The impressionistic school of perfumery seldom fails to fall victim of one or two cardinal sins. Either it won't replicate the received impression we, the audience, have of a particular referent (perversely enough there seems to be a collective "idea" of how particular places & things smell like), resulting in confusion, despite adhering to the definition of the artistic term. Or the clarity of structure will be subordinate to the "harmonic" effects resulting in something that "falls apart on the blotter", as perfumers say. Not so with Pichola, the latest fragrance launch by the cult favorite niche fragrance brand Neela Vermeire Creations, overseen by a true perfumephile, its founder and guiding force, i.e. Neela, and composed by the steady hand of independent perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.
|Rie Rasmussen, Vogue UK December 2005, photographed by Norbert Schroeder via|
Pichola was inspired by Lake Pichola in India, since the canon of Neela Vermeire Creations draw inspiration from the peninsula. But fear not, ye armchair traveler of little faith in your abilities of envisioning vast expanses of water with flowing flowers. Much as Pichola draws elements from the impressive scenery it is not a carte postale style of fragrance for Americans in need of issuing a passport. As Carson McCullers put it "We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most of the places we have never known..."
Pichola is not a travel "selfie". This shape shifter of a fragrance has backbone, finesse and above all the charm that makes a fragrance go beyond the mere pretty into addictive.
It impressed me in that I have tried the scent three times and Pichola performed differently on ALL three occasions, which hasn't really happened before. You can blame it on Rio, I guess, but I did find that the temperature of my skin brought to the surface different elements. The first time Pichola by Neela Vermeire projected as an intensely white floral with a cleaned up jasmine and orange blossom, plus a budding gardenia note. It gave me a nod of Pure Poison, to be honest, which was impressive since that one is a very loud (albeit beautiful perfume) and not Bertrand Duchaufour's "style" (who is more subdued and much less obvious).
On the second testing Pichola was much milkier white floral and had a green-husks velvety touch floating about, like coconut and fig leaf (stemone, massoia lactone, something along those two lines) which did remind me of Duchaufour and his masterful translation of earthy tones and woody notes, such as in L'Artisan's Timbuktu. Third time it was distinctly orange blossom and lush, scrumptious but not really indolic tuberose, plus a sandalwood milkiness chased by a huge clean musk note.
This creature purred...and I purred with delight over it.
Fragrance Notes for Neela Vermeire Creations Pichola:
Neroli, Clementine, Bergamot, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Saffron, Juniper, Magnolia
Orange blossom, Rose, Tuberose, Jasmine sambac, Ylang ylang
Haitian vetiver, Benzoin, Sandalwood , Driftwood
Related reading on Perfume Shrine:
Neela Vermeire Fragrance Reviews & News: Trayee, Mohur, Bombay Bling
"Creamy" fragrances: scents of rich clotted cream
Indolic vs. Non Indolic: White Florals of Passion
The Jasmine Series: Perfumes highlighting the King of Flowers