• Caroline Harris

Chanel, A Renowned Classic

Luxury brands signify prestige, expense, and well, luxury. While it’s fun to look out for trends and new ways to style name brand paraphernalia, these brands’ rich histories allow for an even deeper connection to them.

Chanel is a brand that has always intrigued me. I am constantly drawn to their sleek, clean branding, artistic marketing, and occasional collaboration with dancers. This fascination I have with Chanel originated with my great grandmother’s perfume collection.

Growing up through the Depression and pinching every penny, my great grandmother, Flo, was not one for extravagant spending or lavish living. She would spend hours meticulously hand peeling potatoes, so that she didn’t waste a single bit of food. She also sewed all of my grandmother and her two sisters’ dresses and nightgowns. Through the years after gaining stability, she was able to live a more comfortable life, but she maintained values of hard work, thriftiness, and giving back to those in need.

A trip to Grandmother’s house was incomplete without sitting at her vanity, trying on her silver jewelry collection, and spritzing her Chanel No. 5. Every hug from Grandmother smelled the same.

Scents are so nostalgic. Just a whiff of a certain smell can immediately transfer you back to a specific time, place, or memory. When my great grandmother passed away, each grandkid got to keep one bottle of her signature scent. This is an extra special heirloom -- just taking off the lid has the power to bring us back to those special times with Grandmother and Papa.

I don’t think I realized the significance of Chanel in my upbringing until my Experiential Design course devoted our semester to making sensory films inspired by Chanel No. 5. While we were making our video, we sprayed the perfume and I was immediately taken back to my childhood. Vivid memories of my grandmother’s home, beautiful hands, and even her yappy dog enveloped me like a floral breeze on a spring day.

My love for Chanel is deep rooted in family, but learning Coco Chanel’s story through research for my class gave me an even more renowned sense of appreciation. Coco Chanel challenged the beauty and fragrance industry, creating a way to “smell like a woman, not a rose.” She created something so special that it is still a trademark in fragrance today.

Chanel is so much more than just a high end brand to me. It was special to my family, and has such an intriguing story. I encourage you to read more about who Coco Chanel was to gain a better understanding of how revolutionary her work was and still is as it lives on today.

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