VINTAGE PERFUME, EVERY WOMAN ALIVE LOVES CHANEL N°5


Every woman alive loves Chanel N°5, and none perhaps more so than vintage perfume collector, Janice. Never throwing away a box or a bottle, Jan has been collecting Chanel toiletries for over 30 years, storing every detail down to the cellophane in her cosy Bournemouth cottage. To mark our collectors issue Vintage Heirloom took a trip to the coast to discover one lady’s love affair with the world’s favourite fragrance.

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VH: JANICE, HOW WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO CHANEL N°5?

I was first bought Chanel N°5 as a Christmas present and I thought it was lovely! I’ve tried a lot of perfume in the past but nothing’s ever compared, so I’ve built a wonderful collection of bottles over the years. My favourites are the sprays. I like to be extravagant with them, for example when it comes to that tiny bit in the bottom my bedroom gets sprayed. Chanel N°5 is my equivalent to air fresher before people come round to my house. It’s my ultimate luxury!

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VH: OUT OF YOUR COLLECTION DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CHANEL PIECE

Always the Chanel N°5 perfume, it’s my ultimate favourite. I love the pleasure of buying it, getting it home and undoing the wrapping – I even keep the cellophane! For me it’s the whole experience, which is as wonderful now as it was when I first started using it, the girls in the shops are just charming. Although when someone else buys it for you and it comes gift-wrapped that’s lovely too!

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VH: WHAT MADE YOU START COLLECTING CHANEL TOILETRIES?

It all started with the perfume. I have always been a box person and I love anything gift-wrapped, I’m very much into presentation. I couldn’t bear to throw the boxes and ribbons away so I just started putting them in a big trunk. Then one day I thought I could put this on display. When I got it all out I really started to realise how lovely some of the packaging was. My ambition is to get one of the big dummy bottles that you see in the department stores.

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VH: OVER ALL YOUR YEARS OF COLLECTING HOW DO YOU THINK CHANEL HAS CHANGED?

I don’t think the smell of Chanel N°5 has changed at all. I have noticed it used to come with extravagantly wide Chanel ribbon and now it’s really tiny and you get far fewer stickers but overall the quality is still firmly there.

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VH: HAVE YOU ONLY EVER WORN CHANEL N°5?

Since I was 20! Over the years it has become my personal scent. People comment that it doesn’t smell the same on their skin. Having lived with the fragrance for so long I feel it’s a part of me now, within my clothes, bedding, and house it’s the signature smell for all aspects of my life! If I was down to my last £100 Chanel N°5 would be top of my list. I wear it without fail, even when gardening. I always have a bottle by the door and I don’t leave my house without spraying it, you never know who you’re going to meet!

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VH: HOW QUICKLY DO YOU GET THROUGH A BOTTLE?

I receive Chanel N°5 every Christmas and birthday without fail, plus I buy it for myself, so around six a year. All my friends will say ‘Jan is spraying her perfume, quick stand behind her!’ as I can be quite extravagant with it. I always carry one in my handbag. Always! Every bag! Chanel bags and perfumes are always in rotation.

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VH: WALKING INTO YOUR COTTAGE YOU’RE IMMEDIATELY FILLED WITH THE SCENT OF CHANEL. DO PEOPLE SMELL YOU BEFORE THEY SEE YOU?

Even at the local shop I get comments like ‘Oh Jan’s around!’ You’re right, they can smell me coming before I arrive! If I didn’t have Chanel N°5I wouldn’t feel myself. It’s an everyday part of me. I have had people comment that I’m wasteful with it but I’ve never thought that. To me it’s a bargain. There is nothing else like it. Nothing that can ever compare.

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