A while ago, I asked Neela Vermeire of Neela Vermeire Créations (“NVC”) if she would be kind enough to do an interview. She graciously agreed, and I sent along some questions. “Some” is an understatement — not being one for brevity, I’m afraid I inundated her with rather a lengthy list. Ms. Vermeire never blinked, and never once said that her incredibly busy schedule couldn’t accommodate such a barrage. Instead, she spent a portion of her holidays answering them. (And she never told me to fly a kite when I came back with follow-ups, twice!) I’m incredibly grateful for her graciousness, her time, her enormous patience, and her always sunny disposition.
My goal with the questions was for us to learn as much about Neela Vermeire the person and perfume lover, as about the one who creates beautiful perfumes. Many of you know the brief outlines of Ms. Vermeire’s story. She was born in India, living life in the lushness of Calcutta (now Kolkata), before travelling around the world. She studied in America, completing a Master’s Degree in social sciences, then eventually moved to England where she studied law and became a solicitor. She spent a little time in Aberdeen, Scotland, practiced in London, and, for a brief period, moved to Paris where she remained for two years. She went back across the pond to England, then, six years after she left Paris, Ms. Vermeire and her Belgian husband moved back for good, this time for her husband’s work.
Ms. Vermeire was always passionate about perfumery and, in an almost organic process, she decided to express her love concretely by starting her own line. So, she approached Bertrand Duchaufour — one of the most famous perfume noses in the world, who has worked with everyone from Dior, to Acqua di Parma, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Comme des Garcons, Givenchy, Penhaligon, and many others. The result was Neela Vermeire Créations, three highly acclaimed fragrances, an award nomination, inclusion at the top of many perfume sites’ annual “Best of” lists, and a passionate following of admirers. And now, a fourth creation whose release is just a week away: Ashoka, Imperial Buddhist, a scent intended to capture the essence and life of India’s most famous Emperor, the man whose very symbol (a chakra) is now placed right in the center of India’s flag.
I asked Ms. Vermeire about Ashoka, its creation, and the feelings that she sought to capture. But what about the woman herself? As I said earlier, I wanted you to know the complex, intellectual, extremely diverse, fascinating woman behind the fragrances, as much as the perfumista who created them. Ms. Vermeire kindly shared everything from some of her favorite perfumes that she used to wear, to her favorite television shows, her culinary weaknesses, and even her favorite type of chocolates. I hope you enjoy the answers as much as I did.
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What are some of your favorite notes in perfumes? Notes that make you sit up with excitement when you see them on a perfume list?
There are too many to list but here are some: iris, jasmine sambac, tuberose, rose, lavender, vetiver, galbanum, sandalwood and most precious woods, styrax, resins…
Are there any perfume notes that you struggle with or that you don’t like at all?
Certain fruits, heavy patchouli, overtly sweet “gourmand” notes.
Which fruit notes don’t you like? Peach? Grape? Grapefruit? Blackcurrant?
I have difficulty with fruity notes in general – difficult to point to and blame certain fruits. It really depends on how a perfumer works with some of the fruity notes.
What was your earliest perfume memory?
It comes of course from my childhood years in India –smell of sandalwood paste, incense, tea, spices, flowers…
Before you started your own perfume line, what were some of your favorite perfumes?
There are too many to list as I collected many fragrances over the years. What I reached out for the most were:
Chanel Bois des Iles Extrait; Chanel No. 22 Extrait; Guerlain Jicky, Vega, and Sous Le Vent; Frederic Malle Iris Poudre and Une Fleur de Cassie; Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist and Bois de Violette. I used to wear the Le Labo Tubereuse 40 NY exclusive, Iris 39 and Labdanum 18.
Also, I love and collect vintage perfumes. My main haul this year include an unopened Shalimar extrait in the box from the 1940s with the original wrapping paper, vintage Femme, and vintage Madame Rochas over summer from an antique fair, among a few…. [All font emphasis to the names added by me.]
Did you ever have a signature fragrance?
I don’t have a signature fragrance; I have always been too interested in experimenting or trying new scents. That said, I do wear NVC Mohur frequently, and a future creation which is still work in progress. [Font emphasis added by me.]
When you started your own perfume house, you obviously had a clear overall vision and inspiration for the perfumes that subsequently became Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling. What happens after you have that initial idea for a scent? Can you share a little about the steps in the creative process, and the methods by which you and Bertrand Duchaufour rendered your initial idea into something concrete? For example, would both of you test out different formulas each week?
Once I have clear vision – it is expressed to the perfumer. Sometimes we can start with a part of the entire vision and then build the foundation of the fragrance – we usually work on a couple of options in line with the original idea.
For Ashoka, the challenge was rather different compared to the first trio (which express vast periods of history) and not a legendary personality who helped spread a magnificent religion Buddhism. [Font emphasis to the name added by me.]
Can you expand a little on the process of building the perfume’s foundation and working with different options in line with the original vision?
It is one of the ways for me to develop and flesh out ideas – when you express an idea – you may not get (as a mod) what you think it is going to be. [Me: “Mod” is industry-speak for “version.”] The guiding factor is in imagination of the notes and the balance of the work-in-progress creation.
A perfume can take shape from those early stages to something very different from what was presented at say stage one. It is truly a matter of being on the same page for all parties involved in the creation.
Things take time in general – it is either a matter of being quick/hurried and accepting mods which may not be fully formed or the tougher route when one decides to carry on with the development and make sure that one reaches a satisfactory stage where the “eureka moment” actually happens!
Why did Emperor Ashoka appeal to you in the first place as a source of perfume inspiration, as opposed to some other Indian figure representing peace? Has he always interested you?
Personally as an Indian, Ashoka has always held a very special place since my childhood. One cannot ignore his importance if you grow up in India. In a nutshell – he was a true humanist (after his self-realization) and possibly one of the greatest emperors ever. He believed in secularism and was way ahead of his times.
In fact, our logo was adapted from Ashoka’s famous Chakra.
Our new bottle, designed by Pierre Dinand, has 24 ridges just like Ashoka’s chakra. The logo [adaptation of the chakra] is also embossed on the metal cap. [So, the perfume] is about the meaning of this important symbol.
H.G. Wells summed up what you need to know about Ashoka in his book A Short History of the World. (1922):
“Asoka was at first disposed to follow the example of his father and grandfather and complete the conquest of the Indian peninsula. He […] was successful in his military operations and —alone among conquerors— was so disgusted by the cruelty and horror of war that he renounced it. He would have no more of it. He adopted the peaceful doctrines of Buddhism and declared that henceforth his conquests should be the conquests of religion.
His reign for eight-and-twenty years was one of the brightest interludes in the troubled history of mankind. He organized a great digging of wells in India and the planting of trees for shade. He founded hospitals and public gardens and gardens for the growing of medicinal herbs. He created a ministry for the care of the aborigines and subject races of India. He made provision for the education of women. […]
Such was Asoka, greatest of kings. He was far in advance of his age. He left no prince and no organization of men to carry on his work, and within a century of his death the great days of his reign had become a glorious memory in a shattered and decaying India. […] But beyond the confines of India and the realms of caste Buddhism spread—until it had won China and Siam and Burma and Japan, countries in which it is predominant to this day…”
What made you both decide on certain notes, like fig, being a perfect way to reflect a stage in Emperor Ashoka’s life?
The main idea was to ensure that the fragrance has a contrasting start from a strong top note to a gentle drydown. We included some floral notes, fig leaves and fig milk, styrax, and sandalwood as some of the important notes to bring about this contrast.
Buddha achieved his enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree/Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) and the fact that Ashoka converted to Buddhism to gain his own enlightenment.
For each of the perfumes, including the upcoming Ashoka, when did you finally know that a particular version or formula was “the” final, perfect one? Was there one of the perfumes that was a little harder to finalize and perfect (according to that mental vision) than the others?
I could go on perfecting a perfume forever and I do not care to rush towards any deadline. In the case of the trio, Trayee was the toughest to declare “final” as well as Mohur. Bombay Bling appeared to be relatively less complex to finalize in comparison to the other two.
Ashoka was incredibly tough and took many iterations. [All font emphasis to the names added by me.]
Speaking of Ashoka, there is already a tidal wave of anticipation and excitement. I read your interview with Fragrantica back in April about the two versions of the perfume that you showed at Milan: versions 108, 110 and their differences. To quote the relevant part of the Fragrantica reviewer’s perceptions: “108 is more masculine, green and harsh, with a fierce start recalling the period of the youth of Ashoka—a fearless hunter, cruel warrior and a great conqueror. 110 is more lactonic and sleek; it shows Ashoka after his enlightment [sic], as a kind and compassionate person…” Given his description and your own words about having different versions in Milan, it sounds like you went through numerous different interpretations for the scent. Did you finally settle on #108? And, if so, what made one formula seem like a better, truer, more representative fit for Ashoka than the other?
The numbers got juxtaposed somehow and did not get amended! It is 110 we settled for as it “is more masculine, green and strong, with a fierce start recalling the period of the youth of Ashoka—a fearless hunter, cruel warrior and a great conqueror.”
110 was the overall character of the perfume that we had in mind for Ashoka.
108 was relatively gentle in the opening.
One of the many, many things that I think will make Ashoka such a hit is that it hits that sweet spot in your line-up for a comfort fragrance. Each of your other ones represent a certain type of fragrance: Trayee is the seductive temptress with flair; Mohur is quiet, refined elegance; and Bombay Bling is fun, jubilant, exuberance. For me, Ashoka represents soothing comfort, a sort of serenity mixed with a mother’s protective embrace. Obviously, that’s my subjective interpretation of it, but I’m curious if you thought about the types of perfumes that you had already, and if you sought to create a type of refined, sophisticated comfort fragrance for your line-up?
Thank you for your faith in our fourth creation! To answer your question, for us – it is about the general mood of a fragrance.
Trayee is spiritual, contemplative and refined.
Mohur is elegant and glamorous as the same time.
Bombay Bling is sheer sophisticated fun.
Ashoka is intended to be that sophisticated comfort fragrance that you describe, both powerful and gentle.
All are created for men and women. We wanted everyone to be able to select a fragrance wardrobe from the collection. [All font emphasis to the names added by me.]
If you had to choose a painting, picture, photo or place that you think sums up the overall feel of Ashoka, perhaps as an emotional experience, what would it be?
It is very much a collage of various images – it is very tough to link it to one single image. The only image I can think of right now is the Ashoka’s chakra.
Emotionally it is a fragrance that works from a powerful top note to a very warm and comforting heart and base notes.
I’m always in awe of the quality of your ingredients but, especially, of that stunning sandalwood in your original trio. Without getting into trade secrets, can you tell us anything about the sandalwood or perhaps the Laotian Oudh that you use?
I have faith in a specialist perfumer like Bertrand Duchaufour’s choice of materials – naturals and aroma chemicals he uses in the compositions and we know that in the case of the NVC perfumes we did not cut any corners for the sake of economics.
We have used some precious woods like Mysore sandalwood oil and Laotian Oudh. We hope to continue on this path.
To what extent has your creative process or the perfume’s development been impacted by sourcing issues for ingredients? For example, that beautiful sandalwood is neither cheap nor in great abundance.
As mentioned above, I leave this to the perfumer and the essence company. The perfumers are specialists and know their materials well. It is their tool. Using some of the rare and precious raw materials can make a formula exorbitantly expensive.
When you work with experts/professionals in the fragrance world and I will underline experts – who know how to create a formula and know that if the ingredients are excellent – the end result will usually be very good.
There is a level of complexity to get an idea or message across through the perfume – even though the message is used mainly as an intellectual prop.
The perfume should make one “feel”/emote…
You make very French perfumes, even if they have an Indian inspiration. I think there is a very definite style to French perfumery as a whole or, at least, there was. Do you think that may be in danger in the years ahead due to things like IFRA or EU restrictions? Do you see any changes ahead for French perfumery?
Yes, but as long as one can conform to the new rules – it will hopefully be ok.
Perfume and your company obviously take up a vast amount of your time. What do you do to relax? Or, to put it another way, what are some of your non-perfume-related passions? Do you have any guilty pleasures — whether in television, books, food or something else — that you would confess to? 🙂
Music – all forms – I do enjoy going to classical concerts and productions of baroque opera.
Theatre when we visit London or NYC. We enjoy some French Theatre.
Art – everything from street art (like Space Invader), to Chagall.
Food – see below.
I adore the Cinema but rarely find the time to go.
I am also a fan of intelligent TV series – enjoy some excellent HBO productions, BBC and Nordic productions.
I know you love the TV show, Borgen, but what else? Which HBO or BBC series?
Borgen, Wallander, The Killing, The Bridge. On the BBC, there are too many to list, as I grew up with the BBC – crime, justice, comedy. But I am a Downton Abbey fan. I’m also a HUGE Poirot fan.
From HBO or American television, there are also too many, but some include The Wire, Boardwalk Empire (fabulous), The Sopranos…. I also watch other shows like: Engrenages (French), The Shield, and The Good Wife.
I’ve enjoyed Mad Men very much. It’s very stylish, and I love John Slattery’s part, as well as many other characters. Homeland is also great, and I liked the original Israeli version, Prisoners of War. Another show I like is the new Netflix series, House of Cards, mainly for Kevin Spacey. I’ve been a fan of his since early in his career with The Usual Suspects.
I do not dare to mention feature films, as I am film buff and have an endless list that may bore everyone.
Since you live in Paris with all that glorious food, and since I’m a foodie myself, I have to ask as my last question: what are some of your favorite dishes, cheeses, patisseries, breads, or other aspects of French culinary life? Please let us live vicariously through you!
Even though I live in Paris, I remain a huge fan of all types of Asian cuisine (which I still like the best). Second for me comes Italian cuisine. I also enjoy savoury Persian and Lebanese cuisine. In fact, I am known to impose Asian or Middle Eastern cuisine on my friends.
There is nothing like good organic bread and we have some excellent artisanal boulangeries near us.
Sadly, we have not found a truly great Indian restaurant in Paris, the UK and the US just seem better for that.
In India, the cuisine is varied – I love most regional cooking. My favourite type of cuisine is Dum Pukht. If you are in New Delhi, you must try the restaurants Dum Pukht and Bukhara for an excellent culinary experience.
I also enjoy creative meals from any of the great French chefs and from chefs from all over the world. There, I go more for quality than quantity.
However, if I have to go for general French cuisine, I enjoy good fish restaurants. I enjoy platters of my favourite French oysters — speciales Gillardeau with some vintage champagne — followed by a deliciously cooked sole (grilled or fried), or grilled sea bass with olive oil or cooked in salt crust.
I also enjoy wine tasting wherever we go. And we enjoy looking for good champagne houses that are rather niche in production. My favourite champagne maison is Jacquesson. I also enjoy dunking rose biscuits from Reims in champagne.
I’m not fond of heavy patisseries, but I enjoy some good dark chocolate from time to time. My favourite chocolatiers include Pierre Marcolini (Belgian), Patrick Roger, Debauve et Gallais (French)…
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Oh my God, I don’t know about you, but I salivated like a dog reading her food answers! Wouldn’t you love to go eating and drinking across Europe with Ms. Vermeire?! Coincidentally, I went to the famous Bukhara in New Delhi years ago, and can attest that it is as good as Ms. Vermeire says it is. (Actually, it was completely mind-blowing. And I gained 6 pounds to prove it!) Ms. Vermeire clearly knows her food. And her oysters, too! The New York Times calls Gillardeau “the most famous name in oysters.” If you’re curious about Jacquesson, the champagne house has a fascinating history that goes back to 1798 and not only pre-dates Krug, but arguably gave rise to the latter.
Lastly, if you’re a masochist who loves to torture yourself with food porn from afar (as I do), then you really should check out the handsome Pierre Marcolini, his lovely website with its various chocolate collections, and his e-Boutique that offers everything from macarons to your own choice of chocolate selections. (No U.S. deliveries, alas.) A much less visually appealing website is that of Debauve & Gallais, and it offers chocolate deliveries on a more global basis, including FedEx shipments to the U.S. The company was founded in 1800, and became the official chocolatiers to Emperor Napoleon, as well as to several kings who followed him.
As for the perfumes, I think we would all agree with Ms. Vermeire that the fragrance should make us feel. And the very best ones always do. I have felt the soothing comfort of Ashoka, and I think many of you will love the Emperor’s embrace. I’m still madly in love with the upcoming Mohur Extrait above all else (yes, even more than Trayee!), but I think Ashoka has a refined gentleness that makes it very appealing and perhaps the most versatile of all the NVC creations. I can’t wait for you all to try it!
I would like to repeat my grateful thanks to Ms. Vermeire for taking big chunk of time out of her extremely busy schedule to answer my questions. She is working on a new fragrance, is constantly on the move, and is also preparing for the new launch of Ashoka that is mere days away. The fragrance will be officially released at the Pitti Immagine Fragranze Faire in Florence on September 13th! In light of all that, her graciousness, and patience mean even more. I shall see if I can one day repay her with dark chocolates or, perhaps, with some grilled sea bass.…
[AVAILABILITY UPDATE: Ashoka will be available for sale starting on September 23, 2013. In the U.S., it will be sold at Luckyscent and Min New York. I asked Ms. Vermeire about Ashoka samples and the Discovery Sets. This is her reply:
Here is what we are planning till we have Ashoka in the sets.
Try your India sample sets (3×2 ml) and Discovery sets with Ashoka EDP from late autumn from the site.
We will include a free glass vial sample of Ashoka with every purchase of the NVC Discovery set 10 ml x 3 of the first trio.
Please stay tuned for news on e-boutique.
The full flacons of Ashoka will be available at 190 Euros plus shipping.
So, starting on September 23rd, if you order the Discovery Set, you will get a glass vial of Ashoka. Ms. Vermeire says that samples of Ashoka won’t be available to go with the smaller “Try your India” sample set until much later in the Fall. So you can only get a sample if you order the NVC Discovery Set. As for a possible 10 ml bottle of Ashoka, at some point much later in the Fall, Ashoka will be added to the Discovery Set, but it is not offered being right now. (When it is, the Discover Set’s prices will presumably change for 4 x 10 ml, instead of 3 x 10 ml, but that is just my guess).]
Wonderful interview, K. Really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Ms. Vermeire.
I’m so glad. And doesn’t she have incredible taste in TV and food?! I can’t decide if I want to go on a foodie roadtrip with her, or watch television with her! lol
She is amazing!! Any news on whether she will add Ashoka to her discovery set? And of course, I want Trayee AND Ashoka. Put me into lemming rehab!
There have been discussions on the issue of the Discovery Set & Ashoka, but I don’t know what the final decision is or any timetable that may be involved. I think that Ashoka will undoubtedly be made available as part of the sample Taste of India set, but I’m going to check back on both points.
If you find out any news, please do share. I’ll hold off on ordering until I hear more.
This is the verbatim answer from Ms. Vermeire which I will also add to the update at the end of the interview:
So, in the first “Try Your India” sample set, you’d get the original trio, plus one 2ml vial of Ashoka. If you order the Discovery Set, you will also get a glass vial of Ashoka. Then, later in the Fall, at some point Ashoka will be added to the Discovery Set (and presumably, the prices will change for 4 x 10 ml, but that’s just my guess).
At all times after September 23rd when Ashoka will be officially be made available worldwide for sale, you can purchase the full bottle of Ashoka directly from NVC at €190, plus shipping.
I hope that helps, Gretchen!
It certainly does – except now I have to decide whether to wait for the 4 bottles in the discovery set, or pull the trigger right away and be willing to “settle” for a smaller sample!
You may want to stop by the blog tomorrow or the day after, Gretchen…..
Gasp! Does that mean what I think it means…!
No comment. :X 😉
Neela is a woderful person and a great businesswoman. When I exchange emails with her it always feels nice – she’s one of those people you feel comfortable with and you feel like you’ve known her for a longer period of time.
I loved reading this in-depth interview and getting to know Neela more.
She’s lovely! Anyone else, and they would have had my head on a platter for the length of the original questions, never mind when I came back with follow-ups! lol. I know exactly what you mean about her being one of those people who always makes you feel comfortable and who you feel you’ve known for ages. It’s a rare quality, and very special.
I’m very glad you enjoyed the interview, Lucas.
That was very thoughtful she answered so many questions and that she gave you replies which were more elaborate.
When I did an interview with M.Micallef duet their replies were very shallow, even limited to just one or two words.
I second Lucasai’s comments. Having met her in person I can testify to her warmth and sincerity, in addition to her business acumen. Looking forward to sniffing Ashoka!
I look forward to hearing what you think of it.
Love the detailed interview and all the food descriptions as I am food-obsessed too- I plan my travel in a city around food. So, basically I pick the best restaurants in various neighborhoods and explore the neighborhoods in that process.
Now, of course I want to know what Neela’s favorite films are (and no I won’t be bored..:))
oh and that Mohur extrait sounds so good.
I totally wanted to go back for a third follow-up on all the films, but didn’t want to push my luck! Like you, I wouldn’t have been bored in the slightest, either! I do know that she has liked, in past years, The Usual Suspects and The Inside Man. I bet you she’s a die-hard Coppola Godfather fan, probably Al Pacino and Dirty Harry too with tastes like The Shield and The Sopranos. lol You know, my tastes are almost identical to hers, minus The Killing.
As for you planning your travel in a city around food, I do that, too! The first thing I do when I know I’m going to be in a city is research their top restaurants, menu, and what I would like to order. Heh. People think I’m crazy, but, dammit, the food matters! A LOT!
I wonder if we can kidnap Ms. Vermeire for a foodie road-trip? 😀
Kafka, great interview with one of my favorite people in the perfume industry! Thank you both for your time.
It’s great to keep finding many similarities with my own tastes – in perfumes, food and TV shows 🙂
I know! I shared a lot of similarities with her too, though more in the food and television. Iris Silver Mist and her love for iris is where we part ways. But I know that is exactly your taste, my dear! 😀
That said, I’m lusting for her vintage fragrances. That bottle of ancient Shalimar Extrait! Good heavens!
this interview was an absolute delight to read! i find ms. vermeire so inspirational, with such a varied and interesting life history. i’m ashamed to say that i’ve only tried one of her perfumes – bombay bling!, from a friend’s decant – which didn’t really speak to me, but i will definitely be ordering the discovery set, because i hear too many great things about mohur and ashoka…
i loved her food talk! asian cuisine is my favourite, too. and those marcolini chocolates look painfully delicious.
Julia, are you an Oriental person? A rose person? Iris and milky notes? If so, one of the other 3 will be sure to appeal to you. For me, personally, fruity scents are not really my usual style, so Bombay Bling (though undoubtedly very beautiful, original and well-done) will never speak to me like a hardcore seductive oriental like Trayee, or the simply exquisite delicate beauty of Mohur. I hope you’ll let me know what you think of those 2 when you try them.
As for the Marcolini chocolates, *painfully* delicious is right! I don’t know which one of his creations tempted me more. Do you have a particular favorite out of the Asian cuisines, or do you like them all equally?
hi kafka, i am relatively new to being “serious” about fragrance, so i am still learning about my own tastes! my favourite scents so far are apres l’ondee, chanel coco, rochas femme, feminite du bois (the current formulations; i do not want to fall down the vintage rabbit hole and start paying exorbitant ebay prices) and i am still looking for the perfect osmanthus fragrance. 😉 i love violets, so that combined with the intriguing carrot and almond-milk notes in mohur make me very eager to try it. and your review of trayee was very beautiful and evocative, i am excited to try that as well!
regarding asian food, i am from hong kong, but my favorite chinese regional cuisines are sichuanese and hunanese (spicy!), and northern chinese muslim cuisine, which i suppose is why cumin doesn’t bother me so much in fragrance; i find the scent delicious…! and a northern-chinese noodle dish called “zhajiangmian” is the chinese equivalent of mac-n-cheese, total comfort food. but i also love cantonese dim sum & seafood, the fresh flavors of vietnamese food, japanese teppanyaki and sushi, and korean grilled meat … i am less fond of thai cuisine overall because the flavors are a bit too sweet/heavy on coconut for me, but massaman curry is a favorite. anyway, i could talk about food forever! i looked at your profile, and we have extremely similar food tastes; i also love indian and greek! not sure about french; although everything i ate in paris was delicious, nothing left an impression. it has been 10 years since i’ve eaten french food though (that wasn’t dessert), so maybe i should revisit it. 😉
Julia, what a lovely, delicious, foodie answer! I love most of the same Asian cuisines you do, but I can’t take chili-based things the way you can. I get some sort of weird allergic reaction to the capsasin (sp?) in chili peppers, even from a tiny bite, so a lot of northern Chinese and Sechuan cuisine is out for me.
As for perfumes, I can totally understand how vintage can seem like a whole new landscape, alien territory filled with complications, and a dreaded rabbit hole. The thing is, a lot of really great vintage fragrances can actually be cheaper than modern niche fragrances, most of whom aren’t even one-tenth as good! Still, it requires a LOT of research and patience, both in terms of bottle types, decade of production, and eBay sellers, so I fully understand why some people are leery of going down that path.
If you love violets, I think you would definitely appreciate Mohur EDP! It has a very classique feel for me, like some of the best of the classic Guerlains. For a more woody, modern treatment of violets, have you tried Serge Lutens’ Bois en Violette?
I love your long questions – so Kafkaesque! Neela is a star indeed, and so approachable and friendly – down to earth and with a very broad range of interests. On the food front she really knows her stuff – as my Lebanese liver epiphany testifies. 😉
I can’t wait for Ashoka to come out – it is indeed a ‘sophisticated comfort’ scent. In your exchange I was interested in particular to hear of the perfumes that took the most iterations, and also the fact that Neela struggles with fruity notes. They are masterfully blended in Bombay Bling, certainly. I like that one more and more…
Hahahahaha, it’s true, I never thought of it, but yes, the length of the questions is so very me! *grin* lol! And I completely thought of you at her comment about making people she likes eat Middle Eastern food. I was laughing when I read that and recalling your prior hatred for liver, then her conversion of you.
As for Ashoka, I know some of the original trio weren’t quite your style, but I guessed that you would like Ashoka. I’m pleased to hear that turned out to be the case. 🙂
The NVC trio were a slow burn for me, it’s true – I liked Mohur from the off and the drydowns of BB and Trayee. A year on(!), I love all of BB and would gladly own more of it, though I still find the opening of Trayee a bit fierce. 😉
She seems like such a nice woman. I love hearing about her favorite foods and shows. I also really liked finding out perfumes that she likes other than her own.
Do you share any food/perfume/television/art overlap with her? I know it’s not Iris Silver Mist, that’s for sure! 😉 😛
I can’t get enough of Neela -and her fragrances- dear Kafka.
She is warm, generous, inspiring…larger than life.I would love to go out for drinks with her one day.
Her four creations speak to my soul, each one in its own special way.
Mohur extrait is everything I want in a fragrance.
You and me for that Mohur Extrait, dear Caro. It *WILL* be ours!!!
As for Neela, you take her out for drinks, then I’ll watch television with her and eat….. *grin*
Talented – and by all accounts – lovely woman! What a great piece, thanks for sharing it. Glad she seems to be fond of Mohur too as it’s my favorite. I can only imagine the extrait. I’d probably pass out from the overwhelming beauty! I’m sure Ashoka is worth trying as well, but of the existing 3, Mohur is my precious!
You’ll lose your knickers over the Mohur Esprit/Extrait! I will probably lose a kidney to pay for it….. *grin*
As a fellow foodie, don’t you think she has great taste? I’m love oysters so much, and I’ve got this insane desire for a big platter of them, even if they would probably kill in this 100 degree heat! The macarons, though, that photo was just for YOU, my dear!
I got so overwhelmed by the thought of Mohur Extrait (you might even say my panties dropped…LOL) that I neglected to mention her fine personal taste! Oysters and champagne? Asian food? Sounds like she enjoys food as decadent as her perfumes! And yes, those macarons looked DIVINE. I would kill for one right about now! My friends brought me some from Bisous Ciao in NYC for my birthday and they were quite tasty. But now I want more, since of course between all of us we finished off two dozen in no time. LOL.
Hahahaha at the panties dropping!! That brought a huge smirk to my face.
Foodies rock! I could have had a whole interview on food, and been very happy about it.
Bravo Kafka. What a wonderful person with vision. Great questions. Very curious about Ashoka and Jacquesson. After that I guess you can go fly a kite now.
LOL! I don’t dare ask her another question! If I’d been in her shoes, I would have throttled me a while ago. 😉 😛
Kafka dear thank you so very much for this wonderful interview. I was transported to an afternoon in Paris with the delightfully charming Neela. And I owe my imaginary trip to you and your perfectly chosen questions. I adore NVC but not nearly as much as I have come to adore the lady herself. Beautiful, charming, gentle, and supremely gracious and giving, that is Neela Vermeire. You both just made my Friday perfection.
I’m so glad, Lanier! So, did you eat the oysters, the sea bass, the pink biscuits with champagne, or the dark chocolates from the young Belgian? 😉 Or did you say, “To hell with the food” and just grab that vintage bottle of Shalimar Extrait and make a run for it? *Grin*
I did it ALL!
Neela is so cool. I can’t wait to try everything she comes up with. Such a nice Q&A Kafka. Congrats.
Thank you, Cohiba! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Super interview, dear Kafka! Thanks for sharing Neela with us. She is such a beautiful person. I was of course tickled pink that iris is one of her favorite notes (first one listed, no less) and we share many of the same favorite perfumes.
As to Ashoka, I can’t wait to try it. I almost feel like wallowing in my discovery set so that when I order the next one, it is because I need to replenish and by coincidence, it will include a bottle of Ashoka!
I thought of you when I read that Iris Silver Mist is one of her favorite fragrances! I’m afraid I never got the Iris Appreciation Gene, but I know I’m a bit of a weirdo in that way. 🙂
With regard to Ashoka, I can see it being very much your style. Plus, one of your perfume twins already thinks it’s his favorite NVC fragrance! 🙂
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I can’t wait to try Ashoka. I’ve struggled with fig notes in the past, but if anyone can make me love a note, it will be Neela. Again, You’re in-depth posts are incredible and I loved reading about Neela’s perfecting a perfume. I would think that would be incredibly difficult, but she seems to have done it so well. xoxoox Steve
I’m always fascinated by the nuts and bolts of HOW a perfume is developed. Translating an abstract, mental image into something concrete in a totally different medium like liquid perfume can’t be easy. And, my God, just how does a perfectionist stop tinkering with something? It must be so hard, sometimes, especially as there is a very fine line where one touch can be one touch too many!
I have also made an interview with Neela, but now I see that I was lacking questions! I love this one and enjoyed reading it! Good questions and great answers! 🙂
Hi Juraj, welcome to the blog. I will have to look up your interview with Ms. Vermeire. I’m sure it was wonderful. 🙂 You’re entered into the drawing. Good luck.
Great interview! Ms. Vermeire is a lovely and interesting person, and she has put such deep meaning to her amazing creations. I want them all, esp Mohur. Thank you for sharing.
You’re very welcome, Annina! 🙂 I’m so glad you found it interesting.
In your very Kafkaesque way, this was such a thorough, informative and yet distinctly personal and personable interview.
But hey, missy! How’s a girl supposed to keep her figure when you talk food like this? Between your questions, Ms. Vermeire’s answers, and Julia from Hong Kong’s comments, I feel like I just gained ten pounds. Or am about to! 😀
Hahahaha, I love it! Long live the power of a foodie’s lust. I wish Neela had a Gastronomy and Food Blog because she’s not only knowledgeable about good food, but she can really make one crave some of what she describes. She transports you to France with all its varied flavours and tastes, just as her perfumes do for India.
What a fantastic interview, Kafka! I loved reading more about her creative process and learning more about her as a person! Thank you to Neela for sharing with you and you with us!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Baconbiscuit! I’m sure you sat up during the foodie parts, as I did. 🙂
Wonderful interview! “A perfume can take shape from those early stages to something very different from what was presented at say stage one” So true- from idea to finnished product as in art can go through many stages until you know it’s their! I love it when an artist or craftsman is allowed to take the time needed in developement. Makes a world of difference in the quality of the finnished item. Now i really want to try this fragrance.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ve entered you in the drawing, even though you didn’t post in the thread requesting it. Good luck, and stop by next Monday for the winners! 🙂
I’d love to be entered in the draw! I had NO idea about the chakra/bottle connection, nor Ashoka (fascinating man!) . That is one of those amazing details that is so intriguing – and is also indicative of the attention to detail that makes NVC perfumes so interesting, always!
What a great interview! Thanks!!!
I’m so happy you found it interesting! You’re entered in the drawing. Good luck! 🙂
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Great interview, I like that she loves chocolate!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Claire. You should enter the giveaway, and/or try some of her stuff! 🙂
well anyone who goes straight to my favourite nose – BD – and follows through with that guidance to realize their own vision has got to be respected. i like the way the interview flows – casual yet covering a lot of ground, even food (always interesting!). i’m intrigued by the rather philosophical regard in which fig is presented in an indian cultural/religious context; it’s always great when the scent you wear can invoke those sort of grander connotations. they sound solid yet quite fun – i look forward to checking them out. as usual, well done k
Ah, is Bertrand Duchaufour your favorite nose? I didn’t know that. How interesting. I had thought it was Christopher Sheldrake, but I guess he comes in second. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Tim.
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