woody delicate mildness. The final trail is yet balmy/aldehydic and woodsy with a touch of severe patchouli, a rooty hint of vetiver and a subterranean aftertaste of orange. The soapy-aldehydic effect is anyway not creamy or resinous despite amber and vanilla but instead powdery and airy because of the fluctuating and aerodynamic aldehydes effect which provides a sort of balsamic frosty "glaring" substance, anticipating the glamour talky temperament of many aromatic and balsamic powdery upcoming creations of the current modern market. This nostalgic piece of history deserves respect and I do it even if by its "peaceful" translucent cleanliness it does not fully satisfy my ideal model of naughty, sensual and gorgeous floral femininity.

I believe that it takes a very brave person to say they don't like Chanel No.5. Unfortunately all I get from this fragrance is powder and soap. The Chanel sales assistant told me that my skin chemistry went well with this perfume and although I agreed that I enjoyed it to a certain extent, I know I won't be adding No. 5 to my wishlist.

Perhaps it is my young age that makes me dislike most Chanel fragrances, but I respect them for being universally recognised and incredibly popular. This fragrance is very dependant on a person with the right skin chemistry, sophistication, class and maturity. On the wrong person it could be a disaster.

I've read books, and plenty of reviews of this one. I'll start the way these reviews always do, and say this, I can't say anything that hasn't been said.

I adore my vintage versions of this organic liquid. They've taken on a life of their own. I like the androgynous Eau Premiere, the EdT is classic, the extrait is divine, the EdP is a bit heavy (and my least favorite), but I love the masculinity of all of my coveted, hoarded, and much sought after bottles of EdC. I wear the old EdC, and continually baffle people when I respond that it's #5.

There is a #5 for everyone, and, at some point, you'll learn to like at least one of them.

One must give Number 5 a good rating. Who am I to negatively critique a timeless classic?

However, my 83 year-old grandmother wears this scent, and it is perfectly fitting. Enough said.

Chanel # 5 is vivid and bright like a light filled canvas by painted by both Van Goph and Matisse. Even its shadows shimmer with the intensity of aldehyde spiral glows but its over all impact is the serenely elegant design of timeless florals that transcend florals or anything else fo earth and nature into a glowing radiance. This is perfumery beyond abstraction. This is perfumery as effanescent radiance.

Every other one of the 139 reviews posted up to today begin with "I remember my mother wore Chanel # 5." Chanel # 5 transcends reviews, or fashion. It is the most popular perfume of all time. Its appeal is as close to universal as a thing of the real world can be. It is not favored by country, social class, or even gender. It is not really a feminine floral composition. It is not sweet. There are myriad masculines sweeter than # 5. I am a man, and if it were not so perfect and seamless, I would wear it myself. I am thinking I wil layer it with, perhaps Gurrlain Vetiver, or maybe a smokey Kolnisch Juchten in order to tone down its brilliant radiance.

What I require is a master perfumer to design in some flaws, imperfections, a ragged edge or to so that I could wear it without embarassment to my self, and self image.

My mother also wore it for most of her life. For women it is both an idealization of what few but a woman who projects like Catherine Deneuve can wear without a kind of dishoesty of projection, and mysteriously, at the same time it can be worn by all the imperfect ladies of the world, for casual as well as formal occasions, and these women will be more assured and comfortable in themselves for wearing it.

In its unitary simplicity, and perfection is its mystery.

As a EDT it is at its most bright and sparkling. As a EDP Chanel # 5 is more relaxed, and opens more slowly and with more depth but with less definition. The new Eau Premiere is the vaguest incarnation (designed perhaps for the most immature but most "post modern" purchasers in some strange target group). Of course, the Parfum Extrait should be the most perfect, unrestrained presentation fo the creation, and it is.

Why Chanel has not taken the recipe and stripped it down with a blemish or two for presentation as a masculin is beyond me.

In any case, Chanel # 5 is beyond arguing, or reviewing, really. It is in a class alone. It knows no category. It has no competitors. There is really nothing similar. And nothing to complain about. That is sell so well year after decade with such consistency riddles all analysis.

Did I mention my mother wore it? If it did not stand so alone, I would suggest that it is the mother of all modern perfumes. However like many perfect examples rare in nature, I do not think # 5 passed on its perfection to any heirs. We are lucky that it appears to be immortal.

I'll re-post my original review for Chanel No.5. And I'll keep on doing it forever. Once again, this is possibly one of the best perfumes ever created but the point within my review is slightly different. I'm trying to focus on the fact that if we all endorse the "best ever" attitude we leave no room for invention, for curiosity, for self expression and we react to other people's opinion just like the world of perfumery reacted when No.5 was originally released. At the time, brands by the likes of Guerlain used to keep the point that using natural ingredients in perfumes, was the only way to guarantee excellance. Then Chanel introduced on the market the first clearly chemical fragrance, declaring they used over 80 aldehydes to create this marvellous composition.

At the time it was absolutely blasphemous from Chanel and the world of perfumery splitted in two parts. On the one side we had those who felt almost offended by No.5, on the other we had people endorsing Chanel's choice realizing that No.5 was a revolutionary landmark in perfumery.

Said that, I'm trying to encourage people to be open minded, and most of all to respect other people's opinion...

Here we go....

Chanel No.5

OK, I know it may sound blasphemous from me (again) but we can't stand this perfume enymore! OK OK OK, it was revolutionary, it was the first floral- aldehydes scent ever created but please, let's go a little bit further now. I've nothing against N.5 that's an ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE but I'm sick and tired of mid aged ladies wearing this fragrance and thinking this is the only scent available in the whole world.There are no more reasons to exists for Chanel No.5 besides being part of your own collection, but please don't tell me there's anyone still wearing this. Wearing Chanel No.5 in 2011 it's not anymore being elegant and classy...fantasy, please!

Always a favorite of my mother. She has excellent taste in fragrance. She wore this on special occasions when I was very young, so it has a great nostalgic air for me. As an adult, I always found it a bit old ladyish, albeit a very sophisticated, moneyed old lady. I recently found an old bottle at the Goodwill for 50 cents, which is probably around what it cost in 1921...well, maybe not. Wearing it now, I find it an acquired taste, which I'm rapidly acquiring. It's still so strangely modern; yet old fashioned at the same time. It works a seductive spell and conjures the time in which it was created. And still has so much to say about today. How can you beat that? That old bottle I found is vintage and the "cologne" version. I find it very soft. Based on some of the reviews here, the greater concentrations seem like they're a totally different animal. An old she cat in heat it sounds like. But I like my little bottle of cologne. There's an old commercial on Youtube of Catherine Deneuve for Chanel No. 5. She says "cologne" in a French accent that makes it sound like she just invented the word. I fell in love with her long ago. Right now, I'm falling in love with Chanel No. 5

How can I hate Chanel No. 5? That opening aldehyde blast and bouquet of balsamic flowers to me, is sweet - in a good way, sweet like honey. This is a perfume whose scent is instantly recognizable for me. While No. 5 isn't my favorite Chanel fragrance, I still enjoy it and find it pleasant, and it *is* a Chanel, so I really have no complaints. If I have a sweet tooth, I wouldn't reach for a "gourmand", I'd reach for this. It's comforting and delectable, but never cloying or unpleasant.

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