Just a smile and a few drops of Chanel No. 5

Just a smile and a few drops of Chanel No. 5

There are many versions of the quote which seems to have first appeared in Life magazine on April 7, 1952.

Marilyn Monroe, then just 26 years old, was asked “What do you wear to bed?” and her reply, according to different sources was “What do I wear to bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course” or “Just a few drops of Chanel No 5” or maybe and my personal favourite, “Nothing but Chanel No 5 and a smile”.

A year later in 1953, Monroe was photographed in bed for Modern Screen magazine and, although the photos weren’t published at the time, a bottle of Chanel No. 5 can clearly be seen on her bed stand, which seemed to confirm the gist of the quote.

Then, in 1983, a long lost sound recording was rediscovered which at least confirmed the truth of the original story and suggests at the star’s original phrasing.

The audio clip features the then Marie Claire editor-in-chief  Georges Belmont interviewing Monroe in 1960 for her film “Let’s Make Love.”


In her signature breathless voice, Marilyn can be heard saying: “You know, they ask me questions. Just an example: ‘What do you wear to bed? A pyjama top? The bottoms of the pyjamas? A nightgown?’ So I said, ‘Chanel No.5,’ because it’s the truth … and yet, I don’t want to say ‘nude’. But it’s the truth!”

The sound clip was subsequently used by Chanel for a TV campaign featuring footage of the actress in a variety of situations including walking into a premiere, dancing, and on vacation.


And an an apologies for late posting his week, a bonus little story; Why No 5?

Between the ages of 12 and 18 Chanel lived in a convent orphanage at Aubazine, in the care of the nuns and it from these days that the number five seemed to have developed potent associations for her. The paths that led her to the cathedral for daily prayer were laid out in circular patterns repeating the number five and she came to believe that the number five signified the pure embodiment of a thing, its spirit, its mystic meaning.


So in 1920, when she was presented with a number of small glass vials containing sample scents numbered 1 to 5 and 20 to 24 for her assessment, she chose the fifth vial. Chanel told Ernest Beaux, the master perfumer she had commissioned to develop a fragrance ,”I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck”

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