Chanel Misia: The Women, The History, The Fragrance

Photo & Source: i-mag-online.com (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo & Source: i-mag-online.com (Direct website link embedded within.)

Drugs and Nazis. That’s what comes to mind each and every time I wear Misia, the newest addition to Chanel’s higher-end, quasi-niche collection, Les Exclusifs. It may be an unfair conclusion, but it’s an inevitable one for me, thanks in large part to the history of the women behind the name “Misia.” The fact that Chanel itself has presented the scent as one that should be seen through the filter of those women doesn’t help. Frankly, I’m astounded that the company would choose an inspiration and story for its latest release that would risk unearthing the unpalatable background of Coco Chanel, a history that it hopes assiduously stays hidden. But it takes little effort to discover the unappealing side to the “special friendship” that is explicitly stated as the cornerstone for Misia’s creation, especially if one is to asked to interpret Misia through the lens of Coco herself. The connections are too negative for me and, ultimately, serve to ruin a decent fragrance.

Misia Sert via Wikipedia.

Misia Sert via Wikipedia.

Misia is an eau de toilette that was created by Olivier Polge, the son of Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge, and his successor. The fragrance was released in March 2015, and was inspired by Misia Sert, Coco Chanel’s close friend. Chanel’s French and Canadian website describes the scent and the underlying friendship as follows:

The spirit of art

Misia Sert and Coco Chanel shared a special friendship, a rare bond tinged with curiosity. This curiosity is even said to have cultivated Chanel’s taste for art and permeated every inch of it, providing Olivier Polge with whispers of inspiration for a new Exclusif. Misia or the makeup powder on dancers’ bodies. Misia or the May rose and violet scent of lipstick. Misia or leather-like odor that find full expression on the skin. Misia or the inspiration of a new fragrance.

Misia Sert in Chanel, 1937. Source: newyorksocialdiary.com

Misia Sert in Chanel, 1937. Source: newyorksocialdiary.com

I wish I could just quote you that description and move onto the notes, but I can’t, because I find so much about the background to this fragrance to be galling. So galling that I truly cannot move past it, so galling that I could not bear to write about Misia for the longest time. So, I’m sorry, I have to digress into the very personal reasons why before I can cover what the fragrance actually smells like.

As the perfume’s name and the description quoted above make abundantly clear, Chanel is paying actual, explicit homage to Misia Sert, and to the special, “rare” friendship between the two women. It is that friendship which is the key, because we’re being asked to see Misia (the scent and the woman) through the lens of Coco Chanel herself. We are not being asked to see Misia Sert as who she was separately, a woman who was a seemingly positive symbol. On the surface, at least. There, on that level, Misia Sert can be viewed as talented, influential woman: a pianist, a patron of the arts, and a muse to famous painters, musicians, and writers.

General Walter Schellenberg, nicknamed "Hitler's Spymaster," Chief of SS intelligence, the Sicherheitsdienst, and Coco's spy boss. Source: Wikipedia

General Walter Schellenberg, nicknamed “Hitler’s Spymaster,” Chief of SS intelligence, the Sicherheitsdienst, and Coco’s spy boss. Photo: Wikipedia

We’re being asked to see Misia, both the woman and the actual fragrance, through the lens of the special relationship with Coco, and that is something which I find to be baffling, peculiar, and filled with negative associations. In many books or articles, Misia Sert is described as some sort of soul sister to Coco Chanel — and many longstanding readers know my feelings about the utterly repellent, completely heinous, parasitic, amoral, pretense of a human being that was Coco Chanel. As my piece linked there makes clear, she went beyond being a raging anti-Semite and social climber — beyond even being a Nazi collaborator — to being an actual Nazi agent who met with Hitler’s legendary spymaster in Berlin, one who sold out people to their deaths, who tried to use Nazi anti-Jewish laws to steal her Jewish partners’ share, and someone who wined and dined (and slept with) Nazis, drinking champagne as her countrymen starved, only to turn around when the tide had turned during the Allied liberation to run after American soldiers to peddle her wares, before she finally fled to Switzerland with her Gestapo spy lover to avoid the consequences of her treason. And it was treason. Coco Chanel was a traitor to France by every legal standard around. Had she been poor and unknown, she would have been hanged from a street lamp after the war or put against the wall and shot, as she so justly deserved.

Coco (left) & Misia (right) in the 1910s. Source: theredlist.com

Coco (left) & Misia (right) in 1925. Source: theredlist.com & dailymail.co.uk

As for that “special friendship” with Misia Sert that Chanel talks about, it was “special” indeed. Misia was allegedly Coco’s lover at times and, provably, unquestionably, her fellow morphine user, both so addicted that they shot up several times a day. This is not a woman who engaged in occasional recreational drug use with a mere puff of pot. Misia Sert was such an addict of hardcore opiates that she didn’t even bother to wait to find a vein but would inject herself straight through her clothes. (See, Clive James, Misia and All Paris.) A Newsweek piece on Madame Sert notes that, “Late in life, going blind and addicted to morphine, Misia made drug runs to Switzerland with Chanel, the last brilliant tyrant she loved.” Hal Vaughan in his exposé on Coco Chanel called Sleeping with the Enemy describes her as Chanel’s “soul sister,” (p.109), and it was to Misia that Coco confides her plans involving her Gestapo lover, von Dincklage, and the new Aryanization laws. As Vaughan states, “with the Nazis in power [Coco] hoped to gain control of the firm… an Aryanized Chanel No. 5 perfume company. The rewards to her would be immeasurable.” (p.169.) In fairness, Misia’s biographers claim she wasn’t anti-Semitic, which is one area where she differed from the loathsome Coco, but somehow the negative associations remain in my mind and totally taint the scent for me. It doesn’t help that Misia’s time during the Occupation seems to have been the nonchalant, easy continuation of her earlier life, one big long party, where she hung out with collaborators without issue.

So, for me, the actual background to the Chanel perfume is not the usual situation involving some silly PR copy whose whimsical drivel is over-the-top. Nor is it some completely trivial, wholly imaginary story. This is an actual homage to Coco’s drugged-out, junkie soul sister, not her total antithesis or her sainted counterpart. It’s the woman Coco felt indelibly intertwined with on every level, as though they were identical spirits or twins. A twin to one of the most wretched women around, the two bonded together through their shared, rampant drug use.

Coco's love, Baron von Dinklage, circa 1935, at the German Embassy in Paris when he was working for the Gestapo. Source: NY Social Diary. http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/1907697/print

Coco’s love, Baron von Dincklage, circa 1935, at the German Embassy in Paris when he was working for the Gestapo. Source: NY Social Diary. (Direct website link embedded within.)

I simply cannot move past all that. In fact, I’m mentally stuck at this point, my mind utterly unable to comprehend the details in a way that has never happened to me before with Chanel scents. I love, own, and wear Coromandel, which is an innocuous tribute to the Chinese lacquer screens that Coco loved. In point of fact, I have no issues with people buying anything from the company as a whole, since Chanel is Jewish-owned and has been in its entirety since the 1970s. But paying tribute to Misia Sert, the woman Coco would shoot up with? What’s next, an Exclusif for men called “Hans Günther” or “von Dincklage”? How about naming the next one “Abwehr,” for the Nazi military intelligence spy agency that employed her? Or “Bendor,” for the infamous, raging anti-Semite, pro-Nazi duke that she had a long relationship with? Misia Sert, indeed. Pah.

What on earth was the company thinking in going this route??! I can’t understand it. The billionaire Wertheimer brothers who now own the company usually take such care to avoid anything that could possibly, tangentially, potentially bring up their founder’s wretched vileness. But, with Misia, they’ve opened a can of worms and I, for one, wouldn’t want to spend $160 or $280 on a perfume that constantly makes me think of junkies and Nazis.

I truly apologise to you for starting the review on this tack, but I hope you can see that my difficulty is genuine, so I couldn’t just mention the issue as a passing footnote at the end. I will do my best not to discuss either woman further, to the extent it is possible.

Misia Chanel. Photo: Fragrantica.

Misia Chanel. Photo: Fragrantica.

So, moving onto the actual fragrance. Chanel does not provide a note list for Misia, but Fragrantica and Surrender to Chance say it includes:

violet, iris, orris root, Turkish rose, rose from Grasse, benzoin and tonka bean

Misia opens on my skin with iris that is cool and slightly stone-like, but also impressively buttery. It is laced with a demure rose that is barely sweetened, smudged at the corners with a green violet, and then dusted with the very smallest touch of a sweetened powder that feels identical to heliotrope. The latter gives an underlying “clean baby” whiff and an occasional cleanness that I hesitate to compare to scented baby powder, but it is somewhere in that vicinity.

Painting by Giovanni Boldini, 1901, via Pinterest.

Painting by Giovanni Boldini, 1901, via Pinterest.

To my surprise and great relief, there is none of the usual Chanel floral-aldehydic accord that marks so many of the brand’s fragrances. There is also nothing “bathtastic” about Misia’s opening and only once in a blue moon is there a floral hairspray undertone. Instead, Misia has more of a naturalistic cleanness, like skin after a shower that has been turned silky with iris/orris butter, then dusted with heliotrope powder. It’s a largely uncomplicated, feminine, floral scent that feels fluffy, youthful (but not “young girl”) but, also, simultaneously, elegant, sophisticated, and highly polished as well.

Misia differs from some Chanel’s fragrances in another way: it doesn’t scream cold hauteur, and the scent never keeps you at a reserved distance. It’s not merely due to the absence of the aldehydes that are such a signature of the brand, nor even the greenness that characterizes some of the other scents like Chanel No. 19 or Bel Respiro, for example. Rather, I think Olivier Polge has taken enormous care to ensure that the iris never skews too stony or cool. It is certainly never musty or rooty; this is not an iris that would ever evoke the dark, dank, earthy depths of a crypt or frozen, iced vodka like Serge Lutens‘ futuristic Iris Silver Mist.

Iris. Photo via free-desktop-backgrounds.net, then edited by me.

Iris. Photo via free-desktop-backgrounds.net, then edited by me.

This is a softer, gentler, fluffy iris that initially feels as though it were painted in Impressionist watercolours before it turns warm and plush 90 minutes into the perfume’s development. At that point, the sweetened warmth from the benzoin resin and the tonka wash over the flower’s petals, turning them creamy and buttery in a way that is really nice, even for a non-iris lover like myself.

The iris may lie at the heart of Misia, but it is never alone. The violet weaves in and out, sometimes smelling exceedingly strong, sometimes merely dancing around the edges like a supplicant. The rose hangs back, quieter and more muted as the perfume develops. From the 2nd hour onwards, it is more of a shimmering whisper on my skin, an echo that hovers in the air rather than a solid, powerful, heavy note.

Source: Pinterest. Artist unknown, perhaps Diana Khan Designs or an Etsy artist.

Source: Pinterest. Artist unknown, perhaps Diana Khan Designs or an Etsy artist.

Misia continually took unexpected turns as it developed. I had expected a bathtastic, soapy, aldehydic bouquet that would turn into pure lipstick and makeup, but that doesn’t really happen. In fact, I’m surprised by how little Misia evokes makeup, or the classical lipstick/powder accord that is usually triggered by an iris, orris, violet mix. This is definitely a scent with powder, but it is more akin to the sort created by heliotrope with warm, tonka-benzoin sweetness more than anything overtly, loudly, heavily make-up oriented.

In that way, Misia differs from Malle‘s Lipstick Rose, despite sharing many similar notes. On me, Misia is significantly more iris-centric than the Malle; it’s not heavily dominated by the roses; and the violet smudges it with a touch of greenness, instead of lipstick like the Malle. Misia is also not screechingly synthetic like the Malle, has a very balanced degree of white musk, is softer in projection as a result, feels smoother and creamier in body, and is altogether substantially better in quality, in my opinion.

Painting by Krystyna81 at her Etsy Store. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Painting by Krystyna81 at her Etsy Store. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Misia shifts in fractional degrees, changing so slowly and minutely that it takes a few hours before one notices different nuances. Roughly 2.5 hours in, the scent is primarily buttery iris cream laced with a violet that is green but also, now, a little woody. The fragile rose continues to be wrapped around it, as thin and translucent as gossamer cobwebs. The whole thing is dusted with sweetened powder, then nestled within a fluffy, pillowy cocoon that evokes the gentle, soothing traits of heliotrope.

However, now, there are also passing, occasional whiffs of something that distinctly smelt like Pond’s Cold Cream to me. It’s as though the iris’ innate coolness had not only bloomed, but had been supplemented by a definite dash of waxy, fat aldehydes. The result isn’t soapy or “bathtastic, per se, but definitely like the thick, facial cleansing creams of old. By the end of the 5th hour and the start of the 6th, the cold cream accord grows even more noticeable and constant. It’s overlaid with violets that are no longer green but floral, and as soft as pansy petals. The fragile rose continues to be a shy wallflower at the edges, barely fluttering in near muted silence.

Vintage ad for Pond's Cold Cream. Source: aperfumeblog.com

Vintage Pond’s Cold Cream ad. Source: aperfumeblog.com

The whole thing is creamy to the point where the perfume’s texture is as much a part of the scent as any actual note. To me, it’s the one thing that makes Misia stand out, because the actual bouquet itself is both simplistic and not particularly distinctive. If one were to take the most reductionist interpretation, Misia’s heart stage is essentially just cold cream iris and violet with miniscule curls of rose, sweetened powder, and clean musk.

Misia continues on this path for the next few hours, remaining a creamy floral with the slightest rose-ish tint and a quiet powderiness. The strands of woodiness fluctuate, but they’re never particularly strong or prominent on my skin. More noticeable is the way the powder finally starts to skew closer to the makeup territory, though it’s still not hardcore or anything evocative of the bottom of a makeup bag. It certainly isn’t a fuddy-duddy, old-time, “old lady” powderiness, but something significantly lighter, more modern, and more restrained. It is only the “Pond’s Cold Cream” note that feels a little old-fashioned to me, and that remains until the end of the 9th hour.

Source: galleryhip.com

Source: galleryhip.com

Misia’s drydown and final hours involve a greater change in focus. When the 10th hour rolls around, the “cold cream” note weakens and is replaced by a strong powderiness infused with sweetness. The orris root mixed with tonka and benzoin really resembles heliotrope to a remarkable degree, though it’s nothing at all like the powderiness of Oriza L. Legrand‘s Heliotrope Blanc. By the same token, the notes still don’t skew towards makeup powder; the scent is merely fluffier and more pillowy than before. For the most part, Misia is really just a bouquet of clean, powdered sweetness, kissed by a hushed breath of warmth. The fragrance remains that way until its very final hour when, to my surprise, Misia suddenly returns back to the orris butter, coating the skin in the thinnest smear of buttery, sweet cream.

Misia has moderate projection but excellent longevity for a mere eau de toilette. Using 3 smears equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, the fragrance opened with about 4 inches of projection that dropped to 2 at the end of the first hour. The scent hovered just above the skin at the 3.25 hour mark, but only turned into a skin scent after the 4th hour. It wasn’t hard to detect up close for a while. In total, Misia lasted 11 hours on me, which is unusual for an eau de toilette on my wonky skin, but I’ve found that Chanel’s Exclusifs often last longer than many eau de parfums.

"Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt," Giovanni Boldini, 1888, via Wikipedia.

“Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt,” Giovanni Boldini, 1888, via Wikipedia.

Almost everyone who tries Misia seems to think that it is well done, elegant, with occasional, evocative hints of the vintage past, but not overtly girly or frilly in nature. On Fragrantica and elsewhere, a number of people find the scent to be primarily like makeup and lipstick, while others detect a woodier, drier, restrained iris. For a few, Misia is about sugary or candied violets with cosmetic powder; for others, there are a lot of aldehydes. Not a lot of people find the rose to be the dominant floral, but comparisons to Malle’s Lipstick Rose are frequent.

What I’ve noticed is that people’s reaction to Misia is not predicated so much on their gender (that would be obvious for a scent like this), but on their expectations involving the lipstick/makeup accord. The people who seem the most disappointed in Misia frequently seem to be those who had expected a significantly hardcore makeup/lipstick scent that skewed blazingly feminine.

Vintage 1930s Powder Puff Compact. Source: Etsy Boutique "ItsAGoodThing." (Direct website link embedded within.)

Vintage 1930s Powder Puff Compact. Source: Etsy Boutique “ItsAGoodThing.” (Direct website link embedded within.)

That is not what they found, as evidenced by some of the Fragrantica comments and two reviews on Surrender to Chance. There, one person doesn’t find Misia to be sufficiently like the bottom of a grandmother’s makeup bag, while a second thought it was unisex (too unisex for her tastes), and musky. Personally, I don’t think Misia is supposed to be such an extreme or on-the-nose replication of makeup or lipstick. I certainly don’t think it’s meant to be unquestionably and supremely feminine in nature but, rather, slightly closer to the unisex side. Obviously, just how feminine or unisex it will be to you will depend on your personal tastes, and how you interpret the notes as they manifest themselves on your skin.

For my friend, The Non-Blonde, Misia the perfume was pretty and with perfect proportions, but something about it felt both unisex and austere, different from the pillowy, feminine voluptuousness of Misia Sert herself. Her review reads, in small part, as follows:

Crisp, clipped, linear, and determined, like a 1920s bobbed haircut. Misia delivers exact doses of iris and violets that walk the line between soap and powder, nostalgia and modern minimalism, Chanel and Guerlain.

Misia is also very pretty. Not wistfully or heartbreakingly so, but pure and simple in its perfect proportions. The balance is kept so accurately that despite the turn towards the vintage dressing table through the powdery makeup vibe, Misia is still not overly feminine. It has the same gender-free appeal as Prada Infusion d’Iris: clean, approachable, a good office-mate kind of a thing. […][¶] Chanel’s Misia has something austere about it [….] Also, it lacks a certain playfulness, but that’s probably what makes Misia so easy to pull off on any given day. It’s there, it smells good, it’s reliable. [Emphasis to names added by me.]

For two male bloggers, The Scented Hound and Colognoisseur, Misia was also dominated by a lipstick/makeup accord with a vintage vibe, but they detected a thin sliver of leather underlying it in the base. For The Hound, Misia was a “pretty powder puff of violet and iris…but not overly pretty, you can’t accuse Misia of being too girly-girl,” thereby echoing other comments that the scent is not gushingly, excessively feminine in nature. Again, whether that is a good thing or a bad thing will depend on what you would like Misia to be.

I actually liked Misia a lot more than I thought I would. In general, I’m not really an iris person and Chanel’s aldehyde-heavy, cool aesthetic is far removed from my own tastes, making it a brand that I avoid for olfactory reasons. Yet, there were times in the first few hours of Misia when I thought it was a scent I wouldn’t mind wearing for myself if a free bottle ever fell into my lap and if the women explicitly, intentionally linked to the scent didn’t have such strong, negative associations in my mind. On a purely technical basis, Misia is done very, very well, demonstrating a masterful balance in the notes and in the scent’s overall vibe that impressed me. If only it were about something innocuous, like a number or chinese screen, instead of something that brings back in waves all my feelings about Coco Chanel. I’m sorry, I simply can’t move past all that; I spent far too many years of my life studying the Nazis and the SS. But even without that, I don’t want to wear a scent that constantly conjures up images of two junkies shooting up.

I’m sure the vast majority of you won’t be burdened with the same issues, so if iris and lipstick/makeup bouquets are your thing, then give Misia a sniff.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Misia is an eau de toilette that comes in two sizes: a 2.5/75 ml oz bottle for $160 or €133; or a large 6.8 oz/200 ml bottle for $280 or €55. You can find it exclusively at Chanel boutiques, or on the US and French Chanel websites. In the U.S.: As a general rule, the Exclusifs are not sold at most department stores like Nordstrom, Barney’s, or the like, but the line is available at NYC’s Bergdorf Goodman, and select Saks Fifth Avenue stores (like the NYC flag-ship and the one in Washington, D.C.). I’ve been told that it is also carried in-store at the Seattle Nordstrom (which will ship out to you wherever you are). However, Misia is not listed on any of those stores’ websites. If you’re not near one of them, your best bet is to go through Chanel itself. You can also use Chanel’s Store Locator guide on their website to try to find a boutique near you. Outside of the U.S.: Misia is obviously available at Chanel shops. Some select department stores also carry the Exclusifs line. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells Misia starting at $3.99 for a 1 ml vial.

81 thoughts on “Chanel Misia: The Women, The History, The Fragrance

  1. Our joiner, (40) working on some cabinetry for us, asked me to explain the difference between Christian and Jewish religions. Many millions, born post 1975, don’t know. In a desperate rambling way we ended up discussing Chanel and the Wertheimers. We explore attars and unctions without a thought to religious connotations, be they Hindu, Muslim, or Bhuddist. I loved your rant when the books came out, I love this little diatribe, but let’s face it, the buying public won’t judge the perfume on the legend.

    • You’re right, they won’t — and I don’t expect them to! 🙂 In fact, I don’t place any expectations on anyone else, I don’t hope to, and that’s not my goal. My reviews are personal to me and my feelings about things, and, in this case, Misia the fragrance is indelibly intertwined with negative associations about Misia the woman and Coco. I don’t expect anyone else to feel the same way — not amongst my readers OR the general public. But I simply can’t talk about the fragrance without all this other stuff. It’s not a tribute to innocuous things like other Chanel fragrances, like a building (31 Rue Cambon or Bel Respiro ), a fabric (Jersey), a plant (Gardenia), a colour (Beige), or to wooden Chinese screens (Coromandel). It’s a tribute that brings up things that I feel strongly about and can’t overlook.

      • Yes of course it’s your party and we didn’t sign on for blandesque. I find it disconcerting that people don’t know..how could they not have at least some foundation of knowledge in this regard? Oh well, back to the grindstone.

        • No, no, I understood what you meant, my dear. I just wanted to emphasize (for others more than you) that I wasn’t trying to impose my own feelings onto them and had no expectations that they would care at all about any of this. 🙂 As you so accurately noted, most people just care about what something smells like, period. And that’s totally fine!

  2. I have the book Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel, Nazi Agent: Coco Chanel, Nazi Agent by Hal Vaughan but am yet to read it. You are very good to even give this perfume a review (or any Chanel, for that matter), given your strong feelings about Chanel and the relationship with her lover Misia. No apologies needed for your opening, by the way, it’s brave of you to discuss the problems you have with this and your sense of conflict over reviewing Misia. Now, I really must read that book…

    • I think I could put aside my Coco issues had the scent (or any Chanel release) not been so overtly, clearly linked to things I find problematic. Like I said, I have no issues with Coromandel which is inspired by something as innocuous as the Chinese screens she loved. And I would have no problems covering fragrances like Jersey, Beige, etc. But this one… no. I can’t shrug off the negative associations triggered by Misia Sert.

      With regard to the Vaughan book, I should warn you that he isn’t the best writer around, and I haven’t been surprised to see that some people found the book to be very poorly written. That said, his access to recently declassified materials (especially from the former Soviet Union) is rather unique and does make the book well worth reading, imo. He is also very matter-of-fact about Chanel, and doesn’t take any position on her whatsoever really. He just presents the facts for the most part, and that is a good thing generally, but he’s perhaps a little TOO matter-of-fact about some things. Anyway, I hope you find the book interesting. 🙂

      • Yes, I understand that the whole story/inspiration for this fragrance makes you uncomfortable… Thanks for the info about the book, I shall keep that in mind!

  3. I appreciate your review of the connotations of the name and the scent, both.

    Regarding the problematic name, you’ve given some counterexamples like Jersey. I take it that the Chanel scents called Coco and similar are also disturbing to you, perhaps even more so?

    • I wouldn’t use the word “disturbing” to describe the issue, but, No, I would not wear Coco because it celebrates the woman. I suppose I’m spared thinking about it because of how badly it’s been reformulated, but I wouldn’t wear it even if it were still as beautiful as it once was. Other scents, it would depend on the particular fragrance in question, what it’s about, the connections and the history.

  4. Oh. That’s who Misia was? I just finished an hour long evening chat about fanaticism with my partner before reading this. How simply layering a whole peoples with the same brush is inexcusable. But. That with specifics. Specific people and actions can be deemed terrible. After all our human nature covers the range of miraculous to envious to horribilus to. Well anything our imagination can conjure up. Although I have to say that history or not, Misia the scent is not the best imaginary feat. Too. Just ok I guess.

    On a completely opposite note. I have taken On reading everyone’s comments and am beginning to look forward to this whole community, and not just the reviews. So. Ellen: safe recovery, what ever it is that ails you. Hammelamis: how did the dog training week go? And Don: that was you on the speaker cage way back when?! Great dancing!

    Thanks for the review. As always. I learn here.

    • You’re welcome, Paskale, and I’m very glad you’re enjoying the little community here. 🙂

    • Paskale, how nice of you to enquite after my dog training. It was a very demanding but worthwhile weekend. We follow a somewhat unorthodox but fantastic training method, well based in up to date science, and in a big dog lover’s heart. Our German Shepherd girl is young, clever, sweet, and sometimes she takes on far more responsibility than she can handle. So we need to be firm, and convince her she can relax, we are on top of the safety of our pack, for her sake as much as ours. We are incredibly lucky so far as she is healthy, and she is utterly gorgeous!

        • I just noticed that you said “pack”. How many do you have?! We always had at least two, if not more. So that caught me eye. And if so, then yes, training becomes even more imperative for sure. Bravo for being so attentive and invested in your tribe.

  5. This was a fascinating review! I love that you could establish your personal revulsion in no uncertain terms and then go on to give the fragrance in question a fair, thoroughly comprehensive review. Kudos.

    • That means a lot to me, Rich. I hesitated for a long time about whether to include the first part of this review, and I tried incredibly hard to tone it down as much as I could. (I don’t think I succeeded too well there, though you should have seen the earlier drafts of this post. lol.) I admit that I’ve been a little uneasy and nervous about people’s reaction to the first part, and I feel that way even now. I rather expected to be excoriated and raked over the coals — badly — so responses like yours *really* mean a lot. Thank you.

  6. Either the marketing team didn’t think anyone would dig deeper and/or that the salacious details would add to the mystique. How many drug referenced fragrances *have* there been in recent years?

    I agree with rprichpot and applaud you on your thorough and not-bad review after writing “I, for one, wouldn’t want to spend $160 or $280 on a perfume that constantly makes me think of junkies and Nazis.”

    I’d sample this one, but I wouldn’t buy it, either, though in all honesty I probably would consider it if were the best fragrance on earth (just being honest!)

    Thanks for a fascinating review/backstory!

    • I’m glad you found the backstory interesting. As for the drug issue, you’re right, there have been a number of fragrances that either involve such notes or are generalized references to drugs. For me, the totality of the circumstances and the specific facts here are what make Misia different than, say, Black Afgano. In short, it’s this specific case that somehow goes one step over the mental line in the sand that I have.

  7. Thanks as always, dear, for putting in some historical context. These were two loathesome ladies, all right. I’m glad that the perfume is okay, but frankly I will never try it. Why not just call it Nazi Sympathizer and have done with it?

    • In fairness, Misia did try to save one Jew from the Nazis, and had Jewish friends (much to Chanel’s disgust. One book mentioned Coco complaining a lot about that fact.) But just because Misia was a hair better than Coco on a relative scale doesn’t make the mental imagery I have go away, or make the scent one I could ever wear myself.

      • I thought about my original comment before I left it, because my beloved Renoir made derogatory remarks about Jews. But there is a distinction between an anti-Semite and a Nazi, and there is another distinction to be made between surviving under the Nazis and thriving under them. In the same way, I think that Ezra Pound behaved far more despicably than previous British writers who wrote anti-Semitic things in peacetime and before it was clear what the Nazis were really doing. No bigoted speech is ever okay, but some is loathesome beyond words. So I will never read the cantos or anything else by Pound again and I will never try Misia. Not because I am principled but because I feel visceral revulsion.

        • That distinction is so critical to me: doing what is necessary to survive under genuine, severe, serious threat (of torture, death, incarceration, rape, etc.) — vs — actually THRIVING under the Nazis, benefiting from their heinous laws, intentionally using them for profit, and NEVER ONCE actually feeling the SLIGHTEST bit of remorse. Ever. Not a single moral twinge, then or later. In fact, she actively turned around to insult and (metaphorically) spit upon one Jew whom she tried to actively harm (the main Wertheimer brother), whose business she tried to destroy, and who subsequently paid for every part of a luxury life. She never once indicated that she thought she did anything remotely wrong at all, and I actually think she felt ENTITLED to do as she did. She simply had no moral compass at all. Zero.

  8. Thank you Paskale. I tend to be a bit of a lurker as I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the knowledge that all this community has compared to my meager experience. Back to Chanel. I am very aware of Chanel’s heinous background, although many people have no inkling I think. Your review, as always, was erudite and fascinating, and based upon it, I could never, in conscience, buy Misia. Thank you for informing me.

    • Ellen, if there is anything I can do to make you feel more comfortable, I hope you’ll let me know, because I would love to see more of you. Everyone here is a learner to some degree or another; none of us are ultimately experts or professionals. Most of what people write in their comments are their impressions, generalised thoughts, or opinions. Plus, there is bound to be one area where your knowledge exceeds that of many others. For example, I know for a fact that you’re a huge incense lover, especially for the liturgical/High Church genre. So, what you see as “meager” experience is probably quite vast as compared to others. I’m pretty sure that you’ve tried more High Church incenses than I have. And there are probably other areas where you’re underestimating your knowledge, too. But, again, even if you had no knowledge whatsoever, you shouldn’t hesitate to comment or share your opinion. 🙂

  9. Thank you for a brilliant review of a mediocre perfume…..I admire your rant…I empathise with your views and altho I was born very much pre 1975 I didn’t know the extent of Chanel’s collaberation with the SS. Thank you for sharing that. Coco Chanel was a weak woman who did whatever it took to survive…they were difficult times and she had a s**t childhood – but so did many people and they didn’t resort to depravity on the scale that she did. I admire people with integrity – that is someone who is integrated with themselves …connected…grounded and prepared to stand out from the herd for their beliefs. She wasn’t one of them.
    As for Misia – I tried it recently at Selfridges in London and wasn’t impressed. Don’t get me wrong I could tell it was well done and balanced but it wasn’t ground breaking – just safe and maybe in the only line of defence I can come up with for Coco Chanel – that is wanted she ultimately wanted to feel….Safe. Don’t we all…..
    On a lighter note I’ve just ordered another batch of samples from that great French perfume house – Oriza L Legrand I’ve already bought a bottle of Chypre Mousse and Horizon – both stunning amazing well balanced and brilliant perfumes so will keep you posted on the like of Heliotrope….Violette…..etc etc. Much love and thanks again for a brilliant blog. Rant on….

    • Oriza L. Legrand is such a great house, so reasonable for the quality and size, and produced with such love from owners who try so hard, too, that I’m really happy that you are such a big fan. I am as well, even when a particular, individual fragrance may not work for me personally. I’m looking forward to the new leather that they will be releasing in the fall. Cuir de Russie or Cuir Imperiale (can’t recall the exact name that they have planned right now.)

      As for Chanel, I don’t think she was weak by any means, but I feel the same way you do about crossing a line in the sand that isn’t justified regardless of one’s background or difficult childhood. All of it…. it’s just too, too much for me when the complete totality of her behaviour is examined.

      As for the Misia fragrance, no, it’s not groundbreaking, but I don’t think that is the Chanel aesthetic as a whole. They go for good-quality, polished, smooth scents that express elegance more than anything revolutionary or distinctive. I don’t judge them for skewing to the safe, conventional side that is merely sophisticated, cool, and/or clean, because that is their brand signaure. Misia is a very good fit for them and in that context. Ultimately, Chanel isn’t a niche brand, regardless of their pricing for their Exclusifs line, so their creations won’t have a niche sensibility and will all be “safe” to a large degree. 🙂

  10. I think you deserve a Jasmin Award Kafka for this balanced and important post, but doubt you will receive it…From your scent review Misia sounds worthwhile to sample, I didn’t yet as Lipstick Rose is my all time awful scrubber, and on the blogs it was compared to it. However, I never feel comfortable with a perfume named after a person, you just don’t know who they were, and with Misia, it is very clear there are too many strands in her life that I don’t want to think of or associate with, even unconsciously. Thank you for your thoughtful expression of a voice that needs to be heard.

    • Similarly Lipstick Rose is a scrubber on me, so from the descriptions, I wasn’t that interested in trying Misia. Kafkaesque’s review is making me think again 0 – I’m a big iris fan.

      I have to agree that branding and the name Misia (with the story) didn’t exactly inspire me either. I don’t know why…perhaps to do with Chanel’s character and her questionable choices and behaviors. Its funny how that subconsciously shapes your mindset.

      • Lipstick Rose was hideous on me, absolutely hideous. It is a scent that I cannot recall without shuddering, in fact. So, let me reassure you that I never once thought of scrubbing Misia, not even when it had the Pond’s Cold Cream smell that I didn’t enjoy.

        I think you should try Misia and not let the Lipstick Rose issue hold you back. I don’t know much about your specific tastes, Smelly Dandelion, other than the iris you’ve mentioned here, so I don’t know how much a lipstick, feminine, rose, or woody scent you enjoy or would want, but I do think a hardcore iris lover might enjoy the scent. It’s significantly better quality than the Malle, isn’t screechingly synthetic, isn’t blitzed by a tsunami of clean, white musk, and feels more elegantly polished. Basically, it’s not the simpering, gushingly girlie hot mess that Lipstick Rose was. *shudder* You may end up being pleasantly surprised by Misia, especially in comparison to Lipstick Rose.

    • Ha, thank you, my dear, but I certainly won’t get a Jasmin Award. For very different reasons than you imagine, though. One has to nominate oneself for a Jasmin Award, and putting oneself forward really isn’t my thing. It’s silly of me really, because almost all awards require self-nomination (like, the Oscars or the Golden Globes in the movie world), and there are perfume bloggers who self-nominate themselves for the Jasmin, FiFis, etc. year after year. I seem to have some weird thing about it, though. (I guess part of me always hopes they’ll stumble across something I wrote and choose me nonetheless, or that someone else will nominate me, idiotic as that thought may be.) Again, silly of me, and I should get over my issues, because a few awards would undoubtedly increase the blog’s exposure. Maybe one day, I’ll be more strategic and forward.

      As for the perfume, don’t let Lipstick Rose hold you back too much. I though that was a HIDEOUS scrubber, and it gave me a monumental headache, too. Every time I tried it, I scrubbed it off. AWFUL. The huge amount of synthetics and white musk also left me hesitant to try stuff by Ralf Schweiger and my subsequent experiences with other things that he’s created proved to me that his aesthetic is far removed from my own. Frankly, I don’t think Ralf Schweiger is a great nose at all.

      Misia is significantly better quality, smoother, and practically non-synthetic in comparison to Lipstick Rose. I was also relieved by how it wasn’t so cloyingly, gushingly, simperingly girlie — though that is precisely why some people don’t seem to like Misia so much. They want far more of a hardcore, feminine, makeup bouquet. Depending on what sort of thing you’re looking for (ie, more iris or violet than rose, less girlie, etc.), you may want to give Misia a test sniff despite the trauma of Lipstick Rose. For what it’s worth, there are a few other readers here who also put Lipstick Rose high on their list of biggest scrubbers. If I recall correctly, Hajusuuri may even have it as her biggest scrubber of all-time, just like you.

  11. After Reading THE book Sleeping with THE enemy I could not get THE image from my head of Misia Sert using morphine in pure daglight and injecting through her clothes which in those days and still nowadays must have been quite disturbing. So no chanel Misia for me either Although I enjoyed THE fragrance itself. Good you are writing about this.

    I presume Polge and Chanel wanted to represent Misia as a fragrance in her younger days when she was a Muse and Inspiration for many artists. But this is my own impression.

    Fortunately I still enjoy wearing Some chanel fragrances and prefer to put her products aside from her as a person as she must have been Charming and witty but quite unlikable for others. Interestingly THE spying and collaboration part of Coco is not very Well known.

    Hope you Kaiser is reacting good to his treatments 🙂

    • Aaah, someone else with the exact same mental image of Misia Sert stabbing herself through her clothes with a needle full of drugs…. THANK YOU, Esperanza, I feel a lot less like a weirdo. Seriously, I mean that. Thank you for letting me know that I’m not the only one.

  12. Thank you for the history on this one but i already own a bottle and ulmost feel guilty that i love it so much. Don’t know what to do exactly. Will let it sink first 🙁

    • I think you should ENJOY the fragrance that you LOVE. Ignore what someone on the internet says or the history, and create your own mental images for the perfume. Happy, positive images. You love the scent — and that is *ALL* that matters.

      I mean that quite sincerely. I have to write what *I* feel for a fragrance, because perfume reviewing is a personal, individualistic thing almost by definition. So, my mental images and my issues. But that does not mean anyone else should feel the same way. Wear your Misia and enjoy it!

    • If that may help, you’re not giving ANY money to Misia Sert or Coco Chanel. Neither woman can make a profit out of your purchase, you’re not filling their pocket. I think it’d be different if we actually were making a living and well-known criminal richer by buying their products, you know? You’re merely enjoying a perfume regardless of its label!

  13. Your reaction to the name of the perfume is totally understandable. I could never try Givenchy Black Dahlia, because I find the name too infuriating.
    By and large, the Parisian artistic scene was deeply compromised with the Nazis. The vast majority of Parisian artists (including actors, designers, etc.), really. I’m absolutely not saying that it makes it less disgusting in ANY way, and not all became actual nazi spies, of course, but it led to a lot of sweeping under the rug after the war, a lot more than for other types of collaborators.
    Few people actually know about the life of Misia Sert, though. I certainly didn’t, though I was aware of Chanel’s nazi connections. I’ve seen quite a few books about Misia (painted in a positive light, it seemed) in Paris recently, so the marketing team at Chanel might have planned its move. It also follows a trend of naming products after an actual person, which I’ve seen in quite a few makeup brands (so Chanel is also absolutely unoriginal about that name, too). For instance, Chanel completely changed the formula of their Rouge Coco lipsticks and renamed them after people in Coco’s life, which, considering the woman’s character, I found quite questionable. They also destroyed a lipstick formula I really liked, so I’m grumpy about that, too.
    Incidentally, we’ve very recently transferred the remains of four very proeminent members of the French Résistance -two men, two women- into the Panthéon, a monument in Paris where ‘great men and women of the nation’ are laid to rest. It currently also holds an exhibition about famous female members of the Résistance, which I was delighted to see.

    • That’s fantastic about the Resistance members going into the Panthéon!!! I’m so glad. And the fact that female Resistance members are being recognised is equally wonderful news. It’s about time.

      On a less positive note, France’s handling of some of its past is still a bit iffy, and it’s not just the way that more famous people (including artists) were treated differently. The Vel d’Hiv round-up, for example. HORRIFYING! I wonder how many people — both in France and outside of it — would even know what the name “Vel d’Hiv” symbolises or what happened. Almost none, I suspect. It’s been too well swept under the rug.

      • Thank you. I’ve googled it and found information. Horrifying is the right word.

        I knew much more about Chanel but somehow I never associated her with any “Chanel” perfumes. I like “Misia” and for me this is a beautiful and very melancholic perfume with zero association to whomever.

  14. I happened on a Chanel event when Misia was released, where a “Coco historical expert” was explaining the history of Misia and Coco. Naturally there was no mention of drug abuse, but more surprising to me was her assertion that the ‘whole Nazi connection’ (I kid you not…she put it that way) ‘was overstated’. This Chanel rep went on to talk about what a great philanthropist Coco had been…blah blah blah.
    I was quite surprised she brought up the topic at all since ‘the Nazi connection’ I don’t believe is well known among the general public, but to be so dismissive of the issue was odd.

    Many thanks to you Kafka for your comprehensive and thoughtful articles, always appreciate how you dive so deep.

    • I am fascinated to hear that “the whole Nazi connection was overstated.” Rather like referring to the Civil War as “that late unpleasantness.”

    • I’m not surprised one bit that a “Coco historical expert” wouldn’t mention the drugs. Coco’s hardcore drug use continued all the way to the end, paid for fully (just like everything else) by the Wertheimer Brothers after the war.

      As for her claim that the Nazi connection has been “overstated,” I guess it depends on one’s definition. On a scale of 1 to Hitler, Coco certainly falls low on the spectrum, but just because one isn’t Hitler or Mengele doesn’t mean one’s actions can be easily shrugged off or ignored. No-one in America thinks Benedict Arnold is a positive symbol, even if he didn’t engage in the full-scale of abominable actions. Still, like you, I’m surprised the woman brought up the Nazi issue at all.

      One thing I vaguely recall reading was that the Sleeping With The Enemy book either wasn’t initially published in France at when it originally debuted, or that it wasn’t widely released. That happened later. But, initially, it was easier for both the French and for the current Wertheimer Brothers to keep the information more under wraps for “embarrassment” reasons. (I could swear I recall reading something about the French response being avoidance due to “embarrassment,” but my memory of the initial French response is a bit foggy.) Anyway, later, when the global media really picked up on the story (especially the British) and when the book was more widely circulated in France, they had a harder time. Perhaps the Coco expert figured she might as well preempt any possible questions about “the whole Nazi connection” first, just glossing over it as something seemingly minor. “Overstated”… LOL.

  15. I had high hopes for Misia. I have yet to find a Chanel exclusive that I love. But, I found Misia to be almond, followed by almond, followed by powder. I will stick with Hypnotic Poison. There are no floral notes for me during its life on my skin.

    • It sounds to me as though you experienced a very heliotrope-like bouquet, just as I did with parts of Misia. It’s not just your almond and powder references, but also the Hypnotic Poison one, since the latter is a very heliotrope dominated scent.

  16. Dear Kafka, thank you for the review, from the beginning to the very end. I didn’t bother to look up Misia Sert, when the perfume came out, and now I feel ashamed for that. Thank you.

    • You have no reason whatsoever to be ashamed, Mi’Lady. I was previously familiar with the name “Misia Sert” because of Coco Chanel and The Sleeping With The Enemy book. I had certainly never heard much about her before that. The few blog reviews for the fragrance that mentioned Misia Sert’s drug use quickly glossed over it; and no perfume blog that I know of ever discusses Chanel’s Nazi ties. I just can’t help taking a different tack, because history matters to me deeply and fundamentally. At one point in my life, my goal and dream was to become the world’s foremost expert on the SS. I didn’t end up going that route, but it’s a bit hard to shrug off the years and years of study or the interest in that horrifying part of history.

  17. Okay,I must say I don’t get why everyone here is seeing Misia Sert in such a terrible light,she was a protege piano student of Gabriel Faure,a muse to people like Renoir,she used her money to save Diaghilev,she was there for Chanel,when she had just lost her love-and towards the end of her life,she was very ill and took morphine,I am not saying that is a good thing,but to judge her purely on that seems so very odd to me!Thank you for saying that the perfume is quite good,it is indeed very good!

    • Ariane, it’s helpful that you point out her best qualities, and certainly she had a rare talent for friendship. For me, this is not about the drug use but about making herself so exquisitely comfortable among Nazis and their collaborators. As Kafkaesque meticulously points out, she was not as actively awful from a personal standpoint as Chanel was. But I consider her lifestyle among the Nazi occupiers the equivalent of cuddling up to Isis or Boko Haram and refusing to admit what they are really about.
      Just my opinion, and fortunately Kafkaesque attracts readers with a wide spectrum of opinions, so thanks for joining us.

    • You’re judging her primarily, if not almost purely, in terms of her interactions with the artistic world. I am not. And she did not turn into a hardcore drug user solely at the end of her life when she was ill. Regardless, I appreciate you stopping by to share your opinion and perceptions. I’m also glad that you found a fragrance that you enjoy so much.

      • I am sorry that I didn’t mention at all how much I appreciate your meticulous and wonderful reviews,and I love your rants and wish others ranted as well ,it was just in this case that I felt the need to defend Misia the woman,because from all that I had read,she seemed so fascinating and I didn’t get any nazi connection(other than through her relation with Chanel,which is bad enough I guess),on the contrary,I read that Chanel called her an ‘old Jewish soul’,and the fact she tried to save a Jew etc.-and then I had fallen hard for the juice as well,it reminds me of theatre smells,stage make up etc.,I can’t help but LOVE it!
        I do agree with others here who think you ought to win the Jasmine Award!Thanks for your wonderful blog-and please,never stop the rants!

        • Ariane, I meant it when I said I appreciated you sharing your opinions on Misia, because it was nice that she was defended. I wasn’t at all offended by your comment, I swear, but I did have about 30 other comments to reply to, so I perhaps rushed more than I should have in replying to you. 🙂 You’re right that Misia seems to have been a good friend to the people she cared about deeply. It’s just that the Chanel company is asking us to see Misia not solely through the lens of Diaghilev, etc., but primarily through the lens of her “special friendship” with Coco and bringing Coco Chanel into things is a bad can of worms. For me, personally, being Chanel’s soul sister and so intertwined with her brings up Coco’s awful issues. And, then, there is the degree of hardcore drug use which is hard for me to accept personally.

          Even putting all of that aside, I’m afraid Misia strikes me as a morally indifferent, rather selfish person who was content to live in her own world and didn’t want her boat rocked by thorny ethical issues as the world around her burned. Yes, she wasn’t selfish to those she loved deeply and was friends with, but she partied with collaborators and resistance people alike without caring or doing anything. Something about that IN CONJUNCTION with everything else and particularly *in conjunction* to being Coco Chanel’s special friend whom she did heavy drugs with… it just goes one step too far for me. There are lines, and the overall totality of the circumstances just becomes one drop too far, one step too far, conjuring up mental images that I can’t escape and that ruin the scent for me. I don’t expect it to do that for anyone else. It’s a personal issue, but I can only talk about what I personally feel when reviewing a scent.

          For what it’s worth, I would have equal difficulty with any fragrance that celebrated Wagner or brought up the awful things involving him. I doubt anyone could ever deny Wagner’s accomplishments or talent, and I do like some of his pieces myself, but I can’t ignore his behavior, values, anti-Semitism, or other things. If someone were to celebrate him as a person through fragrance, the way Chanel sometimes tries to do with their founder, I wouldn’t be able to ignore that or wear that scent, either. So, I hope that puts my feelings in a better or larger context.

          As for your kind words about my reviews, thank you. I hope that you will feel comfortable to comment more (and that all of this hasn’t put you off) because I’d love the opportunity to get to know you and your perfume tastes better. So, please, come out of the shadows! 🙂 And, in the meantime, enjoy your Misia bottle!

  18. Many thanks for the review, it can’t have been easy to write. I like Misia very much, more than I expected. Chanel’s tendency towards restraint and austerity has always sat well with me – Chanel No 19 is a desert island fragrance – but I do welcome the change of direction in Misia towards something more luscious. On my skin it leans almost gourmand in the opening, without stepping over the line. The balance between vintage and modern is just perfect.

    As to your question ‘What were they thinking?’, I reckon they are thinking that most people won’t think. They will be hoping that most customers will take the company’s version of the Misia story at face value, and will not dig too deeply. I’m sure Chanel is justified in that expectation. A lot of people may never realise that Misia was a person, even. They may accept the name as an abstraction, like Ysatis, or something like that.

    • Have you tried LM Parfums’ recent Epine Mortelle, Anne Marie? That felt like a gourmand version of Lipstick Rose with lots of iris, rose, violets, and creaminess, but without ever stepping TOOOOO far over the line into gourmand. It’s not austere and is significantly rose-scentric as compared to Misia, but you may enjoy Epine Mortelle, too, if you’re a fan of this sort of olfactory bouquet.

      You’re right that few people will know, look into, or even *care* about the Misia/Coco drug story, but I do wish more people knew/cared about the Coco Nazi one. I find it so distressing when people gush over Coco Chanel as a paragon of elegance or class, or when they coo about her fabulously sophisticated life with her fabulous lovers. Obviously, the information isn’t always applicable in reviews, but I just wish the general knowledge were more widely known as a whole.

  19. Thanks for such an insightful review. I love your blog so much!

    I tried Misia because I am a huge fan of malle’s lipstick rose, but misia reminds me so much of yardley’s April violets. Don’t you think too?

    • Hi, B, welcome to the blog. 🙂 It sounds to me as though Misia is skewing heavily towards the violets on your skin. I haven’t tried the Yardley’s scent to know how it compares, but Misia was more iris-centric on me with the violets being a mere supporting actor in comparison. Individual skin chemistry will impact which elements are brought out or shine, varying from one person to the next, but it sounds like you hoped for much more roses than you experienced in Misia.

      In your comment elsewhere, you asked about something much more intense than Lipstick Rose, so this is a good time and place to answer that: have you tried LM Parfums’ new-ish Epine Mortelle? To me, and on my skin, it reminded me a LOT of Lipstick Rose. But there are differences: Epine Mortelle is NOT purely lipstick; it skews more gourmand; it’s heavier, stronger, richer, and bolder, in large part because it is an extrait or pure parfum; and it’s significantly creamier, in my opinion, particularly in the drydown. It has far less clean, white musk, and more of a custardy, smooth vanilla in the base. More importantly, the opening is quite dark, like foresty green with a touch of angelica herbs. The opening makes Epine Mortelle stand out, but also makes it different than the Malle. I find Epine Mortelle to be much more interesting and better quality, since it’s not JUST hardcore lipstick/makeup rose/violets. That happens later on, but it isn’t the sole focus, if that makes any sense. So, perhaps you should try that one if Misia fell short of what you wanted. Read the review here and see if it sounds like your cup of tea, or if you don’t want something that isn’t entirely/solely lipstick: http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2015/01/07/lm-parfums-epine-mortelle/

  20. I can’t even convey to you just how far behind I am in your blog (and how many notifications I’ve saved in my email so I can go through them all!)! What a fascinating read this one was. I agree with others who said in regard to “What were they thinking?” that the response is most people don’t/won’t care because they lack the knowledge of the greater context of Chanel. I feel like her Nazi ties have been fairly well-documented at this point, but I still see a lot of things that hold her up as some sort of example/role-model. Not in relation to her Nazi ties, but still… Then again, lots of people still hold Michael Jackson up as some sort of infallible character and his wildly appropriate relationships with children have been well-established. I think people just don’t care, by and large. I love a lot of her scents, and it’s helpful knowing she hadn’t had a hand in Chanel for a very long time. I think if people close to her (e.g., family or close friends) were responsible for Chanel as a brand, I’d be more leery about wearing it.

    At any rate, Misia sounds eh. I’ll try it. Someday. But what I really want is a release from Chanel as stunning as Coromandel or Sycomore or Cuir de Russie. Those are some of my all-time favorites, but nothing else really inspires me to the same degree. Though I also love 28 La Pausa (which took a long time to grow on me) and Bel Respiro.

    • Coco Chanel is *frequently* held up as some sort of paragon or icon, and it makes me grit my teeth. Others simply don’t seem to care. But that’s life or society today, as you noted. As for the Chanel fragrances, how I wish they would do something dark, masculine, oriental, or leathery again, like the scents you mentioned. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to the brand’s general comfort zone or aesthetic preference.

  21. What a great review! I feel almost bad: I wish I had liked this perfume – then I would have boycotted it for both Nazi and drugs associations. But I don’t like it: it’s actually unpleasant on my skin. Still, I think you’re doing an important job explaining these things: if there is even one person who would read this post and decided not to buy Misia, maybe that’ll be that last straw that leads to its discontinuation. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your support, Undina. I really hesitated for a long time as to whether I should discuss any of this but, in the end, simply couldn’t put aside the things the perfume brought up for me. I know that the Nazi situation also holds great significance or weight for you, given your background and country.

  22. Great daring post 🙂 thank you! As for Misia Godebska, well addiction although has a bohemian and flamboyant ambiance to it is a disease and I guess rarely leaves a graceful choice. Strong woman with a severly wounded childhood become an institution too bad she befriended Chanel, as I would prefer to idealize her a little. You might like the story of Pannonica de Koenigswarter 🙂
    Have a lovely holiday!!

    ❤️

    • First, welcome to the blog, Katarzyna. 🙂 Second, thank you for your kind words and positive reaction. That means a lot. I will look up Pannonica de Koenigswarter when I get a free moment. Right now, I’m in a frenzy of trip preparation, as you can imagine. 🙂

  23. Chanel ‘used to be’ one of my idols. That was before I read your post on her being a Nazi collaborator. It was really sad for me to find that out, but I am glad to know about it so thank you. She now joins the ranks of the people like of Lance Armstrong and Bill Cosby…people who pretend to be something great but are the opposite of who they pretend to be. I am more jaded now and look at people with skepticism. I have to say I couldn’t sit well with myself if I didn’t mention a couple things. Everyone has a right to their opinions but, I do think there is such a stigma of people with drug abuse problems. It is more often a disease than moral ineptitude. I mention this because I can’t help but get an air of judgement when I read things as you put it “Coco’s drugged-out, junkie soul sister”. What could have started out as recreational use could have spiraled out of control until she was a full on addict. There were no rehabs or NA back then. I feel more sorry than judgmental for someone with that problem. I am sorry if you are so offended by the mental image of someone stabbing themselves through their clothes, but I hardly think anyone doing that would think that was fun and is more an act of someone so sick that it is sad. And I could care less if she was a lesbian, as you put it her “special friend”.

    • “Special friendship” is the Chanel company’s own words. THEIR description of their friendship. And, yes, it was “special” for reasons beyond the sexuality which, for me, is the very least of it. I couldn’t care if they had sex. They were special friends as emotional, mental, and spiritual soul sisters which — as I repeatedly explained — is a big part of the problem for me. Someone who is Coco Chanel’s twin and soul sister is not someone of whom I will think highly. However, where you are correct is noting an “air of judgement” regarding the drug use. That degree of addiction to hardcore drugs is not something I’m at all comfortable with. Yes, I’m judging. Yes, I am absolutely turned off by the image of someone stabbing themselves through their clothes. Good for you for being fine with it. All the more power to you.

  24. I have the highest admiration for Coco Chanel, this woman who comes from nothing represents France. Women from all over the world buy her bags and perfumes, not because it’s Jewish owned since the 1970s, but for her legacy, her vision on women and femininity.

    I own a Chanel 2.55 bag , I wear No5, I’m a vegetarian, my boyfriend owns a Ford Mustang and Rolex watches, I’m an admirer of Wagner’s glorious music, I’m a Libertarian and I don’t need to be lectured, thank you very much!

    Emma

    • Who was lecturing you? Where did I say what you or anyone else should do or think? And where did I say anything about women buying Chanel because it’s been Jewish-owned since the 1970s? I would appreciate it if you did not put words in my mouth.

      I gave my personal opinions (on my personal blog), shared my personal difficulty with the situation, and then went on to give the fragrance a very good review. I never said one word about what others should do. To the contrary, in fact.

      I’m happy for you that you’re a Chanel customer, that your boyfriend owns a Ford Mustang and Rolex watches, lol, and all the rest. Have a pleasant day.

      • Your character assassination by making exaggerated claims and misleading half-truths is absolutely unacceptable and revolting.

        You also have a fantastic day!

        • So I wasn’t lecturing you or telling you what to do? Now I’m at character assassination instead? LOL.

          I shall have an absolutely wonderful day. In fact, you have rather made my day, for which I thank you enormously.

          • This review is arrogant, obnoxious and just character assassination, again using misleading fabricated and exaggerated facts.

          • You’re repeating yourself, dear. 🙂 I have a whole post that covers the facts as provided by historians and historical records, and it’s linked right here within this very review! But please keep believing as you’d like, and don’t trouble yourself with my “arrogant, obnoxious” behaviour.

            I actually don’t want to change your views in the slightest, but I do worry that you will start frothing rabidly or have a heart attack if you continue this way. I wouldn’t want that. 🙂

            Still, if you continue to repeat yourself, I might have to consider future posts as spam. You’ve certainly gone past the stated, posted notice or terms of posting regarding personal attacks. Those are subject to deletion. But I have let you say your piece several times.

            At some point, when you’re no longer so amusing and become a bore in insulting me, I will start to delete your comments and/or ban you. Consider this as your notice. You’ve already violated the terms of posting.

            Enjoy your Chanel purse and Mustang driving boyfriend. 🙂 Goodbye, Emma.

  25. Oh I see you’re hiding behind highly controversial “historians” with an agenda and your post deletion threats. Great!

  26. Emma, enough is enough. Let’s stop this now. There is room for civil disagreement about nearly anything, but this is not civil, and I hope that Kafkaesque will not allow any more of it on the blog.

  27. Pingback: Sammarco Ariel: Chanel Meets Guerlain - Kafkaesque

  28. I have to admit that I find this review extremely disappointing. I understand and respect your opinion and I understand that emotions are hard to control. Still, your portray of Misia is unfair to say the least.

    First of all I find your view on drug addiction a bit insulting. This woman had a serious problem, an addiction is nothing fun and the fact that she injected morphine in such fashion just demonstrates how difficult her life was at the time. In your review and in most of the comments I sense a great deal of contempt for a woman who was ill and needed help.
    This woman was a key figure in the artistic scene of the beginning of the 20th Century. Through her patronage Misia helped and protected some of the most important artists ever existed and fostered the creation of many masterpieces. Yet, all of her merits are obscured by vicious gossips.

    I like your blog very very much, but I find this review distasteful. I feel that you and many readers are ready to condemn a great woman, who had a key role in the evolution of modern art, on the basis of juicy rumours that capitalise on a very serious illness.

    • Fair enough. My loathing for Coco Chanel undoubtedly spilt over and led me to have less empathy than I would otherwise have. You’re right, addiction is an illness. On the other hand, there are addicts who don’t opt to be soul sisters to Nazi agents, and Coco Chabel’s actions, sympathies, and anti-semiticism are not the stuff of conjecture or gossip. Nor is Misia’s own ease and movement in Nazi circles. Neither of those things stem from drug addiction or were triggered by it. Nevertheless, you make a fair point on the illness issue. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and also for your empathetic nature.

      • Dear Kafka,

        I just re-read my comment and I have to admit that I got carried away. I don’t agree with any of your points but my comment should have been more tactful.

        Being an artist myself I admire people who dedicate their lives to supporting the arts and I find that the romantic nature of Misia’s relationship with Coco Chanel (which started long before WWII and Chanel’s affiliation with the Nazis) justifies her constant support for the designer. (The heart wants what it wants 😉 )

        Two of my favourite writers are Céline and Drieu La Rochelle who openly supported the Nazis.
        Personally I am not influenced by the moral stance of the artist in my appreciation of an artwork but I understand that other people may find it impossible to tolerate certain choices and to separate the creation from the creator.

        As I said before I enjoy your blog very much and I am truly grateful for the effort that you put into crafting your reviews. I really appreciate your dedication and your deep knowledge of the subject that you write about.

        Thank you for your prompt and polite reply. I hope you will be able to forgive my ill-mannered comment.

        Looking forward to your future posts

        Federico

        • My apologies for the delayed reply, Federico. It’s Thanksgiving week here in America, and the holiday is always a very busy time. With regard to your earlier comment, don’t give it another thought! I didn’t think you were ill-mannered in the slightest.

          It was clear to me that this was an area close to your heart, just as history (and this particular part of it) is for me. We both let our passions seep in, affecting an objectivity that we might otherwise demonstrate. Each of us sees the matter differently because of our knowledge of our particular fields, but I think we can also see the other person’s perspective, even if we don’t necessarily share it or agree with it. I understand your stance and view perfectly. And, yes, Misia was friends with that loathsome woman prior to the war, although I should stress that Coco Chanel’s anti-semitism and questionable affiliations were in full swing long before the Nazis invaded Paris. Regardless, you can see, appreciate, and/or value an artist separate from their philosophies, their attachments, their relationships, and their morality. It’s the Wagner approach, basically, because it is the art that matters to you. And, you know, in many regards or instances I would agree with you. I really would. However, for me, there is a line in the sand. If, at some point, it’s crossed, then it’s harder for me to separate the artist and/or their creations from the other factors. And that is simply because *history* matters to me more than art. To me, history is almost everything. It’s the reverse for you. So, our passions dictate our approaches as well as whether we have a tipping point or not.

          Not only did I understand and see all that, but I *enjoyed* the debate with you! It’s fun to have intellectual discussions and I never care about disagreements so long as people are civil in their discourse, which you were. I thought you were perfectly tactful for someone who feels so passionately about their field of interest! So, please, let me THANK YOU for the discussion. 🙂

          Warmest regards,
          Kafkaesque

  29. Good afternoon,
    I’ve enjoyed your blog and perfume reviews immensely. Perfume reviews are my decadent moment in my vary harid day, my escapism. Unfortunately this post has left such a “lie feeling” with me, the complete opposite of the reasons I read perfume blogs.
    I do do understand I have the opportunity to not read and I wish I had not. I was in search of reviews in the juice itself as I am considering lurching a FB. I fear to enjoy this beautiful fragrance(I have a sample), I am going to have to smudge my memory of tour rant and review.. Alas if only you had left it with the review…I fear to read here again as my time is short in my homeschooling, stay home mom life and I need to preserve that moment of delight for lighter, lovelier readings. Even the most disateful perfume review leaves me feeling better than this darkness.
    – may you find peace with your thoughts of Misia ,and myself as well with your blog.
    Thank you for the actual review part, it was very helpful, yet tainted with the rant.
    Blessings

  30. Needed to edit my above post , texting woes!
    That should read ” bad feeling” with me!
    “Lurching a bottle! Lol !
    Should read “purchasing!”
    ” tour rant” laughing again… Yes it was a tour of “your” rant!
    Ok, now I’m laughing at myself with you to thank ! Haha… May I lighten up as well!

  31. I have just finished reading a biography on Coco Chanel and I must say I admire her. What book about her have you read that make you loathe her so much? From the one I read, she seems like a strong, resilient woman. I didn’t finish your blog post as I couldn’t stand your anger/negativity towards her… but hey it is your party as someone said above.

    And by the way, Coco Chanel created No. 5 with her perfumer Ernest Beaux, and then hired the Wertheimer brothers to produce and distribute it. The Wertheimers earned a massive fortune because of Coco’s creation, they robbed her blind. It said in the book that way before the war, she had anti-Semitic friends who warned her not to do business with the Jews as they “always find the easiest way to make money off of others” and she didn’t listen. And so Coco Chanel signed the contract in haste, not forseeing how crazy successful No 5 would be. So I can see why she must’ve disliked Jews.

    After the war though, and after almost 20 years of disagreement, it was said that the Wertheimers finally agreed to re-negotiate the Parfums Chanel contract with Coco and they became friends.

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