Behind the scenes of Chanel perfumes

From the creation of a perfume, through the design of its bottle, to its placement on the chrome shelves of a store, it must bring together a multitude of contributors from different backgrounds. . A brand that launches its perfume calls for a perfumer connected to a large olfactory chamber, considering the water of many raw materials from around the world. It asks for a design room for the design of the bottle and its box. And ask the factories to extract the raw materials, dissolve the formulas in water and alcohol, fill the bottles and then seal them.

Few perfumers master the entire production chain of their perfume. Chanel is part of this tight circle. “When a product is born in the house, all knowledge is put behind it,” explained Olivier Polge, Chanel perfumer. This beautiful quadra has its own playground. Then the fields of flowers to his full liking, because Chanel herself cultivates some of her precious flowers.


For almost a century, the brand has sought out jasmine from Grasse – more precisely from Pégomas – and has actively contributed to the continued cultivation of this flower, a necessary ingredient for the creation of N° 5, and rose. Today, the cultivation of other aromatic plants extends to just over twenty hectares, from iris to geranium and tuberose. Five unique collections, reserved for Chanel perfumes.

In 1987 the idea was born to form an exclusive partnership with the Muls, a family of farmers specializing in the production of jasmine for five generations. “Today as yesterday, no chemical fertilizers are used to grow our flowers,” explains Fabrice Bianci, son-in-law of Joseph Mul, who continues the journey started with Chanel by her parents-in-law. “We release our share between each plant. Our business is to produce the most fragrant flowers and can guarantee this quality in the future. »

After picking by hand, the race against time begins, because these flowers, very fragile when cut, do not support transportation. In order to avoid the cold weather that could affect their freshness, Chanel and the Mul family built a cooling plant in the middle of the gardens. The collected flowers are poured into five extractors. “We put 2,000 liters of solvent into each device,” says Jean-François Vieille, head of this “chemist department”. The flowers give all their olfactory powers, and, twenty-four hours later, with steaming, we have the sauce, a mixture of herbs and spices. Then it is stirred several times with alcohol in mixers, dried at a temperature of -15 ° C and filtered in order to separate the wax from the water. All the steam is then evaporated to remove the alcohol. A change takes about three days, giving birth to a bond. “Even though we sell exotic parts abroad, the Pégomas factory makes practical ones,” says Olivier Polge.

Olfactory list

Another strong arm of Chanel: its factory, located in Compiègne. From this great bunker is the entire world production of the olfactory list, with N ° 5 the queen scent. In this ultra-secure place like a safe place, the car comes from the south of France and abroad to be transformed, mixed and then diluted with water and alcohol in order to get the final liquid. No preparation has the complete form of N°5. Everyone just knows what to add to the birth of this fragrance. Then, in mechanized queues, water is poured into bottles, which are then hermetically sealed. These are folded into the corrugation, this carton is folded several times to protect and seal the bottle in its box, it is then melted into the back box, and then wrapped in paper glass

At Chanel, Sylvie Legastellois is responsible for designing the containers. This woman is in the shade running to the design room added to the house. He joined Chanel in 1984, working with Jacques Helleu, the label’s artistic director until his death in 2007. His mission? Make and design bottles, tubes, containers, boxes and containers. But also choose the quality of the material (glass, paper, cardboard…), decide on the typography applied to the bag, the embossing of some words and the colors used. “The colors are only Chanel, we don’t use shades from the Pantone list”, says Sylvie Legastellois. The “all black” bottle of Coco Noir, very famous at the moment, belongs to him. The ripple that follows the shape of the bottle N°5 on the connection, that’s it.

Engineers and Spices

At his side, about thirty colleagues, designers and artists, including one, a graduate of the famous Ecole Boulle, who created all the models of Chanel perfume bottles. “3D drawing is not enough. I have to hold a shape in my hand. I need to smell and touch things. It is necessary to give voice to the idea in order to understand its result: see if the replacement is as we thought, determining the glass load… My tool has a side, says Sylvie Legastellois. We have 3D printers, but they are at the service of work and thought. Not the end. »

For the design of each new bottle, he works with in-house engineers. The only stakeholders outside the entire production process – glassmakers such as Pochet, Brosse or Saint-Gobain, printers, cartoners, etc. – have become “friends” over the years. It is not surprising that these “companies” will work hard for four or five years to design a new bottle, as it will enhance the next great women’s perfume to be released in September.

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