1919 THE RAGE OF PARIS ~ Mitsouko by Guerlain

Paris 1915

The wafting breeze of chiffon along with the heavy slide 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.


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.




  1. So beautifully said and yes, a long ‘lush life’ reminding me of the old Billy Strayhorn tune and Johnny Hartman lyrics.

    • Hi Mary!!! Oh I do love that song “Lush Life” and I never even made that mental connection when I wrote that line. Have you heard Queen Latifah sing it? I got to hear her life at Davies Symphony Hall and it was heaven.

      • I’ve not heard Queen Latifah sing it as yet, but just Billy on old recordings. That would be something to hear it at Davies so let’s hope we can one day.

  2. Oh, my dear, one of these days… one of these days you will be stopped by a sort of authority and not write these kind of things anymore. How can you? Silk, pearls, The Opera, the Chanel woman, Holst’s Planets… champagne. All in a few lines? It was as if I were having the most creamy buttery lobster omellet for breakfast, surrounded by Guerlain’s. Well, hot black coffee sort of broke the spell, a little. I myself am very fond of subdue and light scents, but after having read your review on G. L’Instant pour homme decided that was a good choice along the MB Individuel ( I must confess I want the feeling of Creed OS without their tag price. You should write a Paris/Rome guide for those who enjoy a good scent. You have it all that is needed to be very succesful in this field. Think of all the industry that has emerged for wine lovers. I have friends who travel abroad just to see vineyards, grapes, terroirs. Please, you would make a lot of people very happy. and one would smell so nice following your guidance. Please, forgive me, perhaps my english is not that good to convey my true and honest opinion, with a little casual hints. Well done ( applause )

    • Jose your English is perfect! And thank you so much for your very kind words. It is a thrill for me when I know my little posts make someone like you so happy! If I were to write such a tome as the one you suggest to Paris and Rome I would need another trip to Europe. I would want to ad Berlin, Madrid, Moscow, Budapest, Warsaw, Athens, Istanbul, and London! (and Many more cities as well)

      • So, there you are, at least you will have an excuse, as if one were needed, to start travelling, and writing. I just can’t wait to read what you have to say about the international sensation Fraulein Sally Bowles. I will be another dreaming article for sure.

  3. Bravo…and now to find some jazz!

    • Thank you David! Yes on to that Jazz spot on the left bank!

  4. The Parisian Muses where whispering in your ear while I wasn’t looking! Lilacs and May roses and summer peaches – maybe the perfect perfume pour moi!

    • It just might be and it is reasonably priced. Next time you are at Neiman’s check it out.

  5. I don’t even like Mitsouko and now I want to try it again.

  6. ‘It is a perfume of possibilities and lively excitement couched in a loss and sadness that is glossed over with verve and champagne sparklers.’

    Bravo, Mr Lanier. If only she hadn’t left the opera… she would have discovered the audience on their feet at the end – turning as one on a moment to applaud her empty seat and the scent she had left there.

    I stand and salute you now.

    Bravo. Bravo.

    • Crickey O’Reilly Mr Lanier – I’m only just getting the hang of this blogging business. The heartfelt compliments were from my good self: The Perfumed Dandy.

      Still standing and applauding…

      • Thank you Perfumed Dandy! You made my day! Cheers and with champagne sparklers.

  7. I love Mitsouko. At first, I found it challenging to wear, but I find myself craving it in the cold weather. The peachiness is pretty pronounced on my skin, which is okay since I love it 🙂 Thanks for the beautiful review!

  8. Your writing always seduces me, Lanier. And this one is a particular chef d’oevre! Your ability to transport one through time, and to make one feel as though one were actually there and living the things you describe…. *sigh* I think I have the most enormous crush on you! If you ever switch teams, I’m first in line! 😉

    • Sweetheart you are a darling to say such lovely things. Ours is a platonic love and those last longer than the carnal kind and have more fun shopping together. Hugs dear heart.

      • LOL, of course it is! Much better, esp. with the shopping trips! 😉 But one can still have a crush to the extent possible for someone one has never met and whose face is unknown. Let’s put it this way, I have a crush on your literary abilities, the talent that seeps out of those writing fingers, and the sensitive heart underlying it all. You are, after all, the man who got me to spend far too much time thinking about the details of Chanel’s romp with the Grand Duke in Cuir de Russie. Heh. 😉 Smooches. xoxox

      • OH you bet a crush is okay! You are on facebook? I have to go look for you.

  9. This is without question one of the most beautiful reviews of Mitsouko I think I’ve ever read. Of course, Mitsouko being one of the most incredible perfumes of the 20th century, how could it be otherwise? 😉 Thank you! xo

    • Tarleisio thank you so very much! And so nice to have you drop by.

      • I’l do my best to make it a habit! 😉

  10. Once again you have outdone yourself with such a beautiful interpretation of this classic scent. I have wanted to love Mitsouko so much, but it’s just not my perfume. But you always entice me to go back with your poetic posts. xoxoxo Steve

    • Oh Steve how did I miss your comment? Sometime love takes time….
      Best always my friend.

  11. Lanier, I love reading your stories – even when they are about perfumes I’ve never tried, plan to try or, like in this case, don’t even like.
    There are a couple of perfumes to which I keep coming back to try if I’ve changed my mind. Mitsouko is one of them. No luck so far but I’m persistent. Maybe one day…

    • I do hope someday you and mademoiselle Mitsouko can come to an understanding. And thank you Undina.

  12. Mitsouko is a star Lanier….just like you. Nothing comes close to Mitsouko….a very gorgeous man gave me a bottle of the parfum when I was 19…..and I’ve never, ever, ever, ever tired of it. And the gorgeous man….became my husband. Voila!

  13. Nice review. You sure do have a way with words.

  14. […] Mitsouko for the mornings, […]

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