Help! I want to buy a Guerlain fragrance and don't know if I should get Mitsouko or (possibly) Jicky or even Mouchoir de Monsieur. I haven't smelt or worn either and will have it bought for me so am blind buying. Suggestions? Is Mitsouko a good old investment? I just want a Guerlain that's not Shalimar basically, and enjoy woody leather scents.


um I’m not sure why you sent me this, I’m nowhere near a fragrance expert & actually only wear solid perfume due to allergies / consideration for others’ allergies, since I use public transport & work in an open-plan office or a confined small space most of the week. 

that said, I have mentioned Mitsouko in recent posts because I was lost and sad and dizzy in an airport and that’s the only place I’ve ever bought it from (once, when I was eighteen). I would not buy it now. Jean-Paul Guerlain (even though he’s no longer involved with the company, he was the last family master perfumer) is an explicit racist (tw for racial slurs) who was nonetheless acquitted of racism due to his age, class, race and the social position he attained through the name Guerlain. you might be interested to know that Guerlain is part of the LVMH group, for whom John Galliano also worked. an interesting facet of Guerlain’s case is that his racist comments described the process of formulating and naming Samsara, which is to say he divulged what is normally only inherent in perfume names and their ~inspiration, but which is central to the manufacture, branding, and marketing of so many (almost all) cosmetic products. 

so, a perfume named Mitsouko, developed in 1919? it is nothing but Orientialism, colonial imperialism & thus, again, racism on the part of a French perfumer. I will copy a passage from Geczy’s Fashion and Orientialism here:


it seems that the fragrance industry is often exempted from critiques of Orientalism, maybe in part due to olfactory nostalgia. which is why I can sniff Mitsouko & want to give my money to a shitty racist company again; which is (not all but part of) why Guerlain excused his racism as a product of ‘another generation’ where the slur was ‘a common expression at the time’. nostalgia, here, overtakes the critical and moral impulse in my brain & those of other consumers. which makes Guerlain’s racism even worse, in my opinion: he inhabits a position of such power that he knows it won’t matter if he says something terrible. it won’t matter, he will get away with it, people will still buy the perfume associated with his name. 

Mitsouko is a fruity chypre (which– ‘chypre’, Cyprus, a scent named in 1917 when French troops occupied Piraeus and other Greek cities– is again Orientalist, and a term still in use today) with top notes of bergamot, middle notes of peach, rose, iris, clove, and jasmine, and base notes of vetiveroakmoss, and labdanum. you could try looking for a similar composition by another company, focussing on the bergamot and oakmoss, since these notes seem to be what people call ‘Mitsouko’. I would try Mountain Pepper by Korres (a Greek-owned company I like to support), Almost Bare by Bobbi Brown or maybe Age of Aquarius by Tokyo Milk, which is based on bergamot and moss notes.

I’m not an expert on perfume history or make-up/fragrance and racism so I would appreciate any corrections or additions to this. 

today i got a perm, ate a bagel, did lots of training, and was a total babe 100% of the time ngl