India seems to be the source of inspiration lately. Karl Lagerfeld has presented his Paris-Bombay collection and in perfumery we get more and more perfumes that are inspired by the exotic country. I read something about a new Comptoir Sud Pacifique perfume called Souffle des Indes (Breath of India) and I found this very special line by Neela Vermeire, who was born in India and is now living in Paris.
Inspired by her childhood in India, Neela Vermeire dedicated her first trio of fragrances to India. No other than genius Bertrand Duchaufour, who is an admirer of India, created the three perfumes. Each one represents a different era in the history of India.
Trayee stands for the Vedic period with its intricate rituals and temple ceremonies, Ayurveda, the universe of yoga and the holistic quest for knowledge. To me cardamom as a typically Indian spice is the golden thread in this trio. In Trayee it dominates the opening, not without reminding me of Traversée du Bosphore, which Bertrand Duchaufour created for L’Artisan Parfumeur. It’s the cardamom, I tell you. Trayee is a silent explosion of spices, herbs, woods and subtle vanilla in the base. Ginger, saffron, clove, cinnamon bark, you get a whole spice market. The blackcurrant in the opening is a fruity aspect I like. And it really lasts and reaches out its branches into the base. Otherwise the creation would have been too ‚dry‘. Trayee really is a peaceful, meditative scent with ethereal peaks.
Notes: blue ginger, elemi oil, cinnamon bark, ganja effects, blackcurrant, basil, sambac jasmine absolute, cardamom absolute, clove, saffron, sandalwood, Javanese vetiver, Haitian vetiver, incense, Mysore sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber notes, oudh Palao from Laos, oak moss
Mohur stands for the era of British India. It is an homage to Noor Jahan, the favorite wife of Emperor Jehangir. The word ‘mohur’ derives from Sanskrit and refers to the most valuable gold coin in India’s history. The last pieces were minted in 1918. Mohur is a wonderful light rose scent. When you read the notes like oudh, patchouli and amber you might think of a deep and dark rose scent. But this is so special about it, the perfume smells milky and is nearly transparent in its beauty. As some of you already know, I love the combination of carrot and orris. The combination of rose, carrot and orris is even more beautiful and cardamom as a top note reveals this certain Indian twist to the composition. Vanilla, almond milk and tonka bean add creamy sweetness without being cloying. And what about oudh, leather, patchouli, amber? Bits and pieces that make a creation special but don’t dominate it.
Notes: cardamom absolute, coriander seed oil, ambrette seed, carrot, black pepper, elemi oil, Turkish rose oil, Moroccan rose absolute, rose accords 11 percent, jasmine accord, orris, aubepin flower, almond milk notes, violet flower and orris effects, leather vitessence, sandalwood, amber, white woods, patchouli, oudh Palao oil from Laos, Benjoin Siam, vanilla, tonka bean
Bombay Bling. Wow! I am absolutely not a bling bling girl, but I love this name! And I love the juice. Sorry for using the term ‚juice‘, I never do this, but in this case it really fits. Bombay Bling is a cocktail full of lush fruits. Immediately, dancing scenes in Hindi films come to my mind. Have you ever seen one? No? Go for it, it’s so much fun. I remember my first one, it’s called Veer-Zaara with the Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan. I was completely shocked when the actors started to sing and dance and then I couldn’t stop laughing. Bombay Bling stands for the contemporary India. Buzzy, vibrant, eclectic, modern, ecstatic. This sweet cocktail will make you dance all night long. Mango, lychee, blackcurrant, a little bit of a sweaty cumin note, a bouquet of rose and white flowers plus a woody base with tobacco and vanilla. And, of course, cardamom. Can you hear the music? The idea of this perfume is so inspiring. A fruit punch that doesn’t smell like a teeny shower gel, that’s art. I want to smell this one on men’s skin, must be even better than on a woman. In this case it is the cumin, that works like an aphrodisiac. The drydown feels like a male human body scent. In a very positive way.
Notes: mango, lychee, blackcurrant, cardamom, cumin, cistus, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose, frangipani, gardenia, patchouli, tobacco, white woods, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla
We definitely need more concepts like this on a market that seems to circle around the same themes for too long. These scents – and especially Bombay Bling – managed to surprise me, like a food critic who gets something on his tongue that really makes him wonder. Great work!
Which one is your India? Have you ever been there? And which smell do you remember?
Photo: Norman Parkinson