The collector: Kathy Webster, Painter, Leamington Spa, UK.
The collection: Mitsouko perfume bottles.
The story behind the collection...
I have been using Mitsouko eau de toilette or eau de parfum for many years. I read a biography of Serge Diaghilev which stated that it was his favourite scent, so I immediately tried it and fell in love. It is rumoured that the curtains in his apartment and the theatre were drenched with it. At the 1955 Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition devoted to The Ballets Russes and Diaghilev it was sprayed through the galleries. For the recent exhibition there (Diaghilev and the golden age of the Ballets Russes 1909-1929) I think that was considered too extravagant, so I took my own bottle and discreetly sprayed some around.
Mitsouko was invented by Jacques Guerlain in 1919 and reflected the fascination with all things Japanese at the time. It's a unique perfume based on a mix of chypre, peach, amber and spice and it's wonderfully sensual and warm. I can't bear to throw the bottles away and I probably have about a hundred which are arranged along the bathroom windowsill and stored in a big glass vase. My favourite bottle is a tiny old one which once contained pure perfume and it was given to me by a friend with a similar Mitsouko addiction - an act of great generosity.
My fascination with Mitsouko, apart from the wonderful smell, reflects my interest in ballet, theatre and costume, especially in the Ballet Russes, and also a nostalgia for the past.
I also collect books about dogs, especially ones written by dogs... yes they do exist. Although this has no connection with the bottle collection my whippet does faintly smell of Mitsouko.
Images © Helen Powell with the kind permission of Kathy Webster.