To many, owning Chanel No. 5 has the same heft as owning a Ming vase. It’s precious, it’s pure and timeless. Of course the Ming vase can be auctioned off at Sothebys, but we’ll venture to guess that no one in their right mind would auction of their Chanel EDT.
Remember when Chanel rocked the perfume industry in 2007 with the release of its limited-edition “Les Exclusifs” collection? It was available only in Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman. The 10-sku range is housed in unusually large, 200ml spray bottles, with a high price point of $200 to match.At the time, industry insiders called it a “surprising” move. It’s common knowledge that women won’t invest in a 200ml bottle of perfume because they’re fickle, and love to flit from fragrance to fragrance.
This November, the element of surprise will definitely turn into shock and awe when Chanel introduces a 900ml bottle of Chanel No. 5, retailing for $3,200 at Saks Fifth Avenue. (We’ve done the math: that’s practically a quart.) For No. 5 devotees, it’s a unique opportunity to secure a lifetime supply of this object of acute desire. Note that you’re getting parfum, not EDT, which makes it a steal at $3,200, considering you’d have to buy 30.4 standard-size flacons at a much higher price to equal this gargantuan offer.
But what about the fickle factor? Who’s really going to buy this? Sure, there’s probably some nouveau-riche wife of a Russian oligarch who’ll get buzzed by seeing a quart of No. 5 on her dresser. But that’s not the market Chanel wants to capture. A company spokesperson tells us that this will be “a definite collector’s item,” which makes a lot of sense. You could buy it and hold it, like stock, watching its value appreciate and then listing it on ebay, assuming they’re still in the game. (Ebay has just been barred from selling Christian Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy and Kenzo perfumes.)
This would also make a great museum piece. Is a message being sent to an industry tarnished by endless celebrity fragrance launches that perfume making is high art, not a cash cow for actresses fresh out of rehab? Britney begone.
Thanks to Chanel, taste trumps trash.