Guerlain Mitsouko

Guerlain Mitsouko was worn by the original Hollywood bombshell, the exquisite Jean Harlow. With her platinum hair and seductive gaze, Harlow epitomized 1930’s glamour (her look was the basis for Marilyn Monroe’s image). The Bombshell Manual of Style declares, “Mitsouko has more sensuous layers to unpeel than Rita Hayworth dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils as Salome.” I expected something rich. I expected something mysterious. I expected something… more than this.

Mitsouko opens with a little Guerlinade (the famous Guerlain base composed of bergamot and vanilla, among other things) and then essentially becomes Shalimar without the bergamot. This makes me enjoy it more than Shalimar, because I frankly don’t much like that bergamot-spices pairing. I smell a very spicy jasmine scent. Mitsouko is a peach-chypre, but it is much drier than the other, juicier peach-chypres I am familiar with, such as Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse or Bond No 9 Chinatown. The peach in Mitsouko is the peach skin, not the inside of the fruit; you can almost feel the fuzz covering that delicate peach flesh.

Of the classic scents that have survived to today, many have been reformulated, and Mitsouko was reportedly the victim of a particularly brutal reformulation. Mitsouko may indeed at one point have been the stuff of legends. But faced with a choice between the current formulation and, say, Yvresse, I would most likely choose Yvresse. Mitsouko feels watered-down, much too thin. In contrast, Yvresse carries itself like an olfactory Christina Hendricks.

Mitsouko is available in the U.S. in the EDT and EDP formulations at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

Disclaimer: I brought a sample vial to Neiman Marcus and made myself a sample.

14 thoughts on “Guerlain Mitsouko

  1. I would love to love Guerlain fragrances. Not sure if it’s the bergamot, but they all have an underlying base that I can’t tolerate.

    Really enjoying your reviews and some great photos.

    1. Thank you so very much! I have trouble with some of the Guerlains too, both the classics and the young’ns (hellooooo, Insolence). Blame it on the Guerlinade, I guess.

    1. I tried the EDT. I am sure the parfum would be a vast improvement. And I’m sorry to hear that 😦 I remember you mentioned that the fruity chypres are no good on you.

  2. Crap. I’m under my work name again!

    Anyhoo, I wore the vintage Mitsouki and it was… well, probably what you were hoping it would be.


    PS – I don’t like Shalimar.

    1. Boo reformulations! I have only tried Shalimar in EDT and EDP, but everyone says the ONLY way to try it is in the parfum, so I’m not sure if I am qualified to feel the way I do about Shalimar. Like the spices, could do without the bergamot and floral aspects.

      1. Continuing to wave my little Shalimar banner. Try the parfum if you can, even reformulated is going to be better than the EdT. I did a little test the other night when my vintage bottle arrived and compared it to the EdT.

        They are completely different. The EdT starts out with almost a lemony zest and then fades to a powdery scent, whereas the parfum is a lot more complex while not necessarily being ‘stronger’. And my EdT is to the best of my knowledge pre-reformulation since I don’t believe they did that until 2002 or 2004 and the bottle I have came from an estate sale was dated as being late 90s.

        Curse these reformulations, ruining our perfumes. Though, the Chanel No. 22 reformulation is actually considered an improvement. I haven’t smelled the original, but the general consensus is the newer formula is better.

  3. I continue to try to love this. I continue to fail. I did like it _once_, and bought a bottle before I understood that one wearing is not enough. So if I ever do love it, I have plenty of “vintage” 2007 or so.

    1. Awww, I hope you come around to it for the sake of your bottle! I almost feel bad… Luca Turin’s favorite scent and all… but I just did not much care for it.

  4. Mitsouko is actually one I haven’t tried yet. The image of Rita as Salome makes it tempting — for me more so than Harlow — however knowing that it’s sadly not living up to that is a disappointment. I’m going to blame the reformulation.

    And anyway, I adore Shalimar — the vintage bottle I just bought is all kinds of glorious — so I don’t know if I need Shalimar minus the bergamot, especially since I’m actually quite fond of bergamot.

    I do have a bottle Yvresse on the way, though. I’ll definitely let you know how I like it.

    1. I’m so glad the Shalimar worked out for you!! I find Mitsouko similar enough to Shalimar that I wouldn’t really think you’d need one if you have the other. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the Yvresse!

  5. It’s certainly possible! I was also comparing the EDTs of both, so really the worst of both worlds. The EDT of Mitsouko struck me as having the spices of the Shalimar EDT without any of the bergamot. I was really, really surprised too! I expected Mitsouko to have its own distinctive character. I am somewhat used to Guerlinade by now thanks to LHB.

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