What Chanel taught me about perfumery
Coco Chanel once said, "A woman who does not wear perfume has no future."
These were the words that inspired me to explore the world of perfumery. I agree with Coco Chanel to a certain extent – in my opinion, a person who wears a good scent comes across as being well-groomed.
Two years ago, I went on an olfactory journey with a fragrance specialist from none other than the house of Chanel. After all, who better to learn from than the very people who created No. 5, the perfume that took the world by storm? It was from there that I truly understood the basics of fragrances and fell in love with my now-signature fragrance – the Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum.
If you have shopped for a fragrance before (and I am sure anyone would have done that at least once), you would be familiar with the terms "Eau de Toilette", "Eau de Parfum", "Eau de Cologne", and other assorted names that simply sound... foreign.
Before Chanel educated me in this area, I had always thought that "Eau de Toilette" meant the lightest version of a fragrance and therefore had the least staying power (to be avoided at all costs!); "Eau de Parfum" meant a stronger version and thus lasts longer. I found out then that there is more to it than that.
Chanel explained that these labels do not simply indicate a difference in concentration; rather, they are actually variations of the same perfume, with emphasis placed on different fragrance notes, hence affecting the way a scent develops after application. It suddenly dawned on me that I knew so little about perfume!
I adore a strong vanilla note, which makes a good powdery scent. That was how my nose picked out the No. 5 Eau de Parfum (via a blind test!) versus the No. 5 Eau de Toilette which has a lighter, sparkling note. Despite the No. 5 Eau de Parfum being my signature go-to fragrance, I did later on purchase the No. 5 Extrait de Parfum, which contains sharper notes, because I believe no self-respecting No. 5 fan should be without the essence of the fragrance.
From Chanel, I also learnt the art of fragrance layering. So successful is the method employed by Chanel that my fragrance has received considerable attention since I started layering it.
There was a day I stood in line at the sandwich checkout. A gentleman (presumably French, from his accent) turned around and asked, "Your perfume, is it Guerlain?" I smiled and replied, to his surprise,"It's Chanel." On several occasions, I was asked, "What is that fragrance you're wearing? It's amazing!" Another day, my sister asked me, "Is it baby powder you're wearing, or perfume? I keep catching whiffs of it!" I guess Coco Chanel was right when she said that No. 5 is a scent that leaves people guessing!
Alright, so this is how it works. When layering a scent, start from the basics. First, use a body soap, wash, or scrub from the same fragrance series, followed by a body lotion or cream (or, if you prefer, a body spray), and finally the perfume. You could also use a body powder. Coco Chanel also said to apply your perfume “where you want to be kissed” – go for pulse points behind your ear lobes, at base of your throat, your décolletage… wherever works for you!
For the hair, you may use a shampoo, followed by a conditioner, then a hair mist. For the gentlemen, there are options such as an aftershave and deodorant. Of course, there is also such a thing as over-layering; whilst you would like to leave a lasting impression on others with your choice of fragrance, you do not want to intoxicate or appear to be trying too hard. Therefore, try not to use too many products at once. Keep it classy and subtle!
Typically, to layer the No. 5 scent, I use the shower gel, followed by a dab of body cream and a couple of spritzes of the Eau de Parfum. I go through the same layering ritual every day; since I started a good couple of years ago, I never looked back.
Coco Chanel revolutionized the world of perfumery with No. 5. The house of Chanel changed the way I looked at fragrances. There remains so much to explore, and until the next olfactory journey, yours truly shall continue to wear her signature scent with much pride.
Guest article written by beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger, Jade Isabelle Liang, of JadeIsabelle.com. (www.jadeisabelle.com). Jade is a self-confessed Chanel addict who absolutely cannot go a day without her Chanel No. 5.