When Coco Chanel was presented with a lineup of fragrances by perfumer Ernest Beaux, each one numbered after the one before, she picked the fifth one in the line. That’s how the name of the classic Chanel No. 5 came about and is still loved by many of us today.
While I very much prefer a younger, less sophisticated scent – my classic is the Coco Mademoiselle – a recent Perrier masterclass with mixologist Laurent Gréco showed me that even when it comes to the cocktail hour, most women can’t resist a longtime Chanel favourite in their drink. Even if it’s just temporarily encased in a smoky bubble above the glass of rosy liquid, a Chanel fragrance is still, after all, a Chanel fragrance.
That got me wondering about how much beauty is entwined in our daily lives without us consciously acknowledging it. And even if transient in nature – perhaps the main reason we pursue it relentlessly – just how much beauty can we actually possess? That Chanel cocktail loses its fragrance the moment you burst the bubble to drink it, yet it’s one of the most popular drinks (among women guests) in the bar that he owns. I don’t know about you, but the next time I’m in Paris, I’m definitely having one of that.
Maybe we never truly own beauty at all, for the definition is subjective at best and we all know how wearing tinted glasses clouds our vision. Something that we think is beautiful may not be seen in the same light as another; what we think is beautiful now, we didn’t like it so much back then. Beauty changes most with time, your mood, and what your life revolves most around, I feel, and it’s pretty amazing that classics like the No. 5 remain the crème de la crème for decades on end.
Right now, my Coco Mademoiselle sits prettily on my dresser amongst some of the other self-pampering trinkets that I own. And somewhere inside of me, I wonder if there she’ll stay for the next 10 years in her girlish-yet-intimidating hauteur.