Crafting An Icon: Looking Back at the Famous Faces of CHANEL N˚5

For the fragrance’s 100th anniversary, CHANEL recounts the celebrity line-up behind N˚5’s meteoric rise.

While CHANEL N˚5 was a rule breaker for heroing a melody of florals at a time when single-note fragrances reigned supreme, the fame of the now iconic fragrance extends far beyond the golden scent itself.

As a medium, the House’s aspiration campaigns reframed the meaning of fragrance, by transforming olfactory notes and ornate bottles into a woman – and the values and lifestyle she represents. For CHANEL N˚5, it was Gabrielle Chanel’s 1937 debut as the face of the fragrance that cemented her and N˚5 as icons of powerful femininity, photographed by François Kollar proudly standing against a fireplace inside a suite at The Ritz.

Marilyn Monroe Chanel N5
Marilyn Monroe poses alongside her bottle of N˚5 (Credit: Courtesy CHANEL)

Then, in a 1952 interview with marie claire, it was Marilyn Monroe’s daring admission that she wears nothing but “a few drops of N˚5” to bed, that the fragrance adopted a more alluring meaning and set the high-glamour tone for campaigns to come.

Catherine Deneuve CHANEL N5
Catherine Deneuve photographed by Richard Avedon in 1972 (Credit: Courtesy CHANEL.)

Since then, actresses including a fresh-faced Ali McGraw, Lauren Hutton in a bright pink suit, and the classic elegance Catherine Deneuve and Carole Bouquet have graced campaigns of the scent, followed by Nicole Kidman’s 2004 portrayal in N˚5 The Film, directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Nicole Kidman CHANEL N5
Nicole Kidman photographed by Patrick Demarchelier in 2006 (Credit: Courtesy CHANEL)

As the House pays homage to the fragrance and its stars for its 100th anniversary this year, French actress Marion Cotillard is the latest to embody the N˚5 woman.

In an escapist iteration of N˚5 The Film, the fragrance takes flight from Paris to the moon, as CHANEL celebrates its heritage, while looking to the future of the eau de parfum and the women it adorns.


Discover and shop the classic CHANEL N˚5 Eau De Parfum, $249; at

Related stories