By Guerlain for Women
Mitsouko by Guerlain Perfume. It’s difficult to talk about Mitsouko without referencing the lore so precious to this most prestigious French fragrance house, Guerlain. Jacques Guerlain, the mastermind who provided us with several classics withstanding the test of time for decades, imagined the 1919 Mitsouko as homage to a popular novel of the time, “La Bataille” by Claude Farrère. In it Mitsouko, a beautiful Japanese woman and the wife of Admiral Togo, is secretly in love with a British officer
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aboard the flagship of the Japanese fleet during the 1905 war between Russia and Japan; Mitsouko awaits with dignity the outcome of the battle, nobly overcoming her feelings. The composition was revolutionary at the time: The peach skin effect perceived at the heart of the fragrance derives from a modern synthetic ingredient, aldehyde C14 (Peach essence cannot be naturally extracted). Flanked by murky oakmoss and refreshing bergamot at each end (thus composing a classic chypre), alongside spicy accents reminiscent of cinnamon and cloves ~especially in the Eau de Toilette version~, Mitsouko utilizes rose, neroli (a light-smelling orange blossom distillation product), woods, vetiver and patchouli for a sumptuous formula that has had men ensnared for long: It was said that Hollywood star Jean Harlow’s husband drenched himself from her bottle before committing suicide. But literary (and erotic) genius Anais Nin was also enamored of it. The mysterious, haughty fragrance is in chasm with every recent pop trend, making a difficult love-affair much like its storyline, nevertheless indulging in a bottle of Mitsouko is the hallmark of the true connoisseur, like a fine Pinot Noir wine can be an acquired taste. The delightful bottle, called “inverted heart” because of its cap, reprises the design of another Guerlain classic L’Heure Bleue which was issued in 1912, due to the shortages of World War I. Later, after the success of Mitsouko, the design stayed, as a gentle stylistic reminder of the two bottles opening and closing the period between the beginning and the end of the war. And indeed if L’Heure Bleue is contemplative daydreaming and above all romantic like La Belle Epoque, Mitsouko is mysterious and emancipated heralding the era of flappers like no other perfume. Today Mitsouko is enjoying cult status and is the top seller of Guerlain in Japan, in what can only be a move of reverse homage.