That Temperamental Mitzi: Mitsouko by Guerlain

ImageMitsouko by Guerlain is  a queer, unconventional scent. Its right that she have a Japanese name, one that springs from an island culture that developed in isolation from the west for centuries with its very particular, sometimes peculiar and most often exquisite aesthetic elements.ImageAt first sniff I hated Mitsouko. I felt as if I had been tricked. All the glowing  reviews of admiration, they had to be wrong. I had found a vintage parfum bottle for about 40 bucks on ebay and cut my losses. The gendarme hat was quaint. I could appreciate the bottle design, even if the juice wrinkled my nose and made my head swim. Oh, little did I know!

It may have been that the top notes had gone bad, it may have been my lack of maturity, I just wasn’t ready for her, or it may have been some act of magic alchemy that occurred in my dresser drawer over the months I ignored her. You temperamental Mitzi – I pledged that I would stay away from you forever. Looking at your pretty bottle alone would be more than  enough for me.

But you cannot avoid destiny. And if you are a member of the basenotes forum for six years you certainly cannot avoid Mitsouko. She warrants at least a revisit. Or two. Or three. Sometimes the best fragrance experiences, just like a myriad of life experiences, are the ones that take a bit of time, patience and getting beyond misunderstandings. So occasionally, sporadically, I would take a firm hold of that Gendarme hat stopper and dab a bit of Mitsouko on my wrist or behind one ear, just to see if anything had changed…

During one of these encounters, Mitsouko, with her deep smoky incense and warm fuzzy peach wrapped herself around me with a purr. I was a goner. ImageThe vintage parfum is the most sensual of the three  formulations I have sampled, and also the most challenging for me to approach and to understand.

I’m so glad I didn’t stay away.

The current edp will forever remind me of New Orleans, walking to Cafe du Monde, alone, at 6 am on a Sunday, getting ready for the airport and longing for the taste of one more beignet before lift off. The way was  quiet, save for the occasional street sweeper, early morning dog walker and those  rather rumpled gentlemen I passed at Jackson Square. They looked like they had been there all night long.

I asked the woman at the window for one beignet to go with my cafe au lait. We only sell them in bags of three, she answered. Being thrifty, I told her I’d just have the coffee. When she returned with my steaming drink, she slipped me one of those legendary bags of powdered sugar with a single beignet tenderly nestled inside. Go ahead, sugah, enjoy! And she flashed me one of those bright wide smiles of the Big Easy that tells you all is right with the world.  And to come on back again soon!Image

Now Mitsouko is a fragrance I hope that I am never without. I have a few drops of that potent vintage parfum that I dole out now and again when the harshness of life requires  that extra deep dive into dark warm beauty. Thanks to two generous basenotes friends, I have some of the current edp, which brings me back to the French Quarter, and has a brighter, lighter quality. And I have also been gifted with a decant of vintage edt that is somewhere in between, with a rougher texture and a heavier hit of oakmoss. Image

Mitsouko. Do you love her? Hate her? Leave her alone? Or like me, couldn’t stay away…?
Dolly on the Sill, digital photo, Renee Folzenlogen,
Vintage Mitsouko bottle from my collection,
Paula, sepia print, SLR photo, 1980, Renee Folzenlogen,
photo taken in NOLA of truck art by Bunny Matthews,
Moss hanging from the trees growing on the grounds of the New Orleans Museum of Art

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About reneetamara

Writing about death, mental illness, spirituality, art and perfume. Because beauty feeds the soul, and love is beyond what we think.

3 responses to “That Temperamental Mitzi: Mitsouko by Guerlain”

  1. Undina says :

    So far I tried Mitsouko only in the current formulation (not even sure which one – EdP or EdT) and it definitely didn’t work for me. I will keep trying it in the upcoming years if I come across it but, in general, most classic Guerlains aren’t that great on my skin. But I’m working on it! 🙂

    • reneetamara says :

      Mitsouko has definitely been an acquired taste for me, and my favorite Guerlain remains to be Shalimar, which also took me decades to arrive at. But well worth the wait! I definitely passed by the house of Guerlain while I acquainted myself with Caron, Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle and Chanel, and then circled back to Shalimar 🙂 just following my nose, I suppose.

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