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Probably the most famous perfume on the planet, Chanel No 5 remains as iconic as ever. Not a lot of people realise that the fragrance has actually been reformulated numerous times – most importantly removing the civit perfume ingredient when it was made illegal and replacing it with a synthetic alternative. The fragrance has also had many famous faces promoting it. Unlike Coco Mademoiselle which has been consistent with Kiera Knightly for many years, Chanel No 5 seems yet to have found it’s perfect celebrity endorsement.

The latest campaign saw a moon themed advert and beautiful gold and brown tones. An interesting choice using Marion Cotillard (aka Malfoy’s mum) as the face of the fragrance, Chanel appear to be trying to add an edgier feel to Chanel No 5.

PerfumeReleaseFragrance Notes
Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum1986Aldehyde, Sandalwood, Iris
Chanel No 5 Eau De Toilette1924Aldehyde, Iris, Musks
Chanel No 5 L’eau2016Citrus, Aldehyde
Chanel No 5 Eau Premiére 2015Aldehyde, Ylang-ylang, Vanilla

Table of Contents

What Is An Aldehyde?

The main fragrance note in Chanel No 5 is aldehyde, an ingredient which isn’t often used in perfume in the 21st century and something which most people might not have even heard about. So what is an aldehyde? An aldehyde is a class of organic compounds that contain a carbonyl group at the end of a carbon chain. Aldehydes can have a strong, pungent odour and are often used in the flavour industries. They are also important intermediates in organic synthesis, serving as starting materials for the preparation of a wide range of compounds, including alcohols. Essentially, aldehyde has a chemical scent which some people find quite harsh.

Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum

Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum is instantly recognisable and famous throughout the world. However, not everyone knows what Chanel No 5 smells like.

The scent is quite traditional because it uses a strong Aldehyde note. This gives the perfume quite a medicinal feel and creates the type of scent which we don’t tend to see released in the 21st century.

As a result Chanel Coco Mademoiselle outsells Chanel No 5 simply because it creates a more modern scent (my article on the Chanel Coco Mademoiselle range).

Chanel No 5 Eau De Toilette

The fragrance itself is still a top ten best seller. Something which to be honest surprises me, as I feel the fragrance notes are dated.

The powdery and iris undertones are swept up in a very strong aldehyde note which for me feels medicinal and certainly not modern or sexy. Chanel No 5 Eau De Toilette keeps the same fragrance notes, meaning it is really just a lighter version of the Eau de Parfum.

Chanel No 5 L’eau

In 2016, and in my view as an attempt to appeal to a younger audience, a new flanker was released called Chanel No 5 L’eau.

Jonny Depp’s daughter Rose was selected for the advertising campaign but for me the fragrance doesn’t feel young.

Although they have added a lot of citrus notes to give the fragrance a lighter, fresher feel, we still have that signature aldehyde note bursting through, which for me makes this too similar to the original.

Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere

Easily overlooked is the 2015 Chanel No 5 flanker, Chanel No 5 Eau Premiére which is again very similar to the original but slightly soapier. It’s stronger than the original Eau de Toilette but not quite as strong as the Eau de Parfum. Personally, I’m not sure this flanker was needed…

Overall, I think that Chanel No 5 is iconic but like many things from the past, has had it’s day. I’d recommend Chanel look to the likes of Dior’s Miss Dior and Givenchy’s L’interdit, who have kept the traditional fragrance name but totally reformulated the fragrance to appeal to the modern nose. The original Miss Dior is still sold for those who remain fans, but the Miss Dior range which is promoted and sells so well is the success story now.

Chanel use roses from Grasse, France; to find out more about the rose scent extraction process check out my article.

Every woman alive wants Chanel No 5

Soki London

Sophie is the perfume enthusiast behind Soki London. She reviews the latest perfumes and entire perfume ranges on her YouTube channel and website.