Le Grand Numéro de CHANEL immersive Perfume exhibition at Grand Palais Éphémère. Story by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photos: RUNWAY MAGAZINE.
The end of the 2022 year Chanel celebrated with an absolutely amazing immersive experience – a Perfume Exhibition open to the public, which took place at Grand Palais Éphémère. It’s been a while since the Chanel luxury house did something absolutely amazing and specially for the public.
There were no special opening, no special guests, no selected media, everything was open to the public from day one. Public became the most important guests at this exhibition. There’s probably not enough words to describe this immersive experience – the story of the Chanel Fragrances. Fabulous, amazing, magical and fascinating… are not quite cover it.
We were greeted by the orchestra and circus master, inviting us to discover different worlds of Chanel’s history, starting from Coco Chanel and her creation of the Perfume Number 5. The guests discovered a magical carousel or flower circus with ballet dancers and 5 giant white bottles of famous Chanel Perfumes. And behind each bottle there was a special space, casino games, chess games and magical predictions, animations, perfume showers, perfume bars – many worlds full of wonders.
Discovery, entertainment, testing – everything was set for the final destination – SHOP, where many hostesses took care of everyone. Beautiful special edition gifts starting from 40€ and to 500€. No one, and I mean no one can leave without a purchase. This was indeed a “luxury touch”, or even more – absolutely brilliant MARKETING action, directed to the public, with very old but most effective “from mouth to ear” technic. 2 weeks of exhibition welcomed hundred thousands of people, and everyone left with a purchase. Brilliant, absolutely outstanding marketing campaign, bringing magic and luxury values back to our lives. Such a perfect stand to Dior and all its latest campaigns.
Following your lucky star
The journey begins in the middle of a colossal square, a hub of possibility. Beneath a sky full of sparkling symbols, the space comes to life, shining briefly but brightly. Take the time to listen to the walls talk and to recognize the shapes of emblematic, larger-than-life bottles, each an entrance to another dimension.
The essence of CHANEL perfumery is a taste for that which cannot be defined, the expression of a style rather than an ingredient. Each CHANEL fragrance is a train of thought, a complex composition in which every raw material is sharpened, resulting in an olfactory kaleidoscope. A living fragrance, like a concentrated form of vital energy that evolves according to each person’s unique skin chemistry.
Be part of the Legend
Welcome to 1921. You will be traveling back in time to play the role of Ernest Beaux: a talented perfumer who has been asked by a very popular designer to create a fragrance that is «artificial like a dress.» During this immersive, multi-sensory experience, you will meet Gabrielle Chanel, who is patiently waiting to discover your work. She chooses the 5th sample you present to her and decides to name it after her favorite number. She, who presents her collections on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year, hopes this will bring it luck.
You will not only be participating in a reenactment: through virtual reality, you will be able to truly experience this moving, historic moment, the creation of N°5.
As an icon with a century of legend behind it, did you think you knew everything there was to know about the world’s most famous fragrance? Prepare to travel through space and time on a journey to artistic and olfactory exploration. Lose yourself in its world, absorb its power, experience its revolution.
A revolutionary SCENT
Gabrielle Chanel was the first fashion designer to lend her name to a fragrance. N°5 is a spectacular creation whose trail exudes personality. Viewing fragrance as an accessory that defines one’s look, Gabrielle Chanel wanted a fragrance that smelled like a style rather than a flower.
But she also wanted to approach the craft in a unique, visionary way, immediately incorporating expertise at every stage of design and production, and placing Ernest Beaux in charge of creating the CHANEL Perfume Laboratory. Three perfumers have succeeded since, and each has inherited the responsibility of maintaining a consistent supply of the high quality raw materials that go into N°5.
A revolutionary NAME
A right angle that transforms into a flexible curve. Based on its symbol alone, 5 is a number that truly stands out. Printed on a label, this meaningful number represents an extraordinarily radical idea. Look closely; the word “fragrance” is nowhere to be found.» The graphic style of N°5 sets itself apart with its revolutionary lettering, reflecting the principles of the Dada Manifesto. Gabrielle Chanel made this number the ultimate good luck charm.
A revolutionary BOTTLE
N°5 is a magical formula, the absolute essence of luxury with a hue that resembles melted gold. Just as its scent is abstract, its bottle is presented without any embellishment. Imagine being one of the privileged clients for whom Gabrielle Chanel reserved her very first bottles. You wouldn’t have discovered an ornate bottle, as was expected in 1921, but rather a peculiar, floating square of fire. Because the luxury lies inside the bottle, that of N°5 is sober in design, crafted from extremely thin, translucent glass. A break from tradition as much as an intentional choice: a vessel that allows its contents to shine, which would become the model for all future CHANEL perfume bottles.
A revolutionary ICON
Close your eyes. Think of the word «fragrance.» Notice what is immediately summoned to mind. With its abstract scent, symbolic number for a name, and radically simple bottle, N°5 had universal appeal from the moment it was created. It is the archetypal fragrance. Its sober elegance made it a design masterpiece, even earning it a place at the MoMA. It is an icon that could stand alone, speaking for itself until 1937, when Mademoiselle gave the fragrance a face for the very first time, praising it not just as a perfume, but as a way of life, a model of modernity, a style. Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet. But also Laurie Simmons, Salvador Dali, Oskar Schlemmer, Burton Morris, Andy Warhol, and more. Walk amongst those who came after her as the face of the fragrance and admire 30 exceptional works of art inspired by the most famous scent in the world.
Take Your Chance
Like Gabrielle Chanel, who was determined to create a chance for herself, take your chance and use it to your advantage in the electric backstage atmosphere. Tread the boards of this cabaret, which serves as a reminder that, while singing on stage in Moulins around the year 1901, Gabrielle Chanel became Coco. Spin the wheel of fortune. The prizes are real, and your luck will never run out. Count on the 4 faces of CHANCE to mirror your own and make you feel incredibly alive.
Cross The Blue Line
Is it 6 o’clock in the morning or 6 o’clock at night? Is the sun coming up or is the day drawing to a close? It takes you a moment to acclimate to the blue- hued twilight. Squint, listen, breathe… You are immersed in a multi-sensory world, floating through a city as you would float in the ocean. Peer into the windows of the buildings and skyscrapers as they come to life. What are they trying to tell you? Why does this music sound familiar? The lights in the sky… Where do they lead? Will you get lost, or find yourself? Use your senses to experience the world in BLEU. Trust them—they will help you gather clues that will grant you entry to a highly select speakeasy, where you can imbibe to your heart’s content to the sound of jazz and blues.
Assert Your Personality
You are invited to the private view for a collection of 18 moving works of art, characters with strong personalities. Prepare to be amazed, and take a moment to complete the scent version of a Rorschach test in order to find your alter ego among the 18 LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL fragrances.
Evoking an idea, a character, each scent has a unique and unmatched hallmark. Every LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL fragrance is a surprise, one that inspires awe and emotion. Inimitable, they are full of mystery and elegance, luxury and daring.
Win the Game of Seduction
Gabrielle Chanel’s passions were reflected in her creations because she is someone who loved deeply. She loved the romantic heroines of great novels, who experienced intense love without ever allowing it—and certainly never a man—to hinder them.
In this soft new world, you have set off on the heels of a mysterious temptress—but who? Your only compass is a set of clues. A surprisingly fresh amber scent, unexpected for its time, yet essential. A vague memory of a slender silhouette. A warm, sensual voice… This dazzling tunnel overwhelms your senses. Are the lights wavering, or has your own notion of time and space become warped? Finding her is a chess match, where she is the queen, and you are a mere pawn like the rest. Unless… What if a single drop of perfume was all it took to transform you, to prove that it is, in fact, you, the true master of the game?
“A fragrance is more than a name, a bottle, or a scent; it
is also everything it brings to mind when we breathe it in,
and all it evokes when we wear it. It is a spectacular and
extraordinary creation. Many people believe that fragrance
is an accessory or the finishing touch on a look, but it is so
much more than that. Fragrance has a real effect on our
feelings, confidence, mood, and desires, and this is what we
want everyone to experience.”
Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur,
Head of Global Creative Resources for Fragrance & Beauty, Fine Jewelry & Watches
I’d only have to say – Chanel must go on!
Please see our selection of the images we took while experienced this immersive magic of Chanel.