The truth stripped bare

By Janetta Mackay

When Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed and reportedly replied, "I only wear Chanel No. 5", it underscored her reputation as the ultimate silver screen sexpot. The oft-quoted line has long been part of her legend and is advertising money couldn't buy, for what is, in any case, the world's most famous fragrance.

Now the story of her bedroom preferences has gained a new chapter, with the discovery in archives of a recording of the movie star. A previously unpublished series of photographs of one of the world's most photographed women has also been unearthed. This shot from the series , like the others, shows Marilyn in bed with a bottle of No. 5 on her bedside table. It was taken in 1953 for a cinema magazine, the year after that quote first appeared.

That was in an article accompanying the movie star's first cover of Life magazine on August 7, 1952. Her remark caused quite a frisson. When Marie Claire magazine interviewed Monroe at the height of her fame eight years later, it too choose to photograph her cosying up with a bottle of Chanel No. 5, this time dressed and out of bed, but deshabille.

The recording of the interview accompanying the later shoot was uncovered by Chanel in preparation for a new global advertising campaign promoting its premier perfume. In it, Marie Claire's editor-in-chief Georges Belmont asked Monroe how she became its voluntary ambassadress. Recalling the original Life interview, Monroe confirmed the sincerity of her love for No. 5.

"You know, they ask me questions. Just an example: 'What do you wear to bed ? A pyjama top? The bottoms of the pyjamas? A nightgown?' So I said, 'Chanel No. 5', because it's the truth - and yet, I don't want to say 'nude'. But it's the truth!"

Watch the video here:

• Chanel No. 5 eau de parfum 100ml spray is priced at $270. Available from selected department stores and pharmacies, stockists ph 0800 957 352.


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