Incense has long been not only one of the badges of niche perfumery, but also one of my own personal hot buttons, so it sounds both logical and anticipatory that a fledging niche line would want to include a declination of the genre in their wares. But when said genre is harnessed by perfumers of the calibre of Bertrand Duchaufour and infused with the phantasmagoria which must be Neela Vermeire's creativity then the resulting fragrance feels the way a kanchipuram saree looks: intricate, ever changing effect when the journey of the light, beautiful. Trayee (pronounced try-ee) is much more than an incense blend, which is no mean feat, given that incense is a difficult material to work with in the first place. But its intricate treatment must endear it to aficionados.
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Trayee is part of the original trio of fragrances issued by Neela Vermeire Créations which also includes Mohur and Bombay Bling (the fourth instalment, Ashoka, is launching soon). These Indian inspired perfumes, like Chants of India, draw upon the tradition, history and cultural milieu of that vast Eastern sub-continent in which Neela herself has roots. With Trayee rooted in the Vedic tradition (and utilizing several of the materials mentioned in the holy texts) I was instantly brought back to my university freshman year, when World Civilization was on the agenda under a highly idiosyncratic professor, himself the embodiment of intertextuality & erudition. That was the time when I briefly entertained the idea of learning Sanskrit, though it soon transpired it'd be full time job. But such was the pull that the the Sutras and the Ramayana and their colorful, conflicted and spiritual world had exerted on me and some of my fellow students.
I'm saying all this to atone for coming extremely late to the buzz around Neela Vermeire's creations, having had compartmentalized the perfumes in the "one day" mental drawer. That day came when Neela and I reconnected via Twitter. I say "reconnected" because Neela was, like me, part of the old guard of Makeup Alley: she has a genuinely lovely personality that leaps off the page and a deep knowledge of the Paris perfume scene where she used to organize visiting trips for perfumephiles.
All this intro would read like an apologetic text on a personal blog placating her feelings, had the fragrances been duds; but they assuredly are NOT duds -far from it. Not only are they intellectually stimulating and multi-nuanced, they combine the rich tapestry of colors that is the Indian peninsula with a very Parisian sensibility. These are truly "transparent orientals", modern and wearable, and therefore it comes as no surprise that Neela commissioned Bertrand Duchaufour to compose them for her niche line.
Trayee is much more than a simple incense blend, fusing the mystical with the sensual and the cerebral, like a trimūrti framework for the divine. This is reflected via the "notes" chosen for Trayee which comprise a wide spectrum, from the bittersweet facets of myrrh & musty oud, to the tried & true Indian fusion of sandalwood and jasmine all the way through the stimulating piquancy of spicy, stimulating notes (rich in eugenol). There is a dusty, grassy, cannabis-herbal accord which is close to the muddy feel of Timbuktu for L'Artisan Parfumeur, also by Duchaufour; not surprisingly, the interplay of earthy spices, mysterious blossoms and murrh & vetiver are present in both. Trayee comes across as somehow muskier, leathery, with a more peppery tang and a fully executed resinous, balsamic arc that recalls the smokiness of Annick Goutal's Encens Flamboyant. Trayee feels like rivulets of sweetish white smoke rising from a polished ceramic basin unto the blue skies, its dissipation unto the air gradual and mind-altering.
Neela Vermeire Creations Trayee notes:
Blue ginger, elemi, cinnamon, ganja accord, blackcurrant absolute, basil, jasmine sambac, Egyptian jasmine, cardamom absolute, clove, saffron, Javanese and Haitian vetiver, incense, Mysore sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber notes, oud palao from Laos, oak moss.
Trayee is available as an Eau de Parfum 55ml (in refillable flacons), available at select stockists and on www.neelavermeire.com, where you can find a discovery set.
Disclosure: I was sent a sample by Neela.