That Temperamental Mitzi: Mitsouko by Guerlain
Mitsouko 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.At 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. The 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!
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.