With its rich golden hue, art deco–inspired bottle, and timeless, musky scent, Chanel No. 5 is the world’s bestselling perfume and arguably the most coveted luxury product of the twentieth century. In The Secret of Chanel No. 5, Tilar J. Mazzeo offers a fascinating account of No. 5’s creation, its rise to iconic status, and the legacy of its extraordinary success. Mazzeo delves deeply into the life of Coco Chanel, the brilliant, controversial, and steel-willed businesswoman at the heart of the fragrance. She walks the rose plantations and jasmine fields where the perfume’s life begins, and travels to 31 Rue Cambon, the center of the Chanel empire. A blend of evocative history and thoughtful research, here is a glittering account of where art and sensuality mingle with dazzling entrepreneurship and desire: Chanel No. 5.
“[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.”
“[Mazzeo] explores interconnections between designer and perfume, teasing out the relationship with delicacy.”
“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. ”
“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.”
“Mazzeo’s lush prose...never bogs down in the detailsdespite the extensive research showcased in the bibliographyand 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.”
“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?”
“This is one case where historical fact eclipses the legend and lore of the object itselfthere’s much, much more than meets the nose to discover in these pages.”
“Who knew that such a tiny bottle housed so many secrets?” —Michael Tonello, author of Bringing Home the Birkin
Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of the New York Times bestseller The Widow Clicquot (an Amazon Best of the Month book in October 2008) returns with a captivating history of the world’s most famous, seductive, and popular perfume: Chanel No. 5. Mazzeo’s sweeping story of the iconic scent (known as “le monstre” in the fragrance industry) stretches from Coco Chanel’s early success to the rise of the seminal fragrance during the 1950s to the confirmation of its bestseller status in today’s crowded perfume market.
“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