Take a room that appears goldenish baroque in its ambience, but actually comprised of little, aptly chosen, dramatic furniture and saturate it in the cool and bright light of the North on a salubrious day and you have the latest Guerlain, Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus. Tentatively smelling it, convinced I'd absolutely hate it, it gave me the testing whiplash of my life: It isn't half bad! Aesthetically it is as successful in its modernisation as Eau Première is to the iconic Chanel No.5 (I wish I could say that for the latest Cristalle Eau Verte).
The introduction of a Mitsouko flanker, and what's more a watery Mitsouko in a mouthwash-tinted bottle, initially sounded as mind-numbingly sacrilegious as Regan impaling herself with a crucifix in one of the most brilliant scenes of William Friedkin's 1973 thriller "The Exorcist" would look to the Pope. However Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus reminds me of another William Friedkin heroine, this one more mature, sexier and tamer than the possessed child Regan; namely, Trina Gavin in 1995 "Jade". Not exactly Ai-no Corrida material, the passions are contained, but still an involving character.
The original Mitsouko by Jacques Guerlain launched in 1919 at a time when women rediscovered luxury and all things Eastern and it subtly unveils its peachy-fuzz chypre heart amidst a spicy, smoky mossiness that creates the feeling of decadent and, at the same time, wistful opulence. Jean Paul Guerlain rightfully decided not to mess up with perfection and merely injected an airier lotus blossom note which uplifts and mollifies the composition into a brighter, lighter plane.
“Mitsouko is really a masterpiece,” says Jean-Paul. “I did not want to betray my grandfather’s, so I added a freshness to the scent with spices and white musk to give a modernity to it without changing the original scent.”Jean Paul Guerlain is according to Thierry Wasser (new resident nose at Guerlain) "the Indiana Jones of fragrance" , such is his galivanting the world in search of new and exciting raw materials; and lotus blossom is a traditional essence of the East which seemed very fitting to what is essentially an Eastern inspired composition in the first place.
After the initial acqueous and rather green jasmine-like impression the unmistakeable palpability of Mitsouko comes through while the progression surprisingly takes Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus into more hesperidic (the lotus), cooly powdery tonalities (some cardamom?) with a slight sprinkling of clean sweeteness instead of the butyric lactonic richness and almost burnt peachiness of the original. And since the classic Mitsouko can be worn by men too, I see no real problem in the newest version being co-operative on a man's skin if they generally like softer fragrances. Be prepared for a short-lived experience however: The lasting power is nowhere near the tenacity of the classic in either of its concentrations.
If you love the original Mitsouko enough, the new Fleur de Lotus variant seems like a redundancy. If you do not, it is doubtful whether you will find something seismically different that would make you do a 180 degree turn. As March put it: "You can hear the right chords being played, but they’re in the background. Somewhere down the hall, but still there. I wouldn’t say, precisely, that it honors the original, but it doesn’t diminish it, either.". Nevertheless, people who might have objected to either the latest
Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus is available in 60ml/2oz bottles of Eau de Toilette, whose design reprises the classic inverted heart bottle with a degradée of bright blue-ish shades and a white label. It retails for $100 at Guerlain boutiques exclusively and Saks Fifth Avenue NYC, Bergdorf Goodman NYC, Waldorf Astoria, Neiman Marcus at San Francisco, The Bellagio at Las Vegas, the Epcot Center at Orlando and The Breakers at Palm Beach.
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Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Guerlain series, flankers, Chypre series.
Quote via Vanity Fair Interview of Wasser and JPGuerlain at Wallpaper.
Pic of Linda Fiorention from the 1995 William Friedkin film "Jade" via L'internaute