Drop everything: Chanel’s collectible glass N°5 L'Eau ‘Drop’ is here

By Clare McInerney

Eternal No 5 bracelet, 18k white gold, diamonds. Chanel.

The Maison's revered fragrance has been rehoused in a new limited-edition flacon that's not to be missed

Chanel N°5 needs no introduction. Over a century ago, Gabrielle’ Coco’ Chanel unveiled the infamous scent formulated by Russian-French perfumer Ernest Beaux, who was briefed by the couturier to come up with a fragrance that smelt “like a woman”, rather than a rose. As such, he switched out the classic top notes of the era for aldehydes – molecules that buoy a fragrance with complexity and airiness, and effectively offset overt sweetness.


Fast forward to 2016, and after decades of Chanel N°5 enduring as a revered classic, the Maison’s in-house perfumer, Olivier Polge, created N°5 L’Eau. “I created N°5 L’Eau to show N°5 in a new light, surprising anyone who thought they knew it,” Polge says. It was more than just a reinterpretation; it was a departure from classic to modern. The defining ingredients – the instantly recognisable aldehydes, jasmine and ylang ylang – were left untouched, but the addition of cedarwood and citrus, created a “fresher, more casual version of No. 5” was born, according to Polge.

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

Now, N°5 appears in a new light once again: rehoused in a pebble glass bottle that perfectly nestles into the palm. Reminiscent of Chanel’s coveted egg-shaped La Crème Main, the ergonomic shape of the new limited-edition ‘Drop’ iteration of N°5 L’Eau may not stand up on its own, but in words shared by the Maison, it’s designed ‘leap from hand to hand’.

As the story goes, the beloved, boxy bottle of the original Chanel N°5 was inspired by a whiskey decanter that Chanel herself spotted in the home of her lover 'Boy' Capel. It may be a silhouette that has lasted the test of time, but Chanel's current head of packaging and design, Sylvie Legastelois, describes the new 'Drop' N°5 L’Eau as “a feat of glassmaking.”

“From this story came the desire to create an object with ergonomics similar to that legendary drop of perfume,” Legastelois says. "The first technical challenge was the oval shape: because the bottle could not be placed on the glassmaker’s conveyor belt like a flat-bottomed bottle, the supplier had to develop a special process to hold the bottle during the designing phase," she goes on. "Fitting the metal ring on the neck was also challenging. Then, the cap had to be adjusted and held in place to ensure perfect alignment." Now, the scent is simply “wrapped in a drop of glass." "We all need a drop,” Legastelois adds. “Just a drop of N°5 L’Eau!”

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

Remaining faithful to Chanel's revered spirit of purity and simplicity, the new glass 'Drop' skin also taps into an emotional dimension for the Maison. It's conveyed most effectively by a dedicated temporary installation curated by Chanel and experienced by Vogue Scandinavia in Berlin: a sensory experience that summoned feelings of joy, love desire, bravery and mystery.

It's rare for a fragrance to stay relevant for over a century, but not every fragrance is Chanel. And the Chanel N°5 'Drop' L'Eau, available now at, adds a drop of innovation and modernity to the timeless N°5 appeal. Best of all? How easily it slips from the clutches of your palm into your Chanel Classic Flap handbag.