Scent Diary : Mitsouko and Japanese fairy tales

Yesterday came the snow. It always feel magical to watch the city disappear and melt behind the curtain of whiteness. Even when the snow melted, the sensation of miracle lingered. I had a full day, but as soon as I was finished with work, I made a cup of tea, put on Guerlain Mitsouko and started reading Aoko Matsuda’s Where the Wild Ladies Are, a modern retelling of Japanese folktales, complete with ghosts, foxes, and magical trees.

To be exact, Guerlain Mitsouko selected me, and not the other way around. I sprayed some Mitsouko the other day to study its woody accord, and the fragrance lasted on a blotter for several days. Some even landed on my chair cushion, so I feel like I’ve been in a cloud of Mitsouko this whole week. The peaches and cinnamon top notes, however, are so luscious that I didn’t mind re-spraying it again. Its mysterious character fits well the mood of Japanese fairy tales.

What about you? What are you wearing today?

Scent Diary is a place to write your observations about the scents around you. Whether you write down 1 recollection or 10 matters less than simply reminding yourself to smell. You can add as many comments as you wish. You can comment today or over the course of the week; this thread will always be open. Of course, do share what perfume you’re wearing or what particularly good scented products you’ve discovered.

While looking through my articles, I found this article that I wrote a few years ago but that still remains popular and often-read: A to Z Tips for Enjoyable, Affordable and Rewarding Perfume Hobby. If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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41 Comments

  • Fazal: I am wearing vintage Dior Dune EDT which I received two days ago (back-up purchase).

    I read your review before wearing it, and Chanel Allure, indeed, has borrowed from it. I don’t like Allure and that may be why I don’t particularly enjoy the opening of Dune though Dune’s opening is still much better. However, once the opening phase is over, it is quite enjoyable, particularly, the dry-down. I think I have lately discovered that I enjoy Brazilian Rosewood note and it seems it made it appearance in lot of vintage perfumes which is why many of them have that warm-woody feel. December 3, 2021 at 8:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Allure is a clever composition, but I also preferred Dune. The woody accord in the base is just brilliant. December 3, 2021 at 9:01am Reply

    • Sara: I love Dune, and it is the only vintage bottle in my small collection. My mom wore it when I was younger, so it will always remind me a little of childhood and her going off to work. For me it’s striking to compare just how sweet contemporary fragrances are by comparison! Dune has some vanilla, but I find the overall impression dry and a little melancholy. I love it, but because of that sadness I associate with it I don’t wear it too often. December 3, 2021 at 6:34pm Reply

      • Fazal: You are right. Dune def. has a sweet side to it and yet it does not smell too sweet these days for precisely the very reason that contemporary fragrances are way way sweet.

        Usually you get used to contemporary trends over time after smelling them again and again and yet I am still not getting used to how sweet fragrances have become.

        One of my favorite sweet masculine fragrances is Givenchy Pi in original formula. I still remember my first impression that it is quite sweet. Lately, however, I have become quite a fan and suddenly its sweetness seems so tolerable now because the new releases have set a new benchmark for sweetness overload. December 4, 2021 at 2:27am Reply

        • Sara: Hi Fazal! Yes, the sweetness is at another level altogether. I don’t judge anyone’s taste in perfume, it’s so personal, so I hope no one reading this comment takes it the wrong way (not that this community usually does!). I can enjoy smelling something very sweet on someone else, but when I wear very sweet fragrances, it overwhelms me quickly. Victoria had a video awhile back about what ‘sweet’ means in the context of perfume, and she said that it was similar to white it means in the context of wine. Well, I can accept that, but there is something overly sugary about even dry fragrances, like L’air du Desert Marocain, to me. I do like that fragrance but find it impossible to enjoy when I wear it. Another trend I’ve noticed is a kind of weight in fragrances; I feel sometimes like this goes hand in hand with the sweetness, like some contemporary fragrances drape me in a heavy curtain instead of chiffon. That said, I don’t mind anything about these kinds of trends except that I’d love it if they were counterbalanced by new releases that are more gauzy, dry, effervescent, and changing. December 4, 2021 at 12:38pm Reply

          • Fazal: Yeah, you are right. We may be struggling to get used to such sweetness but apparently there is a large enough market for such fragrances, given the never-ending releases of gourmand fragrances now.

            I do like dry fragrances, though mostly as occasional wear rather than day-to-day wear. December 4, 2021 at 3:20pm Reply

      • Frances: Hello Sara,
        I don’t know if you remember but we talked about Dune in the Recommend me Thread. I also have childhood memories regarding this wonderful fragrance. I finally found a perfumery shop in Paris which can send me a sample of Dune along with two other ones of my choice, only I have to wait after Christmas. I can’t wait to compare the new Dune with my scented memory of it. Now that I read your comment, I will look after the melancholy you’re evoking and see if I discern it too. December 4, 2021 at 7:57am Reply

        • Sara: Hi, Frances! I do remember our exchange, and it’s lovely to connect over Dune once more! I hope that the new formulation brings you some joy. It is possible that my memories of it are tinged with melancholy because of the time in my life; we were refugees at the time and making a new life in Germany. But I’ve noticed that others do describe it as melancholy here and there. I may just not be the most reliable source on this matter! Happy sampling 🙂 December 4, 2021 at 12:29pm Reply

          • Frances: Sara, I cannot begin to understand how hard it must have been to leave your native country and start anew. Exile is a very painful thing to go through. Being a child at the time surely didn’t make it easier since the youngest are even more in need of stability than the adults. I can imagine how the beauty of Dune intertwined with this feeling of grief but also with the tender memory of your mother wearing it. I often noticed that the complexity of life is such that alot of the things we love go inevitably tinged with sadness. However you’re right in saying you’re not the only one experiencing this feeling with Dune, I remember Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez mentioned it too in their review. I check it out today and they’re actually calling it a “disenchanted, ladylike gem”.

            Thank you for your encouragement regarding the sample, I hope I will have soon the opportunity to keep an update in one of the next Recommend Me Thread. December 5, 2021 at 11:44am Reply

      • Frances: I posted a reply to your post but it ended just below Fazal comment, sorry. December 4, 2021 at 7:58am Reply

        • Frances: Nope, the comment is the right place, I really have trouble with visualizing the comment section layout, I don’t know why, it is truly embarassing! 1 time out of 3, either I post in the wrong place or I think I have. December 4, 2021 at 8:02am Reply

    • Frances: Hello Fazal,
      Dune is a wonderful fragrance, at least the vintage one, I will soon sample the new Dune and I can’t wait to see what happened with the reformulation. I’m glad they still keep it around anyway.

      I wore Allure when it was first released (it was around 1997 or something like that) and thought it was a very nice fragrance but nothing like Dune of course. Allure has been heavily reformulated since then if I’m right. December 4, 2021 at 8:12am Reply

      • Fazal: Frances, appreciate your comment. I always go for the vintage Dune. I have not smelled the new version and do not feel tempted either since the pictures of new bottles show a thin composition. And given the changes since the release of original dune, it is almost certain that the reformulation has to be drastic as some ingredients used in original Dune became scarce and some others got restricted by regulations. December 4, 2021 at 11:37am Reply

  • Aurora: The queen Mitsouko, sometimes so demanding. In my case l’Heure Bleue extrait (it’s a vintage I recently found with its mysterious nuances intact) chose to cling to my skin since yesterday, so I didn’t have a scent of the day today.

    You have snow and I’ve just walked through dead leaves on the humid ground, different pleasures of late fall. December 3, 2021 at 8:24am Reply

    • Victoria: We are back to the fallen leaves and rain. The snow was just a short interlude. December 3, 2021 at 9:02am Reply

  • Megan: I absolutely loved Where the Wild Ladies Are, and I don’t know a lot of the original ghost stories that are being referenced. Let me know when you finish it! December 3, 2021 at 8:54am Reply

  • Eileen Sharkey: I found Mitsouko partly from your recommendation when I was trying to find a replacement for my beloved but now unrecognizable Femme. The first spritz captured me (and I had ordered it without being able to test it!) and it’s now my go-to. But I admit…it got me interested in other Guerlain scents and I find Jicky to be wonderful now that the cold weather has settled in. December 3, 2021 at 9:22am Reply

    • Eileen: ETA — when I was in grade school (back when we rode dinosaurs to school..), I read a book of Japanese ghost stories and it scared me so much I’ve never been able to go back to that genre! December 3, 2021 at 9:24am Reply

    • Amanda M: Ooh, I love Rochas Femme! I can only wear the Eau de Parfum version as I find the heavy cumin note in the reformulated toilette version quite a challenge and rather overpowering, which ruins it for me and don’t really prefer it…
      I cannot detect the cumin in the edp, if it’s there somewhere, it is very subtle.

      But I’ve read somewhere that cumin can ‘disappear’ or appear less potent, from a fragrance that has aged, so maybe that’s why my EDP version is so pleasant now! It that true, Victoria?
      My ultimate wish is to try the parfum, which is the original Roudnitska version. That sounds divine.

      I adore Mitsouko, in all it’s iterations – in fact, you’ve inspired me today as it’s my SOTD. 🧡
      Have loved it since I first set my nose upon it in the late 80’s, when I was just 20…I was entranced by its beauty and still am to this day! December 3, 2021 at 10:35pm Reply

  • Muzo: Pour moi le premier pshitt de Mitsouko n’est pas tres agreable Il ya un ton qu je ne pourrais pas decrire entre animal et chimique et metallique qu’on dirait ca n’aurais de placa dans une flocon de parfum.Mais petite a petite il devient comme les autres classiques de Guerlain ,riche et complexe et reconfortant. December 3, 2021 at 9:55am Reply

  • carole macleod: I cannot stop wearing SL Louve. It’s not like anything else I own, and it’s a departure from my normal scents. I’m not sure I ever craved a scent before. I’m looking forward tot he solstice-come on spring lol.

    I love the idea of a cup of tea, Mitsuko, and Japanese stories 🙂 December 3, 2021 at 10:04am Reply

  • Tina: I recently bought a brand new bottle of Mitsouko EdP, with the new dark blue logo and imo it is still in good shape, a great fragrance. December 3, 2021 at 10:29am Reply

  • Martha: I’m wearing Des Profundis. I love it year round, regardless of weather, but it’s somehow even better in the autumn light. December 3, 2021 at 10:54am Reply

    • Sara: I love this fragrance, too! It’s really reminiscent of a wet fall day with the first icy chill in the air. I’m always contemplating getting a full bottle of this one. I wish the “Gratte Ciel” collection came in smaller bottles and it would make more sense as a purchase for me. December 3, 2021 at 6:38pm Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: What do you think of the current formulation of Mitsouko? I have the eau de parfum from 2010 (I think that’s the year, based on batch code). December 3, 2021 at 10:56am Reply

  • matty1649: I still love Mitsouka and Shalimar, even the reformulations December 3, 2021 at 11:21am Reply

  • Katherine: I am at work and it’s winter here, cold and grey. I wear a plain, sturdy, masculine uniform. Under the layers, when I tuck my head close, the warm sensual scent of dark rose- La Fille de Berlin, Serge Lutens, greets me. I am a woman again and the daydreams of midsummer night romances helps the day go by. December 3, 2021 at 12:35pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I love both Mitsouko and L”Heure Bleue, but today I am wearing BDK’s Velvet Tonka. December 3, 2021 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Sara: I just received my first bottle of Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford yesterday. I have been weighing if I should buy a bottle for years. Jasmine is my favorite note. Finally, it clicked and I decided that this is indeed my favorite jasmine fragrance. It has woody, smoky, bright, and velvety aspects, as well as fruity and honeyed tones. I love it more than the two famous Serge Lutens jasmines, and even more than Rogue’s Jasmin Antique, which is more barnyard and dark by comparison. But I find that the “light” aspects of Jasmine Rouge somehow make the dark elements in it more pronounced, like a chiaroscuro effect, and I find it utterly spellbinding. December 3, 2021 at 6:44pm Reply

  • Michele O. Brown: Michele:Victoria, I just gave in and ordered Mitsuko Parfum. I was able to get a 2.5oz on sale. I’ve been going back and forth in my head and finally the article today made up my mind for me. I my awaiting my granddaughters (two) reaction when the get their first sniff. I’m not a regular contributor to your blog, yet I read everything over and over again. Im fascinated with all the readers responses and your information on everything perfume, etc. I especially enjoyed the article that Andy wrote about Tea, also. My granddaughter finally found the joy of lovely teas that are not of the typical grocery, in the states, brands in bags. I ordered her Stimson & Vail Dragonwell green organic. It made all the difference. I will stop now, yet I could go on forever on how much this blog helps bring some much needed joy into an older tomboy type woman. A Blessed Christmas to you, Victoria and all of the other commentators out there. 🎄reply December 3, 2021 at 9:49pm Reply

  • Frances: Victoria, althought I’m sensitive to cold I long for snowy days. As you can imagine they are far and few in Corsica, at least by the sea where I live (we do have ski stations, after all this island is best described as a mountain in the sea). There is something special about the white velvet coat of snow covering the landscape or the town, something quiet and almost unreal. Reading folktales with magic and ghost is a great choice to accompany this weather. I’m very interested in Japanese culture and I happen to like folktakes very much so I will check this book out. In the days leading to Christmas, I’m enjoying The Tales of the Arabian Nights.

    I love Mitsouko and your words: “To be exact, Guerlain Mitsouko selected me” resonate with me because the first time I wore it I had the feeling I was not wearing a fragrance but wearing a presence, an incarnation. It may seems exaggerated but really this fragrance has a soul and it took me some time to make it my own. Still I always felt Mitsouko was not completely mine and retained its independence, like a cat.

    The Scent Dairy is an inspiring way to add yet another dimension to our scent journey. Today I’m wearing Chanel Coco. In the previous days I was experimenting with Scherrer 2 as a substitute to Coco, but while Jean Louis Scherrer first eponym fragrance is perfect on me, this number 2 has a flaw. It smells really nice at the beginning, a little bit like Coco but not as opulent, still after an hour or so it turns metallic almost rusty on my skin. I had the same problem with L’Air du Temps EDP new version. December 4, 2021 at 8:43am Reply

  • Katherina: Bonjour! Je porte Miyako de Auphorie. Son caractère pur et puissant comme une beauté authentique non exempte de sa complexité des contrastes mais tellement fine. Une ode à la magie de la croissance, au cycle même de la vie et à la chance de se perfectionner… Un mystère… December 4, 2021 at 10:27am Reply

  • john: Hello! Today I am wearing a Caron’s Aimez-Moi Comme Je Suis, the first masculine pillar by new house nose Jean Jacques. This was kind of an adventurous purchase for me (generally I don’t blind-buy), and I was not sure if I cared for it at first. I love it now! The opening (a kind of ‘blue ginger’ accord not unlike that used in Caron Pour un Homme Sport) seems like an odd combination with a hazlenut-vetiver heart and a tonka-tobacco drydown… And some stalwart Caron classicists have decried it as generically contemporary, what with its fresh opening and warm/sweet/woody-amber drydown. Being a fan of the old Carons and Guerlains, I can see their point, but… I think that this composition just works, and has many great qualities that really start to emerge only after a few full wearings and time to ‘listen’ to the notes. My wife, who I admit has both a more open mind and refined sensibility than me, loves the sillage.

    Anyway, based on my growing appreciation for this fragrance as it becomes a regular in my fall-winter rotation, I’m suggesting another entry for your A-Z: ‘B’ is for backup bottle. December 4, 2021 at 7:01pm Reply

  • CC: I picked up a cashmere jumper as the weather turned chilly, and it still smelled like Portrait of a Lady. I hadn’t worn it in months, but it feels just like going home. (To a refined, luxurious, richly-layered home, specifically.) But I appreciate how paradoxically cosy it feels as well, in a way I hadn’t predicted. December 6, 2021 at 12:19am Reply

  • Janet: I have always loved twilight. Guerlain calls it the blue hour- where I live it’s more like the pink hour. For a few brief moments, everything outside has a magical, rosy glow. Inspired by this, I got a sample of Gucci’s A Gloaming Evening from their Alchemist’s Garden collection. I like it, though I wish there was a little more cinnamon and a little less patchouli.

    How I have tried to love Mitsouko. Simply cannot do it; there is a camphor-like note which ruins it for me. December 7, 2021 at 1:33pm Reply

  • Klaas: Oh gosh, all these evocative Guerlain and Dior stories……..While I’m sitting here frustrated!

    My downstairs neighbour started smoking again and the smell creeps up to my appartment. When I open the front door, I am greeted by the smell of old ashtray. I’m horrified!

    I find it difficult to talk to my neighbour about this, as I think she should be allowed to smoke in the privacy of own house, but man……the stink! December 9, 2021 at 4:34pm Reply

  • Karina: I‘ve been wearing Mitsouko again lately too. I usually vary what I wear a lot, but when the days turn cold I find Mitsouko too bloom on my skin and the lingering scent it leaves on scarves or sleeves keeps me returning to it. My first ever spray of Mitsouko had me stunted and I didn’t understand why it was so loved. Then as it evolved and mellowed I came back to it again and again. Now it’s certainly one of my favourite scents and I enjoy that bitterness in the opening. December 11, 2021 at 3:00am Reply

  • Nataliya: Dear Victoria,
    After reading this post I was completely intrigued by your description of Mitsouko that I was not familiar with. I ordered my bottle of eau de parfum from Guerlain store online without being able to try it beforehand. Today my perfume arrived and I am absolutely enchanted by this scent. I am so glad I followed your recommendation. I have 2 questions about this perfume:
    1. Is 2021 version is a reformulated version of 2013 that you mentioned in your 2020 post?
    2. I smell carnations from my childhood (by the way also in Ukraine) when they had a very distinct spicy aroma but I am not smelling peaches yet. Is it my lack of practice or slightly different 2021 formula?
    Thank you very much in advance for your response. December 18, 2021 at 10:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Nataliya, I’m so glad to hear that your blind purchase turned out so well. All of Guerlain perfumes are reformulated on regular basis, so there will definitely be changes year to year. The peach part is there, but in order to smell it, I suggest that you try this trick:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJNxiyJO13Q
      Think not of sweet peach flesh, but rather of the milky, powdery scent of peach skin. That’s the note used in Mitsouko. December 19, 2021 at 4:48am Reply

      • Nataliya: Thank you, Victoria. December 19, 2021 at 10:11pm Reply

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