Until a mere couple months ago, I did not get perfume, not really. Obviously, I loved perfume and had a growing collection of several bottles I liked using, some of which I liked, some I was ambivalent about, some I vaguely disliked, not ever taking a pause to ponder about their secrets. I thought: how do you even describe something so fleeting? how do you compare something so subjective? how do you know the good ones if everyone's tastes are so different? I had no idea where to start, so I just relegated perfume to the 'Mysteries of the Universe' category in my mind and peacefully went on spritzing a little every morning.
That was until I was offered a further glimpse into the realm of perfume by means of an internship - and to prepare myself a bit for the job, I started researching. I first turned to my local library and borrowed a couple books, and then I bought a few more. Then I started reading more perfume blogs and forums. I felt a whole new world unravel before me: science, craft, art - it was simply engrossing. The ingredients, the notes, the accords, the finished perfumes: I wanted to experience it all. The more I read, the hungrier for smell I became... and of course I started to look for my first true perfume, the first true love.
I already knew from wise people's experience not to buy a full bottle unsniffed; even more, not to buy a full bottle without having tested the fragrance for at least a day, if not more. I began stalking Sephora, local counters, perfumeries in search of something different, wonderful, puzzlying, something to call my own. I started with the classics, the problem being the ones I wanted to smell the most were nowhere to be found. I moved on to mainstream gems, but nothing caught my heart. And then, out of all places, I found it in a niche perfumery in Warsaw - it beckoned me with a scent somewhere from my childhood (of course!), somewhere from my dreams. I had it on my mind for days before venturing out to Nordstrom to grab a sample; and then it was just a couple of days more until I was ordering a full bottle all for myself.
I don't have to tell you what it was: by now I'm sure you can all see from the photos. At this point, a review would also be rather pointless since you know that I love it, but let me profess my adoration for one more paragraph. Inspired by the Garden of Ninfa in Italy, Annick Goutal's Ninfeo Mio consists of notes of Italian lemon, citron, pettigrain, bitter orange, galbanum, lentisque, fig leaf and lemon tree wood and is an olofactory interpretation of the mythic Garden of Hesperides. Given that I'd been convinced I disliked citrus and felt quite snobbish about fruit, it seems an unlikely choice - but Lord, is this a beauty. At first sharp, bracing, cool, green and bitter, it settles into a wonderfully dry, dusty but creamy warmth on the skin. A lot of the time, fig smells very much like blackcurrant to me, one of the fruits of my childhood; and beyond that, Ninfeo Mio feels like The Secret Garden out of the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, which is one of my all-time favorite books. So there it is: an embodiment of something out of my past and something out of my dreams.
Thus, I've become a beginner perfumista, eager to discover more beauty in the fragrance world. I already have a list of perfumes to sample longer than my arm, and I'm afraid you will have to occasionally bear with me as I compliment or criticize. Tell me, are you a perfumista too? What perfume has started it all for you?