Perfume Directory

Mitsouko Eau de Parfum (1919)
by Guerlain


Mitsouko Eau de Parfum information

Year of Launch1919
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 1165 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerJacques Guerlain
Parent CompanyLVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Parent Company at launchGuerlain

About Mitsouko Eau de Parfum

Mitsouko Eau de Parfum is a feminine perfume by Guerlain. The scent was launched in 1919 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Jacques Guerlain

Mitsouko Eau de Parfum fragrance notes

Reviews of Mitsouko Eau de Parfum

Zowiee Show all reviews
United States
Adore this historic scent. I just love this fragrance, and I make sure my wife always has a bottle!
28th January, 2019
Woman in the Dunes by Hiroshi Teshigahara 1964
Kobo Abe (novel)
21st January, 2019
Mitsouko (1919) is not just a great perfume, but also a very important one. Loved by generations and almost passed down like an heirloom from its fans to their children, Mitsouko is one of the most often-discussed classic Guerlains in existence, picking up the nickname "Mitzy" by it's admirers. I feel like a century after its creation, Mitsouko can only really be appreciated outside of these faithful fans for the history, context, and legacy it left behind for most rank and file people. Folks who enjoy perfume in the 21st century will have a difficult time understanding the appeal of Mitsouko, if only because it is of a style effectively extinct in mainstream or designer perfumery, and that style is of the chypre. Jicky (1889), L'Heure Bleue (1912), and the later Shalimar (1925) were all more or less in the fougère style, or semi-oriental fougère in the case of Shalimar, but Mitsouko was not part of Jacques Guerlain's usual "compound building" technique of basing perfumes on other perfumes, or building off of partial structures from past works, thus is unrelated to them or "Guerlinade". Instead, Mitsouko was a thoroughly new creation from the ground up, in an emerging style Jacques likely wanted to play with, and a style proving quite popular with women, becoming universally popular for much of the 20th century. It wasn't until the advent of aromachemicals that classic perfume genres declined in favor of cleaner and less-assertive compositions, with the restriction of substances upon which chypres were mostly based making chypres too difficult to create; the style had simply fallen from grace far enough to not make it worth the research anyway. In the meantime, the fruity-floral mannerisms and brisk cistus/oakmoss backbone of Mitsouko inspired countless perfumes to follow, and like most early 20th century feminine Guerlains, was also used extensively by male dandies, even being a favorite of esteemed actor Charlie Chaplin. The origins of the name "Mitsouko" is up to debate, but most sources point to it being derived from the name of the heroine in Claude Farrère's novel "La bataille (The Battle), set in Japan during the Russo-Japanese War, and telling of a secret affair between a British Navy Officer and one "Mitsouko," the wife of Fleet Admiral Baron Tõgõ Heihachirõ. As the story goes, both the officer and the Admiral went off to war together, and Mitsouko waited at home for the return of the survivor, with whom her romance would continue on. I think the association with this story alone managed to sell considerable units, since the Guerlain advertising was often hinted at it.

The smell of Mitsouko is designed somewhat to be a compliment to the previous L'Huere Bleue, which is why they share the same bottle design. L'Heure Bleue is meant to symbolize waiting for love at the onset of night, while Mitsouko is meant to symbolize the returning of said love after a battle, representing something of a symbolic beginning and conclusion of a story arc. L'Heure Bleue is mostly a rich, powdery floral fougère, which comes on strong then fades into sweet warmth. Mitsouko is the equal opposite of this development, and represents a fragrance that literally reverse fades into view by being quiet in the opening, then gradually ratcheting up presence until the complex and sharp chypre base provides the climax. Mitsouko opens transparent, with light fruity top notes of peach, mandarin, bergamot, neroli, and lemon. The smell is so very familiar at the onset because most of us have encountered some of the women's perfumes ranging from drugstore to boutique perfumer that have attempted its emulation. The middle slowly materializes with rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and lilac, with a spicy clove note to sensually bind them all. By the time the base finally arrives, it's pretty difficult to tell notes apart, as the fruity floral top and middle collapse into a very complex and blended chypre base, with oakmoss and cistus labdanum being the only two really noticeable players outside some musk, amber, and sandalwood. Not quite Guerlinade, but still clearly over-engineered like most Jacques Guerlain pefumes. Some of the most cherished classics actually come across as hot takes on Mitsouko's finish in hindsight, so that deja vu comes back again for another round in my mind. Unlike whatever random Revlon or Coty everyone's Aunt Maude wore, Mitsouko has a certain refined air of a true sophisticate in its DNA, and doesn't reveal all sides of its structure in every single wear. Performance varies on concentration but more on that later. Mitsouko is not a casual fragrance, nor was ever meant to be, so wear it on special occasions where something as deeply textured or mysterious as Mitsouko feels warranted. Being perhaps one of the finest examples of a dead genre makes Mitsouko feel a tad more antiquated than some of its peers of the day, since Shalimar still remains in the public consciousness thanks to modern celebrity endorsement, plus the older turn-of-the-century Guerlains seem to more closely-resemble genres experiencing resurgence in modern prestige perfume. Mitsouko by contrast just sort of sits pretty with its hands in its lap as the darling precursor of the mid 20th century's favorite feminine style, which does more to make it an anachronism than the rest, but at least it isn't powered by aldehydes like Chanel No. 5 (1921).

I love chypres, but I also can't rightfully lead anyone to sample this without first making it clear that Mitsouko has weathered age the least-gracefully of all the classic Guerlains. Naturally, all moss was limited to ridiculously small levels by IFRA after 2011, and from 2006 to 2011, a blend of oakmoss and treemoss had to be used to reduce the amount of skin sensitizers naturally occurring in oakmoss by itself. This is why most classic chypres outside of the big sellers are discontinued, and the ones profitable enough to keep on the shelves in spite of themselves have been reformulated sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable by fans of the original releases. Contrary to that, a lot of research money has been dumped into the preservation of Mitsouko, with low-atranol "fractured" versions of oakmoss using molecular chemistry being substituted by Guerlain house perfumer Thierry Wasser for the natural stuff. It's this same reconstituted oakmoss that also exists in modern Habit Rouge (1965), and makes Guerain chypres a far better sight and more authentic than most other chypre survivors in modern times, but still markedly different from vintage since oakmoss is such a linchpin to the chypre accord itself. Other Guerlains from the era like L'Heure Bleue or Shalimar rely more on powdery vanillic tonka bases or oriental elements, so they have survived in forms much closer to their original state than Mitsouko. Regardless of whether one seeks vintage or not, Mitsouko is still a large perfume by modern standards, so only fans of slow unfurling dry downs should seek it, with old colognes being brighter, current eau de toilettes having a more floral character, and parfum extrait having the deepest base presence/longest wear. I really like Mitsouko, and even if it's among the harder classic Guerlains for a man to pull off, I'd still flaunt it like I just don't care (because I don't), however I also cannot in good conscience call this unisex. Classic chypre fans consider Mitsouko one of several holy grails for good reason, but for everyone else, it is more of a historical journey than a practical perfume, answering the question of why "Mom's old Avon" smells the way it does. Well, now we have our answer: it wanted to be Mitsouko. Since 1919, a lot perfumes have wanted to be Mitsouko, even future Guerlain ones. Everyone just wanted to be Mitsouko, but there can only ever be one Mitsouko, and she still patiently waits for us to return home from our battles, so she can give us her love. Thumbs up!
01st December, 2018 (last edited: 03rd December, 2018)
Now and then I’m down in the dumps, worried about the sad state of the world. Whenever that happens, Mitsouko is a perfect antidote. Art, history, culture, timeless style — all perfectly represented here. Just one or two sprays, and it’s like the feeling I get in fine art museums. You know you’re in the presence of genius. As with all fine arts, it’s likely to take some time to really figure out and “get” Mitsouko. Keep trying, it’s very much worth the effort. Highest recommendation.
25th July, 2018
There's much to love here, however it's not something I enjoy wearing. As I have two bottles of vintage juice, I find that in my vaporizer, my home smells amazing. Bit expensive for a home scent, but everyone who comes in is blown away by how beautiful my home smells.
25th May, 2018
It's been about 10 or 12 years since I first tried Mitsouko, back when my Dillard's used to carry all the classic Guerlains. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. But I didn't really like it, either. I did groove on the initial brightness of it, the juicy peachiness interwoven with citrus, but then after the first few minutes it devolved into something more harsh, yet at the same time kind of vague. I figured I just wasn't sophisticated enough to appreciate it, and yet I never revisited it.

Until recently, when I was gifted with a bottle of the EDP, which turns out to be from 2014, supposedly a very good reformulation year. The peachy/citrusy opening still really sparkles, and the middle sings a very fine spicy (cinnamon? clove?) tune on my skin for about an hour. But after that it just falls off the cliff and muddles itself into a big ol' bunch of fusty/dusty/musty-ness, and not in a way that I would normally champion, like, say, Joy’s symphonic florals turned to rot or Djedi's mix of damp-basement and lemony roses or Youth Dew's balsamic orange blossom weirdness. Here, and at least on my skin and to my nose, Mitsouko is kind of a mess—an expensive, beautifully made, historically significant mess, to be sure. But still a mess.

The good news is, if you love it, it will last forever. It's still wafting from the T-shirt I had on when I spritzed it two days ago.
22nd April, 2018 (last edited: 07th May, 2018)

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