In my teens I was exposed to a series of romantic novels based on the adventures of a temple dancer called Muna, the Rose of Madore. Katharine Gordon's works of fiction provided a rich tapestry of colour, passion and fragrance ... influencing my fertile immagination to such an extent that I could feel the swirling silks of the sarries fluttering around my legs and catch whiffs of the Attar of Roses employed by Muna in her dancing. The imaginary state of Lambagh and it's Peacock Throne became tangible in my thoughts ... and I fell in love with my romantic version of India.
I was, therefore, thrilled to discover the fragrances of Neela Vermeire Creations ... steeped in the history of this vibrant culture as they are. From the spiritual aspects of Vedic tradition to the significance of Noor Jahan's sequestration and the 'Boom Town' effervescence of Bollywood and Mumbai, the three fragrances from this collection are completely captivating and resonate strongly with my wild imaginings of this far away land. The British once called India a jewel in the crown ... Neela Vermeire has taken this concept forward by leaps and bounds and created a range of fragrances to challenge even the beauty of the Koh-i-noor.
As the first fragrance in this collection, Trayee encapsulates the observance of worship. Temples are immediately evident here .. out of the many listed notes the most immediately evident to my nose are Frankincense and Myhrr, inducing me to imagine tendrils of smoke curling around intricately carved marble balustrades, peacocks calling plaintively ... periodically intruding on the hushed quiet inside. Softly, Cinnamon, Clove and Cardamom begin to emerge, as if carried in on quiet currents of air from a market nearby, ushering in the simply beautiful Jasmine in the heart of this perfume. Never cloying or indolic, the fowers here simply serve to enhance a feeling of purity. A lengthy drydown with it's aspects of real Mysore Sandalwood and well controlled Vanilla is a testament to peaceful supplication, making Trayee a fragrance capable of leading the mind to intospection ... and the search for stillness within.
When I think of Muna, the heroine of the stories I read as a teen, I think of Roses ... Attar of Roses to be more precise. The author constantly links Muna to the haunting fragrance of Rose Oil ... and consequently this note has long been a favorite of mine in perfumery. Mohur contains high quantities of Rose, both Moroccan Rose absolute and Turkish Rose oil along with other Rose accords. What is immedaitely evident, however, is that this is not just a simple Rose fragrance. I stand to be corrected, but I think the combination of Cardamom and Elemi in the top notes are creating what my nose picks up as 'clean-skin-in-the-sunshine' ... combining with almond milk to create a soft soapiness. I can imagine my herione straight from her bath, sitting in the half shade of a Tamarind tree, combing out her long, dark hair as it dries on the warm breeze. The Roses in Mohur bloom quietly and stay that way, never intrusive or overly sweet ... simply present in all their grandiose beauty. The eventual woodsy drydown here is soft and gentle, like the whispers of scent that come from a piece of exquisite silk stored in a sandalwood box. Mohur is without a doubt my favorite from the collection.
This fragrance perfectly sums up the inclusion of modern India as an emerging super power on the world stage. The emergence of Indian cinema into mainstream movie culture has brought with it a new look at how the modern interacts with the ancient, laying side by side and feeding off each other. Bollywood has created big stars, popularized a new breed of music and influenced fashion all over the planet. Whereas all of these fragrances are wearable by both genders, I find Bombay Bling to be the one most accesible to the masculine market. The zingy fruits up top are controlled by a muted tobacco note ... which binds the fragrance together, even through it's floral phase. The restrained use of a dry and slightly green Tuberose in the heart deftly blends with the Tobacco ... finishing off with a creamy Vanilla in the base. The overall vibe I get here is of dancing the night away on a rooftop terrace, a fuity cocktail in one hand while music pounds deafeningly :) ... very bling!!
These creations take one on a scented journey rich with culture and possibility ... I sincerely recommend the ride!!!