Icons of Femininity: The Beautiful Muses of The Chanel N°5 Fragrance Through The Years
We take a look back at all the beautiful women who have become the faces of the revolutionary scent
There is no mistaking a Chanel N°5 for anything else. Then, now, and forever, the world’s first abstract fragrance continues to bottle the very essence of femininity through its ground-breaking use of aldehydes to create an olfactory heritage that has been passed on from one generation to another.
When fashion designer Gabrielle Chanel first changed history with perfumer Ernest Beaux in 1921, Chanel N°5 was the first of its kind — from the abstract fragrance to the classic bottle, the legendary perfume has been highly regarded as an icon of femininity.
This year, Chanel N°5 celebrates 100 years of revealing the uniqueness of every woman with a fragrance that is interpreted differently based on the woman who wears it.
Here, we flip through the pages of Chanel N°5’s rich history to remember and celebrate the beautiful celebrities who have become the faces of an icon in perfumery.
Marilyn Monroe exuded femininity and sensuality with her captivating beauty and voluptuous curves. While she is most known as a sex symbol, the model, singer, and actress overcame unimaginable challenges in her life before becoming one of the most iconic faces of the 20th century and of all time. Like the few drops of Chanel N°5 she wore to bed, Monroe was an icon—not only for her enviable physical attributes, but for her enduring spirit.
Since her breakthrough in 1970’s phenomenal Love Story, Ali MacGraw remains the revered image of an “All-American girl” in style and manner. Her affair with fashion began years prior, working for Harper’s Bazaar behind the scenes before making a name for herself in front of the camera. In a time when men dominated the box office, MacGraw held her own in the list of top-earning names as the sole woman amongst nine men. She is an enduring name in popular culture admired not just for her beauty and style, as much as the legendary Chanel N°5 fragrance she modeled for in 1966.
This model and actress most recognized for her gap-toothed smile and Southern drawl, Lauren Hutton is one of the world’s original supermodels just as Chanel N°5 was when it became a revolutionary scent in perfumery. Besides forging close friendships with famous lensmen like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn and making history in the fashion industry since she was 22, Hutton continues to blaze trails even now at 77—unapologetic of her age and her “unconventional beauty.”
One of the greatest European actresses of our time, Catherine Deneuve boasts a filmography spanning decades in French cinema. She has worked with some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names the likes of Roman Polanski, François Truffaut, and Luis Buñuel, often playing “icy, aloof, mysterious beauties” on-screen. Fittingly, a mysterious beauty became the face of Chanel N°5, the world’s first abstract scent, throughout the 1970s.
Following fellow French actress Deneuve as the face of the iconic fragrance, Carole Bouquet became “the new woman for Chanel” in 1986 to 1997. First recognized for her work in Luis Buñuel’s The Obscure Object of Desire (1977), Bouquet has since starred in over 60 films including “For Your Eyes Only” in 1981 as Bond girl Melina Havelock. At 64, Bouquet remains a staggering beauty. Now and forever as is the fragrance she represented for more than a decade.
The first woman to star in a Chanel film, Nicole Kidman is an Academy Award-winning actress twice named one of the most influential people in the world by Time and regarded as one of the finest in her generation. At the height of esteemed fashion houses choosing celebrities over models in their advertising campaigns, Kidman was the first high-profile name to become the face of Chanel N°5. It was also at this time that fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld dubbed the actress as “the best of the best.”
As Chanel N°5 ushers in its 100th year, the iconic fragrance recently introduced Academy Award-winning French actress Marion Cotillard as its new face. A striking talent as much as she is an enchanting beauty, the 45-year-old embodies the ever-changing scent of the abstract fragrance as a woman of many faces from her wide range of roles in her career. Both classic and singular, Chanel N°5 and Cotillard are icons of their time.