Bedtime Perfume; Chanel No 5 Review

Hey gang,

To sleep, perchance to Dream; Ay, there’s the rub, For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,” Hamlet; Shakespeare

Does anyone else wear a different perfume to bed? It’s a ritual with me. I like to put on a favourite to send me off to sleep, quite often it’s a perfume that doesn’t get much daytime or work wear, for any number of reasons. To loud, too floral, too celebuscent, too often ignored. Sometimes you just pass fragrances over for a while because other things have caught your attention or you are testing, on you or a room of Turbo Trivia players. When your scent wardrobe starts to become a scent library you need to find new times to wear perfume so they all get smelled. I know, these are the most shallow of first world problems but I like it.


Photo Stolen from bootsandcateyes

The other night I decided to put on some Chanel No 5 EdP before I went to bed. No 5 is an old memory scent for me, of my Mum. She left me a black bakelite and gold large refillable spray when she died that must have been almost full because it lasted for ages. At the time though she’d not thought to tell me they were refillable so it has been lost to eternity. Through my mind ran the most wonderful memories of my Mum, always smiling and glamorous when wearing No 5 because it was one of her grown up “going out” scents, a swirl of skirt, swish of hair and a wall of perfume. It was the 80’s and 90’s so she was unafraid to multispritz. Nowadays she would be frowned upon probably as an olfactory pollutionist and not allowed into restaurants, cinemas, workspaces or buses. Back then you were supposed to have a scent that entered the room before you and left weeks later, and all the curtains in every venue felt as if they’d been dry cleaned nightly.


Photo Stolen from bookdepository

Evie C wrote us some great No 5 stories recently and I find it hard to believe that any of you wouldn’t know what Chanel No 5 smells like because it was as ubiquitous as Shalimar, Georgio, Joy et al but I think the world has moved on in some respects, so…

Chanel No 5 is a big, fat, delicious, glamorous, gorgeous, mouth watering, head turning, man pulling siren of a fragrance designed by one of last centuries style icons, Gabrielle Coco Chanel in 1921 with Ernest Beaux, to grab you by the nose and take you to places you never thought you’d be. It was released 5/5/21 because 5 was Coco’s lucky number, and so last week it celebrated its 91st birthday. They say it was a stolen formula from the Russians who were fleeing the collapse of their empire. They say a million things. If you want a history The secret of Chanel No 5 by Tilar J. Mazzeo is a rollicking great read and could even be the true story. You may have heard Marilyn Monroe’s scandalous quote about wearing only Chanel No 5 to bed. What matters is the scent; reformulated many times over the years, even the great Luca Turin is amazed at how true to its ancestors it smells. I have a few different bottles of Chanel No 5. A fairly recent EdP, an 80’s EdT and a 1940’s US made, wartime .5oz Parfum, still wax sealed and waiting for an enormous opening ceremony. I think maybe a perfumista dinner party where we can all sniff, snort and snuffle unashamedly.

Fragrantica gives…

Top notes; neroli, ylang-ylang, bergamot, amalfi lemon and aldehydes;

Middle notes; iris, jasmine, orris root, rose and lily-of-the-valley;

Base notes; vetiver, musk, sandalwood, patchouli, oak moss, amber, vanille and civetta.

…but you can’t read this litany and think you know what it will smell like. That’s like looking at a Claude Monet painting of Giverny and thinking you know what spring is like, though you’ve never left your home.


Monet’s Spring at Giverny (1886) from thecultureconcept.com

The wonderful thing about Chanel No 5 is that you need only go to your nearest department store and try it. It costs nothing to go and spray yourself silly with it. But beware, Chanel No 5 is magic, even still. There is a little drop of white witch in every bottle. You will become a walking siren should you dare to cross the threshold. Go on.

I dare you

The ad below was recently on Olfacroria’s Travels and it thrilled me. I’d not seen it before and it felt so gorgeously expensive, even for a fragrance commercial which are notoriously spendthrift. Now whenever I put Chanel No 5 on I feel transported to this imaginary story as well. It is a hard working fragrance that takes me to a million places.

What do you wear to bed? Is there a special fragrance or are there many?

Portia xx

27 comments on “Bedtime Perfume; Chanel No 5 Review

  1. colllleeeen says:

    I love this entry. You’ve explained the transformation that perfume gives people. If you’re like me a splash of a favourite perfume makes you stand up straight and ooze confidence.

    It’s nice to hear other people compliments but the reality of it is that I wear perfume because of the way it makes me feel.

    Lately I’ve been wearing Dolce & Gabana Light Blue. It smells fresh and clean and I really easy scent to fall asleep with.

  2. David Watson says:

    babe, this post was brilliant from start to finish! I’m loving your style, the way your words invite a reader to come on whatever perfumed journey you are taking us on. I cannot get enough! mwah! xx

  3. Dionne says:

    I am one of those who doesn’t really remember what No. 5 smells like (been too busy exploring the esoteric side of perfumery), but you’re right. I should rectify this and get myself hence to the nearest drugstore.

    I’ve recently started wearing a bedtime perfume as well. Or in my case, a younger-kids-in-bed-watching-a-show-while-snuggling-with-The-Engineer perfume. I’ve got major scent-glue skin, so I wear my heaver stuff to blast over the remnants that are hanging around from my SOTD. Fortunately, most of my faves are the big guns. 😉

    And how are you Portia? Are you well? 🙂

    • Lovely! Big guns for bedtime. Yes, you need to go reacquaint yourself with No 5. She’s amazing.
      So happy and well here. Enjoying a last Indian summer today and hopefully tomorrow, because i have the day to myself for washing clothes and shopping. Perfect day really.
      Thank you for asking.
      You’re up early?

      • Dionne says:

        Not too early, I think I’m about 16 hours behind you. Which means it’s 9:45 Wednesday morning here (seems weird, doesn’t it? Isn’t it in the wee hours of the morn on Thursday for you?) The Engineer and Bones are off to work, middle children off to school, and I’m hanging out with Spud.

      • Yes, nearly 2am here. the house is asleep and I’m trolling the computer. Organising blog posts, drinking coffee and generally enjoying myself. You and Spud have fun.

  4. Its amazing how much history a perfume can have, especially something as iconic as Chanel number 5! I find the whole story of “stolen from the Russians” very believable as well as many of them fled to France with the revolution 🙂 Great post!

  5. julieswhinge says:

    I have to admit, you’ve chosen one of my least favourite perfumes. I have never been a fan of Chanel No 5. Not sure why, it just doesn’t appeal to me.

  6. kathwaples says:

    Brad Pitt announced as the face of Chanel No. 5!!!! What an amazing ambassador. I can’t wait to see the advertising that comes out of this relationship.

  7. Undina says:

    I liked reading your story. Chanel No.5 doesn’t work for me (yet?) but I admire it from afar.

    I wear perfumes to bed from time to time. I do not have a single favorite perfume but usually it’s something from a dab vial and I use just a very small amount. Sonoma Scent Studio’s perfumes are among those to which I come back as to my sleep scents.

    • I have their samples but haven’t yet tried them. I love the packaging and the presentation though.
      Interesting that Chanel No 5 doesn’t work for many perfumistas. I always think of it as the ubiquitous scent that every family has in the cupboard. Thank you for reading and often commenting, it’s nice to chat,
      Portia xx

  8. OOOOOOOH, I love bringing the white witch out to play!!!
    Here’s another extract for you from my delicious book, “CHANEL…. Collections and Creations”….
    RE: CHANEL No 5 :
    When it was invented, Mademoiselle was, as usual, extremely demanding. Ernest Beaux, its creator, presented several of his compositions but only one held her attention. The perfumer raised a few objections: “There are more than eighty ingredients in that sample. It will be very expensive,” he announced.
    “Ah! And what is its most expensive ingredient?” she asked.
    “Jasmine. Nothing is more expensive than jasmine.”
    “Well then! Add more. I want it to be the most expensive perfume in the world.”
    Gotta love it! And we do!
    See you soon gorgeous xxx

  9. Yvonne says:

    Chanel no 5 is a favorite bedtime scent for me! My aunt had this perfume and was always so elegant, still is to this day! This is like very expensive and royalty worthy baby powder on rose water cleansed skin with airy jasmine throughout! Sooo lovely! No 22 is superior IMHO and is my favorite special occasion scent. I adore both for their own special reasons, Chanel for life!

  10. […] For further reading NowSmellThis and AustralianPewrfumeJunkies […]

  11. […] analogy between sister fragrances that legend has coming from the same Russian recipe, with some vintage Chanel No 5 EdC (which everyone but Portia poo-poo’d!) and the classic floral L’Aimant by Coty […]

  12. Lovely post! This is my first time commenting on Australian Perfume Junkies, but I give you all a shout-out in my book! Now, as for your sealed, 40s extrait (gulp!), would you consider selling a couple mls. to me for a secret project? It sounds like your opening ceremony is imminent.

    Please email me regardless? yesterdaysperfume@gmail.com Thank you!!
    Barbara aka Perfumaniac recently posted…Win a Signed Copy of Scent and Subversion!My Profile

  13. […] like that patchouli perfume you’re wearing today” when I’m drifting around in Chanel #5. Aldehydes are a total no-go. Gagging pantomimes greet anything too […]

  14. […] reading: Australian Perfume Junkies and Bois de Jasmin Essential Mall Australia has $148/7.5ml modern parfum refill Surrender To Chance […]

  15. […] CHANEL No 5 was the fragrance de jour but to be honest I was so busy organising and eating that it was background hum, it’s completely faded now but I’m thinking that a bath is in order and then I’m craving vintage Mitsouko by Guerlain. […]

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