Thursday, February 22, 2007

Special Request Posting - Mitsouko

I was asked by a fellow blogger to write a review of my favorite perfume, Mitsouko. You can, of course, find information on the top notes and formulations any where on the web. What is harder to find is history so that's the angle I'm going to use. Just to shake things up a bit.

Mitsouko debuted in 1919.

I discovered Guerlain's Mitsouko somewhere in the '80s, because of my then-obsession with Charlie Chaplin. I read every book I could find on him (this was pre-internet) and apparently this was his signature scent. It is mentioned in at least two books on Charlie.

from p.92 of Lita Grey Chaplin's memoir MY LIFE WITH CHAPLIN

[...]"The room had two exposures. We went to the windows on the west. Near one of them, on top of a decidedly masculine bureau, stood a bottle of cologne marked Guerlain's Mitsuko. "Is that what I smell all the time?" I asked. "In your dressing room at the studio, in your car, on your clothes, on -- you?"

"You like it, eh?"

"Oh, yes! I've never smelled that scent anywhere else but on you."

I hadn't meant it to sound that way, and I began to explain what I did mean. Charlie laughed, picked up the bottle and lifted the stopper. "Here," he said, and rubbed some of the exotic-smelling cologne on my arm. "It is quite a remarkable odor, isn't it?"

"Mmm," I nodded, smelling my arm. "I guess it'll always remind me of everything about you." [...]

Mitsouko is also mentioned in Charles Chaplin, Jr.'s biography of his father, aptly titled MY FATHER, CHARLIE CHAPLIN. Unfortunately I do not own a copy of this book so was unable to pull a direct quote. But trust me, he mentions it, and how the scent was everywhere and always reminded him of his father.

Because of these mentions of a perfume I'd never heard of before, I hit the Guerlain counter to get a whiff. It was not easy to find. Mitsouko, unlike its heavier sister, Shalimar, is elusive. It is an uncommon scent, but those who discover it and can wear it seem to become die-hard devotees. The name Mitsouko itself means 'mystery'. How exciting to find a perfume so long-lived that nearly a hundred years after its creation it is still available.

Even more exciting was the chance to find out what Charlie Chaplin might have smelled like. Okay that might sound weird, but here's this incredible historical figure - who was dead at least 10 years by the time I really discovered him - and though I can never meet him I CAN have a sensory hint of what it would be like to be in a room with him.

Happily I fell in love with Mitsouko at first sniff.

I am usually a fan of heavier, orientals - but Mitsouko (a chypre) has enough of the 'spice' of an oriental to hold my interest. It is a varied fragrance that alters throughout wear and is difficult to describe... but my favorite note is the bergamot for sure. Mitsouko was my first non-drugstore perfume, and still my favorite. And of course, every time I wear it, like Lita Grey, it reminds me of what I was up to back in those days... and of the fun I had discovering Charlie.

for more perfumery check out Tangled Up in L'Heure Bleue


d. chedwick bryant said...

I love Charlie Chaplin, I have started buying the DVD set of his films, He was amazing.
Thanks for this post, it is great.

d. chedwick bryant said...

ps I have that mitsouko box-- there is a photo of it on my blog --the "something Old" post.

Bella said...

Thanks for linking to my blog. I check yours everyday, although I rarely comment.

Just wanted to let you know that I'm still out there reading.

This perfume sounds great. Who doesn't love mystery. And what history.

I'm glad you introduced us all to it.

d. chedwick bryant said...

I never cared much for Robert Downey jr until I saw him do the biopic Chaplin. It was as if Chaplin decided to help him do it right. And the fact that Geraldine Chaplin was there on the set, too... well it makes you wonder. I think doing that movie made Robert a better person somehow. (that sounds kind of dumb, but I think Chaplin did have some good effect on him)

Whitney said...

Hey! Thanks for posting on here some of the book My Life with Chaplin. I love Charlie Chaplin and I can't find that book anywhere. I saw where you said there was a time that you wanted to read everything you could find about him. Thats what I'm going through right now, only I can't find the one book I really want to read. I've checked libraries, bookstores, Wal-mart lol I can't find it, and it's killing me! So I was trying to see if there was anywhere where I could read the book on the internet {which theres not lol} and I saw that you posted a little bit of it, which is better than nothing. I don't have a blog I just made an account so I could say thanks, and I was wondering if you ever get the chance or if you even want to, if you could post some more of it some time. Thanks. Sorry this post is extremely long lol