First launched in May 1921, its hefty dose of icy aldehydes was transgressive in an era of heavy floral perfumes; 100 years on, it straddles being an established icon while also seeming completely ageless. And in the year of its centenary, it continues its radical trajectory. In celebration of 100 years of N°5, Chanel have today launched their Factory 5 Collection: a fun-filled range that casts the iconic scent in a wholly unexpected way.
“To celebrate N°5 and its one hundred years of celebrity, CHANEL has developed CHANEL FACTORY 5, a revolutionary experience that has made it possible to produce a completely new collection, with N°5 as its sole ingredient,” says Chanel.
“It is entirely dedicated to transforming N°5 into collectors items, a product of the intersection between robotic precision and human skill. A special place where the history of the world’s most iconic fragrance meets the future, where the legend of N°5 continues to reinvent itself each and every day.”
Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, the brand’s Head of Global Creative Resources for Fragrance and Beauty, elaborates: “(The collection) makes the most of N°5’s amazing ability to continually reinvent itself in order to preserve itself. This concept tells of the product’s eternal youth and the creative idea behind it. It also shows that an industrial product with very functional packaging can be transformed into a unique, desirable object by appropriating N°5’s identity codes, without losing the fundamentals, namely its functionality.”
The Factory 5 Collection is composed of 17 limited edition products, each with a utilitarian spin: a refreshing update from a brand so steeped in luxury. Some have been given a (very) literal reimaging: the Body Oil comes housed in packaging akin to an old-school engine oil bottle. Their N°5 L’Eau – the lighter, and, as the name suggests, more watery take on the original perfume – is presented in the form of a water bottle.
The Body Cream is dressed as a tube of paint to “(transform) your skin into a canvas”, while the Shower Gel resembles a bottle of dishwashing liquid.
It’s a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek, and oh-so-fun collection that belies the scent’s age; 100 years old has never looked so young.
Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Holding image from a 1970s campaign featuring Catherine Deneuve by Richard Avedon.