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.

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Infuriating Things

Sei Shonagon has been my companion for many years. She was an opinionated 11th century Japanese lady-in-waiting, and she wrote what has become the embodiment of Japanese classical prose, The Pillow Book. I’ve already written about this quirky collection and its author and quoted one of my favorite lyrical passages about things that make one’s heart beat faster. Reading her enchanting descriptions of dew on chrysanthemums, first plum blossoms or the color of incense smoke is an instant escape from my routine, and while the world of Sei Shonagon wasn’t a cherry blossom tinted fantasy—a woman’s life at court was one of ennui and seclusion—the genius of the writer is to make you think otherwise. “Delightful” is one of the most frequently used words throughout the book.

pillow book-tea

Lyricism and refinement aside,  I’m drawn to Sei Shonagon for a far earthier reason—her flaws. She complains about her fellow ladies-in-waiting. She whines about her lovers whose morning departure is not as elegant as she would like it to be. She can be a snob. She finds it unseemly that the snow falls on the houses of common people—“moonlight shining into such houses is also a great shame,” she adds. She has a dry sense of humor. She’s vulnerable and prone to bouts of melancholy. She’s merely human. Despite her living more than a thousand years ago, she doesn’t come across as a museum piece.

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Is it Safe to Buy Perfume from Online Discounters?

Even if you live in a city with lots of perfume shopping options, sooner or later you discover that buying fragrance online can be simpler and cheaper. You google the name of your favorite scent, and lo and behold, it’s offered on Ebay, strawberry.net or fragrancenet for considerably less than at a brick & mortal retailer. Moreover, the choice is vast, from popular best-sellers like Hugo Boss to niche stars like Serge Lutens. The only question, is it safe to make a purchase?

joy

The answer is no, it’s not 100% safe, but the level of risk varies. The list of aforementioned sites can be expanded to include dozens of others, and while they have different standards and selling angles, most of them are not authorized retailers for the brands they carry.  What they offer is grey market inventory, which includes goods that are imported from abroad and sold outside of the manufacturer’s official channels of distribution.

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The (Blind) Smell Test at WWD

As promised, today I’ll give you a brief update on The Smell Test series from Women’s Wear Daily. The goal is to blind test recent launches and offer anonymous opinions. All ten judges, myself included, receive fragrances in plain lab bottles, marked only by number, smell at their leisure and offer a rating from 1 to 10. WWD is one of the leading and most influential fashion and beauty publications, and it’s commendable that the magazine offers such a feature.

aerind

You can see the results and read our short comments in the links below. I will only make a few observations: First, all statements claiming that perfume is somehow too subjective to be described or reviewed critically don’t stand the test. The exercise blew this tired argument out of the water again and again.  Yes, everyone has his or her own sensitivities and preferences, but by and large, the consistency of responses has been impressive.

Second, there has been much positive response to the feature. (If any houses have been upset by their product receiving a low score, they’ve kept quiet.) Since WWD is primarily geared toward the beauty industry and its movers, all of this is a good sign. The industry also feels that things can’t continue in the same “let’s drown them in launches” (or “let’s do another Angel/Light Blue/another best seller”) mode, and as s result the attitudes towards criticism are changing.

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Coriander and Cumin or The CC Powder

Being married into an Indian family, I learned a few things: Time is a flexible, fluid entity; when you have a few millennia of history underpinning your culture, what’s an hour here or there. You can always eat–and if you can’t, you’re probably not conscious. Spices to a cook are like essences to a perfumer. On this latter point, I would like to linger.

cc powder

I thought I knew spices before I went to India, but nothing prepared me for the dazzling array of flavors and the variety of techniques with which they can be brought to life. India is divided into 29 states, and each region has its spice signature; generalizing is all but impossible. For instance, Aai’s, my mother-in-law’s cooking combines the refined sweetness beloved in her native Gujarat with the robust spiciness of Maharashtra fare. These two states share a long border, but the cuisines are remarkably different. Gujarati cooking is rich in coriander, tamarind, with peanuts and sesame giving it a nutty flavor, while Marathi dishes have a sharp bite of garlic, chili pepper and mustard seeds. Cross into northern India, and the richness of cinnamon, clove and fenugreek color the local meals. Travel down the southern coast, and coconut becomes the main leitmotif.

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  • Alicia in Miu Miu Perfume Review: Thank you for the review, Victoria; otherwise I’d fallen for the bottle. I agree with your pleasing and interesting fragrances, many of them are staples of mine. I’d like to… August 31, 2015 at 6:40pm

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