The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Biography of a Scent

The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Biography of a Scent


By (author) Tilar J. Mazzeo

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  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 230mm x 28mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 1 December 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0061791016
  • ISBN 13: 9780061791017
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, frontispiece
  • Sales rank: 74,714

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 a cultural historian and biographer and a passionate student of wine, luxury, and French culture. She divides her time among the California wine country in Sonoma County, New York City, and Maine, where she is an associate professor of English at Colby College. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Widow Clicquot, as well as many other books, articles, essays, and reviews on history, women, and travel.

Review quote

"[Mazzeo] explores interconnections between designer and perfume, teasing out the relationship with delicacy."--New York Times Book Review