Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mitsouko


Mitsouko bottle, c. 1930s

It's well-known among Chaplin fans that his favorite cologne was Guerlain’s Mitsouko. He would keep several bottles of the fragrance in his home and at his studio. People who were close to Charlie remember the scent well.  Lita Grey, recalling her first visit to Charlie's house, wrote, "The fresh air on the veranda was most welcome, as the entire house reeked of Guerlain's Mitsouko." Georgia Hale remembered that before going out for the evening, Charlie would pour some Mitsouko onto his hands and then smooth his tie down with it. "This was always his finishing touch." Charlie, Jr. believed the scent was an "integral part" of his father's personality and that he couldn't smell the "woodsy" fragrance without turning around and expecting to see his father standing next to him. Peggy Hopkins Joyce, during her brief affair with Charlie, would prance about his "bachelor's den" sprinkling Mitsouko on the rugs and cushions because she thought his house "smelled terrible."

Harry Lang of Photoplay observed that Charlie used "a great deal of a certain perfume for which he pays $40 per two-ounce container. He sprinkles it around his dressing room." Another Photoplay article from 1929 similarly noted that Charlie's perfume was "a special masculine kind that he buys in bulk by the ounce. He sprays it on his kerchief and hair."

Charlie was also fond of Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue, one of Mitsouko's sister fragrances. In 1926, Vanity Fair magazine asked Charlie to list ten requirements for the "ideal woman". According to number 8: "She uses only a faint eau de toilette during the day, but sprays herself plentifully with L’Heure Bleue upon retiring."

The Mitsouko scent has been reformulated in recent years and is not exactly the same as it was when it came out in 1919. Ever since I first became a Chaplin fan, I was curious about the scent. It wasn't easy to track down, but I finally came across a bottle at a small perfume kiosk at a local mall. I was surprised by its muskiness, but it wasn’t bad. I would have to say that it is definitely an exotic fragrance. I have a friend who loves to wear Mitsouko. She believes it is a classic, well-made scent from another era. Nothing like the cheap, chemical-laden stuff you find at the perfume counter nowadays.
Vintage Mitsouko ad




Sources:
Charlie Chaplin, Jr., My Father, Charlie Chaplin, 1960
Lita Grey Chaplin, Wife Of The Life Of The Party, 1998
Georgia Hale, Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-ups, 1995
Harry Lang, "No Talkies For Charlie," Photoplay, May 1930
Glenn Mitchell, The Chaplin Encyclopedia, 1997
David Robinson, Chaplin: His Life and Art, 1985
Gerith Von Ulm, Charlie Chaplin: King Of Tragedy, 1940
Alma Whitaker, "How They Manage Their Homes," Photoplay, June 1929


2 comments:

  1. This what I got for Christmas this year. I love it, it's not super sweet and doesn't smell like food, I can't wear perfumes that smell like food because they make me feel sick. Nor does it have a chemical smell like many current perfumes, like you mention here.

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  2. I've been wanting to buy some for a long time and your article finally did it, it's on the way! It's insane, my apartment will soon look like a Chaplin museum! ;)

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