Recent Chanel No. 5 parfum versus 1980s version


Art-deco inspired Paris study – complicated, integrated

When a colleague at work told me that her father was the cosmetics buyer for a large department store in Montreal during the late 80s and early 90s and that he had vintage, unopened perfume bottles to sell… I was VERY intrigued.  After he sent me his inventory I immediately claimed the quarter-ounce bottle of Chanel No. 5 parfum.  If it was truly unopened, I knew it would be perfect AND it is!

But, to be absolutely sure, I brought it with me when I was invited over for a light lunch at FiveOaksBouquet’s apartment.  Having worn Chanel No. 5 parfum for many, many years, I knew that she could tell me if, in fact, it had gone off and the verdict was that it is just fine… exactly as it was from that era.  While comparing it to my 2017 bottle, she immediately picked out 2 notes that were present in the vintage parfum but missing from the 2017 version… a leather note and an oakmoss note.  I thought of Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World and his “Dry Woods” family, or “Chypre cuir” in French.  Now, I’m not saying that Chanel No. 5 isn’t a floral aldehyde… it is, of course, but that “chypre cuir” facet certainly gives it a “gravitas” that is not possible today since the banning of oakmoss in the European Union.

I haven’t worn the vintage parfum yet but I will this week and I have no doubt, it will outlast my contemporary version, but I’ll get back to you shortly about that.  Today, I put them on scent strips and the vintage version is basically as strong as it was earlier today.  My 2017 version is lovely but almost gone.  I like the drydown but it’s nothing special.  I’m still looking forward to the vintage drydown.

Talk soon!


Vintage parfum on the left, newer version on the right

Leave a comment


  1. Tara C

     /  November 11, 2018

    What a lucky score! Look forward to hearing your thoughts after wearing it. Did you get the pretty red No. 5 bottles in Montréal for the holidays? I don’t wear No. 5 or I’d buy it just for the bottle.

  2. Anonymous

     /  November 12, 2018

    Wow, interesting article Normand!

  3. Andrea

     /  November 12, 2018

    What a fantastic find for you. It’s amazing to me how that woman is able to detect the differences. Very impressive!!!!

  4. Brigitte

     /  November 12, 2018

    Looking forward to what you have to say after wearing the vintage. I wore the EDT back in the 1970s and 1980s and had the perfume in the 1990s, which leads me to believe mine had oakmoss in it as well. Sadly, I finished it up and never replaced it. What other vintage perfumes did you turn down? I have heard no 19 is beautiful in the parfum version.

    • You know… I’ll post the list tomorrow as a response to your comment. There was nothing that really stood out but that could be just me. Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls?

    • Brigitte

       /  November 13, 2018

      Thank you , Normand. I am shamefully curious 🙂

      • Here is the list. These perfumes date back to late 80s to early 90s. They are unopened and in their original boxes.

        Lancôme – OUI! eau de toilette (75 mls.)
        Elizabeth Taylor – Black Pearls eau de parfum (50 mls.)
        Gilles Cantuel – Creature eau de parfum (50 mls.)
        Lalique eau de toilette (50 mls.)
        Givenchy – Organza eau de parfum (30 mls.)
        Giorgio Beverly Hills – Wings eau de toilette (50 mls.)

  5. Brigitte

     /  November 16, 2018

    Thanks for the update!
    I think you made the right decision in choosing no 5 extrait 🙂


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