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.