This is an incredibly special formula. It is based off authentic notes from the original fragrance with additional information from GCMS data, and some experimentation.
It is the closest thing you will find anywhere to a formula based off the original version of the perfume that was sold by Chanel in 1921 as created by Ernest Beaux (descending from Rallet Le No. 1 before it, and Bouquet de Catherine before that).
The original formula included a number of bases and animal products no longer available. I have substituted these with products that are available or replicas you can find or create.
This formula is expensive and most definitely not IFRA compliant. Substitutions are mentioned where applicable.
I recommend diluting to around 38% for parfum (the original dilution) in dab-on form, but you can dilute to eau de parfum (20%) or each de toilette strength if you like though you may need to tweak the fragrance in that case.
Chanel was certainly not the first couturier to create perfumes, as Paul Poiret had done it a decade before, but she was the first to link it to fashion explicitly as an accessory that would complete a ‘look’. She enlisted Ernest Beaux, the laster perfumer to the Russian Court, to create a scent using the finest materials available. He came back with a remarkable creation based around a central theme of Rose de Mai and Jasmine from Grasse, combined with a special fraction obtained from the distillation of Ylang Ylang from Comoros. It was topped with glittering aldehydes.
Whilst it is undoubtedly Houbigant’s Quelques Fleurs which was used as inspiration for the basic structure, N°5 was the first fragrance to overdose aldehydes. Legend has it that Chanel had smelt Beaux’s Rallet Le No 1 and loved it and asked him to develop it for her. And so he did. Chanel asked Beaux to make the fragrance impossible to copy, to which Beaux replied that he could not do that, but he could make it so expensive that no one would be able to afford to copy it. Consequently the original fragrance (as found in this formula) contains an overdose not just of aldehydes, but also incredibly costly Jasmine, Iris absolute (not to be confused with orris butter), and the most refined qualities of every other material.
Chanel wanted a scent which was modern and did not smell of flowers and she is famously quoted as saying, “A woman must smell like a woman, and not like a rose”. Certainly the aldehydes made everything fly in the effervescent cavalcade which Beaux gave her; they totally transformed the flowers, like the sun shining through a shower of snow.Paraphrased from “The Essence Of Perfume“, by Roja Dove