I learned about Chanel’s products more than I needed when I was purchasing No.22 at a department store. For example, the sales lady recommended the $700 Chanel’s Le Blanc cosmetic set to help me fight my 40-year-long battle of my Asian face vs my freckles; reaffirmed that Chanel’s exclusive perfumes are the cheapest in the world, and Chanel perfumes sold in Canada are made in Paris while those sold in America are made in America. (Tsk tsk, not as good!) But what I really didn’t want to know was that Chanel No. 22 was softer than No. 5.
You see, I bought No. 22 because I wanted to pour aldehyde over my head like the ice bucket challenge. Luca Turin comically said in his review of No. 22 that it had “the largest dose of aldehydes a human can stand without fainting”. And here the sales lady was telling me, “No, No. 22 is softer than No. 5! I prefer it to No. 5.” She totally, unintentionally, violently ripped off the t-shirt with a big number 22 printed on from my body in the middle of the store. I felt embarrassed and cold. She continued, “Also, it came before No. 5.” And I asked, “Why is the number bigger if it came before No. 5?” She answered with a smile. (The correct answer is No. 22 was released in 1922. Furthermore, Chanel.com confirms that No. 22 is a light version of No. 5.)
I don’t know how many different kinds of aldehyde are out there, but I really like Chanel’s aldehyde-heavy perfumes; how they overdosed it like someone was tickling the perfumer as he poured aldehyde into the flask. However, when the aldehyde party is over, the base of No. 22 smells quite like many vintage perfumes that I own – vetiver, vanilla, rose and tonka. I honestly don’t care; I just want my aldehyde fix.
My hippie mountain-climbing coworker once awkwardly told me how he felt about Coca-Cola: “Nothing in the world tastes like it, but it’s so good but so full of chemical.” Same applies to the smell of No. 22 and No. 5.