Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere : Perfume Review


Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

I very much anticipated the launch of No.5 Eau Première. Granted, not everything from Chanel has enchanted me. I could live without Chance and the numerous masculine Allure flankers. Les Exclusifs could have possessed more tenacity. Yet, all of this notwithstanding, I am hard-pressed to point out another fragrance house (with the important and notable exception of Estée Lauder in the US) that pays so much attention to the actual contents of the fragrance flacons. The fruity jasmine, the sumptuous rose and the seductively creamy musk of No.5 Eau Première have the kind of richness and quality that seems to be more and more difficult to find elsewhere.

If No 5 has always struck me as possessing a certain restrained elegance, Eau Première has a tender, somewhat vulnerable side. Those who expected a dramatic departure from the original would be disappointed, but on reflection, I find that Eau Première is a perfect update to No 5—it is derived from Chanel’s tradition, which is rare to find in flankers associated with classical launches. It is not a pink fruity-floral like Éclat d’Arpège (Lanvin’s modern take on the legendary Arpège.) It is not a variant on Angel (even if innovative and interesting,) the way Coco Mademoiselle appears. It feels more lighthearted and effervescent than its predecessor, and yet, nothing compromises its depth and complexity. The classical aldehydic top of No 5 has been made softer—think cashmere versus heavy satin, while the base has lost its opaque quality.

With both the top and the base becoming more transparent, the floral accord shines. The clarity of the backdrop throws into relief the beautiful richness of classical Chanel No 5 florals—rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang and iris. Each is striking and faceted, and together they blend into a soft and gorgeous harmony. Although Eau Première is definitely lighter and airier than No 5, it has an outstanding sillage and wears very beautifully on the skin.

The great role that iris plays in the composition is the reason why No.5 Eau Première recalls for me the soft gilded quality that pervades Guerlain’s fragrances like Après l’Ondée—the same rich dose of iris, the raspberry sweetness of rose, the delicate warmth of the base. Of course, Eau Première is a Chanel child through and through, and yet, I am delighted to find in its heart a hint of my first passion.

No.5 Eau Première is available at Saks 5th Avenue and other major retailers.



  • Joyti: You make this scent sound so beautiful…To evoke Apres L’Ondee (which I tried thanks to your heart-breakingly beautiful reviews)…takes it to another level. October 3, 2007 at 3:27am Reply

  • Dusan: Vika, you’re back! 🙂 And with a lovely, enticing review. The original No. 5 is an ambiguous affair for me but Eau Premiere sounds divine. Ashamed to say I haven’t tried Apres L’ondee and will rectify that soon. I couldn’t agree with you more about the Allure flankers. Although I love the original Allure, Egoiste remains my favorite men’s Chanel.
    Hope to see more of your reviews! xoxo October 3, 2007 at 3:44am Reply

  • sangkae: Hi V,
    Sorry that I’ve nothing to say about Chanel 5 as I stop wearing this for years. (I gave it to my father who really enjoyed it…Just thought I had enough of aldehyde-powdery scents.) But I don’t know where to post my question.

    I’m new here, though I have searched for fragrance reviews in your site for a while but never wrote any reviews. I’m addicted to white floral, especially jasmine, tuberose, gardenia and frangipani. I tried many samples from niches to classics but never fell in love with them except FM Carnal Flower and AG Gardenia Passsion which make me feel like being in the florist shop, with the combination of natural, deep green opening and creamy, buttery drydown. Now I’m trying to search for white floral absolutes that will match my fantasy of having the realistic floral scent lingering on my skin. I just order the jasmine grandiflorum, frangipani, and tuberose absolutes 10% diluted in carrier oil from nature’ so that I can try them before splurging for 100% absolutes. Do you have any experience with precious oils and absolutes? Maybe you can share information about how to choose and where to buy good quality absolutes online. I just discovered a UK website – There are gardenia and honeysuckle absolutes available but I’m not sure about the quality, since I’ve heard that there’s no pure gardenia and honeysuckle absolutes in the market today. What do you think about this?
    Thanks, October 3, 2007 at 4:19am Reply

  • Marsi: It’s such a treat to read one of your reviews again, Victoria. Those couple of years of regular reviews, I certainly took for granted! You have, hands down, the most intellectual and poetic approach to perfumery on the net, and I’m so glad to awaken to this review today.

    I would love to know your impressions of the upcoming Spiritieuse Double Vanille from Guerlain. I’ve been wearing a sample this week and have garnered MAD compliments all over the place. My 11-year-old son sniffed me tentatively (he’s had so many stinkers shoved under his nose — stinkers in his opinion, that is — that he’s now rather wary), then grabbed my wrist and pretended to gnaw on it while making all kinds of Homer Simpson-making-sweet-love-to-a-donut sounds. A pretty enthusiastic endorsement!

    Marsi October 3, 2007 at 9:45am Reply

  • Marian Bendeth: V – beautiful review and beautifully worded! When I first smelled Eau Premiere, I was reminded of sipping a vintage ‘Cristal’ champagne in the finest Baccarat crystal.

    It is a stunning blend that is more faithful to original Chanel No. 5 EDP back in the day when substance and subtley were everything.

    Beautifully penned V, as usual!!!!

    Marian October 3, 2007 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Robin: Still haven’t tried the Eau Premiere, but so nice to see a post from you today so came by to wave hello…. October 3, 2007 at 12:25pm Reply

  • k-amber: I am thrilled to read your review again. After reading it, I can’t wait for trying the new Chanel. I have not got along with No.5 and hope Eau Premiere is nice to me 🙂

    Kaori October 3, 2007 at 9:33am Reply

  • tmp00: Hmmm…

    I may have to try this one. I do like No. 5 in the abstract, just not in real life. This sounds like it’s sanded some of those austere edges off the original.. October 3, 2007 at 1:22pm Reply

  • Cait: I adore chanel no. 5 in all its forms. I never lacked identification with it, even though my robust aunt who lived in a boat house with a wood stove wore it quite differently than did my polished attorney mother than did an old flame than do I. This review of Eau Premiere creates the sort of fertile comparisons I like. Reminds of me of why I liked to write about perfume. “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” as Steve Martin said, but that’s pretty inspiring stuff, sometimes. Thanks, Victoria. Don’t forget to make those black beans with avocado leaf some day. I made some this weekend. They were delicious.
    Cait October 3, 2007 at 7:48pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Joyti, I was very surprised to discover it. Of course, it is only an impression, but a very delightful one.

    Dusan, in general, I am a big fan of Chanel’s masculine range. Egoiste is beautiful and wearable enough for a woman.

    Sangkae, if you see absolutes of honeysuckle or gardenia in any catalogue, it is a sign that you should throw it away and never purchase anything from that place. None exist. The problem with purchasing raw materials online is that you cannot be certain that you are getting pure, unadulterated materials. Even big suppliers who have very sophisticated quality control systems in place must be vigilant. Mandy Aftel has a fragrance called Pink Lotus, which is a rather pretty white floral in the heart. Perhaps, it is worth exploring. One place I would recommend is Enfleurage. Their quality is superb. Skip Nature’s gift and head straight there.

    Kaori, thank you. Perhaps, it just might!

    Marsi, thank you very much for such nice words! As for the new Guerlain, I have not tried it, but I will write about it as soon as I do.

    Marian, yes, I agree–it definitely has that aura. Thank you for your compliment.

    R, thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    T, it is warmer, sweeter. Have you ever tried Chanel No 5 Elixir? If you enjoyed it, I am sure that you would appreciate Eau Premiere as well, even if it is No 5 rendered in a different vein. October 3, 2007 at 5:30pm Reply

  • Heather: An enchanting review, Victoria. I’ve tried for years to love Chanel No. 5 in any form. I finally admitted defeat last year when with a broken heart, I sold my tiny bottle of vintage parfum – it’s just wasn’t “me.” However, after reading your lovely review, I’m tempted to give Eau Premiere an enthusiastic try. The opacity and heavy satin (as you so eloquently put it) of the original are exactly the elements that have put me off for so long. I look forward to the launch and as always, to your next review. October 3, 2007 at 6:36pm Reply

  • Marina: Yay, you are back! 🙂 Wonderful review, which goes without saying.
    I wonder what the “technical problem” is… October 3, 2007 at 8:28pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Chanel N°5 is, I must say, my major failing in perfumistery. Perhaps because of its ubiquitous quality — here in France, if a woman of classical tastes isn’t wearing Shalimar, it’s N°5. Perfume-mystery indeed… I could never get into it, though I admire everything about it intellectually. Perhaps Eau Première is the key? I haven’t checked out its availability in France, but shall seek it out shortly. It’s lovely to have you back, Victoria! October 4, 2007 at 11:51am Reply

  • sweetlife (ahtx): Ahhhhhhh.

    That’s my sigh of satisfaction at seeing you back on these pages.

    And I’ll add my voice to the chorus re: having to try Eau Premiere, having trouble with No. 5…

    Now off to read the other (!) review. A good morning! October 5, 2007 at 9:09am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Heather, No 5 is a genius, but I agree that it may not be the best choice for everyone. I do not know if Eau Premiere might be either, but it is in a different vein. Do try it and let me know how you liked it. October 7, 2007 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Cait, “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” How true!

    I will! The store is always out of stock on avocado leaves though. October 7, 2007 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Marina, thank you!! Based on how they put it, I think that it might be a stability problem, but it is only a guess. October 7, 2007 at 12:18pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: D, of course, I would love to see you again. I have such wonderful memories of our first encounter.

    Oh yes, Shalimar and No 5 are very ubiquitous in Paris. I smell them so often on women. October 7, 2007 at 12:24pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, so wonderful to be back and see such sweet comments. Thank you! October 7, 2007 at 12:25pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Marina, I heard recently that the technical reasons concern the fragrance bottle, not the fragrance itself. The lid was not functioning properly. So, the perfume will be the same, whether you bought it already or will buy next year. October 8, 2007 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Andrea: I wore Chanel No 5 Cologne for years … decades … and then they stopped making it. I don’t like the No 5 Parfum or Eau de Toilette on me (too heavy and cloying), so I am wondering how the Eau Premiere compares to the cologne. Any thoughts? Thanks! December 2, 2007 at 10:46pm Reply

  • andrea: what ever happened to gardenia from chanel December 20, 2007 at 11:31pm Reply

  • Suki: I do not like Chanel No5. To my nose, it is an ‘old woman-y-‘ smell. It does not suit me at and after spraying it on in a department store I could not wait to get home to to wash it right off again. I really tried to get on with Eau Premiere, even bought the 40ml bottle but I soon realised it was a waste of money. I don’t like it at all and will probably give it away. September 19, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: I was sceptical about it but it turned out to be a wonderful surprise. I really liked it and my favourite part was the effervescent top! The golden colour of the juice also added to the sparkly impression of champagne. I think I must be going crazy but the moment I smelled it, I was thinking hmmm… grapefruits! It could have been other citrus but grapefruit came to my mind first. There was something powdery and pleasantly astringent that reminded me of peeling a grapefruit. I was so struck by the top that I can’t actually remember what the middle was like but the vanillic base was also very delicious. Now I’m wondering where I got that grapefruit note from? Do you detect it as well or is it just me? Do you think I’m just smelling aldehydes and somehow interpreting them as grapefruits? March 11, 2014 at 8:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Lovely description! 🙂 There is lots of citrus in No 5 Eau Premiere too. March 11, 2014 at 10:08am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks! 🙂 Thinking about this perfume made me smell that effervescent top (in my brain) throughout the day even though I was wearing a different perfume today. I like the original No 5 but find it difficult to wear everyday. It demands too much of my attention. I think Eau Premiere could be worn daily and it would make an especially good substitute during the summer as I can’t imagine wearing the original in the hot weather. March 11, 2014 at 5:02pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s why I like Eau Premiere too. It’s not too demanding but it’s still very interesting. March 11, 2014 at 6:14pm Reply

  • sibil: I really love this scent; it is so conforting and so delicate, classy and softspoken and so easy to wear like a small jewel.
    Thanks for your reviews, V! They did help me find some of my beloved gems.
    Nevertheless, to my aliterate nose, lately, they’ve changed the juice inside, not only the bottle. On my skin is more soapy and green, whereas the one I own is – can that be? – more floral and vanillic? I’m not sure about it at all, but do you think you can check that? Just in case, I hurried and bought another bottle from the previous batch but I’m seriously worried, it was a real joy this perfume…
    Thank you, Victoria! July 26, 2014 at 7:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I heard that they’ve reformulated the perfume. I haven’t tested side by side, but I know that they were tweaking it. I’ll have to get a sample soon to compare. July 26, 2014 at 7:23pm Reply

      • Christina L.: Hi Victoria,

        Did you ever have a chance to do the side by side comparison? I am curious to know how the current (2015) version may compare with the 2007 version. I just had a chance to test out the latest version (albeit via a sample in my latest Vogue magazine) and like it, but I am wondering if I should purchase what’s being sold in store, or if I should hunt around for the 2007 pre-reformulation version. October 31, 2015 at 1:30am Reply

      • Carina: Hello Victoria, have you had the chance of comparing the eau premieres? Id like to know if I should buy one and I can’t smell it before buying…
        I used to love the old one in the long bottle, but now there’s only one in the square bottle and I don’t know if it’s the same… November 29, 2017 at 5:55pm Reply

        • Victoria: They’re not the same, but the differences are subtle to me. The original is warmer and more floral. December 1, 2017 at 4:47am Reply

          • Carina: Thank you! December 2, 2017 at 6:19pm Reply

  • Inma: When I starting falling in love with perfumes – not long ago – this was one of my first obsessions.
    These days I go back to it.
    Reading your article I think it makes me comfortable with my tenderness and vulnerability. I don´t have to go away from them. I can happyly be in contact with the others feeling them.
    Thank you! October 9, 2017 at 9:34am Reply

  • Carina: Hi there!
    I remember trying this very same bottle on the picture in a Chanel store and absolutely loving it. Now I have the opportunity to buy it but can only find it in another bottle.
    Do you happen to know if the scent is the same?
    It looks as if the old one was edt and this new one edp, but Im not sure at all.
    Thanks! November 25, 2017 at 6:36pm Reply

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