Tag Archives: Chanel No5

Dead Movie Stars Do Wear Make-up

Norma Jeane:MarilynMarilyn Monroe has this morning been revealed as Global Glamour Ambassador for Max Factor – and from tomorrow will be seen in advertising campaigns for Max Factor across the media. Is it just me or is it weird having a dead person as your “ambassador”? Sure, Marilyn’s iconic look – which was created by Hollywood make-up guru Max Factor – has timeless appeal and is still widely copied today. But frankly I am uncomfortable with these campaigns where you see dead people being used to advertise products that they didn’t advertise when they were alive, and/or where words are put into their mouths. I was surprised when Chanel used Marilyn Monroe for a No5 campaign in 2013, but at least they used newsreel footage of her, accompanied by her own voice giving the famous quote about wearing the perfume to bed – rather than manipulating her likeness to bring her back to life.

In recent times we’ve had cameo roles from computer-generated Marilyn, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich in a Dior ad, while a sort of plastic, lookalike version of Audrey Hepburn has been used in a chocolate ad campaign. It was better – and arguably required more wit and brain power – in the pre-CGI days when clips from films were cut and pasted together (a la Carl Reiner’s inspired 1982 film noir pastiche Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid) to make such clever ads as the brilliant Holsten Pils ad, which used recognisable clips from Some Like It Hot and certainly wasn’t trying to imply that Monroe would have endorsed the brand.

And while I’m getting stuff off my chest, why does Max Factor keep insisting in its press material that Marilyn was a 1940s star?! She was certainly in Hollywood and playing small roles towards the end of the 1940s, but she only began to catch the eye of film-goers in 1950 when she had small but memorable parts in All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle. And it was 1953 before she had her first starring role.

Pat McGrath, Max Factor Global Creative Design Director, is quoted as saying: “Marilyn made the sultry red lip, creamy skin and dramatically lined eyes the most famous beauty look of the 1940s.” Er, hello? No she didn’t. She may have made that combo the most emulated look of the 1950s, but the sultry red lips and natural yet defined eyes were around throughout the Second World War, when Marilyn was still Norma Jeane. Just look at pictures of Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable. Creamy skin, red lips and big lashes.

What’s disappointing about the Max Factor brand’s carelessness with dates and pedantic stuff like that is that it is, ironically, a company which is a key part of Hollywood history. However, it’s certainly true that Norma Jeane Baker entrusted her gradual transformation into the Marilyn Monroe we know and love to the team at the Max Factor Beauty Parlour on Hollywood Boulevard – and that what became her signature look is still hugely inspirational today.

But it’s not all complaints from me: Max Factor has also today announced the launch of #GlamJan, a rallying call encouraging women around the world to glam up with make-up in this drab month of January. Inspired by the transformation of Norma Jeane to Marilyn, #GlamJan is a social media campaign led by Pat McGrath and famous faces including fashion model Candice Swanepoel, which invites women to post their most glamorous self using the hashtag #GlamJan and a message about how good it feels to glam up.

(Norma Jean image – Photo Bernard of Hollywood (c)2015 Renaissance Road Inc. Marilyn Monroe image (c)2015 Archive Images. MH Greene 2013. J Greene.)

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The Famous 5

Chanel No5 - GiseleChanel is spoiling its No5 fans this Christmas … Not only is there a gorgeous new Baz Luhrmann-directed advert to savour – and whoever would have thought that a hit song from Grease would be the musical accompaniment to a Chanel ad?!  – but there are also three beautiful new body products in the Chanel No5 collection.

For the number one No5 woman in your life, how about treating her to a new, curvaceous bath soap (£22) or the luxurious No5 Body Cream (£60)? Or, best of all, the gorgeous No5 Loose Powder (£50), a delicate powder which leaves the skin soft and subtly scented and provides the perfect finishing touch to the “sillage”, the sexy-sounding French translation of the less-than-sexy-sounding  “trail” that your perfume leaves as you move about in all your No5 loveliness ..

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Chanel Style, Bottled

No5_Eau_Premiere_50ml_&_100mlGood news for lovers of Chanel No5 Eau Premiere, the fragrance that offered a contemporary twist on the classic No5 when it was launched in 2008 … It’s now available in the elegant bottle that helped make its parent perfume an icon of pop culture and a dressing table must-have.

Chanel No5 Eau Premiere looks set to be a classic in its own right. Luminous, airy and feminine, it has a floral bouquet of voluptuous ylang-ylang, jasmine and May Rose, with a creamy heart of vanilla and musky base notes.

The new, non-refillable spray bottles are available in 50ml (£68) and 100ml (£96).

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The Fantastic (Festive) Five

So many gorgeous beauty gifts out there to choose from – and so little time left … So, here’s my pick of the best, kicking off with this covetable compact (£54) from Guerlain’s Crazy Paris Christmas collection.
Guerlain Crazy Paris paletteThe colours are actually brighter than this photo suggests and this oh-so-wearable palette comes in a beautiful black velvet pouch trimmed with fluorescent pink – to complement the rest of Guerlain’s gorgeous  Crazy Paris range. Clinique Aromatics Elixir Ltd Edition Clinique Aromatics Elixir Perfume Spray Limited Edition (£64 for 100ml) is a must not just for those who are already converts to this cult fragrance, which celebrated its 40th birthday two years ago – but also for anyone who likes their perfume to be sexy yet chic. This special edition bottle is embossed with the signature Aromatics Elixir design.Tom Ford gift setIf you’re wanting to win a lady over, you could not go wrong with a hinged box, initials on the side (not hers – a certain style guru’s), containing your choice of two nail lacquers and two lipsticks from the super-sophisticated Tom Ford make-up range. This selection comes in at £124. Who would fail to be seduced by this gift?  Benefit Love at First Shine setBenefit‘s Love at First Shine (£19.50) is the ideal present for young beauty buff – and a brilliant bargain to boot! Chanel No5 Hair MistAnd, in at number five, it couldn’t be anything other than something from the newly relaunched range of bath & body products that complement the iconic Chanel No5 fragrance. The Chanel No5 Hair Mist (£38) is an elegant way to wear the world’s favourite perfume.

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“Just a few drops of Chanel No5”

Marilyn Monroe’s love affair with Chanel No5 – a meeting of two icons – has been well documented in both a beautiful photograph and in the famous quote she gave when asked what she wore in bed.. As part of an ongoing campaign about the history of the world’s most celebrated perfume, Chanel has just released this little film featuring – for the very first time – Marilyn caught on tape discussing the quote which not only linked her forevermore with No5, but highlighted how witty she was.

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November 17, 2012 · 7:38 pm

Coco’s Last Head-turner

The bottle is iconic. Square with slightly curved shoulders, it is the embodiment of elegance and simplicity. The label is unfussy, with the perfume’s name laid out in black type. The lid sits raised off the shoulders – a glass rectangle resting on a neck around which, like a bow tie, is a band with the most coveted logo in the world in the centre: the two interlocking C’s. This could be a description of the world’s most famous perfume bottle, that of Chanel No.5, but it’s also a description of the bottle of one of the world’s most cultish fragrances – Chanel No.19.

Everyone knows Chanel No.5. It was the first fragrance launched by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, back in 1921 – and it became famous the world over as her signature perfume. Most people don’t know Chanel No.19, however. It was the last fragrance she created, and probably the last one she wore. Launched 40 years ago – half a century after No.5 – No.19 is about to become a whole lot better known now, thanks to the creation of No.19 Poudre (Powdered), a new and softer variation on its fresh, green, floral theme.

With Coco Chanel still a source of fascination as well as inspiration 40 years after her death, it’s surprising that her final fragrance – the last Chanel perfume made with her involvement, the last perfume she loved and the perfume which sums up the second half  of her career (complementing No.5 as the fragrance of the first half) – is still a such cultish phenomenon.

Like many of the great classical perfumes, it makes a statement. It’s not a fragrance that everyone “gets” or can pull off – and it’s certainly not the easiest fragrance to love, unless you have a fairly sophisticated palette. In the acclaimed book Perfume – The Guide, Tania Sanchez describes it as a “cruel” fragrance, “angular, unkind, tough and cold”, adding that: “For a fragrance with so many spring-time references, all white blossoms and leafy greenery, No.19 never lands you in any Sound of Music meadows. It keeps you in the boardroom, in three-inch stilettos and a pencil-skirt suit.”

Apart from the three-inch stilettos, the description could easily apply to Mademoiselle Chanel herself – in the two decades running up to the launch of No.19. Or, at least, the public’s perception of her. She certainly appeared to be a tough old bird, quite ruthless – and arguably cruel – in her brutally expressed opinions, and physically she was wiry and angular. She’s immediately recognisable in the minimalist sketches drawn by Karl Lagerfeld for Justine Picardie’s recent biography: you only need to draw the jawline, the cheek bones, the sharp elbows at 45 degrees to her body – and the Chanel form is identifiable.

So how did No.19 come about? Well, the story of No.19 is interwoven with the story of Coco Chanel’s miraculous comeback in the last 17 years of her life. She had quit Paris during the Occupation, her reputation damaged by her affair with a Nazi officer, and had taken up a sort of self-imposed exile in Switzerland. Her 1954 comeback collection was her first since she shut up her couture shop in 1939. What triggered her comeback was her rage at the New Look that was sweeping Paris and beyond: Christian Dior’s landmark 1947 collection, with its new silhouette of the tight bodice, nipped-in waist and full skirt, was the antithesis of the aesthetic with which Chanel had revolutionised fashion a quarter of a century earlier. She had done away with the restrictive corsets and given women the freedom of movement thanks to her loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. She was incensed by the New Look – and, especially, by the fact that a man had dared to put women back in corsets, that a man was undoing what she had done for women.

Opening with a navy blue and white collarless jersey suit, Chanel’s 1954 collection harked back to her 1920s successes – fluid lines, comfortable fabrics, and all modelled by girls with the gamine figures that had been in vogue in the days when flappers flattened their breasts, and hid their hips and waists. The French and British press hated it, dismissing it as backwards-looking, a pathetic attempt by an old lady (Chanel was by now 71) to relive her earlier successes. Le Combat newspaper said: “From the first dress, we knew that the Chanel style belonged the past.” The Daily Express labelled the collection “a fiasco”.

Support came from an unlikely source: the United States. The Americans loved the collection. Vogue and Life magazine both ran big features on Chanel and her comeback, with no mention of the war or her personal errors of judgement. Orders flooded in from across the Atlantic from women who appreciated what Life called “evening dresses that have plenty of elegant dash, and easy-fitting suits that are refreshing after the ‘poured-on’ look of some styles.”

It took five years for the French to cotton on to what the Americans appreciated about the born-again Chanel style. And in the interim, Chanel had devised all the elements of what remains the quintessential Chanel look – to the collarless tweed jacket she added the quilted, chain-strapped bag (the “2.55”, launched in February 1955) and the two-tone slingback pumps (1957).

Finally, in 1959, French Vogue proclaimed: “The heady idea that a woman should be more important than her clothes, and that it takes superb design to keep her looking that way – this idea, which has been for almost 40 years the fuel for the Chanel engine, has now permeated the fashion world.”

Riding on a cloud of success again, Coco Chanel – although she no longer owned shares in Parfums Chanel, but did receive 2% royalties on perfume sales – wanted to launch a new perfume to accompany this new chapter in her career and celebrate her triumphant return. The women’s perfumes in the Chanel portfolio had all been created during her initial run of success: Chanel No.5, launched in 1921, had been followed by No.22 (1922), Cuir de Russie (1924), Gardenia (1925), Bois des Iles (1926) and Sycomore (1930) – all of which were recently relaunched as part of Les Exclusifs collection – then Une Idee, Le 1940 Bleu, Le 1940 Rouge and Le 1940 Beige (all 1930) and Ivoire (1931).

Chanel now wanted a perfume to reflect her new success in the second half of the 20th century. Throughout the early 1960s, she nagged Parfums Chanel about it but – according to Michael Edwards’s book Perfume Legends, the fragrance company wasn’t keen – and nor were the distributors. Edwards quotes Chanel’s legal advisor, Robert Chaillet, who said: “They feared it might torpedo No.5.” Chanel persisted with her request for a new perfume and as time went by, the request became a demand. Finally, in 1965, when Pierre Wertheimer – one of the owners of Parfums Chanel – died, Chanel got her way and began work on what would become No.19.

Coco Chanel was involved in every step of the evolution of No.19, which was created by the revered “nose” Henri Robert. Chaillet later said: “Every week for over a year I brought her three different perfume bottles marked one, two, three. She sprayed herself with them from head to toe and then wandered around the fashion house waiting for reactions. If the salesgirls said: ‘Oh! Mademoiselle smells good!’ she was delighted. If nothing was said to her she would telephone me, furious. ‘This perfume is awful. I don’t want any. It stinks! Nobody noticed it!’ ”

Determined that the new perfume be a head-turner, Chanel settled on a daring formula which, says the internationally renowned perfume expert Roja Dove, “revolutionised” perfume. He says: “The thing that  made it such a revolution in its time was the overdose of orris [the root of the iris plant], which is the main classic powder note of perfumery, nestling in the base. You only notice it once the scent dries down.”

Both Dove and Jacques Polge, Chanel’s current “nose” and the guardian of all the Chanel fragrances, agree that No.19 is truly a connoisseur’s perfume. Polge explains: “In the industry, it’s always been very highly regarded – I don’t know of any nose who doesn’t rate 19 –  and those women who are faithful to No.19 usually come from a culture of perfume.”

Dove adds: “The so-called green note of perfumery – which is generally based around galbanum – is a polarising material. People either love it or really can’t stand it. And if you look at all the great classical perfumes that use it – perfumes like Miss Dior, or Guerlain Vol de Nuit, they are scents that you really love or you just can’t stand. What’s interesting is that No.19 has two hugely polarising materials – it has the note of galbanum, that so-called fresh note, and then underneath it, it has orris, the powder note.

“In my opinion, the powder note generally suggests somebody who is a little retrospective in their view on life; the so-called green note generally appeals to people who are forward thinking. So maybe the rather beautiful schizophrenia of this perfectly formed creation makes it polarising and therefore if you love it, nothing else will quite do, because nothing gives you this sort of duality – I can’t think of another scent that exists which combines freshness on a powdered note in that way.”

Certainly the simultaneously backward and forward-looking description seems to fit Coco Chanel. She always drew – whether subconsciously or not – on her past for inspiration. The distinctive chains of her bags were inspired, it is said, by the belts worn by the nuns who had educated her, for example. Yet she invariably moved fashion and fragrance forward with her bold choices.

With No.19 (so named after the date of her birth – August 19), she was soon vindicated in her choice. Jacques Polge cites the story of how, just a few months before her death, the 87-year-old
Coco Chanel was wearing the fragrance when she was stopped in the street by a young man. As she told it: “Coming out of the Ritz, I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned around to see an unknown face. I was just about to tell him off in no uncertain terms, when he said to me, with an American accent: ‘Excuse me, I am with two friends who want to know the name of your perfume.’ To be stopped in the street by a man at my age, that’s not bad, is it?”

Whether Chanel switched completely from No.5 to No.19 as her signature perfume during her final days nobody knows for sure, but Roja Dove says: “I wouldn’t be surprised –  I’m sure that any woman who received a compliment from a handsome man might end up having a proclivity towards the liquid that brought that comment her way!”

Chanel No.19 quickly established a loyal following, but never – Dove points out – became “a blockbuster” like No.5. Its influence is evident in various highly successful fragrances, including Estee Lauder’s Beautiful, Cartier’s So Pretty and, most recently, Prada’s Infusion d’Iris. And it was partly to “reclaim Chanel’s territory” as the perfume company which constructed the original iris masterpiece, says Jacques Polge, that he decided to create the new variation, No.19 Poudre, which is softer and makes use of the new musks that have become available since the original No.19 was formulated.

Roja Dove is thrilled with the arrival of a baby sister for the original No.19. “The beauty of a launch like this is it means that a whole new generation will suddenly look at one of the great classical perfumes and whilst they may be drawn to it through the new version, they might be tempted to try the old one. It would have been a great tragedy if No.19 had faded into oblivion.”

* Chanel No.19 Poudre (from £61) goes on sale on July 15. For stockists, call 020-7493 3836.

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