Synopses & Reviews
The unauthorized biography of the world's most famous, seductive, and successful perfume
With its rich golden hue, art decoinspired bottle, and timeless, musky scent, Chanel No. 5 is the world's bestselling perfume. Reverently known among industry insiders as le monstrethe monsterit is arguably the most coveted consumer luxury product of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Yet how did this pioneering celebrity fragrance, introduced in the early 1920s, eventually take on a life of its own, becoming a cultural monument celebrated by millions of devoted consumers?
The Secret of Chanel No. 5 is Tilar J. Mazzeo's far-ranging and fascinating search beyond the stuff of legend to uncover the full story of No. 5's creation, iconic status, and extraordinary success. Mazzeo goes back through time and deep into the life of Coco Chanel, the brilliant, controversial, and steel-willed businesswoman at the heart of the fragrance. She takes readers to the rose plantations and celebrated jasmine fields where the perfume begins and then to the laboratories and boardrooms where scent and sex are forever intertwined. And she travels to the heart of the Chanel empire: 31 Rue Cambon, Coco Chanel's flagship boutique, where six decades ago American GIs stormed the counters to possess the magical elixir that captured the luxury and romance of Paris for their girls back home.
A blend of evocative history and thoughtful research, here is a glittering account of where art and sensuality mingle with dazzling entrepreneurship and desire: Chanel No. 5.
“[Mazzeo] explores interconnections between designer and perfume, teasing out the relationship with delicacy.” New York Times Book Review
“Anyone whos ever dawdled in front of a perfume counter will love Tilar Mazzeos fascinating history of the perfume known simply as No. 5; her rich and witty account is as compelling as the fragrance itself. ” Karen Karbo, author of < i=""> The Gospel According to Coco Chanel <>
“The true brilliance of The Secret of Chanel No. 5 is Tilar Mazzeos ability to take a subject one would never have thought possible to think very deeply about and then cover it so captivatingly. Who knew that such a tiny bottle housed so many secrets?” Michael Tonello, author of < i=""> Bringing Home the Birkin <>
“[In] the skilled hands of cultural historian Mazzeo, [the perfume] becomes a magnificent window through which to understand [Coco Chanel] and her milieu... Impeccable research and crafting make a seemingly narrow topic feel infinitely important.” Kirkus Reviews
“Mazzeo has written an account of the rarest of things-an international olfactory icon-that fairly rushes off the pages. Here is the life of one of the 20th centurys most interesting and deeply complicated women, a fascinating cultural history, and the story of an extraordinary perfume.” Chandler Burr, < i=""> New York Times <> scent critic and author of < i=""> The Perfect Scent <>
“This is one case where historical fact eclipses the legend and lore of the object itselftheres much, much more than meets the nose to discover in these pages.” Booklist
“Engaging.” Wall Street Journal
“Mazzeos lush prose...never bogs down in the detailsdespite the extensive research showcased in the bibliographyand a smooth pacing keeps it moving along at a fast clip. This work is definitely recommended to lovers of 20th-century cultural history, Coco Chanel, and, of course, the worlds best-selling perfume.” Library Journal
With its rich golden hue, art deco-inspired bottle, and timeless, musky scent, Chanel No. 5 is the worlds bestselling perfume and arguably the most coveted luxury product of the twentieth century. In The Secret of Chanel No. 5, Tilar J. Mazzeo offers a fascinating account of No. 5s creation, its rise to iconic status, and the legacy of its extraordinary success. Mazzeo delves deeply into the life of Coco Chanel, the brilliant, controversial, and steel-willed businesswoman at the heart of the fragrance. She walks the rose plantations and jasmine fields where the perfumes life begins, and travels to 31 Rue Cambon, the center of the Chanel empire. A blend of evocative history and thoughtful research, here is a glittering account of where art and sensuality mingle with dazzling entrepreneurship and desire: Chanel No. 5.
“Who knew that such a tiny bottle housed so many secrets?” —Michael Tonello, author of Bringing Home the Birkin
Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of the New York Times bestseller The Widow Clicquot (an Amazon Best of the Month book in October 2008) returns with a captivating history of the worlds most famous, seductive, and popular perfume: Chanel No. 5. Mazzeos sweeping story of the iconic scent (known as “le monstre” in the fragrance industry) stretches from Coco Chanels early success to the rise of the seminal fragrance during the 1950s to the confirmation of its bestseller status in todays crowded perfume market.
“Here is the life of one of the 20th centurys most interesting and deeply complicated women, a fascinating cultural history, and the story of an extraordinary perfume.” —Chandler Burr, New York Times scent critic and author of The Perfect Scent
About the Author
Tilar J. Mazzeo is the author of numerous works of cultural history and biography, including the New York Times bestselling The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and nearly two dozen other books, articles, essays, and reviews on wine, travel, and the history of luxury. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time between coastal Maine, New York City, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.