Secret Of Chanel No. 5 Anz, The
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Secret Of Chanel No. 5 Anz, The

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  396 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The unauthorized biography of the world's most famous, seductive, and successful perfume

With its rich golden hue, art deco-inspired bottle, and timeless, musky scent, Chanel No. 5 is the world's bestselling perfume. Reverently known among industry insiders as le monstre--the monster--it is arguably the most coveted consumer luxury product of the twentieth and twenty-first...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published by Harper (first published December 1st 2010)
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Amelia
Was an incredibly interesting and informative read. Some of the concluding statements however left me, I guess, cringing, by the way they drew conclusion with no clear, hard and recorded evidence. So as a historical text I feel it was challenging because I was often left saying "based on what evidence?" But in the same breath, the author is very talented that she has created a novel looking at the truthful possibility of the rumors and scandals that were associated with Chanel No.5 making an int...more
Angela
The book was good. The Perfume, better.
Mary Ronan Drew
The perfume industry calls Chanel no 5 "le monstre" and rightly so. It is and has been for most of its 90 years the best-selling perfume in the world. Marilyn Monroe wore it (and nothing else) to bed. Andy Warhol made a silk screen of it along with Campbell soup.

So what's the secret? It's an unusually sophisticated perfume that, unlike many other luxury products, has not compromised over the years. What I wear today (you knew I wore Chanel No 5, of course) is pretty much what Chanel envisioned...more
A
Should really be 2.5 stars. A fascinating concept -- the biography of a scent, arguing that Chanel No. 5 is quite literally the distillation of the life, times, loves, fears, and memories of Coco Chanel and her heady 1920s années follees era -- pretty much ruined by atrocious writing, mindless repetitions, historical inaccuracies, factual contradictions, and other sins against nonfiction writing. This would have made a great New Yorker article, but there's clearly not enough information out ther...more
Tinav
How did the Imperial Russian court and the revolution, cabaret clubs, a breakthrough in molecular chemistry, a convent in the South of France, the flower fields of Grasse, American GIs and German troops in World War II, contribute the to creation and worldwide popularity of this iconic fragrance? Mazzeo tells all in this fun slice of history.

Knowing there are more definitive biographies of Coco Chanel already written, Mazzeo wisely gives us just enough of her background to show how and why she d...more
Eva
What a wishy-washy story for non-fic. The first 70 pages were kind of a recollection of some hazy dream. I just couldn't with this book. No concrete facts, dates, or story. I didn't like the organization of the book and it was incredibly repetitive. Yes, we get it Chanel No.5 is sexy and seductive, that was repeated at least every other page. I think this story overall would have been better served as historical fiction, that way the author gets the liberties to expand on the myth that is Chanel...more
Linda
I liked the history of the times and the iconic perfume but the writing style was lackluster and several facts were repeated too much, unable to camouflage the lack of information available.
C
Like a high school essay turned into a book. I learned nothing, and came away with a deep seated feeling of violation. Shame.
Leah
Before reading this book, I had no idea there was such a complicated history behind Chanel's signature fragrance. And I was a bit surprised at how Coco Chanel was not only incredibly brilliant, inspired, and ambitious but also petty, hypocritical, and vindictive in her business dealings. She created a beautiful scent with the help of some very talented people and created a sensation with it by partnering with some others. The complicated relationship between Coco and her partners is a long—and o...more
Gail Kavanagh
I have to admit, this book made me long for a bottle of Chanel No 5. It's the best advertisement this perfume has ever had. In fact, I actually did buy a bottle on eBay, and sat entranced after spraying on my wrists (Coco Chanel: A woman should spray Chanel No 5 where she wants to be kissed) as that heavenly scent wafted over me. Yes, it is a wonderful, extraordinary perfume.

But Coco Chanel was an extraordinary woman. Dumped by her itinerant father at an orphanage run by nuns, she was fearless i...more
Topher
The book reads like an overwritten book version of Behind The Music, the author tends to repeat herself a lot (as if she was getting paid by the word...or if she didn't trust her audience to read straight through and actually retain the information), and the writing is just plain klunky in some places. Although the book seems meticulously researched (at least there are a gazillion notes so one assumes), I never feel safe with the theses that she makes. Bottom line: Mme. Chanel doesn't seem to be...more
Mari
The Short & Sweet of it: A captivating story of the history behind the world's most famous perfume. Coco Chanel's development of the fragrance did not come without plenty of complications- in both her business & her personal life.

I've been a fan (along with the rest of self-proclaimed somewhat stylish women everywhere) of Chanel No. 5 for as long as I can remember... basically since I was tall enough to reach my mom's perfumes on the counter. I also love semi-biographical books written a...more
Laurie
Chanel No. 5 is the world’s best selling perfume- and has been for decades. It’s been so popular for so long, in fact, that it’s actually become a sort of cultural icon- a symbol of luxury, capable of being recognized by the bottle shape, even by those who have never smelled the juice inside. This book is the ‘biography’ of No. 5.

I have a great interest in perfume, so I had high hopes for this book. As I made my way through it, though, I kept feeling like I’d read it before. I hadn’t, but I had...more
Kimberly
What a read!

Such history! Such tragedy! Two World Wars and torrid company power struggles! Nazis! The British Monarchy! Fallen Russian Grand Dukes! WOW!

From her history with lovers, her co creation of no. 5 with Ernest Beaux, the history of Rallet N°1 -- and what happens when you screw yourself in your perfume profit contract is to know what it means to be a living soap opera character. Coco Chanel's life and the history of her legendary perfume was immensely interesting. Ms Mazzeo tells the st...more
Angel
This was an interesting book that I found pretty much by serendipity. I learned one or two things along the way not only about Chanel (the lady and the perfume) but also about the perfume industry itself. This book does two things. One, it provides a biography of Coco Chanel, the fashion designer of humble beginnings who went on to launch a fashion brand and created a perfume (with some help from some friends) that is now known the world over. Two, it is a history of Chanel No. 5, a perfume that...more
Sam Still Reading
Oct 28, 2011 Sam Still Reading rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: perfume and Chanel fans
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: sale book
This book was another of my $5 sale books. I don’t wear this perfume (I prefer Bvlgari or Estee Lauder) nor am I a particular fan of Chanel cosmetics or fashion. Coco Chanel was an interesting character though and several beauty bloggers have read this book and enjoyed it, so I thought I should try it.

The first thing that hit me when I started reading this was the excessive amount of descriptive language – adjectives were dominating every page! I’m not sure if this improved or I just got used to...more
Robb
This book is like watching a soap opera and Coco Chanel is the protagonist.

When the story focused on Coco Chanel it was riveting, but when it veered from her it was less compelling. Still a great historical read though and worth your time if you enjoy World War 2 non fiction. Highly recommend. What a dominating historical figure Coco Chanel was and so complex.
Daniel Kukwa
An absolutely fascinating story about something that's been around for so long, pop culture has simply taken it for granted. Don't look here for a complete biography of Coco Chanel; she has a role, but this truly is the story of a perfume that has impacted the world like no other. A wonderful, absorbing, enlightening, lightning fast read.
Oli
Although the topic is interesting and the book gives an insight (albeit superficial) into a world which is fascinating, the writing style almost killed it for me. Rarely have I read a book where the author (although it'd be probably more accurate to call him a 'gatherer of facts and anecdotes') repeated the same facts over and over and over and over - it was truly maddening at times. This book is in dire need of a good edit, but I bet that if all the repeatitions were removed, the book would be...more
Lynda
I would compare this book to an opera by Wagner. A good red pen to edit could only help! The book is a biography of a perfume. A most interesting premie. The problem...the amount of minutia is painful. There is apparently NOTHING in this world concerning the perfume that does not need to be shared...and most irritatingly...repeated or restated...endlessly. I seldom "skip" when I read a book. I studied history and was taught that one must read every word the author wrote, from the preface to the...more
Lucy Montgomery
I enjoyed this book, and found the mystery about the creation of Chanel No. 5 very interesting. There is also a good deal of information about the manufacturing of fine perfumes. I have read several biographies of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and did not learn anything new about her -- I wonder if the biographical information would have been adequate for someone who had not already read a biography. I also thought it odd that her return to fashion after WWII was not really mentioned other than refere...more
Janet
If this book had been edited better, it would have made a very nice article in Vanity Fair or The New Yorker; it's pretty straightforward-Coco Chanel is a successful designer; she would like to create a perfume; she finds a perfumer; Chanel No. 5 becomes wildly popular. From the beginning, there were way too many foreshadowings of the "she had no idea of creating a perfume yet" kind, and the actual creation of Chanel No. 5 merited a page and a half. The book seemed to be cobbled together from no...more
Dawn
What is it about Chanel No. 5 that has made it so famous? I've never smelled it, but I know what it is--and I'm Nobody, living in the middle of Nowhere, doing Nothing. According to Mazzeo, the true "secret" is how intensely personal this fragrance is, not just for Coco Chanel, who birthed it from her own tragedy, ambition, and love--but uniquely personal for every woman who experiences it.

Even though I've never smelled it, it has a personal meaning for me, too. When I saw this book on the librar...more
Doug Beatty
I liked this book. A biography of a perfume, who knew? I liked the fact that it was not terribly long or drawn out, and offered enough information to keep it enjoyable.

In the book you learn a little about the life of Coco Chanel, the art of perfume making, marketing strategies and some historical content. It also shows you how a product can evolve and make a life of its own, sometimes even overshadowing the creator.

This is great for any non-fiction reader, especially those who like narrative n...more
Jacqueline Toce
I agree with most of the reviewers when they said that there was a lot of repetition in this book. It was hard to finish even though it was around 200 pages. It was very interesting learning about the history of Chanel No. 5 and Coco Chanel over the years but I wish there was more flow in the writing.
Lisa Sheffield
Odd that I would want to read this since I don't wear perfume, but it got great reviews so....This book told me a great deal about the perfume, but I kept wanting more visuals and if ever a book needed a way to allow you to smell something, this was it! He ties Coco Chanel's life and personal choices to the perfume's development and popularity in odd ways, some of which I just couldn't see. The book would have been greatly improved by the inclusion of the ads, images, and iconic art that he ment...more
Tracey
Mixed GR reviews; Mentioned in 24 Mar ReaderIQ newsletter; general interest in topic
Milli
My mother has a bottle of No. 5, and she always has. My grandmother wore it. It's a very historical perfume, and I'm glad I read this book to truly understand the beauty and magic behind it. The facts and backstory were very interesting, but the author has a tendency to jump around between the years. The history of Chanel No. 5 is a complicated one, indeed, with all of the people, events, and inspiration surrounding it. Sometimes I got a little lost reading it. But overall an entertaining read....more
Amy
Good history on the perfume industry and specifically the history of Chanel. Of course, you can't write about the perfume without including much of the life of Coco Chanel. Some time is taken to describe the chemical process of producing perfume and why it was essential to Chanel No 5's innovation and success. The author was able to help even the scientifically challenged to understand. Overall, a good book, but the pace lagged a bit at times. Not as well written or evenly paced as some non-fict...more
Judy Evenson
Brand management in the ultimate!
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Tilar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian, biographer, and passionate student of wine and food culture. She divides her time among the California wine country, New York City, and Maine, where she is a professor of English at Colby College.

(from the author's website)
More about Tilar J. Mazzeo...
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