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The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate…

The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most… (utgåvan 2010)

av Tilar J. Mazzeo

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1609131,570 (3.26)3
"From Tilar Mazzeo, the author of the bestselling The Widow Clicquot, a captivating new book that shares her journey to discover the secret behind the creation, iconic status, and extraordinary success of Chanel No. 5, the world's most famous perfume"--Provided by publisher.
Titel:The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume (P.S.)
Författare:Tilar J. Mazzeo
Info:HarperCollins e-books (2010), Edition: Reprint, Kindle Edition, 312 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume av Tilar J. Mazzeo


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This was an interesting book that I found pretty much by serendipity. I learned one or two things along the way not only about Chanel (the lady and the perfume) but also about the perfume industry itself. This book does two things. One, it provides a biography of Coco Chanel, the fashion designer of humble beginnings who went on to launch a fashion brand and created a perfume (with some help from some friends) that is now known the world over. Two, it is a history of Chanel No. 5, a perfume that is as iconic now as Coca-Cola. When you ask women to identify what they think is the world's most seductive perfume, the answer will be Chanel No 5. The perfume pretty much went on to have a life of its own and away from its creator. However, Coco Chanel spent a lot of her life struggling with her relationship with the perfume, a scent that was based off specific memories of her and a philosophy or belief of what made a seductive woman.

The book takes us from the beginning of the century through the First World War to the Roaring 20s and the Depression and on to the start of the 21st century. So not only do you get a picture of the perfume, the brand, and the industry, but you also get a pretty good overview of the history and events of the time. These events-- wars, the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, various new regulations over time over certain substances used in perfumes-- all played or continue to play a hand in shaping the perfume we know today. Sure, Chanel No. 5 has changed (pretty slightly) over the years from the first bottles. The achievement is in the fact that it is pretty close to that scent that came out at the beginning of the century. We learn how the perfume was not advertised initially; it was a word of mouth phenomenon.It picked up steam to the point that during World War II, soldiers in France, first the Germans, then the liberating Allies, all lined up at Rue Cambon to buy a bottle for the women in their lives.

Coco Chanel does not always come out as a nice lady. She did make what many would see as some poor decisions, especially during World War II in relation to her business partners (who were Jewish). She did also make some fairly savvy decisions as well. After all, she did create Chanel No. 5, and she made a fortune on it.

Readers who enjoy the book genre of microhistories will probably enjoy this book. The pacing is pretty good. At times it reads like a novel, and the technical parts where the process describing perfume making in the book are pretty accessible. I found myself learning a thing or two that I did not know before, and for me, that is always a good thing to say about a book.
( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
The history of Chanel No. 5 was much more intriguing than I thought it would be. This book gives a thorough account, as best as the author can since Chanel wouldn't let her confirm a lot of the rumors, of how No. 5 came to be and how it achieved its iconic status, and why it's still going strong almost a century later. There is a bit about Coco Chanel, her rough early life, and how she became a bitter, vindictive old woman in her 60's. I didn't sympathize with her at all at that point. She made her bed and then was appalled that she had to lie in it. She was a smart business woman that let her emotions get the better of her. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
Fascinating story if you like things French
  Pat_Gibson | May 28, 2017 |
a little dry, but the story was interesting enough to follow on both the "Chanel" storyline and the process of perfume-making. ( )
  beebeereads | Feb 9, 2017 |
Not much really new here if you've read any bio of Coco Chanel. While the brief history of perfumeria is interesting, it's not enough tif you're familiar with Chanel's life. However, I would recommend this to those interested in Chanel's life but unsure where to start since the book is well-researched. ( )
  heroineinabook | Jan 17, 2017 |
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Each 30-milliliter bottle of Chanel No. 5 is packed with the essence of a thousand jasmine flowers, the fragrance of a dozen May roses from Grasse and a heaping dose of aldehydes, the molecules that early on gave the scent its modern edge. But as Tilar J. Mazzeo points out in “The Secret of Chanel No. 5,” these are only a few of the many ingredients that turned a perfume into a 20th-century obsession. Into the brew went Coco Chanel’s warm memories of tallow soap and her anguish over lost love, as well as the perfumer Ernest Beaux’s nostalgia for imperial Russia and the Arctic breezes of the White Sea. The result: alchemical magic and unprecedented sales that have led industry insiders to refer to No. 5 as le monstre — the monster.

No. 5, now priced at about $260 an ounce, has been an item of fashion and fetish since its debut in 1921, when in a bit of stealth marketing Chanel invited her friends to dinner in Cannes and spritzed the perfume into the atmosphere around them. “All the women who passed by our table stopped and sniffed the air,” Chanel reported. “We pretended we didn’t notice.”

Mazzeo calls her book an “unauthorized biography of a scent,” but in fact it is a biography of Coco Chanel as seen through the prism of her famous square flacon. Mazzeo’s 2008 book “The Widow Clicquot” concentrated on another French luxury liquid, Veuve Clicquot, and its maker. Here she explores interconnections between designer and perfume, teasing out the relationship with ­delicacy. . . .
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"From Tilar Mazzeo, the author of the bestselling The Widow Clicquot, a captivating new book that shares her journey to discover the secret behind the creation, iconic status, and extraordinary success of Chanel No. 5, the world's most famous perfume"--Provided by publisher.

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