Happy Birthday Chanel N°22!

Incredibly, the iconic fragrance Chanel N°22 celebrates its 100th birthday this year – born one year after the legendary N°5 and creating its own enthused cult of olfactory aficionados (of which our Co-Founder, Lorna McKay is a firm member!) Sparkling with way ahead-of-its-time modernity, it seems only fitting to re-explore, and fully appreciate this so-prescient perfume once again…

The story of Chanel herself has become legend. After growing up in an orphanage, Gabrielle Chanel – born 19th August 1883, in Saumur – went on to open her first Paris boutique, selling hats, at 21 Rue Cambon in 1910. She made her name selling clothes that were not just beautiful and stylish, but comfortable, freeing women from tight corsetry through her innovative use of tweed and jersey, tailored with a nod to men’s clothing – including trousers. She’s also widely credited as first to introduce that essential in a woman’s wardrobe: ‘The Little Black Dress’.

Always an innovator, Chanel also designed costumes for plays (Cocteau’s ‘Antigone’, in 1923), and movies, including Renoir’s ‘La Règle de Jeu’. The clothes – and the fragrances – have been loved and worn by stars all over the world, and the silky effervesence of Chanel N°22 remains effortless, timelessly contemporary.






Chanel says: ‘Gabrielle Chanel believed in signs from the universe, symbols, and numbers. This year, 2022, CHANEL is pleased to present you with another major number: N°22, a fragrance created by Ernest Beaux and launched in 1922, one year after the legendary N°5. Though the two fragrances share the same olfactory characteristics, each one is unique in its own right.

An uncanny mirror effect that Olivier Polge, CHANEL’s In-House Perfumer-Creator, has interpreted as such: N°22 is like the surprising alter ego of N°5, so similar and yet so different at the same time. With its accord of tuberose, rose and orange blossom, N°22 is a sensual, seductive fragrance. A caressing trail, like an absolute of femininity. The singular history and craftsmanship behind the fragrance will make 2022 a year as exceptional as the last.’

Chanel N°22 £169 for 75ml eau de parfum / £300 for 200ml

Read more of Chanel’s remarkable history in our page dedicated to the house, here; in the meantime, we suggest those of you who already adore N°22 treat yourselves to a birthday gift in honour of the anniversary, and that those of you yet to fall in love with this legendary fragrance acquaint yourselves immediately…


Written by Suzy Nightingale

Chanel perfumer Olivier Polge shares his musical passion

Chanel Perfumer, Olivier Polge, is a man imbued with many artistic passions. Perfumery, of course, but his first true love was actually music, and in an intriguing film we find out how he came to realise they shared the same language…

In the utterly gorgeous film, entitled ‘I am a Nose’, on Chanel’s official YouTube channel, perfumer Olivier Polge describes his childhood, and the passions his parents passed down to him.

Polge’s parents had met and fallen in love at perfumery school, and ‘I was four when my father became the nose of Chanel,’ Polge says, his words overlapping footage of him working, now the ‘nose’ of Chanel himself, and grainy, atmospheric and incredibly personal archive family films.



Describing the smells that dominate his childhood memories, above all else, it’s ‘the smell of turpentine in their friends’ studios.’ Enthusiastic artists, it might be expected that painting would transfer to young Olivier, along with the love of perfume, ‘but above fragrance and painting, music was my first passion,’ he admits.

Olivier came to realise that music and fragrance were two loves that entwined, without his even having made the connection. ‘When I was 20, I started learning the craft,’ he explains, ‘and I discovered that music and fragrance spoke the same language. I would have to compose and write formulas made of notes and accords.’

Watch the film right here and be carried away by the memories and music, yourself…



One can only imagine how nervous he must have been on being asked, as the ‘nose’ of Chanel, to ‘rewrite a contemporary version of No5…’ A sensation akin to a musician being asked to whip up a new version of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, perhaps? Whatever his feelings were, for me No.5 L’Eau is a mellifluous mingling of those aldehydes, now with a cedar and sandalwood hum in the base. It feels familiar but new all at once – a harmony of modernity and homage…

Chanel N°5 L’Eau, £113 for 100ml eau de toilette
Sun-drenched, thirst-quenching and filled filled with freshness, this is a beautiful modern play on the classic, with a fizz of aldehydes dancing on lemon, mandarin and orange atop a honeyed shimmer of jasmine and luminescent ylang ylang. As the opening chords drift away and the floral heart warms on the skin, a thrum of warm cedar and vetiver mellow to a harmonious trail of soft white musks. Quite simply: a virtuoso performance…


With the Music & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine hot off the press, we’re really feeling the harmony right now – click below to get your print edition here. VIP Club members, meanwhile, can download or read their digital edition online, absolutely free. International Digital Subscriptions are also available, so never fear if you’re overseas!

Whichever way you choose, we hope you’ll take some time to indulge your senses, and wish you a wonderfully fragrant musical journey…

By Suzy Nightingale

L'Eau and behold: Chanel unveils Olivier Polge's bright, beautiful take on No5

It can’t be easy reimagining the most famous fragrance in the world – so: Chanel straw boaters off to Olivier Polge, sort-of-new in-house perfumer, for this dazzling take on the iconic fragrance.
This isn’t just a ‘tweak’, though. According to Chanel: ‘No.5 L’Eau is not a Cologne. Nor is it a diluted version of the original fragrance for, at Chanel, each variation is a genuine olfactory creation. No.5 L’Eau is the No.5 of today.’
And truly, it smells modern. Fresh. (Dazzlingly so, powered out of the so-familiar bottle on a cannon-burst of aldehydes.)
Citrusy mandarin, lemon, bergamot and orange boost the freshness, in the top notes. The famous heart’s intact – but now cedarwood and sandalwood hum in the base.
To accompany the launch – and the print ad. campaign with Lily-Rose Depp – we invite you to watch these two short teasers for full-length commercials which will appear later this year.
We’ve spritzed Chanel No.5 L’Eau on all sorts of people who profess that ‘I’m not a Chanel No.5 person’ – and are converted. We’ve also had friends who’ve come within air-kissing distance comment: ‘Oh, what’s that you’re wearing. It’s familiar – but I can’t quite make it out…’
As the slogan goes: ‘You know me. But you don’t know me.’
Whoever on Chanel‘s marketing team came up with that utterly nailed it.
By Jo Fairley

Second generation perfumer, second generation 'face': Lily-Rose Depp is the face of Olivier Polge's Chanel No5 L'Eau

The hottest fragrance news this week is Chanel’s unveiling of Lily-Rose Depp featured as the new ‘face’ of the ad campaign for the sensational, soon-to-be-launched Chanel No.5 L’Eau.
As it happens, this is keeping it in the family twice over: once upon a time, Lily-Rose’s mother, Vanessa Paradis, swung on a trapeze inside a birdcage for Chanel Coco, while Olivier Polge is of course the son of the legendary Jacques Polge, Chanel’s in-house nose for over more than three decades.
While we certainly loved the previous ‘spin’ on the original No5, Eau Première, Chanel No5 L’Eau is a dazzling reinvention of the classic fragrance that’s completely finger-on-the-pulse-point for the world we live in today.
And it’s also getting rave reviews: blogger A Model Recommends said in her review, it’s lighter and fresher than the original – I think much more modern, more delicate… L’Eau has all of the vital essence of the original No5 – that loyal gang of inseparable fragrance components – it’s just that the lighter and fresher notes are leading the pack.’ Popsugar, meanwhile, declared it ‘No5’s cooler cousin…’
Our thoughts? This citrus-floral is almost effervescent, actually: spirit-lifting, transparent and somehow energising, with a burst of mandarin, lemon, bergamot and orange. May rose, an ‘oxygenated’ jasmine and a new, fresher fractionated ylang ylang continue to weave their white floral magic, in the heart – but there’s new, dry element of cedarwood in the base, alongside cottony-soft musks: ‘the sexy part’, as Olivier Polge put it. (And even the iconic bottle looks fresher, meanwhile.)
Unveiling in September, you can join the waiting list here