Neela Vermeire Creations Niral : Fragrance Review

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My saris are my personal archaeological layers. The turquoise and saffron one was bought from a market in Pune on my very first trip to India. The magenta one with the border of gold thread woven into the peacock pattern came from a cavernous shop in Gujarat, where I sat in a hot daze surrounded by towering stacks of silks. The hot pink one with the silver embroidery was a nod to Mumbai fashions circa 2005 picked up on a whim, along with matching bangles. The sienna and orange one was given to me on my wedding day by my parents-in-law.

My saris live in a box and I wear them only when I’m in India. Here, in Belgium, they don’t feel right. A sari needs the context–the music, the movement, the heat, the chaos of an Indian wedding. So I spread them out on the furniture to enjoy their colors, but I drape myself in a sari-like perfume of layers and folds. Like Neela Vermeire’s Niral, for instance.

Niral, like Mohur, my other favorite from Vermeire’s collection, is remarkable in the way it interprets India. And I do mean, India, and not merely Bollywood with its flash of tinsel. Niral has the opulence of carvings on the Taj Mahal, the intricacy of spice combinations used in India’s cuisine, and the vividness of Rabindranth Tagore’s poetry. Its main inspiration was silk, and it makes sense to me, because like a Varanasi weave that reflects different colors depending on the light, Niral turns to either violet, rose, jasmine or something else altogether.

The very first impression I have of Niral has nothing of the Indian stamp about it. Imagine taking a bit of a candied violet and following it with a sip of champagne. Sweet and shimmering. Intoxicating. Then, the perfume grows warmer, while still keeping the violet-iris tint, except that the purple petals now turn into a dark red rose and the champagne fizz gives way to swirls of sandalwood cream.

If that were all to Niral, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as it is. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour doesn’t try to give us the scent of an Indian market or any other stereotypical image, however. He goes deeper and in between each lush layer he adds a counterpoint that fills Niral with radiance. The rose is edged with the bitterness of cardamom. The sweet violet powder is turned into gold dust by the coolness of iris. The languid heft of sandalwood is laced through with the salty dryness of tea and spice.

Niral has a relationship with L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore, also by Duchaufour, but Niral feels more complete, more intricate and more faceted. One drop is enough to make me dream of India and its colors. Two make me feel as if I had just returned from India, its sun still warm on my skin. Anything more is enough to shut the world out and make me forget that grey skies even exist.

Those who worry about fragrance vanishing from their skin should have no complaints. Niral lasts really well, but since its richness is tempered, its presence is not stifling. Even so, I do recommend applying it in small doses, drops even. Not only does it allow you to create a tantalizing aura of scent, it makes you better notice all of its nuances.

Niral has notes of iris, tea, pink pepper, rose, green wine lees, angelica seed, ambrette seed, cardamom, leather, magnolia, jasmine, sandalwood and cedar.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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58 Comments

  • Emilie: Oh wow! Now I definitely have to find a sample of this one. It sounds spectacular!

    Your sari wardrobe certainly sounds enviable. Is that one of them the bottle is resting on in the picture? That could be a fun game I think, matching different colour sari’s to a corresponding perfume. April 16, 2018 at 10:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s my purple-magenta sari with a brocaded border. One of my favorites!

      Matching saris with perfumes would be so much fun. April 17, 2018 at 11:04am Reply

  • Trudy: This sounds beautiful and unique. I will be searching it one out to try on my skin. Your saris sound lovely and each have a memory and special meaning. April 16, 2018 at 10:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I love that even the wedding saris are ok to wear outside of your wedding, such as to other people’s marriages. There is no concept in India to dressing down in order not to upstage the bride. 🙂 April 17, 2018 at 11:05am Reply

      • Vetiver: Thank God! May 9, 2018 at 8:47pm Reply

  • Filomena: I love all of Neela Vermeire’s creations, and Niral is no exception. Thank you for the lovely review and I love the beautiful colors of the sari in the photo. April 16, 2018 at 11:32am Reply

    • Victoria: This and Mohur are my top favorites! April 17, 2018 at 11:05am Reply

      • Filomena: Mohur and Niral are also my favorites. April 17, 2018 at 12:38pm Reply

  • JuliaKateLucy: On one hand I gave my bottle of Traversée du Bosphore to my daughter because I found it difficult to wear. On the other hand your description makes this sound so intriguing. I will definitely try to find a sample or shop where I can sniff this. April 16, 2018 at 11:48am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s different enough, but yes, try a sample first and test it on skin. It smells sweeter on paper than it does on skin, I find. April 17, 2018 at 11:06am Reply

  • Richard Goller: So beautifully written, Victoria. This fragrance sounds magnificent. R April 16, 2018 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Monica: Thanks for such a beautiful review, Victoria. Niral sounds fantastic!. I need to get my hands on a sample very soon. April 16, 2018 at 12:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’d love to hear what others think when they try it! April 17, 2018 at 11:07am Reply

  • Figuier: This sounds lovely! I took a long time to take the plunge on my bottle of Traversee, but I find I wear it often, especially in winter. The apple opening still makes me smile, and I’ve become surprisingly fond of the icing-sugar rasp of its vanilla. So a more ‘complete’ version sounds heavenly, especially since I very much admire Neela Vermeire’s creations. Will have to sample! April 16, 2018 at 3:06pm Reply

    • Figuier: Also: lucky you, those saris must be amazing to wear… April 16, 2018 at 3:07pm Reply

      • Victoria: I so rarely wear them. The heavier ones are hard to put on, actually, and at the marriages there is also a professional dresser on hand to help out. But as a garment, sari is easily the most flattering. April 17, 2018 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Niral is heavier, richer, though, but it still feels radiant. Definitely to be tested on skin first. April 17, 2018 at 11:11am Reply

  • Severine: Yes, there is nothing voluptuous than the feel of silk on the skin. I was wondering: is Niral a sibling of Mohur? Or they different? I am saving Mohur for a very special occasion – like the gold-bordered sari you mention. April 16, 2018 at 4:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: They’re related, but they don’t smell identical. Mohur is a rose-sandalwood, while Niral has the iris-violet heart. April 17, 2018 at 11:13am Reply

  • maja: I tried it in Milan last week and liked it a lot. Neela was out of samples by the time I was there so I’ll need to reorder and sample again. But it really does convey the feeling of raw silk as it has been suggested, sort of dusty, powdery, complex, and shimmering femininity. I am glad you love it.
    If I may ask, do you scent your saris? April 16, 2018 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad to hear that you thought so!

      I don’t scent saris. Mostly because perfume can stain silk. I store them with the bay leaves and cloves, though, an old method to protect against moths. April 17, 2018 at 11:16am Reply

  • Sowmya: It certainly is fun to own saris in a great many colours, fabrics and styles – and to know how to drape them in different ways. All of my saris hold the scent of memories: who gave them to me; when, where and why. They get worn when a dress just isn’t enough, and many of them also have hints of the perfume I was wearing for the occasion! (My mom has worn a sari every day for the last 57 years since she moved to Canada at the age of 21 – for work, at home and even for cross-country skiing! – so she feels that wearing one no matter what just needs practice. This fragrance seems right up her alley…) April 16, 2018 at 5:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: There are so many ways to wear a sari! I also like the Gujarati-style, which allows you to showcase the decorations on the pallu, the ornate edge. April 17, 2018 at 11:18am Reply

  • Carla: Gorgeous descriptions! Can’t wait to try. April 17, 2018 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Such a well-done perfume! April 20, 2018 at 6:06pm Reply

  • Maria-Anna: Ah, it sounds truly enchanting and your description certainly makes me long to try it! The iris-violet especially sounds delightful. I recently wore Hiris from a new sample and it made me want even more iris in my life, although I imagine it’s a rather different take. April 18, 2018 at 3:37am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s very different. Hiris is all iris, but the iris in Niral is only one of the components. April 20, 2018 at 6:09pm Reply

  • Michael: Wow, a five star review? I need to get my hands on Niral. Would you describe it as a floriental? They seem to work very well on me so I’m intrigued to see how Niral sits on my skin.

    Great job with the review, as always! April 18, 2018 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s right. Floriental would be the fragrance family I’d select for Niral. I’m curious about your thoughts when you try it. April 20, 2018 at 6:10pm Reply

  • Judy Landis: Victoria — thanks for another wonderful review. I purchased Niral on the strength of your description, and heavens it’s gorgeous! It reminds me just a bit of Nahema, that plummy top note. Underneath all the rich warmth, there’s a bit of an edge, too, like a touch of a masculine cologne, that keeps it from being overwhelming. Really mouthwatering! This is our first warm day of spring (Netherlands) and the scent of Niral is perfect! April 19, 2018 at 6:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear it, and I like your description. 🙂
      Enjoy the warmth! April 20, 2018 at 6:12pm Reply

    • Silvermoon: Judy, you caught my attention, when you wrote that Niral reminded you of Nahema. Please can you elaborate a bit more? I love Nahema and wondered what aspects of it are experienced in Niral? Is it just the top note or does it go further/longer?

      Victoria, thanks for the lovely review.. I think it’s one of the first that you give 5 stars after Ostara. So, really curious (as already mentioned in the 10 spring perfumes post). April 21, 2018 at 2:18pm Reply

      • Judy: Hi, Silvermoon. I haven’t used Nahema in many years (I’m really old) but the very plum-forward top note always grabbed my attention. Niral seems similar to me on the top note, but more subtle. The development of Niral is different, smoother, not as strong. If you like Nahema, I think you’d enjoy Niral. It’s softer but just as intelligent. April 21, 2018 at 6:05pm Reply

        • Victoria: I wore them side by side after your comment, and I can see what you mean. The plush character is very similar, as is the elegant development. The scent, of course, differs very much, but when you wear both perfumes, you feel wrapped in layers of something soft and comforting. April 22, 2018 at 1:12pm Reply

        • Silvermoon: Thanks for getting back and explaining. Looking more and more like I need to track this one down. And when I read your comment on being “really old”, it made me smile and immediately think: well, you have had more time to smell lovely perfumes then!! 😊 April 22, 2018 at 3:34pm Reply

          • Judy: I certainly have! I think you’ll love this one, Silvermoon — happy hunting!

            Any time Victoria awards five stars I go shopping, no questions asked! April 22, 2018 at 3:52pm Reply

      • Victoria: It was a love at first sniff for me. It rarely happens! April 22, 2018 at 1:11pm Reply

        • Silvermoon: One drop is enough to make me dream of India and its colors. Two make me feel as if I had just returned from India, its sun still warm on my skin. Anything more is enough to shut the world out and make me forget that grey skies even exist.

          Victoria, reading your words copied above gave me exactly that impression about your feelings for this one. And it’s odd, isn’t it, when suddenly something turns up as love at first sniff. It happens rarely, as you say, and two of the earliest it happened with were L’Heure Bleue and Knize 10. And the last time was with Weekend à Fountainebleue (by Deo). April 22, 2018 at 2:29pm Reply

          • Silvermoon: sorry autocorrect! it’s Ideo. April 22, 2018 at 2:30pm Reply

          • Victoria: What is Weekend à Fountainebleue like? I like the name very much.

            Yes, such moments when something feels just right, just perfect are rare, so they’re to be cherished. April 22, 2018 at 2:49pm Reply

            • Silvermoon: A warm, beautiful and green shimmering sort of rose. It reminds me of Nahema (another rose I love, which is why Judy’s comment immediately caught my eye). It settles into a rose-green jasmine-sandalwood perfume – so a rather classical and traditional one, but somehow with something extraordinary. I guess it would/could fall into Niral’s universe 😍 However, rather than India inspired, WaF seems medieval French to me (in a romantic rather than literal or historically accurate way). Hope this makes sense? April 22, 2018 at 3:29pm Reply

              • Victoria: Makes perfect sense, especially now that I’ve been to a few medieval French chateaux! It sounds enticing. April 23, 2018 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Inma: Dear Victoria,
    Thank you, as always, for your beautiful article.
    These days I am trying a sample of Amouage Jubilation XXV. I read about it and I wanted to experience such a complex, layered perfume. It changes every few hours and lasts so much. I wear it at home. It is a private exploration.
    Niral sounds similar to me, in that sense, to Jubilation.
    Loving barroque experiences or maybe just the complexity inherent to life.
    Thank you,
    Inma April 19, 2018 at 8:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Same here! Baroque is such a fascinating aesthetic, and it works well in this perfume. April 20, 2018 at 6:12pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Niral sounds beautiful. I love Mohur as well – I call it a ‘sari’ fragrance too, in that, it evokes rich brocades and smells like a scent that you will find between the folds of the sari. And you are so right, Mohur definitely benefits from restrained application (Especially the extrait). I am going to have to procure a sample of Niral!xoxo April 23, 2018 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: A couple of drops of Mohur is all I need. It creates a soft sillage and lingers beautifully. April 23, 2018 at 3:57pm Reply

  • Surbhi: Your writing transfers me to an alternate world. Iris is not my favorite note but just reading this review, I want to try this perfume. April 23, 2018 at 6:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I suspect that for most people if they haven’t been told that Niral contains iris, they wouldn’t pick it out. The effect of this note is very different in this blend, because it’s such a warm, rich composition. It’s really well-blended too. April 24, 2018 at 4:46am Reply

  • Margot: Thank you for this beautiful review. I ordered a sample of Niral after you’d mentioned it in your perfumes for spring post. It is beautiful, but a little too sweet for my personal tastes. My tolerance for sweetness is very low though. I prefer Trayee and Mohur.

    Niral reminds me of the crispy kind of silk, instead of the type of tussar silk that’s a little more raw and woolly. It must be the fizzy part that does that.

    Loved the description of your saris too. I’m extremely fond of mine, they remind me of the beautiful places we’ve visited. I don’t wear them as a garment, but have them made into scarves to wear and quilts to put on the sofa and bed by an NGO that fights slavery. I can enjoy them everyday that way. April 24, 2018 at 4:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your own beautiful review, with very useful comparisons. Yes, I can see why sweetness would bother someone, especially since here it’s the powdery sweetness. I don’t like overly sweet perfumes either, but the powdery notes appeal to me. So, it’s good to keep that in mind.

      I sometimes drape one of my saris in the room just to fill the space with light and color. April 24, 2018 at 6:48am Reply

      • Margot: It is a beautifully done perfume.
        You’ve just inspired me to drape a wonderful gauzy sari on our mosquito net. April 24, 2018 at 7:29am Reply

  • Aisha: Sounds like a gorgeous and unforgettable fragrance. April 24, 2018 at 8:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s memorable, that’s for sure. April 26, 2018 at 8:59am Reply

  • Sanne Kloosterboer: That’s a promising review. I look forward to smelling Niral. Could you please review Neela Vermeire’s Rahele too? It’s my new darling fragrance and it’s such a lovely, soft chypre. April 28, 2018 at 10:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll have to revisit it soon. It wasn’t an instant love unlike Niral, but that doesn’t mean much. Sometimes more difficult perfumes end up being the most loved. April 29, 2018 at 3:41am Reply

      • Sanne Kloosterboer: That’s true! I’m really curious about your take on Rahele. April 29, 2018 at 9:40am Reply

  • Jessica: Thank you for this beautiful review! I love reading your personal associations between Niral and your own experiences with Indian culture (and saris!). Niral and Mohur are now my two favorites from NVC, too. x April 28, 2018 at 9:55pm Reply

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