Half her world, or so it seemed, came to give their lives at Verdun.
But what she got, was given or perhaps took was freedom.
So if she chooses now to smell of petroleum and peach schnapps and drive cars and boats too fast, surely we can all understand a little why.
She parties hard, lives each day, they say as though it were her last on account of lives that did not fly, men who died in trenches to move lines on maps and bleed angry armies white.
Yesterday, ambulant driver, she scuttled back and forth through filth ferrying human shrapnel to medical ward ammunition dumps.
Today, she presses her foot down hard on every kind of accelerator, sprays on every sort of new scent, tries on every type of new sex, but nothing brings erasure.
About her person she still smells iodine and the moss that grew everywhere no matter how cold or wet or hot and dry or lonely it became.
Others fancy that the War will pass from memory, its greatness given up to greater sadnesses yet to come.
Its sorrow so it follows will be surrendered to gentler Orientals, when in desperate-to-forget dancehalls grass makes way for hay, bitter oranges for sweet ones and lilacs for irises.
But for her, with her name that recalls the other side of the world and its war, that future happiness will never happen.
Tomorrow will be as today is and yesterday was: a machine age tragedy in three acts played out over petroleum gas and peach schnapps.
Mitsouko is peerless.
It was the perfume to end all perfume.
And though it could not hope to be that, it remains the greatest of them all.
Some sniff it smells of automobile gas, others pretend to perceive only peaches.
Truthfully both parties are in part true. There is an essence of petrol in the stronger concentrations, but this is a kerosene to carry away souls not some dirty old diesel.
And the peach is the antithesis of soft, sugared, supermarket-sparkling clean soft fruit: it is an ageing momento mori too fleshy, flabby and fast on its way to mould to be too long of this world.
Then there is the moss, which is at once warm woodland floor and dank winter tree bark, which pervades every part of the composition giving lie to the idea of a flat Earth in fragrance.
The grass here is not green but dry and yellowing, the spices subtle yet, in the cinnamon especially, sometimes deceivingly strong: seeming to come and go from the scene.
Flowers play a very second fiddle, only lilacs catching the melody upon occasion to give mournful orchestration too the whole piece.
And quite a piece Mitsouko is: perfume’s first unquestionable masterpiece.
Talking of male and female here seems silly and frankly insulting.
Does Guernica have a gender?
The Perfumed Dandy.