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The beauty wing of one of the world’s most powerful fashion houses needs little introduction. It all started with No.5, when Coco Chanel received a range of samples from Russian-born French perfumer Ernest Beaux, and the fifth option took her fancy. The number is now irrevocably synonymous with Chanel, and with the simple name came an unapologetically feminine fragrance, full of synthetic notes that were world’s away from the “natural” scents that dominated the market at that time.
The floral perfume celebrated its 100th birthday this year, with one bottle selling every 30 seconds globally. Few fragrances reach such cult status, never mind maintain it after so many years, but Chanel No.5 has truly stuck, with fans like Victoria Beckham, Eva Mendes and Jessica Alba still spritzing the classic elixir.
But Chanel’s beauty line offers more than legendary perfumes. Spanning bodycare, nail polishes, complexion cosmetics and lipsticks, there’s an array of luxury products to browse, with the fashion house’s “less is more” philosophy ringing true in its slick yet simplistic monochrome packaging.
For the first time ever, Chanel has launched a beauty advent calendar – shaped like an enormous bottle of No.5, no less. With 27 treats inside, the drawers are symbolically numbered from five to 35; with five referring to the coveted perfume, and 31 alluding to the house number of Chanel’s famous apartment in Paris.
The fashion tycoon has entered the market with a bang, but will it become a new favourite in the luxury calendar stakes? Costing an eye-watering £610, it surpasses the RRP of other premium stalwarts by some way, including Liberty and Net-A-Porter, but it does carry the weight of Chanel’s luxury label. We got our hands on one of the limited edition calendars to find out if it’s as magical as it sounds.
How we tested
We defied all tradition (sorry Santa) by peeking inside each drawer to consider the calendar’s contents, analysing the variety of products and value for money, as well as the calendar’s overall presentation, luxury feel and packaging.
Chanel No.5 the calendar: £610, Chanel.com
Number of products inside: 27
Value for money: N/A
Spoiler alert, but this is our favourite thing about the whole calendar. Shaped like an obnoxiously-sized bottle of No.5, we love the immediate impact of Chanel’s offering upon unwrapping. We can imagine a lucky recipient’s face lighting up when unveiling it. Other beauty brands go for “treasure trove” or shop-front themes, but this simple yet bold design screams Chanel. We’re immediately hit by the scent of No.5 too – a sign of things to come.
Inside, you’ll find 27 boxes to pull out and open. It’s an unusual number to go for, with conventional calendars either opting for 15 or 25, but we’ll take the two bonus entries. With an array of differently sized boxes, each one fits tightly into the wider packaging like a puzzle piece, their lack of uniformity adding to the charm.
While the boxes themselves look a little ad hoc, there’s nothing kitsch about the overall design; rejecting any twee festive details, Chanel has stuck to its classic black and white branding. The brand couldn’t confirm whether or not the calendar itself is recyclable, but there’s no way we’d be chucking this bad boy out, as it would make a great statement on a beauty dresser, albeit a large one.
Each box is filled with gold streamers, which is the only hint of Christmas you’re going to get. We’d like to have seen something a bit more classic, perhaps a silver ribbon to coincide with the monochrome theme, but it did make the process of opening each box that bit more exciting, as you had to get past the streamers to reveal the product inside. Owing to its all-white matte exterior, the calendar will pick up scuffs or marks quite easily, so if you are planning on using it as a keepsake, bear this in mind before you eagerly tear it open with grubby mitts.
Out of the 27 treats inside the calendar, nine of them are beauty products, while the remaining 18 are small Chanel-themed trinkets, including a key ring, bracelet, a ceramic paperweight, stickers and a mirror. Of the nine beauty products featured, six of them are considered “full-size” – we say this, as the Chanel No.5 bottle is technically a full-size, but at 35ml, it’s the smallest bottle Chanel stocks.
Highlights include the No.5 hand cream that comes in a chic egg-shaped bottle, perfect for slipping in your handbag, a wonderfully fragrant 75g bath soap and the two luxury lipsticks, although we would have liked to see a few different shades rather than two reds.
We’re big fans of Chanel’s liquid lipstick formula (the rouge allure laque in shade 62, to be precise) so we would have loved to have seen this included. The calendar does include a red nail polish too, and while the bottle looks delectable on a bathroom shelf, we found the formula to chip very easily, so we would suggest using a top coat.
Again, there was some repetition in the fragrance department, with three bottles of No.5 – one larger eau du parfum and two tiny 1.5ml versions (one eau de parfum, one eau de toilette) that would each see you through a night out. We can see where Chanel was going with the theme, but a larger version of a different perfume would have been preferred.
As for the accessories featured, we can’t hide our disappointment. While some of these smaller trinkets would make cute keepsakes – the mini snow globe with a tiny bottle of Chanel No.5 inside is quite sweet, and the key ring which features a (yep, you you guessed it) dangling No.5 bottle is a nice touch – most of these smaller items feel a bit like something you’d get inside a Christmas cracker, which is a huge shame given the price of the calendar. The fact that there’s five (yes, five) sticker sets in here is hard to ignore, and we would have liked the brand to step a bit further outside of the No.5 theme with a wider sample of its beauty range.
Value for money
While Chanel doesn’t disclose how much the contents inside its calendar are worth (presumably because a lot of the trinkets aren’t available outside of the calendar) we did some digging and estimated that the full-sized products included are worth around £220. This doesn’t include the dinky 1.5ml bottles of No.5, or the mini 6g body cream, but if you wanted to be really generous by adding those, you could say that the beauty products inside here are worth a tad more. Of course, the accessories still offer some value, but considering the calendar costs more than £600, we can’t see how Chanel is justifying its price point. While the calendar itself makes a great keepsake, given it sits firmly at the luxury end of the market, we’d have liked the bottle-shaped packaging to be a tin or something a bit sturdier.
The verdict: Chanel’s beauty advent calendar
We love the concept behind Chanel’s advent calendar debut, it feels both chic and classic, while still having that show-stopping factor when you open up the box. Any lover of the fashion house would be pleased to have this as a collectible, but we were disappointed with the sheer amount of filler trinkets inside, and by the lack of variation when it comes to the beauty products that are included. Ultimately, we’re not sure who this calendar is aimed at, if it’s die-hard Chanel fans, it’s likely that they’ll already have most of the beauty products included, and if it’s those who are new to the brand, it doesn’t offer a wide enough sample of Chanel’s beauty products to justify the price.
Chanel no.5 the calendar
Buy now £610.00, Chanel.com