I picked up a bottle of Guerlain’s classic Mouchoir De Monsieur the other day for thirty dollars: I could not resist. Although I remember smelling this Belle Époque ‘gentleman’s cologne’ at least three decades ago, probably down in Harrods on one of my always exciting Perfume Day Trips to London – when to a much younger person still in his tender teens its louche lemon and civet just smelled like a lascivious adult’s bad breath.   I don’t know if have experienced it much – if at all –  in all the years that have intervened.



One of the ‘secret’ Guerlains : those that are still in production for the faithful but are not usually put on display, the version I remember was silkier, more lemony, musky and even more deadeningly animalic,  like a bristling and unwanted  moustachioed kiss: strange  to think that the purpose of the dandy’s liquid accoutrement was to gently douse one’s embroidered mouchoir – one’s handkerchief, as a gesture of love or a declaration of flirtation to a finely dressed lady who was probably dressed in Guerlain’s contemporaneous Violette De Madame – a kind of twirly moustached his ‘n hers, fashionable and of the moment  – and a symbol of cleanliness and hygiene when the almost filthy animalic contents in the flacon were anything but.









On me, this newer, attenuated  version of Mouchoir smells like a vintage Shalimar drained of its vanilla and iris crossed with the cooler DNA of its cousin Jicky, a legend that has never quite worked on me. I like this perfume better – more citrically fresh minus the prettier Jickyian herbs and lavender and the less candid civet base, Mouchoir De Monsieur comes across more suave; understatedly erotic. Funny to think now of my horrified youthful self recoiling in ingenue dismay; openly grimacing at all this semi-bawdy Parisian suggestivity (cloaked in what I could tell was its secretly elegant nonchalance) in the imposing perfume halls of that department store in Knightsbridge on a bustling Saturday afternoon many years ago and me here now : lying back this evening, reclining like a lounge lizard, inhaling the back of my hand quite contentedly.






Any thoughts on this perfume very welcome.












Filed under Citrus, Civet, Classics, Lemon

19 responses to “MOUCHOIR DE MONSIEUR by GUERLAIN (1904)

  1. What a treasure to come across, Neil. And for the scandalous amount of $30. I love fragrances with a strong animalic vibe, hence my thing for 80s fragrances.

    • the price was ludicrous but I would have been much more excited by the vintage ( even if I would never have worn it even though I will this one).

      I can rock the Kouros etc too but this is very very antique, if you kneau what I mean

  2. This is one of my favorite Guerlain scents! I love how it is truly almost a cross between Jicky and Shalimar, but slightly more herbaceous. I remember smelling this back in the 80’s, but being unable to purchase it, because it only came in a huge 240ml bottle which was a bit pricey for young me at the time. I really wish I purchased that bottle, I still would have had it now.
    I do have a bottle, from the early 00’s, when they started putting many of their scents in the bee bottle that you show in second photo, but my label is slightly different…I believe.
    One day I will find a vintage bottle on eBay and make it mine.

    • I remember it vividly from when I was a teenager too and also remember it being prohibitively expensive and much richer, dirtier.

      As you say it is definitely part of the evolution between Jicky and Shalimar ( but not quite as characterful so less known.

      I am still trying to get a precise handle on what makes Mouchoir tick

  3. Robin

    Crash course in MdM. Liked it. Needed it. Got educated. I’ve never seen it in the wild but will be looking for it. Might be a good Ric scent.

    • Could be quite sexy actually. I wonder which would work better though- this modern edition or the night shirt and tallow candle original.

      • Robin

        Probably upwards of 99% of the time, vintage trumps modern, eh?

      • Oh lordy yes. Except in this case I WILL wear this lighter version with the civet toned down more than I would the original, simply because it is a note I have to be careful with. I like it on the cusp, like in Bal A Versailles, where you can JUST sense it glistening under other ingredients. Too much of it is nauseating.

  4. Beau de l'Air

    I love Jicky and naturally I’ve wanted Mouchoir for a long time, I was hoping for a decently priced vintage to appear but that hasn’t happened, going as far as avoiding smelling the current one. I’ll be buying the current one…after all one must support the classics in their current form from time to time lest they stop making them and from what I’ve seen Wasser seems to do the best he can.

    • Yes, definitely. But it is not very long lasting at all and isn’t the leery enough. I remember the original being much more decadent. This reads like Shalimar on me, as I said, with less vanilla, but I prefer the dry down to Jicky. It is less complicated. I would love to know your reactions to it as I fear I may be missing something.

      • Beau de l’Air

        I will when I get my nose on it, I might not have the best feedback on leer and louche as I wear Bal, Eau d’Hermes, 80’s Kouros, La Nuit etc without hesitation and with great pleasure in any circumstances. I seem to love filth! Hehehe
        Congratulations on a great find Mr Chapman

      • Ooh I have been fantasising about coming home the last few nights and wearing some La Nuit; I might have to this weekend. You know that feeling when a certain perfume rises up in your mind and you start craving it? I had that with the Paco Rabanne the other night. That peculiar soft pink animality. You have made me want to smell vintage Eau D’Hermes again also.

  5. Beau de l’Air

    All us perfume nuts get that feeling all the time lol.
    Eau d’Hermes is unbelievably good, if I was not an aforementioned nut I’d consider it as a signature.

  6. Mouchoir de Monsieur has been one of my top five favs for over twenty years. I remember first reading about it in Arena magazine back in the 80s. When I bought my first bottle it was an astonishing $103. I’m embarrassed to admit that the high price ( for the time ) was a big part of the allure. I love its total disconnection with this period in history.

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