Behind the Secret of CHANEL NO.5
An interview with New York Times bestseller Tilar J. Mazzeo
It gives me great pleasure to introduce Tilar J. Mazzeo bestselling author and professor of English at Colby College.
When Ms. Mazzeo is not teaching or doing research, she spends her precious time at the California wine country, coastal Maine and in New York City.
The highly acclaimed book, THE SECRET OF CHANEL NO.5 The Intimate History of the World’s Most Famous Perfume written by Ms. Mazzeo is the answer to all of your questions about the world's most beloved perfume.
This marvelous and well-researched book is written with such emotion and understanding of Gabrielle Chanel’s humble beginnings who dealt with struggles, misunderstandings and misinterpretations about herself and how others perceived her.
Gabrielle’s life was about to change in a drastic way but it was no overnight success. However each day at the abbey at Aubazine where she was raised would become more clear and with a purpose. A purpose that Gabrielle not yet understood with declining bedchambers and rustic walls. It wasn't until later in life that the building where she spent her youth would suddenly be the mecca of images, objects and the scent of cleanliness that would forever change her life.
As you follow Ms. Mazzeo in her approach to leading up to the introduction of Ernest Beaux, the creator of CHANEL No.5 and how their business relationship waved through much scrutiny in the making of this scent, that it is a miracle that COCO Chanel manged to hold her head up high.
This book is a count of remarkable journeys led by COCO Chanel and Ms. Mazzeo manages to capture each of those moments with intensity and evocative flair that will change how you think about the house of Chanel but will also change your way of buying a fragrance.
How many times do we buy a fragrance simply for its poetic juices and sweet flowing scent in a bottle?
The next, time when you about to make a fragrance purchase, ask yourself “I wonder what is the story behind the bottle”? "What sacrifices were made in the making of this scent"?
THE SECRET OF CHANEL NO.5 The Intimate History of the World’s Most Famous Perfume is a book not just to entertain but it is about the making of a legendary scent that educates you on the stamina of the human mind under peril conditions.
After reading this book, I was really fascinated with the life of COCO Chanel and the evolution of CHANEL NO.5. I am truly honored to have spoken with Ms. Mazzeo and I am happy to share this conversation with you.
Hello Tilar, thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you!
1.Tilar, what fascinates you about COCO Chanel?
Well, to name just one thing: she was perhaps the most influential businesswoman of the twentieth century. So much of how women present themselves in the modern world and what it means to be a businesswoman come back to her talents.
2. When I was old enough to experience Chanel No. 5 perfume and I remember my aunt and mother talking amongst themselves and wondering why it was named Chanel No. 5. Tilar, do you think the name of the perfume has always baffled fans of Chanel and that is why you wanted to find out the 'The Secret of Chanel No. 5'?
Your story is like so many others that we hear about Chanel No. 5.What fascinated me about it was how--in a world where there are so many beautiful perfumes--it went on to become this kind of legendary icon.
3. Tilar, in the book you mentioned that you visit the flagship Chanel Boutique in Paris. What were your expectations? Also, did you get a tour of the boutique, if so what did you think about it?
I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Chanel boutique on rue Cambon in Paris, and anyone who visits Paris should take the time to see one of the city's fashion landmarks. It's a wonderful space, full of history, and I was delighted to get a tour of it.
4. Tilar, your book is so beautifully written and it is written with so much emotion. There were several parts in the book where I was moved to tears an other parts I was cheering. What was the mood that you wanted to set for the book? What is the essence that we should all come away with from The Secret of Chanel No. 5?
What interested me most as I pursued this story and as I thought about how to write about it was the human drama and great emotion complexity of the story behind Chanel No. 5. The Secret of Chanel No. 5 is a business history that tries to get at the heart of how so many lives and so much of the last century's complicated history come together to great the world's most famous perfume.
5. What should people like me who have read your book, think about the next time we see a bottle of Chanel No. 5 in the department store?
As part of this book, I studied perfume seriously for the first time and I was lucky enough to be able to talk to several of the world's most talented perfumers. The next time you stand there at the counter, think to yourself "Ernest Beaux." That's the unsung name of the perfumer and great artist who created one of history's most beautiful and enduring fragrances!
6. Finally Tilar, do you still think there is more mystery and secret behind Chanel No. 5 or do you think that you have researched all there is to be about this legendary perfume?
Well, of course the company of Chanel is famously discrete about its sales figures, and it's understandable. With complete access to the corporate records, I am sure new facets of Chanel No. 5 and its business history would emerge. But no one will ever get that kind of access to the private company records. Although it wasn't the focus of my book, I do think that as archives of the Second World War continue to open up and become declassified, we many discover new things about the life and history of Coco Chanel.
Tilar, it has truly been a pleasure and I thank you so much and Congratulations on the success of this book!
Thanks to you! Without so many loyal and enthusiastic readers, all these researches would be a lot less fun!
PURCHASE: THE SECRET OF CHANEL NO.5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume by Tilar J. Mazzeo (Harper; November 9, 2010;Hardcover;ISBN#9780061791017/ 304 pages/$25.99 Category: Nonfiction
PHOTO CREDITS: HarperCollins (bookcover) & Tilar J. Mazzeo (self), Photo of Ernest Beaux by perfumeprojects.com; photo of COCO Chanel by the house of CHANEL and picture of CHANEL NO.5 by parfum.net
On the anniversary of COCO Chanel's birthday (August 19th) I am offering a DRAW for the book THE SECRET OF CHANEL NO.5 The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume by Tilar J. Mazzeo. This book will be autographed by Ms. Mazzeo on a bookplate.
So if you are a fan of COCO CHANEL and you simply love CHANEL NO.5, please enter in the comment box and answer the question, "What is it that you admire most about COCO CHANEL?