Suzanne's Perfume Journal

The original Missoni by Missoni fragrance was launched in the early 80s and has notes of bergamot, raspberry, black currant, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, geranium, iris, ylang-ylang, patchouli, oakmoss, honey, amber, civet and styrax. Now discontinued and replaced by a new composition that is quite different in style, the original Missoni can only be found at auction sites like Ebay (where it’s important to reference the correct bottle, which I’ve pictured above). My review is based on a generous decant sent to me by friend (and perfume blogger) Olenska, to whom I am most grateful.

Photo of model Kate Moss is from a Missoni ad and can be found at countless places on the Internet.
Photo of the original Missoni by Missoni perfume bottle is from the perfume blog

August 9, 2013:

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“You smell like a French hooker,” my stepdad said to me this morning when he caught a snootful of the perfume I had applied just seconds before he passed me in the stairs. I flashed him a smile; he and my mom have been staying at my house all week, and I was mainly surprised that he hadn’t run that old chestnut by me until today. He’s not a fan of big perfumes, which is surprising, considering he married my mother, who has always worn the kind of perfumes that fall into the dark, femme-fatale category—but he is also someone who likes to joke around, so I knew his remark was intended, in large part, to be teasing. Truth be told, I sort of looked at it as a badge of honor, because I’m one of those Francophiles who views any French reference as a compliment of sorts—yes, even one referencing hookers (and in the spirit of being truthful, I’ll also mention that I rarely view women as whores, especially not women who are honestly plying their trade in the sex industry. Whoring, to my mind, has little to do with sex, but that’s a topic I’ll save for another day).

The perfume that spurred my stepdad’s remark does indeed smell French—it’s a vintage chypre, the kind that smells mossy and old-school perfumey right from the get-go—but it’s from the Italian design house of Missoni. And if it bears any resemblance to the model of French commerce he referenced, then it is to the actual business end of that business—and by that I mean the money end—as this is a perfume that smells, as chypres often do, haughty, whip-smart and expensive. The original Missoni by Missoni is the perfume in question, and it’s a fragrance one can only discuss after emphasizing the word “original,” since it has long been discontinued and replaced by a perfume with the same name and an entirely different composition (I haven’t tried the reissued Missoni, a fruited floriental that sounds quite good and, given its more modern, bohemian character, is more in keeping with the brand’s aesthetic). I absolutely love the look of Missoni fashions—particularly the fitted, wrap dresses and the swim wear—and though the original Missoni perfume doesn’t remind me of the house’s famous knit-wear creations, with their undulations of color and curvy silhouettes, it does remind me of fashion, which is something that’s been on my mind lately. I’ve spent the past few weeks wearing mostly tropical, beachy fragrances and casual summer clothes, but now the beach is behind me and I’m focusing on a trip I’ll be taking in September to Rome—and it’s there that I’d like to wear the dresses that my husband felt were too flashy for the trip we took to Paris last year. (I make it sound as if I travel a lot when, in fact, my trips abroad have been rare—and that’s why I get excited about dressing for them.) I see nothing flashy about three Calvin Klein sheath dresses with hemlines that fall just above the knee, except for their jewel-like colors. Though I deferred to his opinion in Paris, I’m going to trust that cosmopolitan Romans dressed in black won’t care, let alone look aghast at a woman sporting a sheath dress in mauve, red or royal blue.

And should I wear the original Missoni by Missoni fragrance with these dresses, along with simple black heels, then I think it’s safe to say I will convey an air that’s smart rather than colorful or flashy. Missoni original reminds me, in spirit, of perfumes like Gucci L’Arte di Gucci, Clinique Aromatics Elixir and Lancôme Magie Noire, except that it’s sleeker than those three and does not have an emphatic rose note. Rose is included in Missoni’s composition, and coupled with an opening accord that includes raspberry and cassis (both of which have a rose-like component to their individual aromas), you’d think Missoni would smell more like a rose-chypre than it actually does. However, no single note in Missoni stands out to my nose, and the fragrance overall is a sophisticated, cosmetic hodgepodge of sharp, sweet, powdery and tangy notes. When it hits the skin, it smells quite perfumey and strong for about ten minutes, and there is no slow, pyramidal unfolding of its composition. On the contrary, it feels like everything this fragrance has hits you all at once, and what you’ve got smells green and mossy, ambery and honeyed, powdery and classically floral. This might sound like a lot to take in, but if you’ve grown up loving those really rich perfumes of old, you probably know what I’m talking about and how arresting that combination can be.

(My mother knows what I’m talking about, as she’s sitting here while I’m typing this, and having just received a spritz of Missoni on her wrist, she’s already murmuring about being in love with it. Smelling it on her skin, I notice that the rose is, not dominant, but more pronounced than it is on my skin, with a touch of clove-like spiciness.)

Somewhere after the ten-minute mark, Missoni begins to quiet and become more sensual. There are notes of honey, jasmine and civet within this perfume, and together they have a presence that is lightly animalic. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you know that I often talk in favorable terms about the vague whiff of urine that is the olfactory equivalent of a pinch of salt in a confectionary recipe. That fuzzy, urinous whiff is present in Missoni, along with a bit of dirty-skin muskiness, adding depth and a sexy vibe to the perfume at a subliminal level. They hover beneath the surface of everything else that is within this perfume; only a serious perfumista would be cognizant of this indolic aspect. Nonetheless, it’s there, conveying a human quality that makes one want to sidle-up to Missoni, even if its overall character is aloof, shaded as is under its parasol of cool oakmoss.

As it dries down, Missoni’s patchouli note becomes detectable and has an edge of camphor that keeps the fragrance on the firm path of a chypre—which is to say, haughty and challenging. There is no vanillic orientalism going on in this perfume to make you feel like you’re suddenly on kissing and cuddlesome terms with it. Like most chypres, Missoni is about a form of beauty that sits on a high pedestal and, by its very air of seeming unobtainable, compels you to try to get past its prickly guard and be the person who sparks its engine. If this perfume could come to life, it would be the furthest thing from a French hooker—it would be more like one of those supermodels who refuses to get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. But then again, money aside, what’s the difference?

Missoni (original) by Missoni:
In the Classic Way, Beauty Calling the Shots