The wafting breeze of chiffon along with the heavy slid of pearls against each other announces, only to the most attuned ear her arrival at her box at the opera. Young men and not so very young men turn as one animal toward her. How they can hear her approach above the din of the clamoring throng that is the Paris opera crowd is beyond understanding or science. Or is it? Perhaps Mademoiselle Du Chandonnet has a secret weapon which makes her, of all the courtesans of Paris the most desirable of all. She was the fist to bob her hair, but that is not the reason. She wears the latest shockingly short skirts with silk stocking rolled to just above the knee. These revolutionaries in the new book of fashion have stormed the couturiers and come into vogue so suddenly since the end of the Great War. Blame it on that Chanel woman some say. But this too is not her claim to temptation to half the men of the city. Is it her cynical air of disdain for the men who adore her? Could it be the allure of danger one catches in her casual sidelong glance from a panting victim to a tray of glittering Cartier iced diamonds? That look which with a half smile promises nothing but financial ruin and a broken heart? Perhaps so, perhaps no.
What each of the men so eager to pay the most exorbitant fees for her favors does know is the smell of this courtesan. Cet amour fou d’une prostituée est dans l’odeur de son. This crazy love for a whore is in the smell of her. And what perfume she decides to wear behind a diamond and sapphire encrusted ear will be instantly transfigured into the rage of Paris by dawn simply because Mademoiselle Du Chandonnet decided that night to wear it. All her suitors will be wearing it tomorrow and in the weeks to come their wives and fiancées will soon be shopping for it at 68 Champs Élysées. She is wearing Mitsouko.
The men in the orchestra are facing her as the lights go down and the orchestra begins the first strains of The Planets. Only the low glow of the refracted light of the rising chandelier illuminates her face in a diamond prism glitter. She is bored beyond endurance and as the men turn toward the savage new music she rises and leaves for the more jazzy sounds of the left bank. Rive gauche is the only part of Paris where she can forget what she has lost since the 28th of July, 1914, the only place in Paris where she really ever smiles.
The mysterious and utterly enchantingly seduction one finds in such a woman or a man for that matter one finds in Mitsouko. This wonderful perfume from Guerlain is a masterpiece born out of the end of a horrible war and at the dawn of the jazz age. It is a perfume of possibilities and lively excitement couched in a loss and sadness that is glossed over with verve and champagne sparklers.
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The brilliant Mitsouko inspired by the Japan craze of the era and born to celebrate the end of war opens with a bright shimmering rush of citrus, jasmine, bergamot, and rose. This fizzes in a natural way and bubbles over into the heart notes of a kind of honeyed Lilac, mouth watering summer peach, and aphrodisial honeyed ylang ylang all in silky summery yellows. This is punctuated by a hearty brilliant May rose. At this point it is all about fun and a bright and shiny future of joy and bliss. But in the dry down comes the drama and real majesty of this perfume. A mix of warm exotic spices and a snap of cinnamon sticks stir the lush almost animalic amber into a blending of exotic eastern flavors the peach lingers and ripens here. This is the melancholy romantic part of the fragrance and my favorite part of the experience. This is all layered over a base of inky dry oak moss that extends the magical elixir on for hours of enjoyment.
Mitsouko is well suited to men and women because of its spicy tones. A Chypre with fruit overtones that never over whelm the dry champagne like sensation one gets from first spay onward The Eau de Parfume has a long lush life on the skin lasting for eight to ten hours. Be frugal when applying so as not to overwhelm all your suitors with your fabulous silage. Rather tease with a light ease and a whisper of delights and dangers ahead. And remember just as it is with a great courtesan, there is a lot to learn about life and love and men and women from a wise and worldly old classic like Mitsouko.
FIVE PLATINUM STARS *****