RUNWAY MAGAZINE presents INPI treasures – innovations in fashion. The National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) examines and issues industrial property titles (patents, trademarks, designs and models) in France. Created in 1951 under the supervision of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, it is the heir to the institutions that have preceded it since the end of the 18th century. As such, the INPI is responsible for the management of these public archives and has thus become one of the memories of innovation in France. It watches over a rich heritage, made up of all patents since 1791, trademarks since 1857 and designs since 1910: nearly 7.5 million documents, or 145 linear kilometers carefully preserved. The fruit of generations of inventors, engineers, industrialists, creators and even artists, these archives are of unique historical and documentary interest and represent a still little-known iconographic source.
CHANEL N°5 – INPI Treasures
It was by exploring INPI archives that we found traces of the creations of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
Chanel No. 5 was the first perfume launched by French couturier Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in 1921. In 1921, Coco Chanel found the formula for the eternal feminine. Two series of samples are presented to her by its creator, the famous perfumer Ernest Beaux. Numbered from 1 to 5, and from 20 to 24.
The scent formula for the fragrance was compounded by French-Russian chemist and perfumer Ernest Beaux. Traditionally, fragrances worn by women fell into two basic categories. “Respectable women” favored the essence of a single garden flower while sexually provocative indolic perfumes heavy with animal musk or jasmine were associated with women of the demi-monde, prostitutes, or courtesans. Chanel sought a new scent that would appeal to the flapper and celebrate the liberated feminine spirit of the 1920s – the first “woman scent”.
Coco Chanel choose sample 5. Coco Chanel told her master perfumer, Ernest Beaux, whom she had commissioned to develop a new fragrance, “I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck.” But number 5 had much more profound meaning for Coco Chanel.
From her earliest days, the number 5 had had very special meaning for her. Coco Chanel grew up in orphanages under care of nuns in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of central France.
The paths that led Chanel to the cathedral for daily prayers were laid out in circular patterns repeating the number 5. And this meaning became even more profound for her, signifying the pure embodiment of a thing, its spirit, its mystic meaning.
Chanel envisioned a design that would be an antidote for the over-elaborate, precious fussiness of the crystal fragrance bottles then in fashion popularized by Lalique and Baccarat. Her bottle would be “pure transparency …an invisible bottle”. It is generally considered that the bottle design was inspired by the rectangular beveled lines of the Charvet toiletry bottles, which, outfitted in a leather traveling case, were favored by her lover, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Some say it was the whiskey decanter he used that she admired and wished to reproduce in “exquisite, expensive, delicate glass”.
So Coco designed with minimalist lines a bottle. The cork, cut like a diamond reflected the geometry of Place Vendôme. This design and its packaging, were registered in INPI on July 6, 1923. In a 1924 marketing brochure “Parfums Chanel” described the bottle as “the perfection of the product forbids dressing it in the customary artifices. Why rely on the art of the glassmaker… Mademoiselle is proud to present simple bottles adorned only by… precious teardrops of perfume of incomparable quality, unique in composition, revealing the artistic personality of their creator.” This design of bottle has remained the same since 1924. The “pocket flacon”, designed to be carried in a purse, was introduced in 1934. The price and container size were reduced to appeal to a broader customer base.
The bottle, over the decades, has itself become an identifiable cultural artifact, so much so that Andy Warhol chose to commemorate its iconic status in the mid-1980s with his pop art, silk-screened, Ads: Chanel.
The perfume was launched on the day of the presentation of the Chanel collection, in the rue Cambon boutique in Paris, on May 5, 1921. Two years later trademark Chanel N ° 5 filed by Mademoiselle Gabrielle Chanel for registration on July 19, 1923, 31 rue Cambon, Paris (INPI Archives). On the same day, July 19, 1923, at 3 p.m., 9 other trademarks were also registered by Coco Chanel: Amber, Gray amber, Rose or even Cyprus. And also N ° 7, N ° 14, N ° 20, N ° 21 and N ° 22.
Coco Chanel was the first face of the fragrance, appearing in the advertisement published by Harper’s Bazaar in 1937.
And since then the most elegant cinema stars were presenting this perfume over decades until today: Mailyn Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Deneuve, Nicole Kidman, Vanessa Paradis and many many others.
Until today CHANEL N°5 is an ultimate “7th sense” of a woman, powering all freethinking women for almost 100 years.