“How could I live without powder?”

-Dolores LaChapelle.

The above quotation is by a philosopher, American mountaineer, and ‘ecstatic skier’, presumably in reference to powder snow. But it could just as easily refer to les notes poudrées – textural elements that add a delectable depth, as well as hovering, pressed aerial qualities to a perfume; talcumy; soft; the palpable frisson between the felt interiority of the warmth of the body, its scented emanations; and the ice-pure exteriority of the wintry air.

I know nothing about Amis De Paris, a rare Japanese perfume that D picked up for me from an old junk store recently and gave me for my birthday (along with the vintage Mitsouko eau de toilette; pictured ). But it is lovely: in some ways slightly reminiscent of Shalimar, as well as the delicate powder -puff evanescences of Emeraude de Coty (1921) and Chantilly d’Houbigant (1941): but, also, as the lemony grain particles evaporate suavely to a more vanillic-fougère territory, evocative of the more androgynous, beard-nestling fragrances such as Canoe/ Brut/ Ambush by Fabergé. Definitely a perfume with an amiable, open-hearted quality – but also a vein of mystery.

The Mitsouko – I am not sure which decade this edition is from – is a light, unmusty, bright and soothing iteration of the classic, cheerful; without the dourness and severity that you can sometimes encounter with the mulchier, fusty editions waiting cantankerously in brooding ancient parfum; today I feel that it is calling me. At the moment, I am in vetiver-drenched mode – various preparations left lingering on coats and trousers and sweaters and underclothes just like last year (or was it the year before? time has irrevocably changed) : I think, in any case, as a counterpoint, I will wear both of these this evening when we go out to Kamakura to buy food and wine for Christmas dinner. The air from the sea and mountains will be clear; it will be chilly: these perfumes will offer protection.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Robin

    A lovely read, N.

    I rummaged through my Guerlains and damn, I must have used up the last of my bottle of Mitsouko that was identical to yours. I thought I might be of help, but no. I have another quite similar bottle, almost full, from around the same time, and it’s a 1987. Just sprayed some on, along with some ’96 Vol de Nuit. God, i smell divine. The Mitsouko is exactly as you have so precisely described it. It’s quite surprisingly fresh and even tender. At the same time, it is almost incongruously dense and rich. Beside it, the VdN is soft and gloriously crepuscular. Magic, both. Thank you, my dear. They are just what I needed this evening.

    Is there a batch code anywhere? Not sure if you know this website (I’m pretty sure you do, but some readers might not) but it’s very helpful.


  2. Wild Gardener

    Perhaps some of your readers don’t know about CheckFresh.
    It’s a batch code interpreter which gives the date to some (but by no means all) perfumes.

  3. Have a very Merry Christmas! I am sure you will smell wonderful!

  4. Crepuscules, sounds like a skin affliction rather than twilight or dusk. English has so many words that mean dusk, evenfall, gloam, gloaming, and nightfall. If you wish to set a poetic tone (or sound like you need a dermatology consult), crepuscule is hard to beat.
    I shall leave you to your Mitsouko, along with her wizened peach and embalming spices.
    Speaking of ancient Guerlains, I found a sample of Byredo’s Slow Dance going through an old suitcase. I am wearing it for the first time today. Smells like Houbigant’s amber & vanilla classic Chantilly and an aged bottle of Shalimar had a baby on a hayride. Is that labdanum providing the hay-scented horsey note? Certainly a nostalgic 40s vibe with all that opopanax soaring over a cognac laced, incensed vanilla, and smooth patchouli base. Nice, but not my style. Possibly the longest lasting Byredo I have tried though.

  5. My favorite iteration of Mitsouko is the Parfum de Toilette version. Not as involved as the extrait, but not as light as the edt.
    I remember those bottles of edt (the one you have) from way back in the mid 80’s, on the Guerlain shelves, They were so magical and enticing. I purchased one on my birthday back then, and it was glorious, a most perfect foray into the scent.

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