Average Rating 3.5/5
Review by ella343
I've long resisted Chanel No. 5, because neither a floral bouquet, and certainly not one that features jasmine, nor strong aldehydes really appeal to my personal taste. But while the EDP is hardly a pale rendition, the parfum is revelatory, a glorious skin scent that banishes the trace of harsh, urine-like indoles that mark the EDP. Its heart is so lush and fine, featuring true jasmine de Grasse and rose de Mai (shown at left), from Chanel's own fields in the south of France. The resulting bouquet is well balanced, but the heady, indolic character of jasmine is perhaps more prominent than the salty austerity of rose, because the supporting notes cast a warm glow on the whole: a candied floral top of neroli and violet, the tropical humidity of ylang ylang, and a sumptuous vetiver-amber drydown, supplemented by creamy sandalwood and a hint of animalic musk. What makes No. 5 tick, however, is that slug of aldehydes that hits you straight from the bottle. Stylistically, they remove No. 5 from the raw, natural beauty of Caron Bellodgia, which smells exactly like a Provenšal flower market.The effect of aldehydes is not unlike that of a bottle of champagne, what Jimmy Stewart calls "Cinderella's slipper" (hic!): the powdery, pearl-like, waxy texture, the volume of its sillage, a scintillation of candlelight gleaming off endless silver.
A dab of the parfum transports you into a world free from the taint of cynicism, which, in my view, is the idea behind a floral perfume in the first place, like some magic universe populated by fantastic heels that never, ever hurt, that instant transformation of the ordinary to the regal. Is this an alchemical subterfuge? Most assuredly. Is it also a carefully designed, tightly controlled propaganda machine that uses imagery like Marilyn Monroe or Catherine Deneuve to boost sales? Absolutely. Is it accessible and easy to wear? Surprisingly, no. And not in that elusive, intellectual way of Guerlain Mitsouko, but more akin to a tiara: Chanel No. 5 seduces the inner princess in all of us.