Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur takes iconic N°5 fragrance back to basics with CHANEL Factory 5

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(Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
(Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
  • For a century, N°5 has regularly reinvented itself and continues to surprise us.
  • To celebrate the centenary of the iconic fragrance, the House of CHANEL has created a new, limited edition collection - CHANEL Factory 5 - to be discovered in its production site specially recreated for the public. 
  • From 29 June 2021, CHANEL will deploy this industrial scenography across the world's largest cities, including Johannesburg and Cape Town.
  • We hear from Chanel's Head of Global Creative Resources Fragrance and Beauty, Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, about all things CHANEL Factory 5.

To celebrate N°5 and its 100 years of celebrity, CHANEL has developed CHANEL Factory 5, a revolutionary experience that has made it possible to produce a completely new collection, with N°5 as its sole ingredient. Seventeen limited-edition products inspired by everyday objects, a reminder that wearing N°5 transforms the ordinary.

Welcome to CHANEL Factory 5, a production site designed to resemble an ultra-modern factory. It is entirely dedicated to transforming N°5 into collector's items, a product of the intersection between robotic precision and human skill. A special place where the history of the world's most iconic fragrance meets the future, where the legend of N°5 continues to reinvent itself each and every day.

READ MORE: The ultimate luxury beauty destination, ARC, opens its doors in Sandton City 

N°5 has stood the test of time and told the story of the times. Today, the way we consume is changing, and the value of an object goes beyond its production cost and its use.

"There can be as much value in products that we use regularly as in products that we use for very special occasions. It's all about the experience these products give you," says Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, Chanel's Head of Global Creative Resources Fragrance and Beauty.

From body oil in a burette to bath tablets in a tea tin, by reusing 17 everyday objects in this collection, N°5 has subverted their functions, demonstrating once again that luxury is in the experience we have of things.  

chanel factory 5 collection
Image supplied by CHANEL 

"By taking popular consumer items out of their context and dressing them up in the aesthetics of N°5, we return to CHANEL's first creative gesture: that of transforming a functional object into a desirable luxury item. That's what CHANEL Factory 5 is all about: offering the experience of luxury in everyday life."

CHANEL Factory 5 therefore symbolises a return to the essence of the approach initiated by Gabrielle Chanel, her desire to break the codes and free herself from constraints. Through this concept, CHANEL proposes a return to the first packaging of N°5, which was a simple laboratory bottle, a functional object that became luxurious and iconic. CHANEL Factory 5 celebrates the fact that through the years, the idea of the first bottle is still present and accompanies N°5. 

chanel factory 5 collection

chanel factory 5 collection
Images supplied by CHANEL 

The idea behind CHANEL Factory 5 is to reconcile worlds, that of the consumer goods factory and the codes of a Luxury House and its iconic perfume, N°5. It is also a nod to Pop Art, which transformed everyday objects into works of art. CHANEL takes the concept to the extreme and presents this unique collection through an immersive experience.

"As N°5 celebrates its 100th anniversary, CHANEL Factory 5 also reminds us that youth is above all a state of mind: daring to take a step to the side, to have the freedom to be oneself in spite of convention, not to take oneself seriously, to be light without being frivolous. To have the audacity to prefer the youth of imagination to the oldness of habit. That's what this collection says to us,” says Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur.

In this production site with ultra-modern design entirely dedicated to the transformation of N°5 into collector's items, the products pass from mechanical conveyor belts into the hands of CHANEL experts who perpetuate a tradition of excellence.

READ MORE: GALLERY | Celebrating 100 years of Chanel N°5 - the first perfume to ever be advertised on TV   

We hear from Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur about all things CHANEL Factory 5:

What story did you want to tell through '100 Years of Celebrity' of N°5?

We are privileged to be here for this centenary and we wanted to find an idea worthy of N°5. Should we celebrate the history and rich heritage of this icon or the eternal youthfulness of the N°5 spirit? It is, of course, the second approach that we chose to explore. Every year for a century, N°5 has been the talk of the town and has found its place through its ability to reinvent itself.

Through "100 Years of Celebrity", we want to show that an object is not iconic by birth, but that it becomes so by what it conveys, what it brings to life, what it says about its time.

N°5 has managed to transcend time and tell the story of the times. We hereby celebrate the fact that it has kept its audacious spirit and its freshness after 100 years of passion shared with its fans. We want to offer a festive, new experience around this universally emblematic fragrance of the House of CHANEL, but also of perfume in general.

What is the origin of the CHANEL Factory 5 concept?

To go back to the beginning of N°5. To go and find - as Gabrielle Chanel did at the time - a new, offbeat, unexpected inspiration. Through this concept, we want to return to the creation process of the first N°5 packaging. At the time, it was a simple laboratory bottle, a functional object that became luxurious and iconic.

There was already this notion of transforming a common, ultra-functional object into a precious one. CHANEL Factory 5 celebrates this approach, this step to the side, in its own way. 

What does it say about N°5?

CHANEL Factory 5 makes the most of N°5's amazing ability to continually reinvent itself in order to preserve itself. This concept tells of the product's eternal youth and the creative idea behind it. It also shows that an industrial product with very functional packaging can be transformed into a unique, desirable object by appropriating N°5's identity codes, without losing the fundamentals, namely its functionality.  

Why choose everyday objects?

Not only extremely rare, sparingly-used things have value. The things we use the most - if they provide a luxurious experience - are also valuable. N°5 subverts everyday objects and demonstrates once again that luxury is also in the experience that we have of things. By giving these objects the N°5 identity, they become luxurious, iconic products, while keeping their own designs.

By reusing these everyday objects, N°5 has subverted their functions, demonstrating once again that luxury is in the experience we have of things. Dressing these objects with the N°5 identity, they become luxurious, iconic products, while keeping their own designs. Taking everyday products allows for a less intimidating approach and creates new opportunities for daily exposure to the absolute wonder that is N°5.

Whether it's a tube of paint, a tea tin or a burette, all are universal, timeless objects that we have dressed in N°5’s visual codes so as to transfigure them. At the same time, this approach shows CHANEL’s sense of distance and humour.  

chanel factory 5 collection

chanel factory 5 collection

Images supplied by CHANEL 

How is the Factory 5 Collection presented in the pop-ups?

We wanted people to enjoy a moment rich in emotions and that the experience in the pop-ups be a joyful one. The event scenographies that will be held in the biggest cities in the world, through these pop-ups, will present the 17 products of the capsule collection that we have created.

The idea is to immerse people in a factory atmosphere and give them a sensational experience. We have taken the concept of CHANEL Factory 5 to the extreme in these pop-ups, which are designed as "theme parks" dedicated to N°5 and this limited edition collection. The staging offers the opportunity to discover the products, from their design and transformation in the factory to their use through entertaining stagings and animations. We will also offer a digital version for those who wish to see the CHANEL Factory 5 without going to the show. 

What does this minimalist black & white packaging and this ultra-colorful pop communication evoke?

Black and white at CHANEL is the essence of N°5, uncluttered, radical, non-decorative, that goes beyond trends. And these very bright colors in the communication are a nod to pop culture and to pop art, which paved the way for the possibility of a parallel between art and everyday products. It is also a festive, joyful vibration for this 100th years of the celebrity of N°5. 

What does the CHANEL Factory 5 say to younger generations?

Youth is above all a state of mind. 

CHANEL N°5 in 5 words?

Free, radical, audacious, modern, French.

READ MORE: 6 classic winter perfumes that capture a 'scents' of warmth, nostalgia, and travel

Experience Factory 5

From 29 June 2021, CHANEL will deploy this industrial scenography across the world's largest cities. These pop-ups, imagined as theme parks dedicated to N°5, immerse people in a world which mixes the black and white identity of N°5 and the bright colours of pop culture. The experience is intended to be entertaining and offers a journey around the 17 products in this limited edition collection.

In a factory setting, the public follows the product through the various production line workstations and ends its journey with a visit to the factory store where they can watch playful, offbeat demonstrations. The House of CHANEL also offers a digital version for those who wish to see the CHANEL Factory 5 without going to the pop-up.

Additional information and images supplied by CHANEL

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