I admittedly don't own a lot of Essies. I used to be quite enthusiastic about them, but their collections haven't been catching my eye as much lately. I did really want Camera from their Summer 2012 Poppy-Razzi collection, but it was sold out everywhere. :/ Otherwise, I tend to gravitate toward other brands because I don't like Essie's small round brushes. I think their bottles are really cute though, and I love how the drugstore ones have color coded labels at the top.
My first Essie was Coat Azure from the Spring 2011 French Affair collection. But my oldest bottle is probably the darkest one called Night Cap. Not sure when that one came out, but it's a watery dark blue/teal tint. It's discontinued, but I was able to get it because I won it from Body & Soul. :) Since I have so little Essies, I can definitely pick a favorite: School of Hard Rocks. (PS. It looks amazing with Essie Shine of Times - my favorite combo.)
I think my group of Essies need some more friends...like Leading Lady from the new winter collection. :P
(*edit: I replaced the original picture with a better one. ^^)
What are your favorite Essies? And which shade was your first?