Chanel is one of the most sought-after beauty brands in the world and is celebrated for products including the 2.55 quilted handbag and Chanel No 5 eau de parfum. The brand has a huge celebrity following and Marilyn Monroe famously said she wore nothing but a few drops of Chanel No 5 to bed.
The Chanel Espace Parfums fragrance department is situated in a prime location in the Harrods Salon de Parfums. The space echoes a chic Parisian penthouse, with tweed textures, sumptuous gold and beige tones. With supersized No 5 perfume bottles, Chanel memorabilia and Chanel fragrances galore, this really felt like a luxury experience.
On arrival, I was given an overview of the brand’s heritage. Chanel’s first fragrance, Chanel No 5, was launched in 1921. It got its name as it was the fifth scent sample to be presented to Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel for her assessment. It is now firmly established as one of the world’s most iconic and best-selling perfumes. The Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection was first created back in 1922 by perfumer Ernest Beaux, the exclusive perfume creator for Gabrielle Chanel. The original four fragrances comprised No 22, introduced in 1922, Gardénia in 1925, Bois des Îles in 1926, followed by Cuir de Russie in 1927. In 2007 Jacques Polge created 10 further Les Exclusifs fragrances and, most recently, Jacques Polge’s son Olivier Polge added the new Misia fragrance, introduced this year. Perfect for everyday wear, Misia is a light, powdery, floral scent, which also brought back childhood memories of Parma Violet sweets. The Les Exclusifs collection of fragrances delivers subtle and unique perfume blends, offering customers a more exclusive experience.
After discussing my favourite type of fragrances – floral and citrus notes – I was matched to Jersey, a lively yet soothing lavender fragrance; Eau de Cologne, a citrusy scent with a dose of neroli and, my favourite,Gardénia, which has the bouquet of fresh gardenia flowers.
It was also interesting to discover which are Chanel’s bestselling fragrances in the Salon de Parfums. Les Exclusifs Jersey is popular with Londoners while Chinese customers are drawn to Les Exclusifs Gardénia and 1932 and, from the women’s fragrance collection, Chance Eau Tendre and Coco Mademoiselle. Middle Eastern visitors often choose Les Exclusifs Coromandel and Sycomore.
What is so unique about Chanel’s fragrance testing process? Chanel uses a patented ceramic blotter system, the Olfactive Bar, which is truly unique to its fragrance experience. The Olfactive Bar allows customers to experience the true likeness of each scent straight away, instead of waiting for the fragrances to develop on paper testers.
I found the Chanel fragrance consultation to be different from any other fragrance consultation I’ve experienced before. I came away feeling as though I’d not only found a truly unique, luxury fragrance, but that I’d also left with a piece of Chanel history. Discovering the meaning behind each fragrance was like receiving a combined mini fragrance and history lesson.
The facts behind the Les Exclusifs names
Jersey is inspired by the knitted jersey fabrics used mainly in men’s wardrobes until the 1920s, when Coco Chanel used it in her women’s collections
28 La Pausa is the location of the villa which was built for Coco Chanel in the south of France
Bel Respiro is inspired by Coco Chanel’s home in the Paris suburbs
Beige was Coco Chanel’s favourite colour
1932 pays tribute to the year in which Coco Chanel created her first Bijoux de Diamants luxury jewellery exhibition
Bois des Îles is inspired by the art deco era and was created in 1926
Cuir de Russie is inspired by Coco Chanel’s encounter with a member of Russian royalty
Coromandel is named after Coco Chanel’s love of Coromandel screens
Gardénia is inspired by Coco Chanel’s favourite flower, the camellia, which bears a close resemblance to the gardenia flower
No 18 is named after 18 place Vendôme, the address of the Chanel jewellery boutique. It stands opposite the Ritz, where Coco Chanel lived for many years
Eau de Cologne is inspired by sport and Coco Chanel’s love of the open air
No 22 is simply named after the year it was created, 1922
Sycomore was launched by Coco Mademoiselle in 1930
31 Rue Cambon is the Paris address at the heart of the world of Chanel. It contained Coco Chanel’s private apartment, studios and workshop
Misia is named after Coco Chanel’s closest friend and muse, Misia Sert
Chanel fragrance consultations are available exclusively at Chanel Espace Parfums counters and boutiques. Booking is advisable.
Next: See our picture diary from the Chanel Espace de Parfum here