I like her, big number five's little sister Loo. And I'll tell you why: she's so ambivalent, so extraordinary, that there are situations in which she, little Loo, the thin, translucent one, puts all the other big fragrance ladies in her pocket. I experienced such a situation many years ago, no, I will be honest: Decades.
I went to Paris with my best friend. I was still very young, I had just started my studies. Paris was cool, then as now, only we were different: not in our dreams would we have come up with the idea to plan, think through, prepare this trip. We decided in the evening and left the next afternoon, each with a small travel bag. Taking a lot with us was as unnecessary as torturing our heads with complicated concepts. So the journey ended in Aachen for the time being, because my girlfriend's old Golf, let's call her A., was unfortunately already stressed, annoyed and stubborn at this stage. While we were waiting for the repair - I forgot what it was exactly - we had a coffee and smoked a few cigarettes...
A few hours later we arrived at our admittedly very simple hotel and were piqued to discover that there were smokers here too; ashes were on the sheets...
I forgot our first destination, but we had to take the subway and decided for the only entrance where the barrier did not work and therefore was open. Unfortunately, in addition to youthful exuberance, there is often carelessness - why pay when the gate is open wide? It lasted hardly three minutes and we were asked to pay as an attempted fare dodger - and that hurt, this deviant short-circuit action swallowed a large part of our small travel budget...
And that was bad.
Because we had way too little with us.
And when we had converted what little we had into café au lait, croissants and red wine, it was gone.
And there was nothing new.
Because what we didn't know: Back then, you couldn't just withdraw money in Paris with a German ec-card. But there were no machines for this - and therefore no money for us.
Well, the hotel was paid for and the penultimate of the three days had begun - isn't breakfast generally overrated? What we wanted to see, we could reach on foot - and we didn't eat anything.
But in the evening, something awoke in us, which in retrospect I can only describe as a small, delicate breath of criminal energy. We entered a Restó near Notre Dame, without money but with a lot of charm, and indeed there was something to try for us and more than that: While A. danced many times with the waiter (DANCED ONLY!), when the restaurant closed, I discovered a bulletin board with tourist notes - I swear, it was the only time in my life that I took something, a ten-mark note, and my mother accuses me of it to this day, and after all these years in this matter she doesn't take any fun at all. Believe it or not - in this one single situation it had to be for a coffee the next morning...
We drank this coffee; I did not enjoy it, my conscience tormented me too much
Then, the next afternoon, our original journey was unfortunately over, but the complications were far from over.
With the last drop of petrol we rolled into Aachen late in the evening.
We stopped at the first savings bank. The machine was broken
We looked and looked for another savings bank.
We stopped at the second savings bank. The machine wasn't broken. When we got back to the car, late in the evening - a parking ticket was waiting for us.
And at some point, at some point, fate had finally annoyed us enough.
I still made many trips with my girlfriend. They were often marked by challenges: a stomach flu in Istanbul, a sleeping place in a monastery in Florence that arrived too late and was closed to us, a lost ticket for the parking garage in Luxembourg, of course also at night.
One thing we have learned without a doubt in Paris, in Istanbul and in Florence: That as a young woman you can only travel successfully if you are capable of doing this balancing act, that despite all tenderness and youth, despite all naivety and frivolity, you can still radiate an enormous dignity, an inviolability that never questions motives and goals and that compensates for every ill-considered mistake with an almost accelerated adulthood.
And that's exactly what Chanel No. 5 L'Eau is. Delicate and gentle and fresh to start with. Refreshingly cheerful at first impression. So fruity without being sweet, but with many individual fruit facets.
Then developing into fine floral, incredibly spring-fresh floral chords. Flowers which in themselves also possess a tiny bit of sophistication: ylang-ylang and jasmine, a touch of exoticism and a hint of elegance. They are accompanied by a very delicate rose, which adds a touch of romance. Everything about No. 5 L'Eau resembles a touch - but with a perfectly balanced sillage. It is not she who creates this delicate effect, but the individual notes are so delicately interwoven that when they are clearly perceptible, there is never more than a hint of blossom.
And - how beautiful is the woody, soft and serious base, which grounds and smoothes all the air jumps and keeps them so long through musk.
But the most beautiful thing about No. 5 L'Eau are the aldehydes: from the very first minute they appear unmistakably as part of the famous No. 5, but so wonderfully delicate hovering above all citric and all flowers that nothing heavy, nothing violent, nothing carried characterizes this fragrance, but only this wonderful, incredibly fine, multi-layered cheerfulness and seriousness. Yes: cheerfulness and seriousness. Both. At the same time. That's the dichotomy of No. 5 L'Eau, those are its two sides, and what perfume plays so incredibly skilfully with these contrasts?
Nr 5 L'Eau is a real masterpiece for me. By no means is it just a copy of the big sister, a flanker developed for profit - it is rather the interpretation of youth, a cheerful and at the same time serious, responsible young woman.
I know of no finer scent to capture these two sides.
That's why when I use No. 5 L'Eau (because I still like to wear it very much), I always think of that Paris trip that challenged this balance between serenity and dignity.
And somehow this is not surprising - what else should one think of when one thinks of No. 5 l'Eau than Paris?