Chanel

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Interesting Facts

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was born in Saumur on August 19, 1883, and died in Paris on January 10, 1971. She certainly could not have imagined that a global corporation with sales of 6.3 billion dollars (the fiscal year 2012) would one day bear her name.

Born the illegitimate daughter of a peddler and a laundress in a poorhouse, she grew up in the poorest of circumstances. After the death of her mother, she was sent to an orphanage at the age of 12, where she learned the trade of a seamstress. This laid the foundation for her steep career as a fashion designer.

Through talent, tenacity, and discipline, but also through her support of influential and wealthy patrons, she made it all the way to the top, so that today the Chanel brand is one of the most renowned and best-selling companies in the fashion and cosmetics industry.

Mademoiselle, as she was respectfully called throughout her life, had already made a name for herself in the fashion industry when she met the perfumer and chemist Ernest Beaux in 1921 through the mediation of her lover, Grand Duke Dmitri. He had been a court supplier to the Russian tsar and had created the fragrance "Bouquet de Catherine" as a tribute to the Russian tsarina. After moving from Moscow to France, he tried to adapt it to French conditions.
Beaux presented Chanel, who was looking for a Christmas gift for her most loyal customers, with various fragrance samples, all based on the "Bouquet de Catherine". These fragrance samples were quite simply numbered and Chanel chose the fifth sample for her own perfume. Perhaps because she was convinced that the number 5 would bring her luck, as she always presented her collections on the fifth day of the fifth month. This is how "Chanel No. 5" was born.

Because the fragrance was so well received by her customers, it was officially launched in 1922.
However, Chanel was in need of support. She came into contact with two businessmen, Pierre and Paul Wertheimer, who, as owners of a large cosmetics group, brought with them the financial resources, the manufacturing facilities, the experience, and the necessary connections.
On April 4, 1924, Les Parfums Chanel was founded, but Chanel herself owned only 10% of the company. Chanel's attempts to expand her share of the company failed, which subsequently led to many years of legal disputes, until finally in 1954 Pierre gained full control of the company, which is still in family hands today.

Between 1920 and 1930, the House of Chanel launched other fragrances, all of which were the brainchild of Ernest Beaux, who had been employed by the company since 1924. These included "Chanel No. 22" (1922/1926) and "Cuir de Russie" (1924).
After Beaux's departure in 1954, Henri Robert became the "nose" of Chanel. Chanel's first fragrance for men, "Pour Monsieur" (1955), can be traced back to him, as can "Chanel No. 19" (1971), a tribute to its namesake by using her date of birth. It was launched only after her death.
Jacques Polge was the next chief perfumer, creating "Coco" (1984), as well as the men's fragrance "Egoïste" (1990).

Since Marilyn Monroe's legendary statement that she wore only a few drops of "Chanel No. 5" to sleep, the company has been inextricably linked with the world of celebrity. Since the 1970s, international stars have increasingly been signed up for advertising campaigns. Nicole Kidman, Candice Bergen, Lauren Hutton, or Audrey Tautou, who embodied the main character in the film "Coco Chanel - The Beginning of a Passion", are just some of the prominent faces who advertised the fragrance.
As a novelty, Brad Pitt was the first man to advertise the legendary perfume in 2012.

"Chanel No. 5" is considered the world's most successful perfume of all time. Parfums Chanel estimates that a bottle is sold every 30 seconds worldwide.
Research and text by ParfumoParfumo