At the ephemeral Grand Palais, Chanel raises the curtain on The Big Number, a surprising immersive event that celebrates perfume. Take-off with Marion Cotillard, muse of N°5.
When a star crosses paths with the most famous perfume in the world, it’s a big bang guaranteed in the firmament of luxury. Last year, Marion Cotillard flew from Pont-Neuf for the Moon… This year, the actress (expected on 1er February in Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom) opens the door to a new constellation, that of all the perfumes Chanel. Let’s push with her the huge white doors trimmed in black and enter under the 6,000 m marquee2 of the ephemeral Grand Palais, in Paris, for a unique sensory experience.
“Perfume is not just a name, a bottle, a smell, the final touch of a silhouette, announces Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, director of creative resources perfume, beauty and jewelry, at the origin of the festivities. . He is much more than that. It has a real impact on our feelings, our confidence, our imagination, and that’s what we want everyone to experience. With, as a bonus, a nod to the beginnings of Gabrielle Chanel who, around 1901, sang on stage in Moulins. Coco already had showmanship.
“Let yourself go to dream”
This leap in space and time begins in a monumental village hall which distributes five rooms. Each has its own line of emblematic perfumes. It summons the four senses, except taste. A Ringmaster is waiting for you and helps you find your way around, but “the idea is to let yourself go and dream, explains Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur. It’s not an exhibition where you go from place A to place B in an imposed chronological order. It’s very open! It is also a friendly experience, a story, a moment to share in a festive spirit, a bit like discovering the windows of Parisian department stores at Christmas”. An adventure that feels more than it tells, but here are some keys.
Before entering the temple of mythical N° 5, you can follow his flair and discover the world of Exclusifs. This collection of 18 luxurious and singular perfumes expresses a specific theme in the life of Gabrielle Chanel: a place, a loved one, a number. The opportunity to answer the fun version of an experiential Rorschach test to find your olfactory personality. The ride continues on the planet of Coco Mademoiselle. A giant chess game invites you to a game of seduction and an unexpected encounter with Keira Knightley. Then you can spin the Wheel of Fortune Chance. “The gifts are real,” emphasizes Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur. Chance expresses Chanel’s belief that there is always a little bit of luck in happiness, but it takes a lot of hard work to be lucky. And when night falls on the city, everything takes on the color of Blue and goes to music. “Blue is the impossible marriage between an easily accessible perfume and a very strong character”, notes Olivier Polge, Chanel perfumer-creator. “Blue is the most unfathomable color, hope and lucidity, the masculinity of all possibilities”, adds Thomas.
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The fifth Element
Now is the time to enter the legend. Close your eyes and think hard about the word perfume. It’s a safe bet that N° 5 will immediately strike you as it has become an archetype, an icon. “N° 5 works like the magic formula that reveals to each woman her own power. It is the feminine perfume par excellence, far from imposing an ideal, it embraces all its nuances”, deciphers Hélène Fulgence, Director of Chanel Heritage. If you think you know everything about the favorite perfume of Marilyn, you may be surprised. Admittedly, we knew its famous bottle entered the MoMA in New York with its unique graphics taken from the codes of the dada manifesto, but it has never ceased to inspire artists, and not the least. A museum all to itself. In the room dedicated to him, you can admire thirty works created between 1921 and 2019, of which he is the hero, as in Grand Central Powder Room, by Dali (1937). The artist met Gabrielle Chanel in the early 1930s and stayed regularly at La Pausa, Coco’s villa on the Riviera. He painted about ten canvases there. Another memorable image related to this friendship, The Essence of Dali, a photo from 1954 signed Philippe Halsman, a photomontage that brings together the bottle of N° 5 and the mustaches of Salvador.
Behind the scenes of the Chanel N°5 campaign told by Marion Cotillard
Among the most famous paintings, there is also that of Andy Warhol, but we discover many others, exhibited together for the first time. We suspect that, in the century to come, art and N° 5 still have things to say. Difficult to stop the scent of a revolution in progress. The proof, thanks to AI and augmented reality, you can even live an amazing experience: the founding act of N° 5, the meeting of perfumer Ernest Beaux and Gabrielle Chanel as if you were there. That crucial moment when she chooses sample No. 5… Ah, those numbers! For Mademoiselle Chanel, keen on numerology, all have a hidden meaning: the 19, her date of birth. Le 31, the mythical address on rue Cambon… When will the next big number from Chanel be released?
Le Grand Numéro de Chanel takes place until January 9 at the ephemeral Grand Palais, place Joffre, 75007 Paris. Free and free entry after registration on the site grand-number.chanel.com
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“Le Grand Numéro”: the new sensory exhibition by Chanel
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