Every year I resolve to be content with the perfume I have, and not buy any more. This resolution lasts about as long as you think it would, probably less, although I have sometimes managed to get as far as Valentine’s Day before breaking down. Discovering CaFleureBon several years ago expanded my scented horizons exponentially, making perfume acquisition even harder to resist. Last year I resolved to not set myself up for unrealistic goals and certain failure; instead of depriving myself, I was going to go at it from the other end, and reduce the bottle count by sharing the love. I RAOKd and re-gifted and swapped to my heart’s content, figuring I could at the very least find better homes for those impulse buys at TJMaxx and various insomnia-fueled raids at the online get it for less, like Fragrancex.com.
Shiseido Koto Eau de Cologne Pure Mist
I did a good job, culling several dozen bottles, but the luminous gold Japanese writing on one of the last unopened bottles caught my eye and I decided to open it before giving it away…. and I am so glad I did! I can’t imagine ever being without Koto, by Shiseido. Released in 1967, Koto is a classic green chypre, perfectly representative of its time, yet somehow very contemporary. As our Editor-In-Chief Michelyn Camen mentioned in her preface to Best Perfumes 2016 green chypres are back in a big way, and 50 years after its debut, Shiseido Koto is right on trend.
True Innocence. Stella Lucia photographed by Camilla Åkrans for Vogue Japan December 2015.
Shiseido Koto is a classic green chypre, full of oakmoss as soft and dry as a lichen-lined nest, with the same deceptive strength hidden in its softness. Koto is crisp without any sharp edges, subtle and understated, as is typical of many Japanese fragrances.
Photo Vogue Japan 2015
Muguet and narcissus are there at the opening, the narcissus just short of bitter and the muget adding prettiness to the composition. Aldehydes are right there at the opening; Koto is similar to one of my “Holy Grails”, Yves Saint Laurent Y. Koto is softer, with much more floralcy, with an overdose of oakmoss and aldehydes that so many new perfumistas have not experienced due to regulations (IFRA). Next, the loveliest gardenia peeks through after an hour or so, adding to the soft plushness of Koto right from the beginning, and intensifies as it fully blossoms on my skin.
Lieke Van Houten in “Flowers Of Desire” / Photographed by Ellen von Unwerth / Styled by Franck Benhamou, for Vogue Japan July 2015
A sublime iris, most likely real orris adds a subtle “lady-like”, ever-so-slightly-formal feel to the fragrance, but it’s not very prominent; Koto is not the kind of woman who’ll lecture you about having too much perfume (although she does feel that three back-up bottles are sufficient).
Garden Party Chic Vogue Japan
She’s perfect for a raw silk chartreuse sheath as well as jeans and a crisp white shirt. It’s amazing to me that a fragrance full of aldehydes, oakmoss and gardenia can remain so beautifully soft and refined.
Notes: aldehydes, citrus, narcissus, gardenia, orris root, jasmine, lily of the valley, jonquil, rose, moss, patchouli, leather, amber, vetiver and castoreum
DISCLOSURE My review is based on a bottle from my own collection.
Tammy Schuster, Sr. Contributor
Writer’s Note: I have an Eau de Cologne (Pure Mist), and while that helps me date my bottle (that particular concentration was released in 1985) it doesn’t help me at all with discovering who signed this beauty; if anyone knows, please leave it in the comment section.
Art Direction: Michelyn Camen
I’d love to give one of our readers a chance to experience Koto, so we have a draw for a registered reader (you must do this to be eligible) in the US, Canada and the EU for a 10 ml decant from my bottle. To be eligible, please leave a comment telling me where you live, which perfume(s) you own and planned to purge, then thought the better of it, or if you have already earmarked a fragrance for a RAOK. Draw closes 1/11/2016