Mitsouko Vintage Pure Parfum (Guerlain)

The impulse to mock or denigrate what one doesn't understand is a very human trait. Probably every perfume lover can name one fragrance she (or he) doesn't 'get'-- yet it often seems to me that the older and more venerable the fragrance, the harsher the invective directed against it. It's as if we know we are missing something vital that other people easily grasped for decades, and we resent being left out of the loop. Rather than blame ourselves or question others, we aim our ire at the perfume-- the cause of all our woe.

Mitsouko is one such troublemaker. To declare enmity for this 1919 game-changer is practically a perfumista rite of passage. Mitsouko's detractors snidely refer to her as "Mitsy", a catty diminutive designed to neutralize her supposed ability to kill all perfume-wearing pleasure. (Me, I revere her, so I call her Mitsouko-sama.)

It sometimes pains me to recognize that others abhor the very qualities I admire about Mitsouko-- that cruel, unyielding chypre underlying her tender slice of ripe peach; that heart of spice-enlivened iris that comes across so rich and buttery-golden, like pâte sablée; that strange animalic exhale she gives off en route to her final fade-out. If you can't stand these features in the EdT or EdP, then you really won't want to go anywhere near the vintage extrait. It's everything that drives you mad, times infinity. (And it's more for me... right? Believe me, I'll take that bullet for you.)

Mitsouko's got teeth, I'll give her that. She's the sort of perfume you have to stand up straight and strong to wear. But I wonder at the force of my colleagues' fury. Is Mitsouko as bad, for instance, as ELdO's Sécrétions Magnifiques? Watch Katie Puckrick's forensic analysis of this extremely divisive 'fume here. ("Oh, NO!! That's HORRIFYING!" she screams. "I can't BELIEVE someone made that on PURPOSE!... It smells like a CRIME SCENE!... WHYYYYY?!!") Then ask yourself if you wouldn't prefer the company of Mitsy after all.

Scent Elements: Peach, bergamot, neroli, rose, iris, jasmine, clove, cinnamon, vetiver, oakmoss, labdanum