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Historic Chanel No. 5 Perfume Bottle Hits Auction Block with a $20,000-$30,000 Pre-Sale Estimate

Lot 5: Chanel No 5 (c1921)

Coco Chanel’s original model for Chanel No. 5 leads the annual selection of the Perfume Bottles Auction, in an event on Friday, April 26th, 2024 in Newport, RI.

I am not interested in any work done for the masses nor in any work produced in quantities, or at a cost available to all. I want to sell to very few, and remain prohibitive.”
— Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, April 4, 2024 /EINPresswire.com/ -- This April, Ken Leach and the Perfume Bottles Auction are proud to be representing a rare example of the original design Mademoiselle Chanel chose for her exclusive fragrance which came to be during Chanel’s “Russian Period” in collaboration with Ernest Beaux and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia.

The historical significance of Chanel’s first No. 5 presentation is undeniable, as it also marked the first appearance of Chanel’s iconic logo, which in turn influenced future fashion houses. Due to the fragility of the bottle and the limited quantities produced — very few examples of this original model have survived. An example appeared on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as part of the “Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto” (2023-2024) exhibit with the support of the House of Chanel, with no design or glass maker attribution.

No. 5 has been widely recognized as the most successful fragrance of all time. Epic marketing campaigns and celebrity endorsements have contributed throughout the last century to position No. 5 as an icon of the fragrance and fashion industry, but also as a pop culture phenomenon. In 1952, Marilyn Monroe revealed to the world that all she wore to bed were a few drops of No. 5.

Nevertheless, the story of this aldehydic and revolutionary fragrance which came to be around 1921 is not without controversy. For decades Les Parfums Chanel was subject to a power struggle between Coco Chanel and Pierre and Paul Wertheimer. The perfume company’s problematic WWII and post-war history was recently dramatized in the Apple TV series “The New Look” - which large focuses on the fight over ownership of the perfume company.

For much of its century-old history No. 5 has been bottled in a rectangular bottle of substantial walls featuring square faceted corners and a flat, thick “gem-cut” faceted stopper. In 1959, this design became part of the permanent collection of modern design at the New York Museum of Modern Art. In 2021, for the 100th anniversary of No. 5, CHANEL designed a necklace composed of 55.55 carats in the shape of the No. 5 perfume bottle. However, few people know that this bottle design did not come to be until 1924 when Coco Chanel partnered with the Wertheimer brothers to incorporate Les Parfums Chanel.

Before then, Coco Chanel launched No.5 through her couture house and she presented it in a very different bottle — intended for the most exclusive of clients.

In 1923, Mlle. Chanel told Harpers Bazaar “My establishment is a maison de luxe. It caters to the women of leisure, and only to those whose atmosphere is pervaded by luxury. I am not interested in any work done for the masses nor in any work produced in quantities, or at a cost available to all. I want to sell to very few, and remain prohibitive.”

The first Chanel No. 5 debuted a design of pure transparency that would be the opposite of the over-elaborate fragrance bottles then in fashion. The No. 5 bottle did not need to be ornate for it was its precious and expensive content that mattered. It was made of very thin glass in square form with a narrow silhouette, delicate rounded shoulders, and a small flat square stopper with rounded corners impressed with an interlocking “C” logo in the center. By some accounts, these were first gifted to preferred clients, then made available for purchase only in a Chanel boutique through 1930. The bottle was presented in a ground breaking Art Deco metal container void of ornamentation, with only a subtle stamped branding visible upon lifting the cover. These came in both a chrome or gold washed finish, channeling Chanel’s Russian-influenced fashion collections that featured silver and gold metallic embroidery.

Chanel No. 5 may be this year’s catalog cover feature, but there are other 99 lots that promise to deliver artistry and rarity from the golden era of perfume presentations, as well as Art Deco purses and other vanity items. This is 16th edition, longest running and only perfume bottles auction of its kind in the US, and a percentage of the proceeds benefit the International Perfume Bottles Association.

Ken Leach
Perfume Bottles Auction
ken@perfumebottlesauction.com
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