JO GB Hall of Fame Mitsouko by Guerlain

guerlain mitsouko chypre perfume

At just 23, Mitsouko by Guerlain was the first classic chypre fragrance I ever wore. I was young, had just got my first job (at Options magazine – bet few can remember that one) and I needed to grow up fast. This intensely seductive scent did the trick. From this moment on my scent direction became clear – from cologne to chypre – I still, today, rarely ever veer from my predicted perfume path.


The ‘mother of all chypre’ scents, Mitsouko (Japanese for ‘mystery’) was created in 1919 by Jacques Guerlain and has long been crowned as the ultimate chypre by which all others are compared in perfumery. What’s a chypre? Possibly the most ‘grown-up’ category of perfumes, a chypre is a more intense, sensual, incense, ‘candle-like’ scent – almost 100% base in its notes (oakmoss and vetiver with peach and bergamot) and the kind of perfume that mingles the most with your body’s own beautiful chemistry. Powerful stuff, a chypre needs only a dab – never a spray – and always begs the observer to draw closer for a more intimate sniff. It’s a true sexy snuggle scent.


Once described as ‘the way God intended women to smell’, Mitsouko is a deeply sensual fragrance. I wear it little less often today, now that I am officially ‘grown up’, but always have a bottle on hand and an eternal need for this aroma to be in my life. You see for years, I wore nothing else save Mitsouko and aromatherapy oils, especially during the early years of becoming a mother myself. And when my three children were quite small they would snuggle up close and say ‘mummy, you smell of ‘home’. Oh, I just loved that! So, as a result, I intentionally continued to wear Mitsouko, not just because I loved it, but because I was actively creating a memory scent for them; one that years later they might associate with me, long after I was gone. I had that with my own mother and do feel that today we can wear so many different aromas to suit our mood that we potentially lose that magnificent memory association. In my heart it’s irreplaceable.


Why did I stop wearing it quite so often? Ah, not so romantic a tale. Honestly? A girlfriend (ish) decided she liked it so much she started wearing it every day – day in, day out, whatever the weather, on the blasted school run! I just couldn’t bear it. I swiftly switched to a couple of divine colognes (more on that later) and vowed never to admit to anyone what fragrance I was wearing ever again!


Today the original Mitsouko hs been adapted, as sadly have all great masterpieces due to EU ban on certain raw materals. However the original beautiful masterpiece has been immortalised forever by Guerlain’s genius perfumer Thierry Wasser, who passion and respect for Guerlain heritage, recreated Mitsouko, along with 24 sister scents ranging from Jicky to Sous Le Vent, in their original, handwritten formulas for modern versions to aspire to. You can’t buy this one anymore – see we’re very lucky to be in our 40s & 50s and beyond today to have experienced perfumery n its height. You can visit La Maison de Guerlain or visit L’Osmotheque, the perfume conservatory in Versailles, to experience the original Mitsouko on a blotter. Eurostar anyone?

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