It starts out with a burst of aldehydes and flowers, in the middle it has a soft downy musk scent. The dry down almost has a resiny soft amberish fragrance note to it. I loved the original.
Sadly, I went to Sephora and spritzed on some and it was not what I described above. It has been reformulated into a sharp cloying chemical fragrance. In other words, they have removed any natural resins and replaced with cheap chemical notes.
If you can find a vintage or older version of this perfume it is incredible. If you can only find a newer version of this classic fragrance, skip it.
I am only giving this a 3 based on the new formulation. If I were reviewing the formulation from a year or two ago it would get 5 lippies.
I don't see the allure of No.5 at all. My mom has a bottle, it's so strong and nauseating! Someone else said it right when they said it makes you think of old money. That's true - very OLD money! When I smell it I think of a little old rich lady wearing a fur coat and tons of makeup. Artificial and stuffy. I honestly think if famous people hadn't endorsed it and the brand wasn't Chanel it would never have been so popular.
I really wanted to like Chanel No. 5 because it is considered such a 'classic' scent. So last weekend my cousin and I were in Macy's and we tried it. This scent to me smells very old, so 'classic' is definitely the appropriate term. I hate to describe anything as an 'old lady' smell, but No. 5 really is. However, my cousin adored it, so different smells for everyone, but I was not impressed with it or the price tag either. As someone mentioned earlier, Coco Madmesoille smells very nice.
I am about to write a difficult review. I have worn Chanel No. 5 for 12 years, loved in in the EDT, EDP, and Parfum. It goes on with a clean burst of aldehydes and flowers, which gently dries down to a soft, sexy, powdery, golden musk. Almost resiny sweet in its drydown. I was happy to just keep wearing it forever. I would have given this 5 lippies.
However, my recent purchase of bath oil and EDP was an absolute horror. The scent has been redone or something, as it is no longer powdery and golden. The scent is now similar to a cheap linen candle, high in the sinuses sharp, and I can't even wear it on my skin as I get a headache. Instant wash-off! It has nothing to do with skin chemistry changes because my other bottles of EDP and parfum are still magical on me. A squirt of my bottle (purchased in 2000) next to the new stuff side by side cannot even be called cousins.
So, Chanel, shame on you for whatever changes have been made, and then advertising it as the classic it used to be. It was around since the 20's for a reason, I don't know how you will keep it around with the way it smells now.
EDIT: I must be fair and say that while the EDP now is terrible IMO, the EDT formulation is close enough to keep me happy. So, I am upping the lippies for my all-time-favorite scent and changing the repurchase to *yes* but only for the EDT and possibly parfum.
EDITED Again: 5-31-11 I did just repurchase No. 5, the EDT. I have to be fair and say that yes, this is still my most beloved, numero uno perfume in the whole world. And, to admit, that flowers have good and bad seasons and perfumes have to be in accordance to the latest regulations, and Chanel does a good job at keeping No. 5 a top notch product. I'm happy to have it back on my dresser. Don't be shy about trying it because of my rant, just see which concentration suits you best before you buy.
I have just 'graduated' into this aged 28 - it's always been my mother's perfume and until this week I therefore, like others, thought it was too old for me.
It wears very well - the initial synthetic aldehyde giving way within 30mins to a classic floral, then drying through the day to a soft, warm scent that lasts.
The packaging is also stunning.
It is a classic, and old fashioned, but still rather lovely and I personally have no problems wearing it on a hot sunny day. I feel it's professional and classy, though not enough drama for me for a big night out!
Two words of warning though:
a) This stuff is strong, and if you wear too much you lose the subtlety of the dry-down and get that 'too much perfume old person' thing. Go easy (and think of the cost!)
b) I'd echo what others have said about body chemistry - my mum and I love it, but i have smelt it on others and hated it. Sample first - this is not universal.
My signature scent is a Chanel, and a Henri Robert Chanel to boot, Cristalle. So I am by no means anti old skool Chanel, but for some reason No. 5 does not work on me with my body chemistry. Not going to disrespect a classic, but I don't think No. 5 is universal scent. The dry down smells like fried chicken on me. I thought my nose was just off one day (I wore it recovering from a cold) and a friend was like, "mmm smells like chicken"...not what I want in a perfume. I am not against people wearing what other people wear, so this review has nothing to do with me hating on No. 5 because I am some sort of frustruated Chanel fraggie tired of people going on about No. 5 all the time and getting all these cool bath and body products with theirs that I don't get with my beloved Cristalle. I have tried EDP, EDT, pure perfume, elixir, all with the same result (you can't say I didn't try!)- fried chicken.
Two lippies because it is a Chanel and a Robert, but just not for me. Like a previous reviewer said, this is a classic, you can like it and at the same time admit it doesn't work for you. It does smell beautiful on other people, just not on me.
Update 18 October 2008: I have to say, the Eau Premiere actually smells good on me! I'm a convert, please see my review for that one Up to three lippies for making a new iteration of it that I can actually wear!
I can't understand some of the reviews Chanel no.5 has gotten. It truly is a classic sexy scent.
Every time I wear it I get asked "Oh my, what are you wearing?". And that's a reaction from a total male stranger.
It's lovely and timeless.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but to be so harsh on such a classic. I just do not get it.
I love it and I will always wear it and I KNOW I do not smell like an old lady.
This is my interpretation of Chanel No. 5: So ladies, imagine you are given the most beautiful bouquet of flowers entailing of roses and jasmine. Smells great right? Unfortunately the flowers were sent to your job at the science lab and the only place you can put these flowers is in a beaker filled with alcohol. As you are working, the heady scent of the aldehyde, roses and jasmine permeates the room inviting (or offending) noses everywhere!
Ok so I'm not a huge fan of this. The scent is quite strong and you need a really light hand to spray this. The scent is rather strong, evoking old money flair. "Classic" would best describe this scent.. classic as in classical music, champagne, diamonds and fur coat.. something an old socialite in Russia would truly enjoy.
I was hoping I'd like this perfume, seeing as it's considered classy & all. I test sprayed it though (the EDP) & it smelled like mix between old lady & a public bathroom. Seriously. Do they spray public bathrooms with Chanel No.5? I doubt it. Unfortunately, I really did not like the smell of this. I really like Coco Mademoiselle though, so I picked that up instead.
this perfume will never go away. never. ever. it is a true classic. very thick, one spritz is almost overpowering. not realy for school, but good for special occasions. this perfume is kinda makes me think old hollywood glamour and goes well with a little black dress. very out of place in casual attire. i think its too overpowering but if you spray one spritz in the air and walk through it its wonderful. its the kind of perfume that people walk past and think "that person obviously wearing chanel no5" it is very expensive but lasts forever! classic perfume that will never go away. ever