“Where Should One Use Perfume?” “Wherever One Wants To Be Kissed”

Coco Chanel? Arlene Dahl? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The brilliant fashion luminary Coco Chanel was once asked about the proper application of fragrance to the body, and she gave an entertaining reply about osculation. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared as a short item from a columnist in “The Boston Globe” of Massachusetts in 1962. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

MAKES A DIFFERENCE
“A woman should use perfume wherever she wants to be kissed” . . . Mlle. Chanel.

Marcel Haedrich, the editor in chief of a popular French women’s magazine called “Marie-Claire”, encouraged Chanel to use a tape recorder to describe her life story. In 1971 Haedrich published “Coco Chanel Secrète” based on Chanel’s recollections. The book included the following passage: 2

Où faut-il se parfumer ? demanda une jeune femme.
Là où vous voulez vous faire embrasser, répondit Coco.

« Ces journalistes américains sont des enfants, disait-elle, j’ai vu celte réponse cela m’a valu l’amitié des journalistes américains, je leur avais dit quelque chose qui faisait rire tout le monde ».

In 1972 an English translation appeared under the title “Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets”. The text above was rendered as follows: 3

‘Where should one use perfume?’ a young woman asked.
‘Wherever one wants to be kissed,’ I said.

“Those American reporters are children. I saw this answer printed everywhere. It was a bore; but I think it earned me the friendship of the American reporters: I’d told them something that made everyone laugh.”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading “Where Should One Use Perfume?” “Wherever One Wants To Be Kissed”

Notes:

  1. 1962 December 27, The Boston Globe, Crossing the River Changed His Figure? by Joe Harrington, Quote Page 19, Column 4, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest)
  2. 1971, Coco Chanel Secrète by Marcel Haedrich, Chapter 14: Sixième victoire: le « come-back », Quote Page 201, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris. (Verified with scans)
  3. 1972, Coco Chanel: Her Life, Her Secrets by Marcel Haedrich, Translated from the French by Charles Lam Markmann, Chapter 14: The Sixth Victory: The Comeback, Quote Page 165, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified with hardcopy)