Ernest Beaux (December 8, 1881 – June 9, 1961)
was the very first perfumer of Chanel.
He grew up in Moscow
as the son of the French Russian perfumer Edouard Beaux
who worked for the Russian perfume house Alphones Rallet & Co,
at the time the most important perfume house in Russia.
In 1898 Rallet was bought
by the French perfume house Chiris located in the south of France.
The sale included the 1500 employees and the many products of the house.
In 1902 Beaux was employed by Alphones Rallet as a trainee
under the protecion of under the guidance of the technical director A. Lemercier.
In 1907 Beaux finished his education becoming a senior perfumer.
For Rallet Ernest Beaux created in 1912 the perfume "Bouque de Napoleon"
and in 1913 the "Bouquet de Catherine"
(in refence to the german descending Emperess Catherine the Great)
In 1914 Ernest Beaux entered the French Army (even though born in Russia)
returning from war in 1919.
Setteling in Paris, Beaux kept in touch with his former working colleges,
now working for Chiris in the south of France
but he did not get along with the chief perfumer Joseph Robert
therefore he wanted to remain free lance.
Chiris had transformed his perfume "Bouquet de Catherine"
into "Rallet n°1"
Beaux continued to work for Chiris
trying to find cheaper and better ingreadiens
also available to France during the after war years
At the same time he
was looking for contacts with the emigrated Russian aristocracy
in order to find a new project.
One of them was the Grand Duke Dimitri Romanov,
the boyfriend of the raisin couture stare
A meeting s arranged in the late summer 1920 in Cannes.
Beaux presents different creations and Coco Chanel
choses the bottle N°5,
inspired by Beaux's work on "Rallet N°1".
The N°5 was a lucky number for Coco Chanel,
Ernest Beaux was a bit surprised by Coco's irrational choice
but soon he would see that Coco was right.
The first order were only 100 flacons,
intended as a 1921 Christmas present for the best Chanel customers.
But the succes was such
that Coco Chanel soon wanted to officially sell the product.
The only thing what was missing was capital and knowhow.
In 1922 Beaux left Chiris (Rallet & Co)
and worked as a sales agent for his friend Eugène Charabot.
Chanel N°5 caused so much stirr that
Coco Chanel's friend Theophile Bader
arranged a meeting with Pierre Wertheimer, owner of Parfums Bourgeois.
On April 4 1924 Coco sold her rights to the perfume
in exchange of a 10% participation in the newley created
Chanel Perfume Company.
Ernest Beaux was hired as the chief perfumer.
He created many more perfumes:
"Chanel No. 22" (1922/1926)
"Cuir de Russie" (1924) (marketed from 1927)
"Bois des Îles" (1926)
"Soir de Paris" (1929)
"Mademoiselle Chanel Nº 1" (1946)
"Mademoiselle Chanel Nº 2" (1946)
"Premier Muguet" (1955)
He retired in 1954
to be replaced by Henri Robert.
When dying in 1961 in Paris the church where the funeral was held
was completely decorated in Roses.
Interview with Jacques Polge
about Chanel N°5 and Ernest Beaux.