Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere ~ fragrance review

Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere

If you want to know what Chanel's new No. 5 Eau Première smells like, try this: take a bottle of Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum and position it next to a window, preferably overlooking a hedge of roses, where the sun will cast a pinkish light through the bottle. Now cross the room and squint your eyes so that your vision of the bottle of No. 5 blurs. That is Eau Première.

That didn’t work? Try this: picture in your mind the Andy Warhol painting of a No. 5 bottle. Now imagine it repainted by Renoir. This, too, is Eau Première.

Maybe visual comparisons aren’t for you. Then I’ll quote from the “Fashion Rocks” supplement to this September’s Vogue magazine:

A perfume like Chanel No. 5 is a little like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, an album that did not initially go gold but is considered one of the greatest albums ever made, and has sold a ton over the long run. Similarly, the reformulated Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, launched this fall for a younger market, is akin to a dance-club remix of something written pre-American Idol.

By now you probably get the idea. Eau Première takes the essence of No. 5 — its neroli, roses, jasmine, ylang ylang, amber, vetiver, and sandalwood — and softens it, stripping away the aldehydic edges and the bits that smell of straw-colored Italian wine, to leave an easy-to-sing-along-with version of the original. When you smell Eau Première, you know you smell the direct kin of No. 5. But instead of the elegant auntie that is No. 5, you get her niece, the Homecoming Queen who aspires to a career in public relations.

It’s hard for me to form an opinion of Eau Première without comparing it to No. 5. Eau Première is a little rosier than No. 5, with a more vanillic drydown. It is devoid of any of the charming fustiness of No. 5, and it doesn’t evolve dramatically over time. I don’t find Eau Première as “fresh” or “modern” as the Chanel public relations engine says it is — after all, it’s a friendly floral scent, and we’ve seen those before. But sometimes a person wants basic yellow cake — a good one, made with real butter and fresh eggs — and not some extravagant concoction from the Viennese bakery.

Do I like Eau Première well enough to shell out for a bottle? No, but I certainly understand if you do. It feels to me like a solid, nicely balanced, carefully made scent, and I’d be happy to smell it on anyone around me. Plus, Eau Première wears like a hearty Eau de Toilette, lasting nearly as long as the No. 5 Eau de Parfum I’ve worn at its side.

Let’s go back to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds analogy once more. If “God Only Knows (What I’d Do Without You)” is your response to No. 5, then by all means try Eau Première, but don’t expect it to unseat the original. If, on the other hand, you’ve had trouble with No. 5’s aldehydes and feel it is too dated, but something in its classic build of jasmine on roses on a soft, warm base appeals to you, then Eau Première might be perfect.

Chanel No. 5 Eau Première is $125 for a 150 ml spray bottle.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of yellow cake … heh heh, ermm, how 'bout some clafoutis? Remember our clafoutis discussion? I've made it, and it's up. :) Just reminding Kevin. And yes, it turned out very delish. Sorry, I'll go back to not-pimping-mode now.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Darn it, I thought you were Robin! Sorry. Note to self for future: Must. Read. Bylines.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Angela, your review makes me want to try this one rather more than I expected. I'm one of those philistines who can't 'do' No. 5, but I quite liked the Elixir thing. Damping down the aldehydes sounds like a Good Idea to me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It's gratifying to hear that Chanel has taken such care with this one, given the heritage of No. 5. It doesn't sound like “me,” frankly, but I welcome any well-done non-fruity-floral-gourmand thing with open arms. This could have been awful. Also, it's nice to see Nicole Kidman (I think that's Nicole?) with reddish hair again, I think it's so much prettier on her than the peculiar, washed-out blonde she's been sporting.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I'm happy to be confused with Robin! No problem there.

    And of course I remember the clafoutis discussion. This is turning into quite the bakery site! Well, you know where my mind is, anywhay.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Oh, then you definitely should try it! Plus, the sales display is impressive. The bottle of Eau Premiere sits on a platform that shines a light up through it. When you lift the bottle, the light goes off. It could keep kids busy for hours.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It doesn't smell like jam and musk, and that is definitely a plus. Maybe it will be a good gateway perfume, too.

    I like Nicole with red hair better, too. It's interesting that Chanel chose her rather than some 22-year old to represent the fragrance. I'd have thought they might have decided she was too “mature” (although she's eternally 25 in some ways, I guess. I wish I had her skin.)

  8. Anonymous says:

    I like the red-headed Ms. Kidman, too. This whole No. 5 revisit is verrry tempting; like many of us, the original aldehyde-driven formula invariably engaged in a no-win battle with my chemistry, which frustrated the hell out of me — THE definition of “scrubber.” Now I, too, have a stab at wearing something legendary I've longed to wear for years but really, truly couldn't. How lovely. I'm all excited!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Eau Premiere might be just the answer for you. Even if you decide you don't want to buy a bottle, trying it will give you an understanding of No. 5 that you probably never had (since it sounds like you might have been racing to the bathroom for soap and water after trying the original!).

    Good luck with it!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Angela. Exactly what I was hoping. Keeping my fingers crossed! Now, I wonder when it's going to be available waaaay up here in Vancouver. . .Any of you Canadians seen it yet?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Do you have Saks up there? I know they're carrying it. Any fancy department stores? They'd be a good bet.

  12. Anonymous says:

    No Saks, but a fancy department store called Holt Renfrew. I'll check it out! Thanks again.

  13. Anonymous says:

    hi everybody. i m sorry for my bad english i would like to know when will come the Chanel Reve in market. is there anybody who know anything about this perfume. Thanks for your answers.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I wish I had a good answer for you! I don't know anything about Reve at all. Good luck getting more information, and I will also be looking to find out more.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like something I would like. I've tried to wear the original in the past, but always felt I wasn't mature enough or sophisticated enough in some way that I wasn't able to pull it off. It's nice to hear that the reformulation is nicely done and that the original will still be available for purists.

  16. Anonymous says:

    K, No. 5 just doesn't sit well on so many people–sophisticated or otherwise. Eau Premiere is a really nice, easier take on it. I hope you like it!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Does anybody know if it has already been released in UK? I have checked few department stores and none of them had it:(( Please help

  18. Anonymous says:

    I've heard that Chanel stopped shipping Eau Premiere because of a problem with the bottles, but I don't know if that problem is fixed now (I hope so!) or if it affects the UK. I hope you're able to try it soon, it really is lovely.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The international launch is happening in Paris first week of July. Not sure when they'll be shipping to department stores but won't be long.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I'm surprised it's taken so long! Thanks for the update.

  21. Anonymous says:

    There's still no official launch date in the US. It's true that it was a bottle issue – specifically, the caps wouldn't close properly. A friend of mine who works for Chanel got it on the first go-round; it's a perfect fit for her.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I got to smell it at Saks while they still had it in stock — very nice, and they seemed to have it for some time before they ran out. Hope they won't have changed the scent for the new release!

  23. Anonymous says:

    We had a floor move this week and are making room for it… hopefully they didn't change the formula; only the bottle!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I hope you're right!

  25. Anonymous says:

    It's now at Nordstrom and the bottle (cap) was changed slightly, but the formula is the same.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Great! Thanks for the update.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I'm supposed to get this at my counter very soon. From the description I've read here I think it will go over quite well in my little corner of the world. I do quite well selling the Elixir to those who can't wear the Eau de Parfum

    Hmmm I had been planning on just putting it in the Chanel case, maybe…if I get enough product… *crosses fingers* I'll have to make a set up a case for just Eau Premiere.

  28. Anonymous says:

    D, I think it's a lovely scent, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if you do really with it!

  29. Anonymous says:

    I think this fragrance is divine. I don't think it was a problem with the aldehydes in the earlier versions of No 5 (as you mentioned earlier, Angela) but rather the ylang ylang, which gives the others a musty-wardrobe scent on some people – me for one. But the aldehydes in this one are pumped up to the max giving it a really airy head. What I think is magic about the aldehydes is that they aren't at all metallic but sparkling with an ambery sweetness. And to finish it off with the vanilla and vetiver notes, which form the base of this scent, which are so creamy – they're a gorgeous juxtaposition to the head notes. So worth a try.

  30. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful description, S, especially of the ambery quality of the aldehydes compared to the sharpness of No. 5's. I'm glad it's finally out in the U.S.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Thanks. I'm in Australia where it launches in three weeks but luckily I got a little preview and am so delighted with it. I honestly don't they could have done a better job. Predicting it's going to massive.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't be surprised at all.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I had a sniff on it and fell in love immediately. I never liked Chanel No.5 so much until I turned 30;-) and I would wear only as a perfume, but Eau Premiere turns herbal and crispy on me skin, with the softness and powder of the original, the aldehydes are still there but much softer. You are completely right to describe it as a daughter, but an older one… I guess my mom, 64 wearing Chanel no.5 and me, 30, wearing Eau Premiere fits better – adult woman, not a girl anymore…

  34. Anonymous says:

    I sure am glad that it's back on the market again! It sounds like Chanel made a smart move in designing Eau Premiere.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I recently bought a bottle of this and started wearing it. I am normally a Le Labo Labdanum 18 kind of person, but since I have very fond memories of No. 5 I decided to give this a try.

    The result was amazing. My boyfriend LOVES this scent. He enjoys it more than Labdanum18 on me. It is a truly adult scent.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I'm glad you like it so much! Although it's sophisticated, and “adult”, as you say, it feels youthful to me compared to the original No. 5. I'm a sucker for the moldering oldies, but I like Eau Premiere, too.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I love it. Premiere is very feminine and really delicate scent. Magnificently it arranges on my skin . Is other from No5.


  38. Anonymous says:

    Who knows from you whether Hair mist No 5, or the oil bath will be smell like Eau Premiere??

  39. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you really like it! That's great.

    I don't know if Eau Premiere will have other products, like a hair oil or bath oil. A bath oil would be really nice, especially.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I always wanted to like Chanel No. 5 because it is such a classic. But, unfortunately, depending on the age of the bottle, it either was too old auntie or I had such an allergic reaction to it, almost anaphylactic (closing up of the airpipe) that I had to immediately wash it off. I have had Coco for a number of years and it smelled stronger and better as it aged. Like a fine red wine. Finally, it was finished and I went to Macy's to smell the Allure Sensualle, that I had sampled and liked a few weeks ago. The salesman offered to try this new version of No. 5 on me and it was lovely! All night I smelled the two and then found myself constantly going back to the wrist with the new Chanel No. 5. I think I'm going to ask for it for Chanukah this year from my husband.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Personally, I think Kidman is looking like an alien these days. I think it would have been nice to have two ad campaigns going. One with a classic beauty, young, someone young women could Identify with and then the Grand Catherine Deneuve, as she looks today, her classy, classic, stylish self. Dress both women in a black Chanel outfit.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Great! It sounds like it really suits you, and, really, what's not to love about it? Personally, I like it better than Allure Sensuelle.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I love the idea of having two icons for the campaign!

  44. Anonymous says:

    When I took my very first whiff of Eau Premiere, a poignant ring of cat's pee invaded my nostrils. It was most surprising. My friend has been contemplating whether or not to buy this for some time, and when i told her the cat's pee take, she laughed and finally made up her mind (no). :D

    It takes about a second for the cat's pee to dissipate and becomes more of a perfume. Nice. Not amazing. And not a contender for No. 5. A pity.

    VonD :D

  45. Anonymous says:

    Cat pee! Well, Eau Premiere is definitely not for you! I admit that I like No. 5 better, too, although I appreciate Eau Premiere and gratefully don't get the cat pee note on my skin.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I desperately wanted this when if first came out…and then it disappeared. (Googling for this is what actually propelled me into fragrance blogs and the wonderful on-line world of decanters and niche frags. But I digress….) I located a sample. I was so happy because it smelled wonderful, and I'd never been able to actually wear regular No 5, even though I wanted to very much. Eau Premier got knocked down my must-buy full bottle list during the year when it was still not in the market. Then I tested it again when it came out and thought it wasn't that special. I know somewhere on this blog I said that it was just meh in the dry down.

    Well, I'm here to correct myself. I love it. Now, I finally have a bottle, and I think it is one of my best FB purchases – my first of 2009! It will absolutely be a fragrance staple for me. And I will say with total sincerity that right now, during the coldest miserable winter where I live, wearing it smells like sunshine. Soft warm sunshine. A beautiful, soft, sunny garden. I recommend that everyone give this formulation a try. It is it's own fragrance in its own right. The sillage and lasting power are excellent. And hey, I'm still holding out hope for the original.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Hurray! I'm so glad you finally found it, and it (finally) resonated with you! I'm sure it will be a good pan-season fragrance, too. Keeping trying the original….who knows?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Very soon I will probably buy a decant of the actual parfum, and I do have high hopes now to like it b/c 1. I understand/like/love aldehydes and 2. I'm getting a better understanding of the No 5 “thing” through eau Premier. I think the parfum is my best bet – may as well go for it if it works. It also seems neat if I have the mongo sized bottle of eau Premier sitting next to the teeny-tiny pretty bottle of the parfum….

  49. Anonymous says:


  50. Anonymous says:

    I could never wear No. 5 — the aldehydes don't bother me, but it's far too powdery for comfort on my skin. Also, it's my mother's scent, so there's that “Mom's, not mine” thing going on. My lucky mom seems to have been born to wear powdery well; she wears No. 5 for dressing up, and Coty's L'Effleur for everyday. (On the other hand, she doesn't wear “green” or incense well, and I do.)

    But Eau Premiere is truly lovely, without the powderiness that bothers me. It's not a “must have” for me (right now, that's PdN Vanille Tonka and OJ Frangipani), but Mom will be getting a mini of it for her birthday. (SHHHHH!) I'm so excited for her.

  51. Anonymous says:

    You're such a good daughter!

  52. Julie says:

    I love love love Eau Premeire! It just makes me feel good and I can certainly use more of that.

    • Angela says:

      Isn’t it a great fragrance for spring, too? Enjoy it!

  53. sweetdoux says:

    I have always had a very strong aversion to this scent. I know it is considered a classic. This completely alludes me. I don’t know what it is that makes it a “classic”. For me, there are an abundance of frangrances that are superior. If you could enlighten me in any way, I would be grateful.

    • Angela says:

      Is it No. 5 or Eau Premiere that eludes you? I think No. 5 is a classic because (1) it was so original when it came out, and (2) it is a calm, almost skin scent on the right skin. Its subtlety and originality made it a hit.

  54. exar50 says:

    Reviewing a fragrance is almost like trying to describe the color “red” to a blind person. You really have to see (i.e. smell) it. The language in this review is akin to audiophile techno-babble.

    • Angela says:

      I agree–it’s difficult to describe a fragrance without smelling it. I enjoy writing about them, though, and reading other people’s descriptions. A fun challenge!

  55. says:

    I always loved No. 5 in the bottle, but it never smelled just right on me. Premiere is giving me both. It also seems to be lasting on me and most scents don’t. I got diamonds and perfume for Christmas and both made me very happy.

    • Angela says:

      Diamonds and Eau Premiere! That has to be one of the best gift combos ever. I’m glad you like it.

  56. CynHunt says:

    I purchased Eau Premiere and love it. I used to wear the original Chanel 5 for years but it “turned” on me. My aging perhaps?
    Anyway, I love this scent and it smells much as the original does only better, on me!
    I do not agree with Vogue describing it as a young scent. It’s just a new version of an old classic, and a perfume we older ones can wear confidently!

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like Eau Premiere might have been made for you! It really is a classic.

  57. doorsandwalls says:

    I have had the complete opposite experience – Eau Premiere started nicely but nosedived into a flat musk in about 15 minutes. No. 5 EdP started out too demanding but slowly unfolded into something truly beautiful. I think my skin just chews up eau premiere :(

    • Angela says:

      I’m more of a No. 5 girl myself (and the EdP in particular–we’re a scarce breed!), although Eau Premiere is wonderfully easy to wear.

  58. lady_luck says:

    I really don’t like this one much. Have a bottle sitting on my dresser and it virtually goes untouched. Why do I not like it? It is beyond fleeting. A small spritz of it wanders off in no time, and the sillage is so soft that one would have to their nose glued to your flesh in order to appreciate the scent. I find it pointless under those conditions. It’s a little too young, too modern, and linear for my taste too. It’s fleeting and bland. Just my opinon, of course.

  59. Veronika says:

    Dear Angela, I tried No 5 eau premiere today and it constantly reminded me of Iris Prada and l’Heure Blue! Although I wear N5 pure parfum quite often – I must say that the similarity with Prada’s Iris is most striking! Funny thing – memory of smell…

    • Angela says:

      Both of those fragrances are nice ones to be reminded of, at least!

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