ELLE (Canada) - - Beauty - LAURA de CARUFEL

In Grasse, France, there lies a field of roses that bloom only for the month of May. The “rose de Mai” has a posh call­ing card: It’s the heart of Chanel No. 5, cre­ated by Ernest Beaux in 1921. To cel­e­brate the el­e­gant flo­ral, ELLE Canada asked Jac­ques Polge, ad­viser to the Chanel fragrance lab­o­ra­tory, about mem­ory, mys­tery and in­spi­ra­tion. What is the en­dur­ing ap­peal of Chanel No. 5? “It was the first cou­ture fragrance. No. 5 mixes flow­ers in a way that you do not rec­og­nize any­thing. There is mys­tery, and mys­tery is very im­por­tant for se­duc­tion.” When did you first come across No. 5? “When I was learn­ing how to be a nose. There was a pe­riod when, like a painter, you learn a job by im­i­tat­ing an­cient works. I tried to redo the big and very fa­mous perfumes, and I re­mem­ber that I had some dif­fi­culty re­pro­duc­ing No. 5. I now know why.” What at­tracted you to fragrance? “Fragrance is a way of ex­press­ing and say­ing things with­out choos­ing words or images. It says things that you couldn’t say in any other way.” What in­spires you? “For Coco, my in­spi­ra­tion came from my first im­pres­sion of Made­moi­selle Chanel’s apart­ment. With Chance, mar­ket­ing wanted a per­fume for younger peo­ple, which I didn’t think was a good idea be­cause young peo­ple don’t have money. In­stead, I [cre­ated] Chanel’s youngest per­fume.” How has fragrance evolved? “The prin­ci­ples have not changed. You try to do the best you can; each fragrance has to be dif­fer­ent from what Chanel al­ready has, and it has to be dif­fer­ent from what is al­ready on the mar­ket. Th­ese prin­ci­ples were true at the time, and they are still true to­day.”

Chanel No. 5 Eau de Par­fum Spray ($368 for 30 mL). For de­tails, see Shop­ping Guide.

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