Perfume Directory

Mitsouko Eau de Parfum (1919)
by Guerlain


Mitsouko Eau de Parfum information

Year of Launch1919
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 1182 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

For me the best way to enjoy Mitsouko, whether vintage or current formulation, is to wear the extract. It’s the smoothest, prettiest version of this peachy chypre and it won’t leave you scratching your head like some of the other incarnations can. The challenge of the EDP and EDT comes from that distinct “peach skin” accord of the opening notes. It’s an abstraction, an idea of a natural smell recreated with persicol, oakmoss and other chemicals that will have varied reactions. Some swear they smell a photorealistic peach plucked from the tree. Others like myself smell something both bitter and shrill, like champagne laced with strychnine. But the extract is different. It’s for Goldilocks. Somehow the peach comes off sweeter and golden, like it is linked to the milky warmth of sandalwood in the basenotes. This Mitsouko is the one that immediately validates her status as legendary because she is such a timeless, unique and addictive concoction with layers of interest and complexity. It is easy to imagine a person of 1919, 1960, 1989...etc. being faithful to this bottle and wishing that it never change. That isn’t to say the EDP and EDT don’t have their own devotees, but it will depend upon how you react to that opening accord. When people talk about classic perfumery, French-style, abstract composition, they’re talking about Mitsouko. It’s the reference chypre, the Mona Lisa of Grasse. The unlikely to be pretty Bergamot, Patchouli, Cistus and Oakmoss accord tinted and Guerlain-ified with fruit and flowers. A perfectly judged, impossible to duplicate, enduring, mysterious masterpiece.
14th October, 2019
This is reviewing a 50ml refill bottle of the EDP I bought online in August 2019. I don't know what the edition is, yet I am quite sure this is one of the most recent formulations, because yes, it is different from the formulae I have always known.

I will hasten to add that it smells wonderful... So it's not *bad*... just *different*.

Brilliant, nose-prickling aldehydes slowly evanesce to reveal a head of bergamot, and possibly delicate accents of sweet orange, a phantom lemon, petitgrain and neroli to create a brilliant citrus head. And the famous fruity, dry peach, kissed with a discreet anise.

To my nose, this new edition has more musky quality, with perceptible deermusk, civet and ambergris (all synthetic, I'm quite sure). Being a big animalic fan, I like this quality.

In years past, it would be at this moment that I smelled a certain urinaceous quality-- likely castoreum-- smelling for all the world like deer urine in a Texas cedar forest, its floor covered in moody, mulching autumn leaves. I'm really not getting that note here now... the peach/citrus is more juicy and "present".

To my nose, the spicy qualities have also been ratcheted down and made more linear, less "3D"; I suspect the famous clove note of the classic formula also had to be refomulated here, as the barky, non-sweet cinnamon is nearly as prominent now as the clove.

I am getting very little floralcy here, truth told, yet I am picking up on a salty Play-Doh heliotrope, girded with the French thyme "medicinal" or "Band-Aids" note that some describe. I'm not sure I'm getting any rose or lilac at all, and the result is, this formula smells considerably more masculine than ever, beginning to approach the brassy warmth of, say, KNIZE TEN. The pencil-ly cedar note is more discreet now, too.

The absence of oakmoss means that this formula is not quite as rounded, fungal, darkly sweetish and Art Deco-fusty as the old mixture used to be; it is also less "melancholy", as this perfume is so often famously described. Our forlorn geisha waiting for her British beau seems to have cheered up a bit, clambered up onto her tatami sandals and put on some Shiseido tangerine-colored lipstick.

And yet, I cannot melodramatically decree that MITSOUKO has been "ruined" here; the hand that has blended this is obviously expert and of the highest skill. This is still some fine, fine French perfume. In fact, some might say that this new EDP is more "wearable" than it ever was, more of a tous-les-jours candidate today, and not quite the distant and difficult "monument" she has always been. She might even be more "lovable" now (yet still removed from the sweet 'n' naughty hooker-with-a-heart that Rochas FEMME is). I cannot fault this *jus*, and she actually may find more modern lovers in this new guise.

Verdict: significantly tangier and juicier than earlier formulae; musky animalic notes more "present" now, though less urinaceous; very little perceptible floralcy and overall more masculine aura; less sweet and funky/fusty base.

Still gorgeous, bold, golden-glowing and compelling.

(UPDATE---->) Okay, now I'm getting the lilac. Surprisingly, it is not a head or heart note, but rather comes out to play in the late development of the EDP, after the spices have settled down! Mingled with an obvious iris, it smells both powdery, pastel purpley, and rubbery, like wet latex paint. Intriguing!
10th August, 2019 (last edited: 11th August, 2019)
Peachy, musky and mossy. Maybe just a touch powdery and pissy. That is my thoughts. Not bad smelling or impossibly dated. Addictive and delightful. Classy and sophisticated. Complex.
05th July, 2019
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)

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