An exceptional exhibition by Chanel has just opened its doors in Paris. Under the vaults of the Grand Palais Éphémère, one can discover the history and distinctive character  of the house’s perfumes. It’s an  immersive and interactive dive into the olfactory universe of the brand, and highly recommended by the editorial team.

Magic tricks, games of chance, psycho-olfactory tests, fragrance bars, dance performances, works of art , and archival images, and more.. No, no, this is not a new carnival  or a trendy Christmas market that has recently opened in the capital; it is actually the exhibition “Le Grand Numéro de Chanel”, which can be discovered at the Grand Palais Éphémère until January 9th. We went for a (grand) tour and tell you why you might regret missing it.


 The beginnings of Chanel perfumery

You probably know some snippets of the  history of the house of Chanel. But what about  its perfumes? A little knowledge never hurts.  It was in 1921 that Mademoiselle Chanel commissioned Ernest Beaux to create a perfume “artificiel comme une robe”, or contrived like a dress.. From his research was born the iconic Chanel No. 5: a perfume with notes of May rose, Grasse jasmine, lily of the valley, and ylang-ylang. Following this fruitful collaboration, Coco Chanel entrusted Monsieur Beaux with founding the Chanel Perfume Laboratory. Today, No. 5 is one of the most well-known (and sold) perfumes in the world, as it is estimated that a bottle is bought… every 30 seconds. In the exhibition “Le Grand Numéro de Chanel”, the visitor is invited to relive the historic moment of the creation of Chanel No. 5. Thanks to virtual reality, the visitor slips into the skin of the famous nose to whom Gabrielle Chanel commissioned her precious elixir — an experience that should appeal to all those who have ever dreamed of traveling back in time.



An immersive dive into the heart of the perfumery’s  flagship fragrances

Years go by and with them the olfactory successes accumulate for the house of Chanel. After No. 5, it was time for Bleu de Chanel, Coco Mademoiselle, or Chance to take the lead in sales. The exhibition invites us to enter the universe of each of these best-sellers, through a scenography with a wow effect and playful animations. In the rooms dedicated to the perfume Chance, for example, you can get your makeup done by makeup artists before going to try your luck at the roulette wheel and  wining beauty goodies ( even perfume!). In the spaces for Bleu de Chanel, you stroll among models of city nightlife  embellished with keypads  on which you can play music. In the world of Coco Mademoiselle, you walk through a long terracotta-colored corridor adorned with shining  chandeliers, before finding yourself on a giant chessboard. You can then make phone calls on retro handsets and hear “Mademoiselle” whispering beauty  quotes to you. Each perfume has its enchanted atmosphere.



A real journey for the senses

Beyond the best-sellers, the brand also develops more exclusive and equally captivating fragrances. To discover them, head to “La Galerie des Caractères”. In this succession of dark rooms, we discover Chanel’s Les Exclusifs collection. Boy, La Pausa, 1957, Bois des Îles, and more, the bottles are presented in showcases and the visitor can smell them through devices provided for this purpose. Here, an “olfactory psychologist” makes us take a test to find out which fragrance suits us best. A little further on, at the “bar”, “bartenders” talk to us about the different elixirs as if we were about to sip them like a cocktail. Each new corner of the exhibition offers the visitor renewed visual and olfactory pleasure. We won’t say more; we wouldn’t want to spoil (all) the surprises of this decidedly festive experience that will delight both the youngest and the young at heart!


From December 15th, 2022, to January 9th, 2023.
Grand Palais Éphémère Place Joffre, Paris 17th
Free entry
More information on the exhibition’s website

Picture (c) : Chanel

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