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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chanel Perfume & The War





Theatre Arts, 1943:
"Imagine a long narrow street, winding round from a big harbour, crowded with soldiers and sailors ... but their chief attraction is large bottles of expensive French perfume, Guerlain, Chanel and Caron, £3 and £4 a bottle."

McCalls, 1943:
"But in Africa, as in all other places where goods are scarce and prices are not rigidly controlled, money often doesn't buy much. The same soldier who got a porter for a sourball found that Chanel No. 5 costs $125 a bottle in a shop in Cairo."


The University of Chicago Magazine, Volumes 37-38, 1944:
"The greatest battle he has yet encountered is the one at the leading perfume store in Paris. He writes that he came out of it with few bruises and a bottle of Christmas Night and Chanel No.5 to send back home."

Newsweek, 1944:
"There's such a shoe shortage that soldiers have discovered they can get most anything they want for a pair of Army castoffs . . . Some GI's report that three packs of U. S. cigarettes can be traded for a bottle of Chanel No. 5."
LIFE, 1945:
"PERFUME SHOPS were quickly sold out to GIs who stood in queues for Chanel and Guerlain, sometimes watered down, for about $4 a bottle."


Studio: Europe, 1945, John Groth wrote:
"GIs shopped for the few things that were within reach of their purses, souvenir cards and perfume. ... Of the thousands of American soldiers who passed through Paris every day, hardly any passed through without buying perfume. The shops on the rue Royale and the Place Vendome had queues of GIs and their officers. The magic words “Chanel No. 5” had reached the lonesomest foxhole in France...Everywhere I jeeped in France after the liberation, I was asked if I had been in Paris, and when I said yes, the first question was "How is the Chanel No. 5 holding out? If you're going back, will you buy me a couple of bottles?"


Four stars of hell - Page 326, 1947:
"One of the unexpected exceptions to the high-price rule in Paris was the cost of fine perfume— provided the soldier bought it ... Each morning at about eight o'clock, long lines of soldiers formed outside the main parfumeries— Chanel, Worth, Lanvin, Guerlain and others."

The marriage of diamonds and dolls - Page 151, 1947:
"Of these, only Chanel and Vionnet have been closed since the time of World War II and Chanel's accessory and perfume shop has been open because hundreds of American G.I.s stationed in Paris sent Chanel's No. 5 back to their sweethearts. It was the one perfume they could ask for without blushing at the name."

The Sands Ceased to Run - Page 24, 1947:
"Despite the high prices, GI's queued up outside perfumers' shops to buy for their wives and sweethearts flacons of Dans la Nuit and Chanel No. 5. Stocks ran out rapidly. "

Letters from fighting Hoosiers - Page 225, 1948:
"“I won a small bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume in a drawing at the Red Cross. ..That night while in the chow line, everyone in the line participated in the drawing and I was one of the lucky ones to win the perfume. I was indeed lucky as Chanel perfume, which is supposed to be the best, isn’t on the market at present. Production of it was halted during the war but will probably begin again soon. Girls in the perfume shops go crazy from soldiers wanting Chanel perfume and they don't have it. I could have sold my bottle for $45.00 to a WAC who was in the line behind me but I laughed and told her I was going to send it to my girl back home."


LIFE, 1954:
"AT CHANEL SALON, 31 Rue Cambon, she showed clothes throughout '20s and '30s. Later only a perfume shop, its Chanel No. 5 attracted hordes of GIs."

Chilton's Jewelers' Circular/keystone, 1954:
"And thousands of our servicemen, passing through France and other parts of the world where French perfume is sold, have sent home to their girls these famous bottles of liquid, marked starkly "Chanel # 5" as the most fragrant treasure to be had in Europe."

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