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Chanel No.5

May 26, 2009


Marilyn Monroe; Andy Warhol; Nicole Kidman; Audrey Tatou

The world’s best selling perfume, a bottle of Chanel No 5 is reportedly sold every 30 seconds. Since Marilyn coyly declared that she wore it in bed, and Warhol made it the subject of one of his famous print screens, this perfume has established itself as the most iconic perfume in the world. Created for Coco Chanel in 1921, its chic packaging and lingering base notes quickly became synonymous with decadence, glamour and luxury.

Chanel No 5In its hurry to buy the perfume and capture a tiny part of the Coco Chanel brand of timeless chic, what the world seems to have forgotten is that it smells bloody awful. It brings to mind a combination of hotel soap, my Great Aunt Emily and the slightly iffy lollipop lady who used to work the junction outside of my childhood home of whom my mother used to warn “don’t get too close”.

If a bottle is sold every 30 seconds (and I’m highly doubtful of this statistic, having not yet met one person who admits to buying it) it is surely only because husbands panic buy during the Hallmark holidays and grab the only fragrance they’ve ever heard of…

What’s more, Nicole Kidman, perhaps the most famous face to have advertised the perfume, before she was usurped by Audrey “Amelie” Tatou is a questionable choice as an advocate of a female fragrance, given that she is, according to My Friend Ginger Chris, A Man. His reasoning is thus:

– She is uncommonly tall for a lady

– She never looked that pregnant even when she was pregant

– She married two gays

– She is uncommonly tall for a lady

Nonetheless, your intrepid blogger is nothing if not open minded – so dousing myself liberally in the stuff, i ventured onto the Toronto subway to garner some public opinion. After several initial “Okay, who pissed themselves?” looks from my carriage companions  I settled myself in a centre seat and observed. Recorded reactions were as follows

A well manicured lady to my left started scratching furiously, pulling at her hair, gnawing at her pefect fingernails, and spluttering what sounded like “mercy”* in a throaty whisper

* What sounded like “Mercy” might well have been “More Seats” –  a plaintiff appeal against over crowding on the Toronto Transit System from a weary passenger

– A hitherto unveiled Muslim lady in her early twenties, who had been laughing and joking with some female companions, paused, sniffed the air, twitched, and quickly retreated into the relative fragrant safety of her burkha…from which her (now watery) eyes stared out at me accusingly

– A pious looking gent, clad in black, reached for what i can only imagine to have been a string of rosary beads around his neck and muttered some ominous sounding words in a foreign tongue

In fact the only borderline positive reaction came from a semi-bearded youth in an ill fitting suit, who gave me a look which said Ordinarily i wouldn’t, but since Lost isn’t on the telly anymore….”

Beatles' WilcoNow, perhaps you might think that the hoi polloi of the Toronto underground might not be the most appropriate audience for what is purportedly the World’s Most Chic Fragrance. (albeit that I did get on the subway at a right classy end of town). With this in mind i took my fragrant self round to visit BEN’S DOG. The dog, ostensibly my greatest admirer, and firmest friend, from whom I am always guaranteed the most exuberant of greetings, Stopped, Sniffed, Sneezed.



I can smell a rat, I can smell a cheat, and I know i can smell cat pee in the manky Odeon cinema…

“Definitely an old woman’s perfume: for all the Nicole Kidman gorgeous adverts, and the new one (I forget her name) this scent most reminds me of visiting old people’s homes, and underneath the flowery air freshener there is the heart of the fragrance. Day old wet knickers.”

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