Fashion design house founded by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel in 1910. Chanel was known first for her hats, and later for the relatively relaxed but elegant fashions that replaced corset-based styles with simple jersey suits and dresses, and later, pants. The iconic Chanel suit was introduced after the war, in 1954. Chanel died in 1971.
The first Chanel fragrance, Chanel No. 5, was launched in 1921, and like other early Chanel fragrances (Chanel no. 22, Bois des Iles, Gardenia and Cuir de Russie) was created by perfumer Ernest Beaux. Various apocryphal stories surround the creation of Chanel No. 5, including the well-known tale that the final formula was the result of an error on the part of Beaux's assistant, who mistakenly increased the intended amount of aldehydes. Regardless, No. 5 was a huge seller and became one of the world's best known perfumes.
Chanel Pour Monsieur was introduced in 1955, Chanel No. 19 in 1971. Fragrances released since the death of Coco Chanel include Cristalle (1974), Antaeus (1981), Coco (1984), Bois Noir (1987), Egoiste (1990), Platinum Egoiste (1993), Allure (1996), Allure Homme (1998), Coco Mademoiselle (2001) and Chance (2002).
In 2007, Chanel introduced a new, limited distribution line called Les Exclusifs de Chanel, including four existing scents (Chanel no. 22, Bois des Iles, Gardenia and Cuir de Russie) and six new fragrances (Bel Respiro, 28 La Pausa, 31 Rue Cambon, Coromandel, no. 18 and Eau de Cologne).
These are available only at Chanel boutiques or from the Chanel website, or at Bergdorf Goodman, selected Nordstrom (Seattle has them) and Saks stores.
Recent fragrance releases
Other recent releases include Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche (2007), Allure Homme Sport Cologne Sport (2007), No. 5 Eau Premiere (2007), Allure Homme Edition Blanche (2008), Cristalle Eau Verte (2009), Chance Eau Tendre (2010), Bleu de Chanel (2010), No. 19 Poudré (2011), Allure Homme Sport Eau Extreme (2012), Coco Noir (2012).
Where to buy
At department stores and online fragrance discounters. Your best bet for the harder to find fragrances is directly through the Chanel website (see below). See also: shopping report for the Chanel boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.
Read a book review of Tilar Mazzeo's The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World’s Most Famous Perfume.
Read The Chanel No 5 Story at The Independent.