Scent Sample Sunday: Mitsouko and Halston

What more can be said about Guerlain’s Mitsouko in this, its centennial year? Since its creation in 1919, it has attracted, confused, frustrated and even repelled those who smell it. Many great writers and blogs about fragrances have extolled its excellence and legendary status, as well as the challenge it poses to modern noses: Chandler Burr, Luca Turin, The Black Narcissus, Kafkaesque, Cafleurebon, Bois de Jasmin, Perfume Shrine, etc.

As part of my own process for trying to understand it, I began to educate myself about chypres, the fragrance family to which Mitsouko belongs. Along the way, I learned that several of my favorite fragrances fall in that group. One of them is Halston, now titled Halston Classic. I have a small bottle, with Halston’s signature on the bottle. As I read about them both on Fragrantica, I noticed that Mitsouko and Halston share many of the same notes. Halston: mint, melon, green leaves, peach, bergamot; carnation, orris root, jasmine, marigold, ylang-ylang, cedar, rose; sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk, oak moss, vetiver, incense. Mitsouko: bergamot, lemon, mandarin, neroli; peach, ylang-ylang, rose, clove, cinnamon; labdanum, benzoin, patchouli, vetiver, oak moss.

How do they compare? The Mitsouko eau de parfum I have (first created in 2007 but listing the same notes as the original, reformulated in 2013 and supposedly quite close to the original) lasts much longer than my Halston, which I think is a cologne concentration (hard to read the tiny lettering on the bottom). The famous dry cinnamon note is strong, while none of Halston‘s notes come across as powerfully. In Halston, I think the carnation note adds the spice notes one finds in Mitsouko, while its sandalwood may provide some of the dry woodiness that Mitsouko gets from the cinnamon. On my skin, Mitsouko smells smokier than the Halston. Wearing one each on my hands, I can smell their kinship, and it seems entirely possible to me that perfumer Bernard Chant, who created Halston, may have had in mind the creation of a modern tribute to the legendary Mitsouko, especially with that peach opening. I doubt M. Chant would have missed the obvious reference to Mitsouko, famously the first fragrance to add a note of peach, by using a synthetic ingredient.

Halston is definitely easier to wear and easier on the modern nose, though still miles away from the fruity florals currently in favor. I especially love its marigold note. When I was trying out Mitsouko, however, my young adult daughter came to sit by me and declared “Never wear that perfume again, Mom!”. There is a dark side to Mitsouko, as many commenters have noted.

What do you think of Mitsouko or Halston Classic?

5 thoughts on “Scent Sample Sunday: Mitsouko and Halston

  1. I have never worn or loved Mitsouko, although I appreciate its history and I own a modern formulation bottle. I rarely wear it and don’t love it. I would love to have experienced it as it was in its original formulation though. I recall many years ago smelling the classic Guerlains with a SA in my early days of perfume shopping, and I selected L’Heure Bleue.
    Halston Classic, I remember the bottle perfectly in my mind. I sampled it often in my youth and never thought I was sophisticated enough to own a bottle and wear it. I think I would enjoy it now where I am in my perfume journey. I’m really enjoying perfumes with carnation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been a while since I tested Mitsouko, and your post makes me want to revisit it! In one hand, I find chypre fragrances so rich, beautiful and complex… yet, on the other, I don’t do very well with oakmoss, and I tend to find them a bit tiresome to wear (sadly, as I do love Chloe Nomade and Sisley Eau de Soir…). I remember Mitsouko evoked to me dry earth, moss and fresh peach, and a very “old times” aura… in a very nice way, I did like it!

    Liked by 1 person

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