Brad Pitt becomes the first male model for Chanel No. 5 perfume

Posted on 12 May 2012
By Bert Bernstein
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Brad Pitt will be the first man to represent the iconic perfume Chanel Nº 5. The 48-year-old will be shooting the new commercial in London this week.

This is the first time in the history of the iconic perfume that a man has been cast to represent the scent in their advertising campaign.

The famed perfume was introduced in 1921 by the Parisian couturiere Coco Chanel.

Chanel Nº 5 is the olfactory embodiment of womanly mystery and sophistication. Coco Chanel herself pronounced it “a woman’s perfume, with the scent of a woman.”

Up until Brad, women have been the only flavour of people smouldering from page and screen as the embodiment of its appeal.

Chanel has chosen strong, beautiful, sophisticated actress-models to represent the scent of woman, from the glamazons: Catherine Deneuve, Nicole Kidman, Ines de la Fressange to the gamines: Audrey Tatou, Vanessa Paradis, Ali MacGraw.

Despite the odd foray into coquettishness, the tone of the campaigns has been remarkably consistent. The model’s demeanor is typically self-contained, with a cool, appraising stare down the lens of the camera. Almost masculine, you might say.

Chanel Nº 5 liberated perfume from its binary system of madonna (single note florals) and whore (heady jasmine and musk) to create an abstract blend of natural and synthetic notes that summed up the modern woman of the 1920s.

What is remarkable about No. 5 is that almost 100 years after its launch, it still smells modern: unsentimental yet plush, insinuating yet elegant. The buttery blur of jasmine, rose and ylang-ylang are contrasted by aldehydes, a compound that adds oomph and arctic shimmer. This chilly shimmer is warmed by mating-season musk only revealed on the skin, like a secret between lovers.

Chanel Nº 5 still reigns supreme as the ‘ultimate’ perfume, the stuff even clueless WAGs and aspiring fashionista-clones can namecheck as proof that they know the score. However, the world of perfume has experienced a population explosion since Nº 5 was first introduced in 1921.

With over 1000 fragrances now launched yearly (many of them uninspiring spin-offs and celebrity cash-ins), the grande dame of the perfume counter has a harder time than ever being smelled over the din.

Name brand recognition doesn’t necessarily equal sales dominance, and indeed in France, Nº 5 is currently outsold by Dior’s J’Adore.

There’s nothing like hitching one’s wagon to a star to get back on top, though, and with Brad planning to make a Mrs. Pitt out of Angelina Jolie in the near-ish future, Chanel will only benefit from the Hollywood hoopla (and rabid press interest) surrounding the wedding.