Neela Vermeire Creations Pichola : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on a new perfume from Neela Vermeire Creations.

Neela Vermeire Creations, a small niche line launched in 2012, includes five fragrances so far, all inspired by India and composed by Bertrand Duchaufour. Pichola is the latest release, a white floral inspired by Lake Pichola in the Rajasthan state of India. I’m a white floral lover, and from the great early reviews to the description, the scent sounded enticing: warm, spicy, and complex. But that’s not quite what I experienced.

pichola

Pichola opens with a surprising impression of lemongrass – that distinctive sour/herbal/floral note in Southeast Asian curries. There’s no lemongrass listed in the notes; this uncanny effect must arise from a combination of citrus (bergamot, clementine, and neroli) and spices (cardamom and saffron). At first, it’s intriguing; I’ve never smelled a note like this in perfume before.

But the powerfully sharp note of lemongrass (it’s related to citronella) makes the ingredient tricky to cook with, like rosewater – use too much and the dish comes out tasting like perfumed soap. And herein lies my problem with Pichola – though lemongrass is not an “ingredient” here, it nonetheless feels pronounced. It doesn’t help that the centerpiece floral material, orange blossom, can also come off as soapy. As a result, the materials in Pichola, which I don’t doubt are high quality, flatten into a simple association with scented soap, at least for the first hour or so of wear. It’s unfortunate – one feels that there is complexity trapped inside it, like a red wine that hasn’t been breathed properly or is served in the wrong glass.

As it dries down, the soap impression wears off, and I can see the perfume’s intended effect. The creamy woody base is warm but light, a nice finish for a summery fragrance. However, I can’t help feeling that something is missing. Exotic inspiration aside, it mostly smells clean and fresh, rather than lush and heady; I’m not transported anywhere, much less across the globe.

I’ve had a similar problem with the other scents in Vermeire’s collection, finding them often dominated by a single, somewhat unpleasant note – Mohur by a Play-Doh–like almond, Bombay Bling by a cloying, almost medicinal mango. Trayee was my favorite, a successful, layered incense, but Ashoka I actually scrubbed off; its fig and leather combination turned into moldy bread on my skin. It’s possible this line and I just don’t get along. Pichola is not bad, but I personally find it imbalanced, and at these prices I expect something more nuanced.

Neela Vermeire Creations Pichola includes notes of cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, juniper, magnolia, neroli oil, clementine, bergamot, orange blossom absolute, rose absolute, tuberose absolute, sambac jasmine, ylang-ylang, benzoin, sandalwood, driftwood, and vetiver. It’s available from Lucky Scent for $235/60 ml.

A review based on a PR sample

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84 Comments

  • Sandra: For that price it’s best to sample first!

    I have also tried the ones you listed and felt the same way August 14, 2015 at 7:23am Reply

    • Elisa: Very true! August 14, 2015 at 9:41am Reply

  • Anne: I am fine with the others (Mohur I just get rose), but whether it is my dislike of orange blossom (on me, the stuff on the tree is divine) or some sort of bitterness in the opening note … I don’t get beyond the start. Oh well, one less to save for. August 14, 2015 at 9:24am Reply

    • Elisa: I have grown to really love orange blossom in perfume but I steer away from ones that come off as soapy. August 14, 2015 at 9:41am Reply

      • limegreen: Elisa, thanks to your enthusiasm, I finally got around to testing California Reverie, and it is really a standout among orange blossoms! Goofy name though (and big price). August 14, 2015 at 2:06pm Reply

        • Elisa: I have a full review of that one coming up sometime soon! August 14, 2015 at 2:10pm Reply

        • angeldiva: Hi Limegreen!
          I am so looking forward to trying California Reverie ! August 15, 2015 at 12:04am Reply

          • limegreen: Looking forward to the review, Elisa!

            Hi Angeldiva! Guess the name California Reverie would mean more to you. 🙂 It is a sunshiny fragrance. August 15, 2015 at 9:47am Reply

          • Karen: Angeldiva! Hope all is good! August 16, 2015 at 2:33pm Reply

            • angeldiva: Hi Limegreen, hi Karen!
              Yes! Exactly, the name California Reverie does mean a great deal to me. The scent is being described as capturing the sage that grows in the mountains and deserts, here.
              I used to have the attendant’s at my late dad’s facility lift him into his Cadillac, then I would drive him up to the Santa Monica Hills where he use to hike. We would open the windows , and just breathe in that sage, and wild flower smell that he loved.
              I’d have his wheelchair in the trunk, but I couldn’t lift him. So, this was just a time out, a reminder of the nature in California, and a scent-o-rama outing.
              I’m finally feeling better, after having the flu for three whole weeks. Just took the last of my meds, thank goodness!
              Working on my house…just threw out my mothers old cake decorating sprinkles! Memories… August 17, 2015 at 11:42am Reply

              • Hamamelis: Hi Angeldiva, good to see you here! August 17, 2015 at 11:45am Reply

                • angeldiva: Hi Hamamelis!
                  Loving my perfumes!
                  A. August 18, 2015 at 1:41pm Reply

              • elisa p: Wow! Very moving. And being from LA, though not having lived there for 24 years, I’m reminded ofthe hills and those scents. Thanks for sharing this, Angelina. August 19, 2015 at 8:50am Reply

                • elisa p: Auto correct doesn’t compute *Angeldiva* 🙂 August 19, 2015 at 8:52am Reply

  • OperaFan: It’s always good to hear it from a different side. The list of notes sound wonderful, so too bad it didn’t work for you.
    I’ve only tried the initial 3 and loved Mohur and Trayee. Bombay Bling has a huge following, but I’ve always found it to be way over the top for me. Maybe that’s how it was intended – just doesn’t work with me. August 14, 2015 at 9:29am Reply

    • Elisa: It was over the top for me too and I love fruity perfumes, so I was surprised. I did enjoy the drydown, and Trayee I had no problems with. August 14, 2015 at 9:43am Reply

  • Brainfodder: I tend not to wear white florals since I prefer more abstract scents, but I enjoyed Pichola. Bright but comfortable, creamy, clean, a bit of warmth from the spice, not too heady, not too sharp. A good under-the-clothes scent – lots of beautiful wafts of fragrance… but the evocative Trayee would be my first choice if I had the cash!

    I also got a lovely tuberose-ish feel… and even better, no over-ripe banana aspect, which usually amplifies on my skin – a bit like the smell of a hot rubbish bin – not ideal! Bombay Bling also worked and was lovely and juicy and joyful – I though the fruit aspect would kill it – FM’s Therese is a total over-ripe melon monster on me.

    My skin seems to like NV’s – I even liked Mohur, though its not something I’d wear. Rose is another note that my skin grabs hold of and amplifies to terrifying proportions (FM’s PoaL was a killer!).

    Yes, if money was no object, I’d have Trayee, Pichola and Bombay Bling.

    (And also a lot of FM’s – LPdT and PoaL were the exceptions to the rule!) August 14, 2015 at 10:12am Reply

    • Elisa: As a rose lover from way back, Mohur was the one I most gravitated to, and I actually have a small bottle from a swap. I rarely wear it though, as I have other woody roses I prefer. August 14, 2015 at 10:18am Reply

      • solanace: Please, share your favorite woody roses, Elisa. August 14, 2015 at 10:50am Reply

        • AndreaR: Yes, please do. August 14, 2015 at 11:27am Reply

        • Elisa: For rose with sandalwood and spice, I like Marni, Lyric, and Bollywood or Bust. For rose with cedar, I like Par Amour. For rose with patchouli and rose chypres, some favorites include Rossy de Palma, Noir de Noir, L’Arte di Gucci, Lumiere Noire pour Femme, Paloma Picasso and Knowing. I like the rose ouds from Montale and M.Micallef. This list is definitely not exhaustive! It’s one of my favorite categories. August 14, 2015 at 12:07pm Reply

          • AndreaR: Thank you so much. More to explore. Rossy de Palma is a favorite of mine. It makes my entire day happy 🙂 August 14, 2015 at 12:38pm Reply

            • Elisa: Me too, it’s an all-time favorite! August 14, 2015 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Aurora: I wonder about this lemongrass note which isn’t listed. What combination could it be? This scent sounds above all odd, and you describe it as unbalanced… I won’t be in a hurry to try it. Of the others I’ve experienced Mohur, Trayee and Ashoka through the traveling box and I agree with you Trayee was the winner, such a warm spicy perfume, if money was no object I would own it. August 14, 2015 at 10:24am Reply

    • Elisa: I don’t think others have necessarily noticed the lemongrass effect, which I assume comes from the citrus and some citronella (often in rose accords) and maybe the cardamom and saffron (the latter especially can come off sour). But it was striking/uncanny to me.

      As lovely as Trayee is, I wouldn’t be tempted to buy as I think LADDM pretty much will last me forever and meet all my incense needs. August 14, 2015 at 10:29am Reply

  • solanace: Hey Elisa,

    So it seems I´ll keep on coveting Mohur Extrait, which I adore. See, I can´t even bring myself to use lemongrass EO, which is great for tired legs, because I loathe the smell. It was THE all-purpose medicine tea my mom gave me as I grew up, and I actively detested drinking it. August 14, 2015 at 10:47am Reply

    • Elisa: I haven’t tried the extrait, but I’m curious about it because Victoria at EauMG really liked it.

      Yeah I’m picky about lemongrass in food too, I don’t like too much. And can I confess that I hate chamomile tea? 🙂 August 14, 2015 at 10:50am Reply

      • solanace: Me too, lol. I have always used chamomile to highlight my hair, since I was, like, 10, so its smell does not feel edible at all. I like lemongrass in a balanced Thay curry, though. August 14, 2015 at 11:04am Reply

        • Elisa: Me too, though often if lemongrass is in the name of the dish, I end up finding it a little overwhelming. August 14, 2015 at 12:08pm Reply

  • foxbins: I, too, had high hopes for Pichola from the note list. After I applied it and eagerly sniffed each wrist, I smelled…celery. I eventually arrived at the woody drydown you did, but what a disappointment! I have a small sample of Ashoka that is okay, but I haven’t fallen hard for any in this line. August 14, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

    • Elisa: Ooh, I hate when perfume turns to celery. Sometimes I get celery from coriander. August 14, 2015 at 12:08pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I get celery from Yardley Lavender, when it has turned. August 14, 2015 at 12:21pm Reply

        • Elisa: Yes, older turned scents seem to amplify this note. I bought a turned mini of Knowing on eBay that was nothing but celery. August 14, 2015 at 12:29pm Reply

  • spe: Thank you for the review. I guess I’d try Mohur, if the line and I ever come face to face. August 14, 2015 at 11:06am Reply

    • Elisa: It’s worth trying! Especially if you like almond notes. August 14, 2015 at 12:09pm Reply

  • limegreen: Thanks for the review ! It looks like liquid lemongrass if such a thing existed. Funny how certain combinations can create an unexpected fragrance. The Jo Loves White Roses and Lemon surprised me as it was just like citronella, which makes think bug spray. 🙁 August 14, 2015 at 11:38am Reply

    • Elisa: Citronella is often (if not always) a component of rose accords, so I can see that if it was a bit heavy on the citronella and then they add lemon, it could come off really strong. I thought Kerosene Whips and Roses smelled exactly like tomato stems and citronella. August 14, 2015 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Ellen: I really like it when someone talks about what doesn’t work for them. There are so many fragrances out there and having someone try it and not like one, or be underwhelmed, really helps. I have not been impressed with this line and I thought it was just me. Thank you. August 14, 2015 at 11:46am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Ellen, I’m glad to hear that! It can be frustrating when you feel like you’re the only one that a perfume or line isn’t resonating with. August 14, 2015 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Lucy: when people say perfumes are the same on everyone’s skin, I don’t understand it at all, as it’s just not been the case in my personal experience. Standing right next to a friend trying the same thing, it’s often happened that a perfume unfolds differently and varies noticeably as to what becomes important. I get a few moments of a bright citrus opening lift and then a dive into creamy white floral, while the citrus is still there in the distant background. Mohur also works on me beautifully, especially the extrait. True certain lines don’t resonate with everyone, and you can’t love everything. August 14, 2015 at 12:18pm Reply

    • Elisa: I don’t expect perfume to smell exactly the same on everyone, but I still try to review honestly based on my own experience of the scent. I think expectations play a role too — I was hoping for a more exotic take on orange blossom, and all the reviews seem to agree that it’s very clean. August 14, 2015 at 12:27pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Instructive, detailed review! Neela V. is too expensive for me at the moment. I am saving my pennies : De Bijenkorf in Amsterdam will carry the Guerlain Exclusifs in november! I always return to Guerlain in the end. August 14, 2015 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Elisa: I’d love a few of those GE’s myself! August 14, 2015 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Austenfan: Which ones? August 14, 2015 at 2:28pm Reply

      • Elisa: I’ve gone through decants of Rose Barbare, Spiritueuse Double Vanille, and Tonka Impériale. I still need to try that desert series. August 14, 2015 at 2:41pm Reply

        • Austenfan: I’m only familiar with Arsène Lupin and Une Rose Nacrée du Désert. Which I think is from another series. I’m very smitten with URNdD. August 14, 2015 at 4:53pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: I am dreaming of a bottle of Derby. August 14, 2015 at 5:36pm Reply

          • Karen: Une Rose Nacree du Desert is amazing! I really love it – all aspects. I vacillated on buying a bottle ($$!!!!), but just had to after plowing through the samples. La Fille de Berlin and Rose Nacree are my most complimented perfumes. August 14, 2015 at 7:13pm Reply

            • Elisa: I REALLY need to try this one! You are good to yourself to blow through your samples….I tend to hoard samples when I don’t have the bottle yet. August 14, 2015 at 7:51pm Reply

              • Karen: Thanks to the generosity of Limegreen, I’ve got many samples to experience. I used to use them more sparingly, but then realized it didn’t give me an accurate sense of how the fragrance would wear on me. Some I keep as reference, but most I try and just use up or pass on to my daughter or friends. August 16, 2015 at 2:38pm Reply

            • Sofie: Isn’t Une Rose Nacrée just gorgeous? A little goes a long way, but my generous sample is almost gone, I think I have to upgrade to a decent decant while saving those pennies for a FB :-). I’ve tried Bois D’Encens, which is gorgeous but not for me (beautiful incense note imho), and Tonka Impériale of wich I would like a decant but don’t feel the need for a FB. But that Rose Nacrée, ah!… August 16, 2015 at 6:24am Reply

              • Karen: Ahhhh, is right! If you are in the U.S. let me know (through an email to Victoria) and I’m happy to send you another sample to tide you over while saving your pennies (or more realistically dollars!). August 16, 2015 at 2:33pm Reply

                • Sofie: That is really sweet of you Karen! I’m in Australia though. I’m saving up to put through a big order of samples and decants. But one day, a FB will be mine :-). Thanks for thinking of me though, you made me start the day with a smile! Enjoy your bottle 🙂 August 16, 2015 at 6:22pm Reply

    • kayliz: Cornelia, so fortunate! I’ve just found myself mentally listing the things I’d give up if they started selling the Guerlain exclusives here.
      Personal faves: Cuir Beluga (elegant sweet vanilla, wouldn’t have thought that possible) and Encens Mythique d’Orient (pillowy rose). Have just acquired a nearly new bottle of EMd’O on parfumo.de and can’t wait for it to arrive. August 15, 2015 at 6:03am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: hi Kayliz! Yes, we perfumelovers here in Amsterdam are very happy about it. My absolute favorite : Sous Le Vent, sadly discontinued. Thank you for the descriptions of your favorites!
        Speaking of elegant sweet vanilla: did you ever try Un Bois Vanille, Lutens? August 15, 2015 at 6:57am Reply

        • kayliz: Hi Cornelia,
          I tried Un bois vanille only recently and was more than a bit overwhelmed by the sweetness — but it was daft of me to try it in a heatwave;) August 15, 2015 at 12:03pm Reply

      • Karen: Cuir Beluga is so lovely. The very generous SA gave me quite a few large sized samples when I purchased Rose Nacree, and it’s one of my favorites. August 16, 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I’ve not tried a single one in this line as they are so expensive. Probably worth it, but Duchaufour, whom I admire, is not my favourite perfumer so there you go. I loved the review, sometimes the 1-3 star reviews seem even more interesting than the 4 -5 ones, but it hasn’t inspired an urge to sniff Pichola. I don’t hate lemongrass, but I do not love it either. August 14, 2015 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Elisa: I think I agree — middling reviews perhaps inevitably have more nuance? Duchaufour is not a great favorite of mine either, though I do really enjoy Seville a l’Aube, Paestum Rose and a few others. August 14, 2015 at 1:41pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I think so. As if you, or Victoria, are more careful when explaining why a fragrance is leaving you underwhelmed.
        I like several Duchaufours; Havana Vanille, Paestum Rose and Bosphore amongst others, but those were very affordable. August 14, 2015 at 1:59pm Reply

        • Elisa: Yes, I feel more careful with middling to negative reviews for sure. People are less likely to question enthusiasm! August 14, 2015 at 2:10pm Reply

  • Karen: Thanks for the review! I’ve not had the best luck with her line. I wanted to love the fragrances but Mohur and Bombay Bling were disappointments on me. August 14, 2015 at 7:16pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Karen, thanks! How do you get along with Duchaufour’s work in general? August 14, 2015 at 7:52pm Reply

      • Karen: It’s funny, because until recently I had not given a lot of thought to the perfumers and how their style impacts their creations. In going through the list of his perfumes, I did not see many that I’ve tried (or loved).

        What you’ve now inspired me to do is go through my perfumes and see who besides Ropion has created those that are my swoon-worthy fragrances! August 16, 2015 at 2:47pm Reply

        • Elisa: I have quite an affinity for Calice Becker as well as Maurice Roucel. August 16, 2015 at 3:46pm Reply

  • Parfumista: Funny how different a fragrance is performing on different persons. I percieved the topnotes as lemony fruity, spicy not the sharp lemongrass dominance even if I can smell some hints of the lemongrass as also was the case in Ashoka. Personally I like soapy accords and like that stage of the perfume also. I also find Pichola intresting as I discover referenses to some classics when wearing it, review on my blog from Monday this week. August 15, 2015 at 7:33am Reply

    • Elisa: I thought to myself while wearing it that I could see someone who really loved lemongrass loving it. To each their own! August 15, 2015 at 5:22pm Reply

  • Ann: I just ordered a sample of this from STC (flash 20% off sale–I spent a fortune!). So I love the three original NV’s, and I like Penhaligon’s Vaara, which I thought was a thinner version of one of them (cannot recall which one right now–but also by Duchaufour). Many of Duchaufour’s creations work for me, but I know that others can find his work a little synthetic or chemically. Funnily enough, I also did not like Ashoka… but at the moment I cannot recall what it was that bugged me.

    Two things I did not know before reading your review: 1) that citronella was a frequent note in rose accords… and, if you can believe it, 2) that citronella is the oil extract from lemon grass. I have cooked with lemon grass for years!!

    What are some some well-known rose fragrances with citronella? I need to sniff or re-sniff with your review in mind! August 15, 2015 at 8:02pm Reply

    • Elisa: I’m trying but I can’t think of a well-known rose that has a pronounced citronella note — because in good roses you don’t really notice all the different materials that go into it, you just notice a complex, realistic rose! I will come back if I think of a good example for you. August 16, 2015 at 12:26pm Reply

      • Victoria: Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose maybe? It’s still blended, but you can notice a citrusy, metallic accent. August 16, 2015 at 2:00pm Reply

      • Ann: Thanks Elisa and Victoria. I’ll see if I have sample of the Lutens floating around. I understand what you mean that if the accord is doing what it is supposed to be doing, I would probably not be able to distinguish the lemongrass anyway. August 16, 2015 at 3:32pm Reply

        • Elisa: I thought of another one — Pacifica Persian Rose. Again, it’s subtle, but I think you can pick it out. August 16, 2015 at 3:45pm Reply

          • Karen: What about Rose Flash by Andy Tauer? August 16, 2015 at 6:33pm Reply

            • Elisa: Rose Flash definitely has citronellol in it, it’s in the ingredients list! It always strikes me as more jammy then citrusy, but I’ll look for the citronella next time I wear it. August 17, 2015 at 2:23pm Reply

              • Elisa: OK, I just put some on, and it’s not citronella-forward exactly but it’s in there. August 17, 2015 at 2:43pm Reply

                • Karen: Rose Flash on me is really affected by the weather. I bought it when it was cold and was too much something or another on me (which is saying a lot from someone who sprays sprays sprays as a normal application). However, in the warm/hot weather it’s much “rounder” for lack of a better word, and less sharp on me.

                  It could have been that the citronella was more pronounced initially – now I do get more jammy rose. I like it lots more now and find it an easy rose to wear. August 17, 2015 at 8:44pm Reply

  • Hamamelis: Hi Elisa, thanks for the lovely review. You know my favourite orangeblossom, although a very different genre than Pichola. I have not smelled it, but recognise something in the Vermeires that can creep up on you that is uncomfortable after a while (I have samples of the others). My favourite Duchafour is Dzongkha, I received a sample from Rainboweyes, and it is possibly my favourite perfume at the moment. August 17, 2015 at 11:50am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you! I haven’t sought that one out simply because I’m not a big iris fan, but every now and then an iris perfume works for me. August 17, 2015 at 11:58am Reply

      • Hamamelis: Besides iris, it has a strong cardamon and vetiver note (to my nose). Happy to provide a sample seeing as Austenfan sent you one without problems if I remember correctly. August 17, 2015 at 12:03pm Reply

        • Elisa: Oh, thank you, but that’s OK! I’m SWIMMING in samples! August 17, 2015 at 12:04pm Reply

          • Hamamelis: Don’t drown! August 17, 2015 at 12:11pm Reply

            • Elisa: 🙂 I try to wear samples in the morning on weekdays to work through them. August 17, 2015 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Ann: Hi Elisa,

    I got my sample last night and am road-testing Pichola this morning. I see exactly what you mean by the feel of lemongrass, it is like a hint of the soapy fizz you get from fresh cilantro. I notice it the most in the first 20 minutes or so. To me, Pichola is closest to Bombay Bling of all of NV’s, except with neroli and mandarin lurking below the spice, rather than mango. I also get hints of rose and tuberose. So far, I am enjoying it! For 1/3 the price, it would definitely be a welcome addition…. ;). August 22, 2015 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Ann, glad you’re enjoying and yeah, one does wish the price was nicer! 🙂 August 24, 2015 at 10:44am Reply

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