When you think of the most iconic fragrances of all time, the first perfume to come to mind would be none other than Chanel Nº 5, right? But how often do you think about the master perfumer and the nose behind the scent, Ernest Beaux?
With an elegant and graceful style that boasts strong character, Beaux is responsible for many perfumes, from ‘Bouquet of Napoleon’ to ‘Chanel Nº 5’ that have ultimately transformed the beauty industry.
Born and raised in Russia, Earnest Beaux landed himself an apprenticeship at the most famous Russian manufacturer of fine perfume, soap and cosmetics. However, his dreams came to a crashing halt as his life was put on hold temporarily because was enlisted to serve his two obligatory years of military service in France. More eager than ever, Ernest returned to Mosco in 1902 and completed 5 years of perfumery education and gained the title of ‘Senior Perfumer’ which allowed him to start working on some of his legendary perfume creations.
Beaux used celebrations as the means to create some of the most iconic scents that have been introduced into the fragrance world. In 1912, Russia celebrated the centennial of the Battle of Borodino – Ernest created a floral Eau de Cologne, “Bouquet de Napoleon.” This scent proved to be a major commercial success.
Bouquet De Napoleon
Ernest took on the challenge of creating a fragrance to honour ‘Catherine the Great’ around the time of the Romanov Dynasty. However, it wasn’t quite the success he hoped it would be, but little did he know what was around the corner…
In 1920, he struck gold when a friend introduced him to Coco Chanel. They then arranged to meet in Cannes where he presented his work to Chanel. Chanel chose the fifth scent that was presented to her by her master perfumer, Ernest Beaux himself, and gifted it as a Christmas present to her best clients. He asked her how she wanted to name this fragrance and she replied “I always launch my collection on the 5th day of the 5th month, so the number 5 seems to bring me luck – therefore, I will name it ‘Nº 5’”.
Only 100 flacons of Chanel Nº 5 were produced. She gave these away on Christmas 1921 to her best clients. The demand for this particular fragrance was so intense that she decided to launch the perfume officially for sale in her shops in 1922.
There is no fragrance to be more successful than the beautiful and timeless Chanel Nº 5. Perfume expert Michael Edwards claims that this distinctive scent makes a woman more appealing as it always arouses comments allowing it to become a talking point.
Chanel Nº 5 has been ranked the most iconic perfume of all time, and every year it appears in the top 10 fragrances internationally. In 2016, an estimated 2.6 million women used Nº 5 worldwide and experts have labelled it the bestselling scent in modern history and rightfully so, as one bottle of Chanel Nº 5 is sold every 30 seconds around the world.
Chanel No. 5 comprises about eighty ingredients. Among the most discernible ones is the May Rose, handpicked in the early hours of the morning (this being the moment when flowers bloom) for twenty days to then be processed within one hour from picking.
After Marilyn Monroe famously revealed during an interview that to sleep, she only wore “Five drops of Chanel Nº 5”, the fragrance became immediately a symbol of glamour and sophistication.
For Ernest Beaux, perfumery was an art and a true perfumer must be an artist. He considered himself an artist, along with the rest of the beauty world.
By Mikayla Tabone.