Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Guerlain Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus: fragrance review

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.[1] “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" [2], 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 botched reformulated Mitsouko with its bread-like top note and its long finish of treemoss instead of oakmoss, or people who longed for a twist in the classic recipe like one less olive, one dash of vermouth less in their martini glass, might find in Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus a fragrance to successfully claim as their own. For my vintage collecting self it simply isn't a necessity, which affirms the thought that this is an attempt to grab new audiences, not established ones.

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.

One sample will be given to a lucky reader! State your interest at the comments, draw open till Friday midnight.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Guerlain series, flankers, Chypre series.

[1]Quote via Vanity Fair [2]Interview of Wasser and JPGuerlain at Wallpaper.
Pic of Linda Fiorention from the 1995 William Friedkin film "Jade" via L'internaute


  1. Fiordiligi11:21

    Ah, what a timely review! As a devoted and long-time lover of the "proper" Mitsouko I had been scared of trying this scent, but try it I did just the other day and was very pleasantly surprised.

    Thank heavens, there was no aqueous/watery note there for me and it was recognizably a member of the Mitsouko family. I liked it very much and it worked well when used with Mitsouko body lotion which has a lemony tinge to it.

    It is fleeting, but very nice, and I might even consider buying a bottle.

    No need to enter me in the draw, thanks, my dear, as I already have a large sample.

  2. Hello my dearest D!

    It's pleasantly surprising isn't it? I was so sure I'd hate it, but then one has to sniff. I don't think I will upgrade to a bottle, as I'm well decked with the regular in its vintage glory, but your idea of layering with the lotion I admit has escaped me. Sounds intriguing, have to try that! (thanks!!)

  3. Petals11:32

    Hey E!

    I am happy you reviewed this. I bought two bottles in Paris when I was there early in May. The store SAs (not at the the Maison) I was in called up every Guerlain and sourced the last two bottles they had for me. Another member from MUA went a few days after I did and could not locate any bottle left. As much as I wanted to detest FdL (because I don't like flankers and did not like the idea of flanking Mitsouko, my all time favourite scent), I enjoyed FdL. It was not aquatic as I feared and was a easier, casual way of wearing Mity without the heavy peach and oakmoss sillage.

    Now, the SAs are confused. One of them said it was a CdG exclusive, another said it was an Asian exclusive, another said it was all sold out all over the world. I don't know if this is all part of a hide-and-seek marketing ploy by Guerlain but I have a bottle. Also, mine is the 50ml, not 60 as you said. When I posted my picture of FdL on MUA, many American owners of the scent said their bottle lacked the sticker with the name on the bottle. Strange.

    Either way, I love this scent

  4. Chris G12:39

    I'm so curious! I was very skeptical when I first heard about it, but it's gotten good reviews from nearly every one. Please enter me in the draw...thanks!
    Chris G

  5. My dear T,

    so happy you found the review enjoyable and I was surprised I liked it too! It was so fit for a full-on thrashing, but fair is fair; it's not bad, it's quite pretty.

    How very ODD about the bottle: The official blurb says 60ml bottle. Is your bottle the same as the one in the pic here? There is a white sticker on. I wonder whether there were two packaging versions? (doubtful)
    Still I am not surprised about the hide-and-seek ploy you mention: it's been done before with some collectibles which were all the while at the boutique (maybe hidden under the sofa? Behind a pot plant?) and I know this for a fact! It's one of the reasons why I am very annoyed with Guerlain lately.

  6. Chris,

    you're included! No one was more sceptical than me (if I may use some exagerration), but here you are: it's quite good! Who would have thought it??

  7. London13:01

    I like the idea of Mitsouko but I can't get past the peach so I wonder if this will be my way in. I would love to be entered in the drawing. Thank you.

  8. I love Mitsouko, but I just can't wear the original very frequently - I don't wear it, it wears me (if you know what I mean).

    I'm not sure if I can enter the draw living in the UK, but if that's alright, I would love to be included.

  9. Alexandra13:22

    One thing I really hate is when fragrance (or bottle) is coloured in pink, green, blue or violet. It always remindes me of mouthwash.
    I`ve tried this one and Vol de Nuit Evasion and I liked Evasion much better (and that one is cheaper).
    Still, I think that they are exploiting legends too much for my taste. Limited issue of this, limmited issue of that...hard to find...everyone go mad...games like that...

  10. Petals13:38

    Hey E,

    My bottle looks exactly like the one pictured, but 50ml. It is even written as such on the box and underside of bottle. Before I bought the scent, I read somewhere it was 60ml, but when I bought the bottle, I thought people were mistaken. Do you have a bottle? Is it 60ml? I paid 65 Euros for each bottle!

  11. I'd love to try it!

  12. Anonymous13:53

    Dear E,

    I am currently working through samples of Guerlain classics (some vintage, some "reworked") and need to revisit Mitsouko as it left my head spinning when I tried it first; not from olfactory overload but from what appeared to me as several very opposing personalities throughout its life on my skin. Anyway, a sample of FdeL would be most welcome; perhaps it would help me understand the original.

    Please enter me in the draw, kindest E.


  13. Color me a virgin Mitsouko here!! And one who would love to try it...please enter me in the draw. Thanks so much...

  14. Mitsy hates me. I'm not sure what it is - it might, actually, be that peach, since I generally have trouble with other lactonic scents. I'd love to find a version that worked on me, so please enter me in the sample drawing. And thanks for the opportunity!

  15. This is tremendously lovely; I was very leery of it, but I was wrong.

    Still, I would rtather spend the same sum of money on a 4-oz. perfume tester of Farouche [ which is what I did !]...

    It is somewhat fleeting; I think it's perfect for the heat, or if you're shy, or you if you want a veil of scent, truly.

  16. I am so so SO dying to try this. The extrait smells ... wrong ... on me. I have tried so hard to love it, and wonder if Lotus will also be disagreeable. I have to say, it is the ONE and only perfume I have not "turned the corner" on, where my nose has caught up to my brain (or to put it another way, my intellectual understanding of the fragrance is always overruled by the visceral, instinctive reaction of my nose). Please enter me in the draw.

  17. I'm finding it really interesting how well received this one is actually. Apparently lotus is not the death note for Mitsouko.

  18. London,

    it's less peachy if that alleviates your concerns, but still recognisably a family member. Hope you get to win and find out!

  19. Prox,

    we're actually based in Europe, so UK is fine and peachy!! (I couldn't resist!!)
    You're in. I find this is much lighter without betraying the original, so maybe you stand a good chance.

  20. Alexandra,

    you're absolutely right that there is too much exploitation with the heritage, often to displeasing results. It annoys me VERY much too! It's all a game of "I'm hard to get" and I consider this sooooo immature (in general).
    Then again I was surprised by this. Here they are producing something good, Jean Paul must have insisted they don't botch it, which is nice of him.

    The bright colours do recall mouthwash. Or detergents. It's a bit startling, to be sure.

  21. Thanks for this review. I do enjoy Mitsouko EdP occasionally. I wonder what I'd think of this one. The Exorcist analogy was an amusing one. Please enter me in the draw.

  22. T,

    thanks for the additional info. How VERY strange! Could it be a faulty press-release then?? I haven't actually checked on the counter, so can't swear as I didn't get a bottle. 65 euros for 60ml is more economical than for 50 though.... ;-)
    Let me check this little detail with Guerlain directly and I will come back to you if they enlighten me.

  23. Karin,

    you're icluded, best of luck!

  24. Natalia,

    hi honey, thanks for commenting and of course you're in.
    How Mitsouko torments some of us, eh? I think there is a point where something doesn't agree and we can hunt down a version that does. With all these historical fragrances it's important to note down the batch of every sampling and to sample as much versions as possible, because they have been changed so much and so often throughout their history.
    I hope the new FdL agrees with you!!

  25. Scentmuse,

    you're in luck in that you can appreciate things with fresh eyes then! I think it's a nice enough fragrance, it has a rich background smelled at a distance and doesn't give a stuffy atmosphere as many complain of the old original. You're in!

  26. Mals,

    she's a difficult one, that much is perhaps true. I think it would be the oakmoss, so perhaps the new one with its diminished ratio might provide a good alternative for you.
    You're included of course!

  27. Dear I,

    I was wrong too! Remember how I was this close to hammering it down when I heard the news? But I'm happy to say it's not bad, it's quite good. But like you I won't be buying a bottle. First because I love my older versions and am perfectly happy with them, and second because limited pricey editions and fleeting do not equate a successful purchase in my mind.
    May people who don't appreciate Mitsouko however come to see its beauty through this porthole.

  28. Marsi,

    the extrait used to be oakmoss-galore, so I can't blame you if you had problems with that note (I love it, but not all do). It also had much of the golden, ripe feel of the classic GUerlains, which is too opulent and baroque for modern tastes. So this is a nice orchestration perhaps for contemporary tastes (I am thinking they did a comparable nice flanker with Shalimar Light, which is one I wear often with much pleasure and no inhibitions)

    I love that your intellectual understanding is overruled by the instinctive: perfume should be like that! Otherwise if we embark on a diatribe every time we wear something we lose part of its charm. Fragrance writing is of course more attuned to matters of artistry and discussion on what things we enjoy and how they're related to their era, their structure and their science, but it's not de rigeur as to what relates strictly to perfume wearing by itself.

    Good luck!!

  29. Jen,

    I wasn't believing my nose either. How could they do it? If you close your eyes, you know it's Mitsouko and yet it has a modern feel.

  30. Lindsey,

    thanks for stopping by! I think for someone who likes the original in EDP this is fleeting, but might be good for the summer. You're in!

    Glad you enjoyed the Exorcist analogy! :-D

  31. I must confess that I never tried Mitsouko and if I did, then it didn't leave any impression, apparently - maybe it was that fragrance that reminded me of Pepsi with extra patchouli, if I think of it. I would love to love a Guerlain fragrance but apparently, apart from some of the Aquas Allegorias, this brand is not for me and mostly, their scents just hate me. Drain cleaner and cat piss hate me.
    I however love Jardin sur le Nil which is built around lotus so if it is prominent will it work for me? (well, yeah, I do want a sample, if nothing else, I can exchange it for something else, I'm a greedy materialist)

  32. Stella P18:12

    I love Mitsouko even in the newest incarnation, so I would like very much to try this new sister (even though blue liquid). Please enter me in the draw!

  33. Anonymous19:01

    I would like to sample this.

  34. I love Mitsouko and would like to try the new version just out of curiosity. Please include me in your drawing. Thanks!

  35. hmm please enter me in the drawer... I'm very curious!

  36. Well I wonder if this will hit Australia.
    I was wearing the Mitsouko edp yesterday and my daughter was saying how lovely it was. Ana is a Shalimar girl. You can guess my daughter is a "guerlain girl" Helg.LOL
    We are off to Sydney in August to see what wonders the new "boutique" in Myer department store has. I wonder if this one will be there???

  37. Hi L!

    I can feel your pain. So many want to love Guerlain, but not always actually like their offerings.
    I think from the classics you run a better chance with Sous Le Vent (dry lavender chypre) and Vol de Nuit (oriental with a lighter green and leathery touch). Perhaps also Vetiver or Vetiver pour Elle? These lack the peculiar accord that irritates many people!
    Then again some of their more recent creations eschew that characteristic vibe altogether. You might like Rose Barbare, Cuir Beluga or Cologne du 68 (the latter should be on your closest Guerlain counter, so should be easy to sample).

    I LOVE UJSLN too!! But I find it very different than MFdL, just so you're prepared. Whereas one is intensely fruity (grapefuit) and woody, the other is richer but as if heard from a distance, if it makes sense. There is a lovely note in there which would be the lotus, a little citrusy, a little aqueous, but not too much.
    It's worth sampling, so I am putting you on the list! Good luck!

  38. S,

    hope you're well! How is the weather?

    I'm including you, it's quite different than what I expected judging by the gargle-associations! LOL You might like it!

  39. Barbara,

    thanks for stopping by, you're in, good luck!

  40. CoD,

    seems like a perfectly valid reason to me! Good luck!

  41. K,

    of course you're included. I was hesitating whether to try it out or not myself and then I am glad I finally did, even if I don't need a bottle.

  42. Hello my dear M!!

    Yup, I do recall your family smelling gorgeous! ~I trust the baby and your hub naturally smell wonderful, so... :-)
    Mitsouko is so lovely as it is, but this one isn't a travesty as I feared. If you close your eyes and concentrate with one on one arm and another on the other arm you can definitely see them as different "concentrations" of the same thing.
    I believe it should hit your shores as it's inspired by Asian themes and the Australasia distribution should therefore be included. At least that's my reasoning. And for a change it's not exorbitantly costly either.

  43. Helg,
    I've already tried the Eau du 68 and it was okay. Not offensive or irritating, I would be fine if I got it as a gift but I wouldn't buy it myself, admittedly. Vol de Nuit could work - I snatched the bottle (it's oh-so-beautiful but I was scared of the fragrance) somewhere and the stopper smelled nice.
    Vetiver - seen it in the department store, good tip, although, well, not sure that I want a vetiver soliradix.

    These days, I've been searching for that ideal fragrance of mine again and everything seems to irritate me that it's not close enough. I'm an incurable idealist of sorts. (more rants on the blog, one day I'll find out how to put linkies in the comments)

    Off to my dance class or I'll rot at the computer:D

  44. Anonymous13:03

    You know what? I was going to pass on this, with a shudder. I really dislike most water scents, and I love Mitsouko. But, I think your review has convinced me not to judge so hastily! Please enter me in the draw, and even if I don't win I'm going to seek this one out and give it a test. You've expanded my perfume horizons!

  45. Hi there, E

    My question is, "When did the Epcot Center become an exclusive fragrance boutique?" This is the 3rd or 4th unattainable, high-end fragrance I've heard about that is available at Disneyland Plus. International tourist thing?

    Anyway, this sounds lovely. It seems that lotus-like fragrances agree with my skin. Which is a nice consolation since vetiver does not (much to my dismay).

    have a great day!

  46. L,

    point taken! ;-)
    I think Vol de Nuit is a masterpiece and it's not completely ruined these days which is nice; hope you enjoy your bottle. The masculine Vetiver is citrusy and cool, the feminine is rather more floral and very good, more complex than a mere vetiver scent.

    I know, when one wants something very specific and everything seems close but no cigar it's annoying. Have you thought of consulting with a perfumer to have something custom-made?

  47. Rappleyea23:04

    Well, I'm a bit late to this party, but I've been awaiting your review of this. If I hadn't already tried it, as usual you would have convinced me to! It didn't last long enough on my skin to determine whether or not I could smell any resemblance to the original. I mean it was literally gone in 10 minutes! Most of the Guerlains last even through showers on me! Sigh....I'm having oakmoss withdrawal.

    No need to include me in the draw as I already have a sample.

  48. D,

    you flatter me :-)
    My major gripe was the same as yours: "where is it??" I lost it in about half an hour and as you say most Guerlains are very tenacious. I think this is the bet: make it light while still recognisably Mitsouko. If so, they succeeded. But then, I don't need 9and you don't need either) a bottle of it.

  49. I guess there is still time for me to enter although I am still a bit apprehensive of the possible watery/oceanic feel to it. But your review makes it sound really worth of trying and that's what I'd like to do. :)

  50. I have tried valiantly to like Mitsouko but have never succeeded. I do like watery scents so maybe I'll have more luck with this one? Count me in the draw please and I might find out! Cheers!

  51. Helg,
    getting it custom-made would destroy the fun of searching. And, by searching, I can hopefully learn enough to be able to blend the thing myself.
    I just opened my notebook where I store a handful of pressed flowers and on which I poured some Coromandel accidentally long time ago. Now, patchouli and elder go well together, would you guess that?

  52. Ines

    you're not too late and therefore you're in. It's not too watery, it's not too heavy, it's unexpectedly Mitsouko but airier.
    Good luck!

  53. A,

    I hope you like it, it's quite worthy of sampling in any case and at a decent price for a bottle. You in!

  54. L,

    good point. Learning is so much fun too!
    Patchouli I find works with my many things: from the culinary such as chocolate and dark coffee to the airier like white flowers. It's a very interesting essence! Got to try with elderflower alone.

  55. Please add me to the draw. Curious about this one, too!

  56. I'd love to try a sample! Count me in :)

  57. Anonymous18:20

    I'm curious to try Mitsouko "Lite"-- please enter me in the drawing!

  58. fleurdelys22:06

    Hmm, I really want to love the original Mitsouko, but although I respect it, I'm still not sure it's for me. I'd love to be entered in the drawing, maybe Fleur de Lotus is what I'm looking for!

  59. Occhi,

    thanks for stopping by and I've included you. Hope you get to satisfy your curiosity!

  60. D,

    of course you're in! It's a nice one, surprisingly enough, so good luck!

  61. Gretchen,

    it's indeed a curio, so good luck!

  62. FdL,

    I'm including you esepcially since your nick has the same acronym as Mitsouko FdL!! :-)
    I can understand perfectly what you say about respecting but not loving the original: many people have the same problem, so maybe this one is for them!
    Best of luck!

  63. I am brand new to this site and glad to be here. I do hope this question is not inappropriate. Please direct me to a site with information on Guerlain bottles and their dates of manufacture. ~ Helen

  64. Hi Helen and thanks for stopping by!

    In regards to your question, maybe our reviews on the Guerlain Series might provide some chronology info & pics and there is also a collector, named Mr.Guerlain, linked on our blogroll at the right, who has several GUerlain bottles pics.

  65. Hi,

    do you know where I can get to buy Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus???? Is there online?

    PS: I´m from Brazil...

  66. Hello Sarah and thanks for stopping by.
    I'm afraid this one is only reserved for the boutiques circuit. I don't think there is a Guerlain boutique in Brazil or a mega-store with a dedicated Guerlain exclusices corner (like Bergdorf Goodman's in the US), so your best best is searching on online sites of perfume collectors (Scent Splits on wikidot.com perhaps?) or on Ebay.
    Sorry I'm the bearer of bad news...
    But good luck to your hunt! :-)

  67. Hello,

    I´m lookin for by "Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus" and I found your blog. Please, my friend went to Guerlain Paris and there there isn´t more this perfume. Do you know where I can find it? I´m from Brazil....so, I ´d like to buy online.

  68. Hello Lilia and thanks for stopping by!

    Like I was saying above, this was an exclusive boutique scent (all too brief it seemed!) and therefore nowhere official to be purchased online. But you can try Ebay. It might appear there!

    Thanks again for commenting and hope you like the scope of the site. :-)


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