A japonisant ad for Mitsouko from 1967 on the left -- in 2009, the thinking is pushed a big step further (the right part is our view of the evolution)
Mitsouko purists will be probably feeling shivers running down their spines when they learn that Guerlain is planning to launch a flanker to the classic fragrance Mitsouko, a composition created in 1919 by Jacques Guerlain and which has already attracted heated controversy for the changes it has incurred in its formulation due to IFRA regulations and whatever else might have influenced the decision process.
The new perfume to be introduced in the spring of 2009 is called Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus. The event is to be duly noted given the historical status of the original perfume. This flanker comes after another one of a classic, Vol de Nuit Evasion, which was launched in travel retail in 2007 and had absolutely nothing to do with the original created in 1933 by Jacques Guerlain, except for the Guerlain brand name, part of the perfume name and the upside-down heart stoppered bottle. Lights of Champs Elysées in 2006 also had no kinship, except in name, with the original Champs Elysées...
Guerlain so far have had two types of flankers of their classics; a real perfume flanker to Shalimar (1925) was Eau de Shalimar (2003 & 2004), while as said earlier Vol de Nuit Evasion was doing nothing but taking flight from the original composition as did Lights of Champs Elysées from the original Champs Elysées (while betraying a kinship with l'Heure Bleue).
In the case of Vol de Nuit Evasion, good marketing common sense apparently dictated that it was a pertinent name to use as it associated the right thematic with the prestige of a classic, the legality of a registered name and as it was meant to be distributed in airport boutiques. "Vol de Nuit" means Night Flight and was inspired by the exploits of French aviators from the 1930s, Saint-Exupery's and his eponymous novel in particular, but also Hélène Boucher's.
Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus in a similar fashion reveals a very targeted marketing goal, as the Guerlain PR office has announced that it was composed for and will be exclusively distributed within the Japanese market.
Mitsouko the original perfume was named after the heroine of Claude Farrère's popular novel at that time, La Bataille and its main character Marquess Yorisaka, a Japanese aristocrat pretending to be westernized for political purposes. The name of the alluring spy is Mitsouko, meaning "mystery".
90 years later, the East-West thematic will be reactivated and Mitsouko will be made more Japanese in olfactory terms, not just symbolically. This special jus will feature, as its name indicates, a quintessentially Asian note, a lotus flower note. Usually treated in an aquatic manner as befitting the original environment of the flower, it seems to want to pull the composition in a new direction rather than respecting the spirit of the original. The name however will fit in perfectly with the aim to please and respect Japanese taste. Guerlain have already produced cherry blossom perfumes for the country of the rising sun and Lights of Champs Elysées was obviously tailored to Japanese taste as well.