Look at that picture. Gaze at it. Take it all in. Stare at it, dwell on it, let your eyes roam like wandering slugs from top to bottom. Then feel free to join me in my initial reaction upon hearing about this new Guerlain, this flanker of my most holy of holies, this unholy misbegotten thing that appears to be blue (blue!) and calls itself Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, and let out that cry of agony — a cry that in my case went something like AAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGH MY EYES, MY EYES!!!!!! IS NOTHING SACRED ?!?!?!!?
Really. What’s next? Mitsouko Eau Fraiche? Mitsouko Sensual Musk? Mitsouko Strawberry Kiwi?
There was nothing to do, of course, but grit my teeth and order a big sample, so I could examine the monster more closely. I haven’t found a list of notes anywhere, but one could presume this would smell something like Mitsouko with a hint of lotus blossom. And/or possibly a hint of Windex, based on that color.
Sniffing the cap and for the initial spray of Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, I get a hefty serving of whatever Guerlain’s been pouring out of that vat for the last five years, the powdery-almondy fluff they’ve stuck in various bottles called Quand Vient Plus Que Insolent Purple Elixir – a kind of LHB retread with less interest, although still an improvement over the I-just-puked-up-my-ganache sweetness of their terrifying gourmand scents.
I wish I had a YouTube video of my face as I smelled this, because that would have been the point of the maximum lip-curl – not that it’s bad, just that it’s done already. And what on earth does that have to do with Mitsouko?
And then – then, just as I was thinking whether I really was going to write that open letter on the blog to Guerlain to tell them to go suck an oeuf – then … something interesting happened. A deeper, sonorous note that smells to me like – are you ready? wait for it!!! – something that smells like … leather. Not a super-dark stenchy leather, but that smooth, rich hay/saddle smell you can still get from a vintage bottle of Vol de Nuit in an EDT concentration. It’s a pretty delicious underpinning for the powdery floral smell at the top. I think what I perceive as Vol de Nuit’s leathery smell is oakmoss and narcissus and/or something earthy in the base, and I get a sense of the same thing going on here.
But what’s any of that got to do with Mitsouko? That question gets answered after about five minutes on my skin, which is where The Queen — Mitsouko herself — makes her entrance. You can pick her out; she’s unmistakable. The only major tweaking I can feel is a lot less peach; the whole thing’s less baroque and softer feeling than any version of regular Mitsouko. You can hear the right chords being played, but they’re in the background. Somewhere down the hall, but still there. So. I don’t mean this literally, because I’ve no doubt it would be a disaster, but Mitsouko FdL smells something like: Mitsouko after 12 hours plus L’Artisan Narcisse plus L’Heure Bleue. I think this flanker was destined for the Asian market (hence the lotus blossom). If that’s true, I wonder what they’ll make of it. It’s certainly lighter than regular Mitsouko, but I wouldn’t call it subtle.
Is it an “easier to wear” Mitsouko? I struggle with that. Mitsouko is Mitsouko. You either worship The Queen or you don’t, and there isn’t a lot of middle ground, in my opinion. I’m going to link here to Marina’s somewhat different opinion, which I think is a useful counter-argument – she’s not a Mitsouko fan, and this really won her over.
I’ve struggled with this review, so I’m going to stop fiddling around with this paragraph and throw it in – there’s something cheerfully crass about Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, and I don’t mean that negatively. Remember Luca Turin saying Balenciaga Talisman “made vulgarity feel like a richly deserved holiday from good taste”? Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus strikes me the same way. It’s unserious, and that’s its greatest difference from regular Mitsouko, which is many things, but frivolous she is not.
Imagine viewing a reconstruction of part of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in an art gallery, and then discovering on closer examination that the entire thing had been made out of colored M&Ms. You’d think, well, it doesn’t measure up to the original, and also how weird is that, are they nuts? And also, wow… that’s cool; I wonder how they did it? That’s how Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus makes me feel. I wouldn’t say, precisely, that it honors the original, but it doesn’t diminish it, either. And yes, I want a bottle.
PS Louise will probably chime in, but unless things changed it was very short-lived on her; also, my sample does not appear to be tinted blue.