Over the weekend, I saw a lovely documentary on French fashion icon Coco Chanel. From humble beginnings, she rose up to become one of France's most recognized public figures. Her life was not without its difficulties and heartbreaks but one cannot help but admire her self-assured demeanor and signature personal style.
The documentary also touched on her most well-known perfume, Chanel no. 5 whose label has not changed since its introduction approximately ninety years ago. This got me wondering, why number 5? What happened to numbers 1 through 4? Here are my theories on this all-important question:
As you can see, the bottle itself is quite "provocateur" what with its sensual red colour in the shape of female lips. As you can image, ninety years ago, this would be akin to photos of Britney Spears' snatch popping up everywhere.
There was also a rumour going around back then that a gruesome murder took place because the husband said the bottle of Chanel no. 1 told him to make his wife drink it. When asked how this was possible, he replied that the bottle turned into a demonic smile and then spoke to him. It was also discovered that arsenic, in large quantities, does not a good perfume make.
Chanel no. 2 was poo-poo'd because of religion. Its bottle, in the shape of an apple, was very suggestive of the infamous biblical tale of Adam and Eve, where Eve succumbs to temptation and takes a bite out of an apple from the tree of knowledge, bringing sin onto the Earth.
Also, Catholic priests did not like the purple colouring of the bottle, since purple is the colour of sexual frustration and denial. An alluring scent, bottled in the shape of a purple apple = unacceptable! The Church had spoken. Chanel no. 2 was out.
The designers of Chanel no. 3 were on acid. They stated that the bottle was a reflection of their Universal selves stretching out into eternity and that we were all One.
Unfortunately, the bottle itself could not stand on its own and would tip over if not held up. A young salesgirl died when trying to put together a display of Chanel no. 3 in the perfumery she worked at in Paris. One bottle tipped over, causing a domino effect and they all broke, unleashing lethal amounts of nice smelling liquid. She was now indeed One with the Universe. And Chanel no. 3 met its untimely end.
Chanel no. 4 was very promising until someone discovered that if you held the bottle at a certain angle in sunlight, it divulged the secrets to wealth, success and world domination. The Vatican, as well as the heads of corporations worldwide led an unprecedented, coordinated effort to find and destroy all bottles of Chanel no. 4 before the enslaved masses discovered what they already knew. They had to protect their exclusivity and ridiculous wealth at all costs.
To this day, there is an urban myth that only one bottle remains, hidden somewhere, probably under a church, and that it would take a university professor with an in-depth knowledge of symbols, accompanied by a much younger, attractive French girl to decipher the clues that lead to its location.