Did you know that there was another perfume named No 5 apart from the now famous and somewhat cheapened Chanel No 5? There was a common trend for the couturiers of the day to affix a numeral to their perfumes in lieu of an actual name which still continues to this day. Funny thing is both Chanel’s No 5 and Molyneux’s No 5 (or Numero Cinq as it was known as in France) were in eerily similar bottles, so there could be some credence in the story related below.
There are two mutually exclusive stories about Numéro Cinq. Apparently Molyneux had befriended Chanel, and together they hatched the idea of each bringing out a perfume called No 5 the same day in 1921, to see whose perfume would be more popular. The outcome of that contest is no longer in doubt, but this version of the story says that Molyneux’ Cinq was far ahead of Chanel’s for several years. The other (recorded in Nigel Groom’s excellent Perfume Handbook) is that Molyneux brought out several perfumes at once in 1925 named after different addresses of the firm: 3, 14 and Numéro Cinq. Molyneux’s Numero Cinq was also referred to as “Le Parfum Connu” (The Known Perfume) to avoid troubles with Chanel. Either way, fashion designers clearly had more of a sense of humor then than now.
Unfortunately for Le Numero Cinq the perfume languished until the early 70’s until it just faded away. Molyneux had retired so the name was not as well known, unlike Chanel who had regained her market share from the mid 50’s after her comeback. As to what the perfume smelt like I have absolutely no idea, which is a shame.