When I think of CHANEL, naturally I think of France and, more specifically, I think of Paris with her white walls and perfectly designed boulevards. But CHANEL is more than one place. It’s more than a fashion house, it’s a lifestyle. If you could live CHANEL, what kind of woman would you be?
You’d probably be the kind of woman who understands heritage, craftsmanship, quality, and artistry. You are confident and current, timeless and unforgettable, you possess a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’… You definitely possess a bottle of CHANEL N° 5 (and so did your mother, and possibly her mother). Perfume, like memories, can thread together our lives, taking us to places like a mystical time traveling fairy. I know, one day, the smell of fresh garden roses will remind my children and my grandchildren of me long after I’m gone. I hope those memories bring back love.
As all things CHANEL does, its perfume is created to perfection, with the highest quality ingredients, and is, of course, made in France. There is no place better in the world to manufacture perfume than on the beautiful French Riviera in Grasse, the cradle of French Perfumery since the 17th century. For over 170 years the fields you see depicted in this story have been owned by the same family, who have passed down knowledge from generation to generation; grandfathers working side by side with sons and grandsons. You can feel the heritage and deep rooted love walking the lanes of endless roses. For the past 30 years CHANEL has had a sole partnership with this family estate. It is here where they recently brought us to experience the 5th interpretation of CHANEL N° 5 called L’EAU, or water in French. According to CHANEL,“N°5 L’EAU is not a cologne. Nor is it a diluted version of the original fragrance for, at CHANEL, each variation is a genuine olfactory creation. N°5 L’EAU is the N°5 of today. A composition under the banner of modernity, with freshness as its leitmotif. L’EAU, for water is essential. L’EAU, in praise of simplicity.”
When I arrived to the property I was struck with the overwhelming scent of roses. It was truly the most intoxicating smell I’ve ever experienced. Pure, intense, lovely; it completely wrapped around you, like being covered in nature’s kisses. Nothing will ever compare to the scent of those fields. I walked for hours among the rows of pink roses at different stages in their delicately blooming life span, the perfectly French light dancing warm and golden set against a blue sky. It was ideal bliss. Off in the distance, the chateau sits, proud and historic, like a fairytale from my childhood storybooks. I was, to put it simply, in heaven… even the photos can’t do it justice this time.
The new fragrance is wonderful. It’s timeless like the original N° 5 but modernized perfectly. Less musky, more vibrant. Less suited, more feminine. It’s all I wore while on my journey through Provence, and what I wear at home to travel back to this place… my heaven on earth.
Something that my friend, artist, and archaeologist Jean Pierre Soalhat said to me on my recent visit to Provence, “Our future is inside of our past.” I believe this quote truly represents the heritage of Chanel’s brand, their perfumes, and certainly the driving force behind behind L’EAU, modernity guided by tradition. The memories that a perfect scent creates, reflect moments in our lives, the lives of our loved ones, memories that lead into our future and last forever.
The May Bloom: Rose de Mai
40-50 tons of roses are produced in a season, handpicked by farmers. The blooms begin the last week of April and throughout the month of May. At first light, every morning at 7am the buds will begin to bloom, two days after they have opened up their beautiful petals, they must be picked. The lifespan of one rose bush is 15-20 years.
“And then, like a second wind, you can already hear the rustle of flowers. It sounds like the whisper of trembling tulle. Rose melds with oxygenated jasmine and a new fraction of ylang ylang, more modern than ever. You are plunged into the heart of the bouquet with a delectable dizziness that gives the impression of contact with each petal, its velvety touch, its fleshiness, its delicate lace, its changing shape.” -The house of CHANEL
“Never has N°5 been so natural. Never has it been so fresh.” -The house of CHANEL
Below, a visit to the factory which is next to the fields so the roses can be immediately processed the same day they are picked … also this happened.
Above – CHANEL’s perfumer Olivier Polge explains how he used the original N° 5, the pillar of their identity at CHANEL, as the inspiration for L’EAU but for a modern day woman.
Keeping the original notes in the back of his pallet, he created L’EAU out of instinct. For freshness he used notes of orange and citrus. Floral notes come through with roses and jasmine which have been redistilled in a new way to make the notes more colorful. In respect to the original fragrance, the woodsy notes are creamy with vanilla and cedar wood, which replaces sandalwood for more vibrancy making L’EAU a signature scent of pure modernity.
My Favorite CHANEL stories: