Et In Elysium Ego

From the gardens of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli

–       a review of Vero Profumo’s ‘Mito’

Gardens have inspired famous paintings, music and certainly perfumes, catching that interplay of light and shadow, the fragrance of grass and flower and moment into a time capsule that can take us back in a sniff and a heartbeat. Taking us back to where nothing exists except an ideal ‘now’ and even an ideal self we can savor and remember long after the garden has faded, the petals dropped, and time has marched onward, as time always does.

One such garden is the Villa d’Este garden in Tivoli outside Rome, that wonder of Renaissance engineering and Roman ideals, with its many fountains and waterworks, statues and groves, and just as Liszt was inspired to make music and painters were inspired to paint its mannered, symmetrical lines, now Vero Kern of vero profumo has created ‘Mito’, a liquid ode to the timeless miracle of the Villa d’Este in green and white.

Say that magic word: green, and you will have my attention at ‘Hello!’ Those many green chypres and florals and fougères that have run like a verdant, fragrant river throughout my life have perhaps defined me as no other perfume families have. Some are no more, some are reformulated, and some are a memory as fleeting as a flawless summer day. I thought, until a few short days day, that I knew what could be done and what could be said about ‘green’, and the rest were simply variations on a theme, like improvisations on a Chopin ètude, and ‘green’ would surely hold no more surprises?

Along came the epiphany that was ‘Mito’ and the phenomenon that is Swiss perfumer Vero Kern, and yet again, my continents have shifted and my perspectives changed and what I define as ‘green’ and ‘white’ will never quite be the same again.

vero profumo has been at the very top of my Try Before I Die list for quite some time, ever since a dear friend rhapsodized about Rubj in a recent phone conversation. What she didn’t know – and I didn’t tell – was that I’ve been stalking the vero profumo website for quite some time, dreaming my romantic dreams of some day calling those fragrant wonders my own.

Everyone said it…Vero’s creations were unusual, unique, artlessly spinning stories around classical perfumery phrases and inventing them anew, so you can imagine …my curiosity simmered away for years. A few short weeks ago, I was gathering up the courage to order samples because I could stand it no longer, I simply had to know, to sniff, and to dream them for myself…

So serendipity and Fate landed a sample set of all of vero profumo in my lap and a sensual seismic tremor rearranged my synapses and all I thought I knew about perfume, about olfactory evolution, about breathing in the beauties of a captured moment in time…a flower, a song, a famous garden high in the Lazio hills…

Here I have Mito, now it breathes on my skin, and everything I imagined I once knew about ‘green’, about ‘white’ and about artistry have once again been redefined.

Vero explained in a recent interview with Extrait that she wanted to create a perfume in green and white as a ode to that revelation of beauty the Villa d’Este was when she discovered it.

Forget what you think you might know about ‘green’, forget the list of notes, forget all all your preconceived categories of ‘floral’ and ‘chypre’. Mito is all of these and none of these, it is at once heartbreakingly beautiful and yet eccentric, just unnerving enough to keep you on your toes.

I could tell you the list of notes, I could tell you I can smell all of them. I could tell you I’m thinking about throwing the entire concept of top-heart-base completely out the window. I could tell you all of this, and it wouldn’t be enough.

Mito is a whirling, laughing, living waltz of a perfume, dancing through all the colors of its notes, the exuberant, sunshine bright of citrus, the shady depths of galbanum and cypress and moss, and above all, that vibrant verve of magnolia, champaca, cool hyacinth and a touch of ethereal jasmine. The magnolias – both grandiflorum and white – are the stars of this, weightlessly suspended in midair by the high, cool hyacinth and anchored by the basso profondo of cypress and moss, but these are no watery, aquatic magnolias, these are indeed grand, opulent, magnificent blooms that sparkle on my skin from that initial burst of laughter all the way to the twilit drydown many, many hours later.

What myth does Mito refer to, what story does it tell? To me, it dances a dream of a perfect moment in a flawless day, of simply…being entirely present, where nothing exists but the interplay of green shade and sunlight sparkling like a thousand airborne diamonds through the fountains, where the symmetry of Renaissance lines and Roman statuary draw the eye up and around to discover a new vista, a hitherto unknown perspective that catches you unaware and takes your breath away and makes you laugh with the pure joy of being alive to appreciate it. It is the myth of perfect nature in perfect harmony, and it is the reality of one moment in time, when that diamond sunlight shimmer makes you think only happy thoughts…

Et in Elysium Ego. But this is no ideal, and I am every inch and every breath entirely alive, laughing underneath that Lazio sun, dreaming the stories that I can hope some day will become…myths …as real and as vibrant as Vero’s Mito.

vero profumo Mito will be available in September.

Notes: Citrus blend, magnolia grandiflora, white magnolia, champaca, jasmine, galbanum, hyacinth, cypress blend, moss.

With special thanks to the immensely inspiring and encouraging Vero Kern herself, and to Campomarzio70.

Illustration of Vero and Mito taken from the Mito press release. Diego Comi photography, design by Sofo Berdzenishvili.