Guerlain Mitsouko

Perfume has always been “a personal thing.” But in 2015 in Seattle my very sophisticated second-cousin who voted in the Electoral College, competes internationally in winter sports, got a perfect score on her SAT and spent years as a Shakespearean actress reproached me for my use of perfume at the opera by saying, “The bastion of Seattle is fragrance-free.”

“Is that Chanel No. 5?!” she asked with a hint of annoyance as we sashayed up the stairs to our seats.

“No! It’s Mitsouko, actually.” I replied. I enjoyed her company and it scared me to possibly offend her sensibilities that much.

She was still hostile albeit intellectually intrigued. Mitsouko is fascinating.

Smelling Guerlain Mitsouko, which debuted in 1919 ahead of Chanel’s in 1921 its easy to see her mistake. Although Mitsouko is considered a Chypre and No. 5 a Floral Aldehyde the rose note of the early 20th Century is perhaps similar in both. And actually, if you consider the precursors to No. 5 like Rallet No. 1 and etc. they seem very close in age. Of course, Jacques Guerlain composed Mitsouko as inspired by Claude Farrčre’s novel ‘La bataille’.

…Funny thing though, there’s something both buttoned-up and old-world opulent about Mitsouko. It is very evocative and powerful like Chanel No. 5, sure. But Mitsouko’s bergamot is also prim in the most delightful way.

I love Mitsouko. As a fan of chypres I can say it’s arguably the greatest masterpiece of the genre. The best peach chypre in human history? …And yet as a grand chypre it’s temperamental, demanding and difficult at times and not a fragrance to make any sort of assumption about. Still, it’s stunning on the right person or in the bottle. It’s a rare beauty. A rare gem.

Regardless, if you’re on the West Coast don’t wear it to get compliments.

Lavender from a cousin’s garden.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue Parfum (Vtg)

(Sealed) Guerlain 1960’s Vintage L’Heure Bleue Parfum

This almond pastry perfume from the early 20th Century by the legendary Jacques Guerlain is the carnation fragrance. If you find carnations dowdy and dull wear enough L’Heure Bleue in vintage form and you’ll become besotted.

Actually, I used up a spray bottle of 2010’s L’Heure Bleue in less than 10 years and thankfully that formulation is also nothing to shake a stick at.

I finished this 2014 bottle by 2021. For me that’s unusual.

Once I read a theory on a Fragrantica chat that Zelda Fitzgerald likely wore L’Heure Bleue and while that theory could easily be accurate the theory was based on the assumption of her supposed general snobbery. To my nose L’Heure Bleue is elegant and old-world opulent like Mitsouko…but it’s also warm and gooey and toasty and buttery and delicious. It’s not a cold, prim fragrance at heart. It’s a bit melancholy and pensive possibly but not snobby. Exclusive maybe… But it’s a warm, sensitive olfactory beauty.

I need to buy more. Given my tastes I can’t own too much LHeure Bleue.