Photos: Per Zennström
1. The Blind Tasting | Enchanted Forrest by The Vagabond Prince
We confronted Nomi with a mystery perfume in a neutral, opaque vaporizer. Only afterwards did we reveal the name of the scent. Follow Nomi on her journey into scent …
Through a pine forest to a gorgeous wild beach.
I smell nature! This perfume reminds me of the walks I take on the outskirts of Berlin. I love to borrow my friends’ dogs and take them out to a wonderful place called Hirschgarten, just east of Köpenick. One can walk for ages there through fields and forests — it’s really beautiful. And I do a special circuit that takes precisely three hours.
I like the smell of nature in general — after all, I’m a country girl from Schleswig-Holstein. As a child I had only to walk five minutes through the woods to reach the paddock where my pony was kept. Besides the pony we had cats, guinea pigs and rabbits … I was always bringing some creature or other home with me and my parents always said, “There’s no way we can keep that!” And I always begged to be able to keep it “At least for one night!” Then it ended up staying with us forever.
I spend a lot of time on Mallorca now, and there are some fantastic smells there. This perfume reminds me of my last trip to the southeast part of the island. There is an absolutely gorgeous wild beach there, consisting only of cliffs. You take a path through a pine forest to reach it and, I tell you, I’ve never, ever before come across a forest that gives off such a strong scent of natural pine. And I always think: I’d love to have that scent around me every day!
Just for fun, I keep my eyes open for a house there too. Some of them are quite reasonably priced and so I tell myself: “What an idiot I am, to live in cold northern Europe. I could take a smaller apartment in Berlin and a second small one on the island; that would be a good solution. After all, I can make music wherever I am.
Of course, my dream solution would be an old finca in the middle of nowhere, one I could refurbish and decorate by myself. I would just adore doing that. And of course there’d be a pack of dogs around, and lots of open countryside full of wonderful old trees — and naturally, my pine forest and beach would be just a stone’s throw away … I would take lots of long walks, with and without the dogs. In a word, I’d live pretty much as I did as a child — but with better weather and the heady scent of pines!
2. The Interview
What is Nomi’s earliest scent memory? What is the significance of fragrance in her life? Which are her personal Top 3 perfumes? Find the answers below!
The scent of my childhood: horses and nature.
Helder Suffenplan: What is your earliest memory of scent?
Nomi: Horses and everything that goes with them! I rode horseback a lot as a child. And I always loved the smell of straw, hay, leather saddles, and the horses themselves … It’s perhaps not to everyone’s taste but for me, it’s the scent of my childhood: horses and nature. And now, whenever I take a trip to the outskirts of Berlin, I recapture a part of my childhood.
HS: Did your parents wear scent?
N: My father didn’t but my mother did. My mother’s favorite perfume is Chanel No.5. She has always uses it very sparingly, on special occasions such as family gatherings, Christmas, or an evening out.
HS: Which was the first perfume you ever used?
N: When I was thirteen, I had extra tuition in English from a teacher called Leah. I admired her very much and found her incredibly pretty and I wanted to be just like her. So of course I loved her perfume too and one day I screwed up my courage and asked her what it was called. It was Mitsouko by Guerlain. Then I saved up my pocket money until I had enough for a bottle of my own.
HS: Which perfumes came next?
N: Of course I used CK one like everyone else did; and for a while also Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue.
HS: Do you ever smell a perfume on someone else that reminds you of bygone days?
N: Yes, in a way similar to how music affects me, a scent sometimes triggers memories of things past. For example, there’s a kind of old men’s smell scent that reminds me of a jolly, fat, elderly neighbor we had back home, who smoked cigars. An old man in a streetcar might smell that way, or the janitor who fixes the heating … And I generally find it quite pleasant.
HS: Is there a special connection for you between scents and music?
N: Even as a child I was very into music, theater, and song. Whenever I was in an audience I would become acutely aware of the cloud of scent from all the perfumed people around me. At the time I imagined this was the odor of theater itself, not of people’s perfumes. I thought musicals had a scent of their own! And it was a little disappointing, to be honest, to discover that wasn’t the case [laughs].
HS: Backstage in a theater doesn’t necessarily smell too good. Is that the case also at concerts?
N: Absolutely. There’s lots of movement on stage: the musicians are active; the dancers even more so. And because stage outfits are often expensive there’s usually only one per person. And all that gives rise in a club to a special mix of scents: the scent of clothes, make-up, and stale cigarette smoke …
HS: And is “walking the boards” and the smell of greasepaint your Nirvana?
N: I’ll have such a rosy view of it sometime in the future, perhaps, when looking back. But for the moment, I wouldn’t mind at all if it were a little less excessively pungent [laughs].
HS: What is the most unpleasant odor you can imagine?
N: Peanuts! I really can’t bear it when someone sitting beside me opens a can of peanuts, especially if we are in a car and there’s no escape!
HS: How do you go about finding a perfume?
N: Actually, I always discover perfumes through other people, almost never in a store. Someone approaches me, say, and I think to myself: “Wow! I too want that!” Not that I ever pluck up the courage to ask strangers what it is they are wearing — for ultimately, perfume is a highly personal thing. But I do ask my friends!
HS: Which are your favorites at the moment?
N: My absolute favorite perfume is Bois d’Argent from Christian Dior. But I use it only sparingly, as it is pretty hard to come by.
My boyfriend made me a gift of Mink by Byredo. I found it pretty awful at first but once on my skin it smelled quite wonderful and really grew on me.
And I also use Molecule 01. I’m frequently asked what that is, but only by women. Men apparently don’t register it on me at all, although … — yes, two men did ask me about it, and both of them are gay.
HS: So it’s evidently a matter of hormones [laughs]?
N: Evidently [laughs]!
HS: Thank you!