The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume

The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume

Hardback

By (author) Tilar J. Mazzeo

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Format
Paperback $11.89
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 229mm x 26mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 1 December 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0061791016
  • ISBN 13: 9780061791017
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, frontispiece
  • Sales rank: 80,921

Product description

With its rich golden hue, Art Deco-inspired bottle, and timeless, musky scent, Chanel Number 5 is the bestselling perfume in the world. Reverently known among industry insiders as le monstre - the monster - it is arguably the most coveted consumer luxury product of the 20th and 21st centuries. Yet how did this pioneering celebrity fragrance, introduced in the late 1920s, eventually take on a life of its own, becoming a cultural monument celebrated by millions of devoted consumers? "The Secret of Chanel Number 5" is Tilar J. Mazzeo's far-ranging and fascinating search to uncover the full story of Number 5's creation, iconic status, and extraordinary success. And she reveals how some of the things we think we know about this celebrated fragrance are the stuff of legend. Mazzeo goes back through time and deep into the life of Coco Chanel, its brilliant and deeply flawed creator. She takes readers to the rose plantations and celebrated jasmine fields where the perfume begins, and on to the laboratories and boardrooms where scent and sex are forever intertwined. And she takes us to the heart of the Chanel empire: 31 Rue Cambon, Coco Chanel's flagship boutique, where six decades ago American G.I.s stormed the counters to possess the magical elixir that captured the luxury and romance of Paris for their girls back home. A blend of evocative history and thoughtful research, here is a glittering account of the place where art and sensuality meet dazzling entrepreneurship and desire: Chanel Number 5.

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Author information

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the author of numerous works of cultural history and biography, including the New York Times bestselling The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and nearly two dozen other books, articles, essays, and reviews on wine, travel, and the history of luxury. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time between coastal Maine, New York City, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Review quote

"[Mazzeo] explores interconnections between designer and perfume, teasing out the relationship with delicacy." -- New York Times Book Review "[In] the skilled hands of cultural historian Mazzeo, [the perfume] becomes a magnificent window through which to understand [Coco Chanel] and her milieu... Impeccable research and crafting make a seemingly narrow topic feel infinitely important." -- Kirkus Reviews "This is one case where historical fact eclipses the legend and lore of the object itself--there's much, much more than meets the nose to discover in these pages." -- Booklist "Engaging." -- Wall Street Journal "Mazzeo's lush prose...never bogs down in the details--despite the extensive research showcased in the bibliography--and a smooth pacing keeps it moving along at a fast clip. This work is definitely recommended to lovers of 20th-century cultural history, Coco Chanel, and, of course, the world's best-selling perfume." -- Library Journal "Mazzeo has written an account of the rarest of things-an international olfactory icon-that fairly rushes off the pages. Here is the life of one of the 20th century's most interesting and deeply complicated women, a fascinating cultural history, and the story of an extraordinary perfume." -- Chandler Burr, New York Times scent critic and author of The Perfect Scent "The true brilliance of The Secret of Chanel No. 5 is Tilar Mazzeo's ability to take a subject one would never have thought possible to think very deeply about and then cover it so captivatingly. Who knew that such a tiny bottle housed so many secrets?" -- Michael Tonello, author of Bringing Home the Birkin "Anyone who's ever dawdled in front of a perfume counter will love Tilar Mazzeo's fascinating history of the perfume known simply as No. 5; her rich and witty account is as compelling as the fragrance itself. " -- Karen Karbo, author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel