October 6, 2013

Ashoka - Neela Vermeire Creations

An imaginary painting of Ashoka's Queen by Abanindranath Tagore (1871–1951) via Wikipedia
One of the most delightful aspects of the explosion of creativity in niche and indie perfume these days has been the attraction of many new and varied types of creative people who now choose to express their inspirations, personal history and memories by creating a fragrance experience for us. Perfume is now far more often considered as a medium to directly connect the rest of us to an individual's personal longings, aspirations, sense of beauty and even idealism.

One such is Neela Vermeire who grew up in India, and though there's been a separation since that time, she was imbued with the culture, history, legends and sensual experience of the complex and intoxicating elements that surrounded her at the most sensitive and open time of life.  She has lived in the West since then, primarily in France, and that culture layered and shaped her understanding and experiences, especially with its perfume.  The strong perfume traditions of both India and France are combined in her aesthetic inspirations.

Working with the perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, she has sought to express and convey the heart of India as she understands it, couched in the language of French perfume traditions,  using opulent Indian fragrance notes and directed by her understanding of Indian experience, history and influence.

Especially in Ashoka (and also Trayee) I find a feeling of spirituality expressed through effects of luminosity, symbolizing enlightenment.

Balance and compassion are conveyed by softness within its longevity which demonstrates inner strength and stability.

The invisible nature of perfume that at the same time seems to flavor the atmosphere you breathe inside  and also surrounds you with a beautiful and gentle scent aura that you reflect back into the world may give a sense of certain concepts of importance that Ashoka himself wished to live within.

 From a strong opening to a soft heart, to a gentle and measured dry down, the effect of cool disciplined and refined elegance references classic haute French perfumery.

Top notes are listed as lotus, rose, water hyacinth, fig leaf, parsley leaf; the heart notes as
osmanthus absolute, cassie absolute (acacia farnesiana), iris, incense essence, jasmine sambac, fig milk, geranium, ylang-ylang; and base notes as fir balsam absolute, myrrh, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla accord, ambre gris, birch, haitian vetiver, leather, styrax, heliotrope.

The refreshing coolness of the lotus, water hyacinth, iris and fir balsam rests on the soft powder of the sandalwood with unity and in balance, while the other notes contribute luxuriant smoothness with sophistication.  This can be a fragrance to wear both to work and to rest, and is lovely to fall asleep in, creating an atmosphere around and within of calm beauty that seems to reach out to both nature and other people with thoughtful skillfulness. Not obtrusive, while not in-obtrusive, but simply balanced steadily at a civilized level that demonstrates the benefits of civilization.  The longevity is such that it lasts overnight and well into morning, which for me is an experience too rare.

Neela Vermeire shared some personal thoughts:

"About Ashoka as an emperor - he was and is still is an important part of India and I grew up with the notion of Ashoka being possibly the greatest king to ever rule a large part of India. His wheel or Chakra depicts the Buddhist Dharmachakra which is the wheel of Buddhist laws of interdependence represented by the twenty four spokes. The Ashoka Chakra is also found in the centre of the Indian national flag. Our NVC logo was inspired by this Chakra, incorporating a repeating graphic of the Eiffel Tower for the spokes. 

I have always been fascinated by Ashoka's internal change from the time of my early history lessons in school. He was was ahead of his time as one of the earliest social entrepreneurs this world has seen. He believed in animal rights, religious tolerance, and equality for women.  To create a perfume describing this huge change in Ashoka after he converted to Buddhism from a cruel king into a compassionate one was a great challenge for us.
On a personal level - it is a journey for me to reconnect with India that I left in my early twenties.

At a deeper level - yes I want to share Indian culture with the West through an olfactory journey.

The decision to create perfumes happened over many years - at first helping other people and then realizing that I wanted to work with independent perfumers on my own journey.

The idea of a fragrance brand did not happen overnight. It was an unfolding organic process, driven by my deep interest in quality French perfumery. I wanted to discover the best way of creating these fragrances, using great  care, with a talented nose who could portray the Indian historical eras - using some of the natural materials that were used in these eras."
The perfume lends its persona to the wearer. The sense of balance and calm luxurious beauty imparted is grounding and uplifting, while its elegance conveys refined taste and intelligence. This makes for a  perfume you'll want to live up to.

On the other three perfumes in this Indian series: Trayee, Mohur & Bombay Bling

Music to listen to perfume by:  god send us a message - Hammock

Samples provided by the Neela Vermeire Creations and MiN.  Perfumes available in NYC exclusively at MiN New York Haute Perfumery

Images from Wikipedia and the NVC site.

Copyright 2013 Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure: These are my personal opinions and not stated for compensation. 

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