Gabrielle, a rebel at heart.

Coco. Gabrielle. Mademoiselle Privée. Whichever name you associate with Chanel, whatever your preconceptions of the brand and of Chanel herself, I can pretty much guarantee you'll be surprised by at least one aspect of the contents of this blog post.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by the lovely team at Jarrolds in Norwich, to go along to the launch of the new Chanel fragrance, Gabrielle. Hosting the event were some of the team from Jarrolds, and Beth Sherratt, an area manager who had travelled from London for the event.

Being relatively new to the brand personally, my conception of Chanel was that it was very traditional, almost to the point of being a little old-fashioned, and certainly aimed at the more professional woman. You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when the presentation began and Gabrielle Chanel's true character and the legacy of the brand was revealed.

The fragrance itself had been in production for over 5 years before the point of release, and as is evidenced by the perhaps unconventional choice of model (Kristen Stewart), was designed to marry together both the traditional heritage of the brand with Gabrielle Chanel's more unknown rebellious nature.

Gabrielle Chanel was a square peg in a round hole. When the trend was for long, luscious locks, Chanel cut her hair short. When the fashion was for pale skin, she would bask in the sun on the beach, eventually creating a bronzer to allow women to replicate the natural tan she exhibited. Such was Chanel's love for the beach, and the ripples in the sand, that a sun kissed version of Les Beiges Healthy Glow was created to imitate the ripples. Being a lover of the beach myself, I couldn't resist...

As always with Chanel, the devil is in the detail. Not content with releasing their first all-new fragrance in 15 years, the design of the bottle is both traditional and pioneering in almost equal measure.

Although at first sight the design of the bottle falls very much in line with the iconic Chanel No. 5 fragrance, there are fundamental differences between the two. During our time at Jarrolds, all of the guests were blindfolded, and we were given a bottle of the fragrance to explore, whilst a commentary of the various features was provided. Unlike most other fragrances, there is no text on the exterior of the bottle detailing the ingredients, and the bottle itself is shaped in such a way that your hands are automatically drawn to the Chanel branding on the front, contained within a square which is the same size as the lid of the bottle. Look inside the lid itself, and upon closer inspection, you'll notice that the classic Chanel logo is etched into the interior. The glass used took years to perfect, as it is the thinnest glass used in any Chanel fragrance, meaning that the heavy glass base you would typically expect to see is absent and the bottle is as sleek and elegant as Chanel herself.

Perhaps unexpectedly, one of the main things I've taken away with me, and thought about on a number of occasions since going to the event, is the way that the brand owners have managed to retain the authenticity of the brand. The classic Chanel Double Flap bag still has a pouch at the back for tips, a zip up compartment in the upper flap for love letters, and red leather on the interior of the second flap. All features which were created by Chanel herself, many many years ago and which were on display for us at the event in Jarrolds. (Chanel bags are a little out of my price range at the moment, so needless to say I was a little excited about seeing one in the flesh).

In addition, Chanel adopts a palette of 5 signature colours, black, white, beige, gold and red, each of which are influenced directly by the nuns Gabrielle grew up surrounded by, the colour of sun kissed skin, the jewellery bought for her by lovers, and the colour of her signature lipstick. I've been trying to make well-reasoned fashion choices lately, and learning so much about Chanel has really inspired me and made me think twice about the colours and longevity of items I'm purchasing.

I've always been a fan of a red lip, and going to this event has provided me with the perfect excuse to pop back in and treat myself. As Chanel famously said, if you're sad, add more lipstick and attack.

I'm currently testing out a sample size of the fragrance to decide whether I love it enough to put it on my Christmas list. I say testing, but we all know it's a no brainer. If you haven't had a chance to try it out yet, and you're local to Norwich, I would wholeheartedly recommend popping into Jarrolds and giving it a spray; I'm sure it's no exaggeration to say that this fragrance will top many a Christmas wish list written over the course of the next month or so.

Coco Chanel once said that in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different. Gabrielle embodies this belief. Do you?


P.S. If you want to learn more about the brand or about Chanel herself, there is a fab series of videos on YouTube; just search Inside Chanel. 

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