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How Chanel nailed a ‘green’ perfume cap

The maker of the world’s most famous perfume isn’t about to compromise on luxury to become more sustainable 

French house perfumer for Chanel Olivier Polge poses in Pegomas, southeastern France.  (AFP)

Chanel Inc., the maker of the world’s most famous perfume, isn’t about to compromise on luxury to become greener.

The fashion house behind Chanel No. 5 spent two years developing a sustainable cap for perfume bottles with Finland’s Sulapac Oy, tossing out 47 prototypes before it was satisfied. The result: a biodegradable cap made of 91% plant-based materials with a sleek black look and satiny feel.

Launched this summer, the cap will be used for all 125 milliliter (4.23 fl oz) bottles of the Les Eaux de Chanel collection of fragrances. 

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Chanel set criteria for the material, including “the unique sound the bottle makes when the cap is put on, the grip, and the depth of the satiny matte finish on the iconic double C engraving,” according to a press release.

While an incremental step in tackling global pollution, the work’s real value lies in demonstrating that alternatives to fossil-based plastics can be produced at scale, Suvi Haimi, chief executive officer of Sulapac, said in an interview. Chanel owns a minority stake in the company. 

“It’s a message to other industries that sustainable plastic alternatives can meet the most rigorous standards,” she said. “The big revolution is that you no longer need to use plastic.”

Meanwhile, Chanel is soon going to present at the ongoing Paris Fashion Week, Hermes and Louis Vuitton are the other biggest names hosting shows in the flesh at one of fashion's biggest diary events of the year, which runs to 5 October.

"We are overjoyed at their return and the presence of the other big brands," Pascal Morand, head of France's Federation for Haute Couture and Fashion, had told AFP. "We feel this appetite for the physical, for the show," he added.

The live shows follow similar returns at London, Milan and New York fashion weeks this year, after much of the designer world moved online last year because of the covid-19 pandemic. 

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