Monday, October 12, 2009

Guerlain Mouchoir de Monsieur: fragrance review

~by Mike Perez

Some fragrances play the part of the “quiet, silent type”. Let me explain: Strangely, there are fragrances that I’ve sampled that smell like nothing at all. Well…not nothing…but it smells as if a hole has opened up in the air and for a few minutes there is a blank space where the top notes belong. Like pushing PLAY on your IPod and watching the track begin (0:00, 0:01…) and no music plays. This has happened to me several times and I have no idea why. However, most of the time (luckily) scents that start out this way usually turn out to be fragrances that I grow to love. Like Mouchoir de Monsieur by Guerlain.

Before this I sampled the ‘classic’ lavender fougere by Guerlain: Jicky. The Eau de Toilette was too excessively talcum powder prominent, and although I could appreciate the lavender, it felt uncomfortable and slightly matronly on me.. Jicky Eau de Parfum is a shocker: so embarrassingly civet prominent in the top notes, I was instantly repulsed. Waiting for those top notes to calm down took a bit too long and tiresome so I considered sampling the parfum next when I got a sample of MdM.

The first time I sprayed it – I smelled a tiny bit of the Guerlinade, but that was it. Nothing. Sample off? Nose fatigue? A second time, I smelled a bit of the lavender but nothing as spectacular as the Aqua Allegoria Lavande Velours by Guerlain – a gushing lavender / purple violets that’s almost aroma therapeutic . The 3rd time I smelled it I was instantly greeted with a totally different accord – the familiar style of perfumery like Jicky – but swirled together into an entirely different pattern. Jicky remixed into a sturdier more solidly constructed accord. Wonderful! Perfect balance, with all of the parts of Jicky that I wanted: exceedingly high quality lavender, rosemary and bergamot; that unique fern aura; the rich Guerlinade – they are all here, but blended into the civet and woody notes in a richer and luxurious way. The fragrance evolves with a quiet, floral heart giving the patchouli a sophisticated, powdery nuance. Small parts of it remind me of wearing a refreshing eaux cologne, yet it simultaneously retains subtle and important details of Guerlain’s classic feminine fragrances. Not an easy feat.

It doesn’t scream for attention – it is essentially a subtle fragrance, hushed – making its presence known in tiny whiffs here and there, throughout the day, all day. It is, perhaps, for this reason why I couldn’t smell it when I first sampled it. There’s not a blast of aldehydes or synthetic woody ambers to diffuse this scent quickly. And the lavender, sometimes extremely medicinal and sharp, is soft.

I admit – I’m the quiet, silent type myself. At a cocktail party, you’ll find me off in the corner checking out the host’s CD collection instead of socializing and interacting with others. I speak very little but when I speak, I choose my words very carefully…looking you straight in the eyes.

I’m okay being this type of “guy”. It’s who I am. It’s who my father is. Problems come and go. Challenges are thrown my way... I have horrible days, just like everyone else does. I choose to keep all of that inside, most of the time – introspective, reflective and calm to everyone. Only when you get closer to me, do I open up, and only then will I reveal what’s going on underneath the surface.

Just like Mouchoir de Monsieur.

Notes for Guerlain Mouchoir de Monsieur (1904):
Top: lavender, lemon verbena, bergamot
Middle: jasmine, neroli, rose, tonka bean, patchouli, cinnamon
Base: Iris, amber, vanilla, oakmoss

King Juan Carlos I of Spain (depicted) was reputedly one of the few purveyors of Mouchoir de Monsieur before Guerlain decided to re-issue it more widely.

Pics of Cary Grant, Mouchoir de Monsieur bottle and Juan Carlos of Spain via Mike Perez


  1. How lovely, Mike !
    [You must also be extremely suave ;-)]

    I share your delight in this ethereal beauty.

  2. Bravo! Bravo pour le monsieur!

    Great review, Mike. Your writing just gets better and better!

  3. Mike Perez03:46

    Oh I would love to smell MdM on a woman. Thanks C! ;)

  4. Mike Perez03:47

    Thanks T.Rex.

    Better writing - it must be the lavender. :)

    Hopefully you'll get your sample in the mail and you can let me know if you like it - as I know you liked Jicky when we smelled it together.

  5. Fiordiligi08:37

    Ah Mike, Guerlain and Cary Grant! That's a wonderful way to start the day.

    I adore both Jicky (civet doesn't trouble me) and Mouchoir de Monsieur; it would be nice to do a side-by-side review of Mouchoir and its companion Voilette de Madame (also gorgeous).

  6. Mike Perez12:21

    Glad you enjoyed it Fiordiligi.

    I agree with you and I'd love to smell Voilette de Madame (one of these days...). If I do, I promise a side-by-side review.

  7. Fiordiligi14:14

    I could send you a sample if you like......

  8. Anonymous16:00

    Dear Mike,

    A lovely review; I have never smelled MdM but you captured in your words the genius of Guerlain. Their older perfumes, and quite a few of their newer ones, are so perfectly composed that the notes flow one into the next in such perfect harmony with themselves and with the skin that the end result is entirely unique and eminently wearable.

    I must try my Violette de Madame again; I was rather underwhelmed initially but that might be just the sample quality. Or, if it is as subtle as you say the MdM is, it must be me. I rather adore the crack upside the head of the lavender in Sous le Vent as I wait for its wicked dry-down.

    Thank you for a perfect Guerlain review.


  9. Goodness I love that photo! And what a wonderful review, I love the little stories you tell... I am unfortunately the chatterbox at parties. I know this surprises you. :) You would either find it charming or wish you'd been seated elsewhere.

  10. Fiordiligi,

    Voilette de Madame is a perfect companion: it's quite sample worthy (so a rec from me to anyone who hasn't yet) and yes, it should be reviewed at some point.

  11. March,

    hi there honey! (Is weather all right? I heard of snow in Nebraska!! I mean, wow!)

    Yeah, isn't that photo completely dishy? Then again Cary was completely dishy in everything he did: such charm!

    You, the chatterbox? Come sit by me and share into the stories. :-))

  12. Mike Perez20:28

    Fiordiligi -

    Thank you for the kind offer. You can email Helg at perfumeshrine@yahoo.com and she will forward me your email - thanks!

  13. Mike Perez20:33

    Natalia -

    Thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed my review! I know what you mean: falling in love with a complex scent like MdM is easy; describing it in a review is super difficult. But it was my goal, ever since I smelled it, to tackle this scent.

    I really love Sous le Vent also - it's just everything I want from a green chypre. It (and Philtre d'Amour) are new Guerlain chypre obsessions. :)

  14. Mike Perez20:35

    March -


    I get along great with chatterboxes. In fact, I am married to one. Here's hoping he's not reading this. :)

  15. Mike,

    it's true you managed to convey it beautifully.
    As to Philtre d'Amour, it's simply wonderful! (as is Sous Le Vent and I'm not really into lavender really, and yet...)

  16. I am always grateful to understand a fragrance from the inside out. Now I can better appreciate, and enjoy, my MdM. Thank you, Mike.

  17. Mike,

    At the end of your review of MdeM you said King Juan Carlos was a 'purveyor' of MdeM. Did the King sell scent or have the rights for MdeM or something?

    Loved the review,


  18. Thank you so much for writing about my favourite perfume in the whole world in the most incredibly charming way.

    This review sums up so nicely about this perfume and why we like to wear it after all the years since its creation in 1904.

    Whenever I wear Mouchoir, I feel I can rise confidently to any occasion. I hope that this perfume will be in production forever and for many years to come.

    Mr. Guerlain, please don't revitalise or change its ingredients or make it into Sport brand. Guerlain tried it with Habit Rouge and a new version is a disaster.

    It's a lot harder to find at the moment than other Guerlain's products. Habit Rouge, for example, is so widely available but Mouchoir is not.

    That's apart of its 'quiet' charm - it's not run of the mill.

    Thank you so much for your beautiful words which match this beautiful cologne.

  19. It MdM suitable for all season? Ive been reading that its not good to use in summer times although its a fresh scent. Any advice please!


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