In the summer of 1920, Coco Chanel (1883-1971) opened a shop in the resort town Biarritz where she met a Russian émigré, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. Their romance was short but important. Pavlovich introduced Chanel to a Russian perfumer, Ernest Beaux, who had worked for Russia’s Imperial Court.
The meeting was eventful for both of them. After a year of hard work and many experiments, Beaux placed ten samples in front of Chanel, dividing them into two groups. The first half Beaux numbered from one through five, the second from 20 through 24. Chanel chose the sample No. 5 and when Beaux asked her why, Chanel replied:
”I always launch my collection on the fifth day of the fifth month, so the number 5 seems to bring me luck, therefore, I will name it: No. 5.”
The list of clients who wore Chanel No. 5 perfume included the most beautiful women of the century. Chanel No. 5 was a favorite perfume of Jacqueline Kennedy. The perfume continues to be the ultimate symbol of classy sensuality. Marilyn Monroe:
”What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.”
Chanel No. 5 is still the best-selling perfume in the world.
Chanel became one of the most famous and recognizable women in the world. Among her many friends and lovers were Pablo Picasso, ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky, Jean Cocteau, and Winston Churchill. She had a 15-year affair with Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster. She was known to have enjoyed liaisons with women on occasion also.
She was noted as an especially intelligent, witty and original thinking woman. Picasso called her: ”The most sensible woman in the world”. She was irresistibly flirty, sharp, straightforward and a bit cynical.
Through the decades the Chanel Little Black Dress developed in to the classic choice for women. It has been often copied, redesigned and retailored. New versions continue to appear. I can confidently say that this dress will never go out of style.
”Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”