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.