Whenever I try Mouchoir de Monsieur, I think of the actor Robert Montgomery, who in one of his movies nonchalantly carries on a conversation with someone while dousing his pocket square with a fragrance, and then folding it back into his breast pocket. I always think it must be MdeM that he is employing; because if I bought it that's how I would use it. Yes, dear friends, I always wear a jacket with a pocket square with a jacket. Mouchoir also reminds me of the music of Gustav Mahler. One moment the scene is youthful, bright and carefree, then suddenly it changes to something sour and even sinister. Well Mouchoir doesn't go all sinister; but it changes from a lovely clean lavender to something a bit dirty and sweaty and a tad animalic; and then it goes on to something else. This is a great fragrance, one of the greatest still made. Men should own it so ladies could admire them. The men should also wear pocket squares, but that's another story all together.
Dirty lavender. Fraternal twin of Jicky, distinguishing characteristic perhaps being a bit more musk or moss, perhaps a bit less vanilla, but I refuse to force a distinction... these are twinkies, no doubt. I only know the iterations available since the 90s and prefer the more angry Ungaro II in this category, however all 3 are my type of lavender.
I'm 50+ for reference.
As everyone subscribing to Basenotes knows, Jicky (1889) was the second scent to utilize synthetic notes in its composition. The first was Houbigant's Royal Fougere (1888).
Jicky was a failure with the ladies, too brutal and "new," but a hit with men, who kept it afloat until decades later, the ladies came around.
Mouchoir de Monsieur translates as "Gentleman's Handkerchief" and it is apt, as in 1904, the year of its release, men and ladies still brought scented handkerchiefs to their nose when traversing the foul and fetid streets of Paris. Since Jicky was aimed at women, it makes sense for Guerlain to formally market the same scent to men with a bit more base, civet and patchouli. However, it is pretty much identical to my nose.
The combination of lavender and vanilla has a dry, edgy scent, reminiscent at times of damp cardboard. However, controversial, it is still a rather unique scent, regardless of the name under which it is marketed.
I loved it when I first came upon it four years ago, but soon grew tired of it, registering it as having historical import, but no personal impact.
Turin gives it four stars, calls it a "rich lavender," and notes it befits the image of "Rupert Everett playing Beau Brummell."
In any case, it is every bit as good as Jicky with a bit more depth in the base. Since Guerlain simply copied its own scent intended for women, reshaping it for men, it can't be labelled a rip-off.
It's overall quite good, quite unique, and worth everyone's experiencing it.
For those of you who used to love the old Jicky (and who doesn't?) but are somewhat disappointed with the most recent reformulation, may I suggest you try Mouchoir de Monsieur. Supposedly the masculine version of Jicky, it is more strident and citric than its female partner, but so much more interesting than the current version. I dipped and compared modern Jicky, 90s Jicky and modern MdM. What lets modern Jicky down are the Base notes; they are really boring. A glutinous mess of modern musks, with none of the Moss, Civet or proper musk that used to be there. MdM has more Civet, and a far more interesting dry down. It, and Jicky are wonderful Fougeres which have been reformulated. Jicky has suffered the most, MdM is still holding out.
18th March, 2015 (last edited: 09th July, 2015)
Maybe it's some weird human drive for finding distinction, maybe it's simply the result of having more perfumes than I could ever imagine wearing in a lifetime, but I find myself focussing on the qualitative differences of some very similar perfumes. Guerlain Habit Rouge eau de toilette and eau de parfum. The same for Guerlain Insolence. Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois, Bois de Violette and Bois et Fruits. I’ve found themes that I like and now I'm looking for the variations.
I've gone backwards historically, starting with the Sheldrake/Bourdon perfumes for Lutens and going back to the ones that started the trend: Guerlain’s Jicky (1889) and Mouchoir de Monsieur (1904). The contrasts between Jicky and Mouchoir play out as the differences in temperament you might find between twins. These perfumes differ in degrees of expansiveness, but have more similarity than difference. But when resemblance is taken for granted, the differences jump out at you.
(A note about formulation. I have the eau de toilette of Jicky from 2005, and a brand-new bottle of Mouchoir, also eau de toilette.)
Both perfumes have a rich, almost tactile quality but Jicky also has a cat’s poise, an active balance that might shift one way or the other on a whim. Jicky’s play of lavender and vanilla seems to sparkle, suggesting something fluid and always in motion. Oh, Jicky has its raunch. The civet note is neither subtle nor hidden, but it's playfully lewd. Jicky seems very aware of its shifty personality, and may play any side at one time or another to charm you. Mouchoir speaks with the same voice as Jicky, but is more reserved. To use a word that I wish had never fallen out of use, Mouchoir is melancholic. Where you can take the entirety of Jicky in in a single breath, Mouchoir takes a bit more commitment. The effort pays dividends, though, and wearing Mouchoir rewards you with a sense of groundedness and presence.
Is Jicky simply a less uptight version of Mouchoir? Or is Mouchoir a more introspective version of its impulsive elder brother? To look at the two more specifically as perfumes, Jicky leans more toward the oriental genre. It is thicker and more voluptuous. It's dessert qualities are right on the tip of its tongue when it kisses you. Mouchoir, particularly in its basenotes, has the austerity of a chypre, emphasizing dryness over dessert. Accordingly, it's basenotes growl where Jicky’s purr.
Only the most sensitive nose around you will likely spot the difference in these perfumes from one day to the next. Deciding which to where is far more important to you than to anyone around you. And here is the delight of these twins. Choosing the right one and feeling the satisfaction as I apply it feels like setting loose the butterfly effect on my day.
19th June, 2014 (last edited: 18th May, 2015)