The City of Light already has enough going for it in the springtime to warrant a trip—the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the usual hordes of tourists haven’t arrived yet and cafe culture is back in full swing. But on top of all that, a new exhibition celebrating Chanel’s iconic scent is opening in May. I want to go to there!
As reported by Blouin Artinfo, “N°5 Culture Chanel” debuts on May 5th at the Palais de Tokyo. The exhibit uses well-edited bits and pieces of Coco Chanel’s life—including her art, pictures and documents—to show what influenced the creation of the famous fragrance. It also features items from the brand’s archives. The highlights include photos of Madame Chanel’s old lovers, gifts from her artist friends like Picasso and the classic 1971 advertisement featuring Catherine Deneuve.
It’s amazing that the scent, which was made in 1921 by Ernest Beaux, has maintained such a loyal following for so many years. There’s just something about it that’s so sexy and intriguing. It’s not just the classic very French, very floral aroma. The label has done a brilliant job of keeping an air of mystery around the fragrance. Many of the celebrities who have appeared in the ads are the kind of stars who don’t reveal much about themselves like Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt, although his commercial might have been a bit too cryptic. And, of course, there’s the much-publicized endorsement from Marilyn Monroe. She famously said, “What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel N°5, of course.” I’m guessing that a spike in sales ensued.
Fragrance has way of reeling us in and playing with our emotions. I was reminded of that when I saw “The Art of Scent” at the Museum of Art and Design earlier this month. I took a whiff of Drakkar Noir and I immediately thought of high school. I swear every guy wore it back then. Chanel N° 5 must trigger all kinds of memories for so many different people because of its long history and status. It really is the perfect perfume to explore in a gallery. So, who’s down to go with me on a transatlantic field trip?