We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again ... Paris is always a good idea. So if you’re planning to be in Paris for the December holidays (you lucky fish), make sure that the Grand Palais Éphémère is part of your itinerary for a one-of a-kind fragrance-art exhibition by Chanel not to be missed.
For the first time in the French maison’s history, Chanel will showcase a celebration of its fragrances in an unprecedented, festive and immersive olfactory experience, Le Grand Numéro De Chanel. From Les Exclusifs De Chanel to Les Eaux De Chanel and of course the iconic Chanel N°5, the exhibition will not only delve into the mystery and allure of Chanel fragrances and their craftsmanship but also the House’s fragrance heritage, its emblematic numbers and so much more.
Whether you’re a fragrance connoisseur or just an avid fan of scent, Le Grand Numéro De Chanel invites experts and non-experts alike to “follow your lucky star, seize your chance, or become part of the legend”.
Who better than Olivier Polge, Chanel In-House Perfumer Creator, to whet our appetite ahead of Le Grand Numéro De Chanel, which is set to be a surprising and emotive experience that will transport us through the magic of fragrance.
“The idea for this event was to demonstrate the singular nature of Chanel fragrances; our history and our style are unique. Le Grand Numéro De Chanel is a way of experiencing that. Fragrance has meaning, and the whole environment created around a fragrance — the visual aspect, the experience — adds something to it. We developed tools that allow people to smell fragrances as well as ingredients, making the experience fully immersive, which, in my view, is essential.
What’s fantastic about fragrance is that it cultivates our imagination; smelling a scent takes us on a journey. The magic of a fragrance also lies in the fact that we are unable to put our finger on the exact feeling that it arouses in us; it plays with our emotions, transports us to a place that we cannot describe. And this element of mystery is part of the dream. For all these reasons, I hope visitors will be surprised” says Polge.
Thomas Du Pré De Saint Maur, head of global creative resources fragrance and beauty, fine jewellery and watches, shares his insights into what Le Grand Numéro De Chanel is all about and transforming the allure of Chanel fragrances into a visual story.
What is the message behind the Le Grand Numéro De Chanel event?
Le Grand Numéro De Chanel is a show, a return to reverie that is emotionally evocative on several levels. The idea is to let yourself indulge in daydreaming, to chart your own path as you travel from one universe to another. It is not an exhibition that is meant to be visited in a specific order. It is very open. It is also a social experience, a time to share in the holiday spirit, and feels a bit like discovering the window displays of the Parisian department stores at Christmas time.
I want the public’s takeaway to be the role a fragrance can play, how it can reveal the singularity of every individual and influence our vision of beauty. A fragrance is more than a name, a bottle or a scent; it is also everything it brings to mind when we breathe it in, and all it evokes when we wear it. It is an extraordinary product. Many people believe that fragrance is an accessory or a finishing touch, but it is so much more than that. Fragrance has a real effect on our feelings, confidence, mood and desires, and this is what we want everyone to experience.
Where did the name Le Grand Numéro De Chanel come from?
Beyond the symbolic meaning behind the house’s emblematic numbers, it ties back to the idea of artistic performances, a notion that is very important to Chanel. This act reminds us of the fact that Gabrielle Chanel became Coco around 1901, when she was living in Moulins and performing as a singer. A Chanel fragrance is a virtuosic performance by the perfumer. It is also a spectacular celebration of life, movement, of allure: a daily invitation to put on a show.
In your opinion, how important is the story we tell about a fragrance?
What we communicate about a fragrance is an expression of our style and vision. For example, Chance conveys the belief held by Chanel that happiness always involves a little bit of luck, but that having luck takes a lot of work. It is not luck in itself, but a vision of Chanel hat is expressed through Chance, for which we need to tell the story. Le Grand Numéro De Chanel will give the opportunity to discover every facet of a fragrance, which is usually only told in fragments. For N°5, we will further explore it cultural and historic influence with a retrospective of its best advertising campaigns, as well as a deep dive into its artistic influence with a series of art pieces inspired by N°5.
How do you transform a fragrance into a visual campaign?
Much like a piece of music, a fragrance is composed: it begins as a mental process and is then written down in the form of notes and accords. We start with a desire to express a facet of Chanel, and from there we work in parallel on a name, a scent and a bottle, followed by an advertisement. What connects us is the idea, which always starts with a Chanel vision. It is for this reason that a luxury product is sometimes surprising, a convergence of subjective elements organised around a main idea.
Come December 15, prepare to be transformed in Paris by the allure of Chanel’s most iconic fragrances.