Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio : Fragrance Review

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Ninfeo-annickgoutal

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

It seems that all has been said on the fig theme, from the gold standards L’Artisan Premier Figuier and Diptyque Philosykos, to the surprisingly creamy milky-woody Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée; from the fresh and musky Marc Jacobs Men to the retro floral Ellie by Ellie D. Although these selections merely highlight some of the most interesting modern compositions, one thing is certain—fig is a note that has been used extensively over the past decade, both in niche launches (Nez à Nez Figues et Garçons) and in big prestige releases (Thierry Mugler Womanity.) Yet in studying Ninféo Mio, I was amazed to discover that Isabelle Doyen, Annick Goutal’s in-house perfumer, once again managed to create something interesting and unusual, an elegant woody fig with a surprisingly strong green character.

For one thing, Ninféo Mio diverges from many woody figs in its dramatic use of green notes. The green accent is not the pretty shimmer of a grassy green, nor is it an evanescent and sheer green citrus. Instead, it is vivid, bitter and intense, reminiscent of the dramatic power of the original Balmain Vent Vert. This verdant accord has a beautiful presence throughout the composition, from its initial explosion in the top notes formed by petitgrain and galbanum, to the heart, where lentisque and leafy notes provide the main character. Herbaceous accents lend an aromatic, classical cologne character, while the use of modern woody aroma material removes any retro associations. The bitter citrus facet is pushed to the limit: a few parts more and the composition would have taken a distinctly pungent, sulfuric turn. As it is, the bitterness is quite alluring, keeping one in suspense as to what might come next.

Compared to excellent figs like Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée, L’Artisan Premier Figuier, and Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Fico de Amalfi, Ninféo Mio lavishes more attention on the citrus-woody accord. While fig is a supporting player, its role is important, as it lends a pleasing, milky softness to what could have been an overly green composition. The lasting power and diffusion of Ninféo Mio are very good, especially for a composition in its fragrance family. I find that even at the end of the day, I am still conscious of the woody-green drydown. Of course, my favorite part takes place within the first hour of wear, when the bright, green hesperidic notes start to give way to the seemingly endless layers of aromatic verdancy. At that point, it truly feels like a breath of spring air.

Ninféo Mio includes notes of citron, petitgrain, bergamot, bitter orange, galbanum, lentisque, lavender, fig leaf, verbena and lemon tree wood. Since it is unisex, it is available both in square and ribbed bottles. Annick Goutal fragrances are available from Aedes, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks5thAvenue, Bloomingdales as well as online from Beauty.com.

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20 Comments

  • Zazie: I bought a bottle of Ninfeo Mio on a whim, and I am so happy I did: it really smells like spring to me.
    I should add that it’s the only fig scent I enjoy – fig is a pleasant note but I don’t associate it with the concept of personal fragrances.
    Here, I really like the balance between the bitter green opening and the milky figgy heart: it’s interesting and…perfect! September 7, 2010 at 8:21am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Zazie, I confess that I was not at all excited about this fragrance, because while I admire many fig based compositions, like you, I rarely want to wear them. However, Ninfeo Mio turned out to be so charming, so full of character that I have been smitten. Moreover, the quality of ingredients is excellent! How many houses still use this grade of materials and in this high concentration? Very few… September 7, 2010 at 9:47am Reply

  • kjanicki: I don’t understand why I am missing this. I don’t get woody or green or fig at all, just lemon hard candies. I’ll have to try my sample again. September 7, 2010 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Linda: Thank you so much for this lovely post – I bought this in June and wore it for much of the summer. I think it’s lovely: and I really enjoy the “bitter green note” which you mention, Victoria! Now (it’s definitely early autumn here..) I’ve put it away, but I’ll look after my Ninfeo well until the spring… September 7, 2010 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: K, not sure. it is certainly citrusy at first (bergamot and petitgrain dominate in the top notes,) but also very green and woody. September 7, 2010 at 1:33pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Linda, I agree, for me, this bitter verdancy matches perfectly with spring and very early fall air. Here, it still feels that way, not yet a true autumn. September 7, 2010 at 1:35pm Reply

  • perfumeniche.com: Great review – this is a fave frag and I’m glad to see it get some attention. I agree with you about the bitterness being alluring and not off-putting as it can do often be. For the record, I bought my bottle at Anthropologie in Toronto. September 7, 2010 at 2:15pm Reply

  • sweetlife: I was really looking forward to this one. Alas, I seem to pick up the spiky woody bit–is it Karnal?–so strongly that it spoils the rest of it for me. The same thing happens to me with Goutal’s Jasmin, and Vanille. I felt so relieved when Denyse mentioned smelling the same thing on her blog, not crazy after all! (Whatever it is also spoils Amouage’s XXV for me.) September 7, 2010 at 9:09pm Reply

  • Carla: Very nice review, I could imagine the fragrance (as usual). I very recently tried Philosykos, and while I appreciated it, I’d never buy it, I don’t think fig is for me. As for the Goutal line in general, their retro/old-fashioned aesthetic turns me off, I find the bottles little-girly. I did try Heure Exquise once and was surprised that such a grown-up scent came from that bottle. I think bottles and advertising and even perfume names influence the way I experience a perfume far too much. I hope to be past all that someday soon. I’d like it to just be about the scent. September 8, 2010 at 7:00am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Perfumeniche, that bitterness definitely makes such a positive difference! September 9, 2010 at 1:00pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, it is there, not sure if it is Karanal exactly, as there are a number of aroma materials in this family that are used even more frequently. I agree on Amouage XXV. I like it, but this sharp amber makes it difficult to wear. September 9, 2010 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Carla, thank you for reminding me that I have never reviewed my absolute favorite from Goutal–Heure Exquise (well, it is competing with Songes, but these days I wear it more.) 🙂
    You know, I used to think exactly the same thing about the house, but when I visited their boutique in Paris, it all somehow fell into place. And then learning more about the house and the woman who inspired it. I felt such admiration for Annick Goutal.
    I still prefer the masculine square bottles though. September 9, 2010 at 1:05pm Reply

  • Maison Parfum: Boisdejasmin, me too I still prefer masculine square bootles.. September 15, 2010 at 4:36am Reply

  • Carla: I skipped right over the Goutal boutique on the rive gauche when I was in Paris in September. The huge retro Petit Cheri ads in the window left me cold, and I had to prioritize my visits with baby in tow. I did visit their boutique in Brussels once, but felt I was intruding on the SA’s personal time! That’s when I tried Heure Exquise. Thanks for responding, I’ll have to read more about the women of the house sometime. September 21, 2010 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Preskal: I just bought this wonderful perfume and I can’ t stop smelling myself! Never thought that the aroma of figue leaves can awake so many memories.When I was a child the seaside where my parents and I used to go for a vacation was lined with huge figue trees.And wearing Ninfeo Mio it feels like being there again. January 29, 2013 at 4:23pm Reply

  • jb: I am an annick goutal fan. I remember buying my first AG — Nuit Etoilee such lovely mint and pine fragrance.

    Now, I bought this yesterday, OMG it was love at first sniff. Beautiful descriptions victoria 🙂

    Such lovely opening at first spray, lemon-green-spring on my nose and then a dry down that feels you are surrounded by a beautiful garden full of wet leaves, flowers and soil 😛

    I never thought a spring breeze can be captured in a fragrance and truly a work of art by brilliant perfumers. February 2, 2014 at 4:43am Reply

  • GinaP: Based on this an other reviews, I bought Ninfeo Mio without having smelled it first. And loved it so much. Still do. Not an overpowering fig, and a beautiful complexity. Now and then I do get a vague whiff of the cat-pee hint that some people have complained about. But I find it amusing, not off-putting. (My two other nose faves are Chanel Bois des Iles and Hermès Un Jardin en Mediterranee.) October 24, 2015 at 5:49pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I am so happy with this perfume! had big luck finding testers of Quel Amour! and Ninfeo Mio.
    I love bitter perfumes, and Ninfeo is one of the best.
    Cat pee? well, maybe my nose is used to cat pee! July 27, 2016 at 10:24am Reply

    • MrsDalloway: It’s great, isn’t it? I have a little bottle I bought on eBay but thinking of getting a large back up. As far as I know it’s still good as ever? July 29, 2016 at 4:18pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I don’t know how it was in the past, I discovered Annick Goutal recently. I never liked her perfumes..that bottle, that bow…and all had to my nose the same drydown. I must confess I only knew a gardenia and a few other florals.
        Mon Parfum Cheri Par Camille was a camphoric and chaotic horror to my nose.
        But recently I was given samples of Nuit Etoilée , Songes, Rose Splendide and Grand Amour. Songes I didn’t like (too sweet) but the others made a Goutal lover out of me.
        Inspired by Elisa’s post on geraniums I tried Quel Amour! and loved it instantly. As Hamamelis says: a most happy perfume. And at the same time I purchased Ninfeo Mio.
        Very comfortable in the moist hot weather we have now in the Netherlands.
        I was very lucky: found both perfumes in the shop where they sell testers! July 29, 2016 at 5:05pm Reply

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