Coco chanel

The sweet smell of success: the story behind Chanel No 5’s popularity

This is a curious book, by turns profound and whimsical. Karl Schlögel, a professor of Eastern European history at Frankfurt, begins by stating he didn’t know anything about his chosen subject of perfume beyond going into department stores and duty-free shops to encounter a ‘peculiar mélange of scents… the light and sparkle of crystal, the rainbow of colours, mirrors and glass’. Although he always felt this to be an alien environment, he was also repeatedly captivated. Then by chance he discovered a link between Chanel No. 5 and the Soviet perfume Red Moscow. Intrigued, he went on an intellectual journey to find out the shared and distinctive histories of France