05 December 2011

4th and 5th December: The annual Christmas chore and a 90 year old smell

Yesterday the Second Hand Rose felt very wilted so she wasn't able to do a blog. I apologise to the whole nation and the world, who I'm sure were in pieces that they didn't have my satirical writing to read. The four calling birds didn't call me to the blog and while we are on the subject of the 12 days of Christmas, my true love please don't give me a partridge in a pear tree. A pair of shoes would be so much better and I don't think I could get away with selling it on eBay.

So I will combine the 4th and the 5th into one post. I did think about trying to doctor the date so I could do the 4th of December, but I couldn't find the big red button that said 'Fake the date'. So just to warn all the 5 people that are reading this, and they include my mum and dad, this is probably going to be a bit of a looong post.

4th December- The Christmas Card chore

Now it is the time for the annual ritual, sending Christmas cards to people you hardly ever see and only hear from once a year. It is the time to get newsletters from people and that are forced to read about how fabulous their trekking holiday in Kenya was and all the amazing things they have been up to. Mummy Second Hand Rose has started doing her Christmas cards, so que Daddy Second Hand Rose monaing about sending Christmas cards to people we never see, even though he has never actually written a Christmas card to people on the list all the time they have been married, they've just celebrated their 31st year.

In my later advent posts I'm going to talk more about Christmas cards and the histry of them, but here is a few of the Christmas cards sent over the last 100 years.

5th December: Chanel no5 perfume celebrates its 90th year

For the 5th I thought I would tell you all about the world's famous perfume, Chanel No.5. I know its not directly Christmas related, but it has its 90 years anniversary this Christmas. It was realeased in Christmas 1921 to a selected 100 customers. It was properly released in mid 1922 and since then the French government reports that the perfume is sold every thirty seconds and makes $100 million a year. Coco made the perfume because there was only two types of perfumes around at the time. There was a pure single flower essence for the 'respectable' lady and the perfumes with heavy jasmine or animal musk  were associated with 'sexually provocative' women, e.g. Lady's of the night. You know the easy girls you see in the club that bump and grind on the danceflor infront of people? Well that would be the perfume that they would wear. Coco wanted to create another style of perfume that would epitomize the boyish and modern flapper women. Basically she wanted to make a perfume that a broad range of women could wear and that would make them feel sexy yet still demure.

The perfume was developed by Russaian-French chemist and perfumer Ernest Beaux, incorporating the ideas that Coco had come up with. She spent a long time thinking about the perfume and what smells she wanted to come across. Ernest took a long time on creating this perfume in the late summer and autumn of 1920. I'm not going to give you a chemistry lesson so don't worry, but if you want to find out more about what is in the perfume and how it was created, check out this website Chemistry for the boffins. The website is not actually called that by the way, that's just me trying to be funny. Anyway, he prepared 10 bottles for Coco to look at and inspect. She fell in love with no.5 and said 'Number five. Yes, that is what I was waiting for, a perfume like nothing else, a perfume for a woman with the scent of a woman.' Well you would hardly want it to smell like men's sweaty socks would you?

Screen shot 2010-06-29 at 1.46.58 AM
1921 Advert
Now before you all think A. She was lazy and decided to go shopping or B. She has an obsession with the number five, there is a reason why it is called No.5. When she was twelve she went into the care of the nuns and spent six not so happy and disciplined years there. No rolling up her skirt or skiving mass for her then. The convent she lived in was Aubazine had been founded by Cistercians, a Catholic order who placed great emphasis on numerology. For them the number five signifed the embodiment of a thing, its spirit, its mystic meaning. Yeah I don't really understand that either. The paths, which led Chanel to the cathedral for daily prayer, were laid out in circular patterns repeating the number five. I just think they have a bit of an OCD. Coco loved the abbey gardens, and the surrounding hillsides. The hillsides were full of the flower cistus, a five-petal rose. The Cistercians got their name from this flower too. Coco said to Ernest "I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck.' Yep, definitely a bit of an OCD, someone call the Priory. I can hardly talk though, I'm just a little bit obsessed with the number four and I can't bare the microwave beeps not being divisible by four,I regularly leg it to the microwave so it is divisible. Yeh, maybe I should call the Priory.

The design of the bottle has changed over the years, the bottle is not that different from the original though. Coco wanted her bottle to be different from the lavish bottles that were around at the time and she wanted it to be "pure transparency, an invisible bottle." Maybe she should borrow Harry Potter's cloak. The original had small, delicate, rounded shoulders and was only sold to select clients in Channel boutiques, the lucky gits. In 1924 when the perfume was to be shipped the glass was too thin so the bottle was modified with square corners. The bottle shape has stayed the same since 1924  but the stopper has gone through a few modifications, originally being a small glass plug. When the bottle shape was changed in 1924 the signature octagonal stopper came in. In the 1950s the stopper became bigger and thicker. In the 1970s the stopper became even more prominent, but in 1986 it was downsized so it didn't look too big for the bottle. The bottle has become so famous and iconic, the great Andy Warhol did a pop art silk screen in the mid-1980s and called it Ads:Chanel.

Chanel had to fight over the years for the right for the money due to her partners the Wherthemier brothers, especially Pierre being in her own words 'the bandit who screwed me'. They agreed to provide full financing for production, marketing and distribution on the perfume for 10% of the stock. This is like an early form of Dragon's Den. Coco was unhappy with the deal and worked for twenty years to gain full control. After a long and stressful battle they came to a mutual agreement. In May 1942 Coco received nine million dollars in today's money from war profits and in the future she recieved 2% of all the sales worldwide. Her earnings would have been huge, she would make an estimate $25 million a year. Wow, that is a lot of shoes.

So if you want to get your hands on some of this iconic perfume you can get it here at Boots-Chanel no5. Its also here at Amazon, and at House of Fraser. Yes ladies it is just a tad expensive, but it is on a whole different level to other perfumes. It epitomises pure glamour, not the fake glamour you see celebrities trying to recreate. This perfume represents real style, glamour, class and the amazing woman that is Coco Chanel. This is a timeless classic that is still extremely popular even after 90 years. Coco Chanel said 'A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future.' Yeah I guess I better start saving then.

Second Hand Rose


  1. Hi its me again lol I really like the part about the christmas cards and even though channel no.5 isnt so christmassy I still really liked it and wouldnt mind someone getting it for me for christmas :)

    btw have u ready my last blog post I mentioned u in it

    Looking forward to tommorrows post

  2. wow, i didn't know chanel no.5 is celebrating its 90th year! i love how i always learn new and interesting things from your blog. :)

    <3, Mimi
    $100 Shopbop Gift Card Giveaway

  3. The Christmas cards are so nice. 90 years Channel no 5 perfume wow!!!

  4. OMG!
    i have actually recieved the card with the bird before!
    how random!
    great post, keep up the good work!



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