Champions of Design – Chanel No 5
What can we learn from this? What can’t we?
No 5’s design epitomises the holy grail of ‘timeless classic’. With its understated, form-follows-function glass bottle, sensitively embellished with an oversized stopper and undersized seal, Chanel sets the standard for the exercise of restraint.
In perfect harmony, the elegance of the mirrored C hallmark and its seamless connection to a simple, bold ‘CHANEL’ elevate No 5 to a thing of such beauty it ‘feels like winning the lottery’ to possess one. It also provided inspiration to students of design for four generations.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, but great design, no matter how seductive, cannot be responsible for such commercial success by itself.
Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel may have created the first designer fragrance, but she wasn’t just a pretty face. From the discreet seeding of the product among elite customers of her clothing boutiques, to the carefully controlled distribution and enrolment of enthusiastic sales assistants to her cause, her work on No 5 is a text-book example of building a luxury brand by word of mouth, managing supply just behind demand, a case of using pull rather than push.
To thrive in the novelty-obsessed fragrance market for a decade is to be considered a survivor; to do so for 90 years, however, makes No 5 a rare breed indeed.
By Andy Knowles, Chairman, jkr