Saying you love Mitsouko is like saying you shop for groceries, the kind of statement unlikely to come as a newsflash to anyone--yet the fragrance does have its detractors. I don't know these people, naturally. I make a conscious effort not to know them. I very nearly developed amnesia about my relationship with one friend when recently she said Mitsouko smelled like that stuff that repels mosquitoes. Surely you don't mean citronella, I warned. After carefully judging my facial expression, she answered, certainly not.
Until I smelled the pure parfum at Nordstrom this month, I was fairly ambivalent about Mitsouko myself. I'd owned the EDT for a while, and pushed it to the "for special occasions" section of my collection, otherwise known as scents I dislike, am disappointed with, or don't understand. A spritz on the wrist lasted all of five minutes, it seemed to me, which was reason enough to move on.
I have no idea where this EDT falls on the reformulation continuum. It smells different enough from the EDP I purchased at Nordstrom that I wonder. The EDP has different packaging. The EDT has the geometrically striped, foil-bright gold box most of my Guerlain purchases from the local department store bear. The EDP box is more discreet, matte gold with a simple logo. Who knows what any of this means or where lines can be drawn or comparisons made. As I've mentioned before, don't expect clarification from the department store, or, God forbid, the Sephora counter, whose employees seem equally confused by the words Guerlain and Homme, the latter being a word they seem to take as some sort of environmental product for spraying on sheets or carefully abstracting unwelcome water closet aromas.
The Mitsouko EDP starts out bright and a little warm. It seems to give off heat, like simmering peaches. There are many other things in there, some of which you'll find listed on basenotes, though that listing is pretty sparse, as if this were a construction of admirable restraint. Perhaps that's true, and there's barely anything in Mitsouko. Maybe it's one of those experiments in minimalism so fashionable with people who like to believe things should be kept simple. I find that hard to believe, given how complex some of the Guerlain oldies are said to be. Their base materials alone would make quite complex perfumes. Whatever the listed pyramid of Mitsouko is, wherever you happen to be looking, I smell a strong gust of vetiver similar to that present in many contemporary perfumes. It presides over the entire composition, as far as I can tell, bolstering it from top to bottom with a fairly masculine character.
Though the EDT smells very similar to the EDP and is recognizably the same perfume, it lacks that quality. I smell the oakmoss prominently in the EDT, getting that muted, slightly fussy ambience associated now with elderly women and, increasingly, daring young men. This puts it closer to old school chypres, the closest of which, in my cabinet, would be Trussardi Femme and Rochas Mystere. Both possess a dry, almost smoky aspect absent in the Mitsouko EDP. The EDP is closer to the new chypres in many respects, not least because of their sunny disposition. Clearly, new means were applied toward a familiar end, but the result is arrestingly bright.
Which isn't to say the Mitousko EDP is insipidly cheery. It isn't. It's a complicated smell pretending to be more straightforward than all that. It has stealth and wears powerfully. It's remarkably androgynous, part sultry, part swagger. The brilliance of the reformulation is its ability to look forward and backward simultaneously, to modernize Mitousko without reducing it to a museum piece, admirable but unwearable. It smells richer than most of what perfumers are producing today, and more accessible than much of what came before it. The 2 ounce bottle seems a steal to me, given the endurance the fragrance has.