Chanel No. 5 is an iconic scent that has become the signature of style and grace. For over one hundred years, this classic fragrance has graced women of all ages and backgrounds, and you would be hard-pressed to find many people that don't like its fresh floral main accords and lingering powdery and soft woody after-tones.
Its woody notes make Chanel No. 5 unique as a woman's fragrance. Giving the scent a woody edge would add a grounding, solid feel of confidence, wealth and business-mindedness. This may be why it is such as popular choice for career women.
Unlike many sickly-sweet women's fragrances, Chanel No. 5 envelopes you with a soft, powdery note that feels fresh and clean. It is ideal for warmer days in the office, where you want to remain dry and cool as temperatures rise.
A good Chanel No. 5 clone will perfectly mimic the aura of confident femininity of the original with a careful blend of lemon, Bergamot, iris, Lilly of the valley, vanilla, musk and sandalwood.
High Notes: Lemon, Bergamot, Neroli, Peach, Ylang-ylang
Mid Notes: Lilly-of-the-valley, Rose, Iris, Jasmine and orris root
Base Notes: Sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver, patchouli, musk and amber
Want to know more about Chanel No5?
Coco Chanel wanted to create a signature scent after being influenced by the women attending her Paris fashion house. After several failed attempts, Coco was introduced to renowned French perfumer Ernest Beaux in 1920.
Beaux was known for creating Bouquet de Napoleon. This eau de cologne commemorated the centennial of the battle of Borodino, Napoleon's last but very bloody victory in Russia, and Bouquet de Catherine. Beaux developed several fragrances for Chanel, including those that would become Chanel No.5 and Chanel No.22.
After several months of research and testing, Beaux presented Coco with ten vials of perfume samples. The vials were numbered, but Beaux initially discounted vial number 5 because one of his staff had accidentally overdosed it with aldehydes.
However, it was this vial that Coco was drawn to above all others, hence the name Chanel No. 5, named for the original test vial number 5. The finished fragrance was launched in 1921 as an Eau de Toilette, a Cologne and a Parfum.
It's hard to find any that directly claim to be clones of Chanel No5, we suspect that Chanel are quite protective of their trademarks, but there are a few quite obvious dupes that are actually good.
Our testers were thrilled to try out a sample of 21 by The Essence Vault and found it to be a unique fragrance that created an aura of feminine sophistication similar to Chanel No. 5.
The Essence Vault have a talented team of perfumers who excel at recreating like-for-like replicas of big-brand fragrances. They did an excellent job blending fresh floral notes and woody base notes to closely mimic the original perfume.
Warm and comforting notes of Jasmine and Vetiver closely follow a distinctive hit of fresh citrus from Bergamot. The drawdown comes in with powdery, woody notes to give a well-rounded experience bursting with class and effortless elegance.
This dupe has many layers and depths, just like the original. Our testers experienced three distinct stages with strong, enticing top notes that intoxicate the senses.
After wearing 21 for a while, our testers noticed the fragrance's heart coming through from the warmer floral mid-notes. Later, the third and final stage came in with warm wood notes that lingered comfortably on the senses.
It is an excellent take on the beautiful, classic original Chanel No. 5 but without the expensive price tag. A 100ml bottle of 21 by The Essence Vault will only set you back £39.95, which is just a fraction of the price of the original fragrance.
Overall, we rate 21 by The Essence Vault 4 out of 5 for authenticity. It has excellent staying power – the fragrance doesn't last quite as long as Chanel No. 5, and you will need to reapply if you are going straight from the office to a night out on the town, but a second application in the early evening will most certainly get you through to the end of the night.
While Velvet Rose isn't an exact match for Chanel No. 5, it does share a lot of similar soft floral notes. Our testers picked out fragrant citrus notes of fresh Bergamot, warmed with mid-notes of rose and violet.
Velvet Rose is much lighter and less impactful than the original and would make an ideal choice to wear at work for a hint of the iconic Chanel fragrance, but without the price tag.
You can pick out the leading scents, such as rose, violet leaf and Bergamot, but this replica lacks the original's powder-dry edge and woody tones. While our testers thought the initial smell was very similar to Chanel No. 5, it was not identical.
Velvet Rose doesn't have the staying power of either Chanel No. 5 or 21 by The Essence Vault. It should get you through a day at work before fading completely away. If you want to smell good all day, an extra application at lunch should do the trick.