Unlike some of her indie perfumer colleagues, Vero Kern doesn’t belong to the school of Naive Art: her work is deeply cultured, steeped in the history of perfumery, tearing swathes off classics to reassemble them into broad-stroked compositions ripe with dense materials. This is, along with memories that seem to stretch back to an era before her birth, what gives her perfumes a quality that isn’t so much vintage as it is archaic.
Mito belongs to a much more easily identifiable fragrance family than Kiki’s gourmand fougère or Onda’s leather chypre gone feral. Smell it and you’ll think of soaring citrus-green-hyacinth-jasmine masterpieces like Cristalle or Chamade. Sniff deeper and you’ll draw out the yielding fleshy fruitiness of Mitsouko or Femme.
But Vero Kern, though well acquainted with the exquisite sense of measure of classic French perfumers – she received advice from the late, great Guy Robert – is more of a wise, light-hearted she-wolf with a ringing laugh. She’s never been trained to play nice. Mito is bigger-boned that a latter-day tribute to 70s green chypres like the lovely Jasmine White Moss (Estée Lauder), lustier than Ormonde Jayne's Tiaré. Her bold approach to materials pulls her gentle magnolia accord into a springtime bower, prickly with citrus, dripping with sap, thick with turgid petals: an Italian Renaissance garden on the verge of turning back to wilderness, rather than some pristine, untainted state of nature. Vero sniffs nature within its most cultured expressions – the art of gardens, the art of perfumery – and tugs it out from behind the bushes, like a disheveled nymph.
Big, bold, emotionally expressive and joyful, Mito is also an eminently amiable perfume, and one that feels more approachable than her earlier offerings, which are very much “commitment” scents. I’ve had many spontaneous compliments while testing it, which also proves it’s got volume and sillage (never an issue with Vero). Plus, it just makes me silly-happy.
Illustrations: Nymph and Satyre by Henri Matisse.