Desert Island Sniffs – Episode 1: Neela Vermeire

Desert Island Sniffs

Desert Island Sniffs

One of my favourite past times is listening to Radio 4’s longstanding series ‘Desert Island Discs’. If you’re not familiar with the concept, the premise is simple: a famous face or person of interest is shipwrecked on a desert island with eight records of their choice. The idea being that the person tells the story of their life through the songs that have made a significant impact on who they are today.

It has long been my belief that scent, much like music, allows us to travel back in time and experience moments past – moments that have influenced, changed and shaped us in to the human beings we have become. This series (nattily entitled ‘Desert Island Sniffs’) looks to explore the way perfume has influenced the lives of prominent members of the perfume industry.

For Desert Island Sniffs my castaways will be asked to present five perfumes that have had a significant impact on their life – scents that are so important they would be the ones they’d pack if they were unfortunately marooned on a remote desert island. Along with their five perfume choices my castaways are entitled to one luxury item and a ‘perfume bible’ of their choice.

Let’s meet our first castaway…

Neela Vermeire

My Castaway This Month is Neela Vermeire

Neela Vermeire is the visionary behind Neela Vermeire Creations, a brand that offers three (and soon to be four) wonderful perfumes inspired by her homeland of India but made in her adopted France. Now residing in Paris, Neela is a multi-talented individual who qualified as a Solicitor and has worked as an Art Promoter in addition to her role as Artistic Director for her very own brand. On top of all of this Neela can easily be defined as one of the loveliest and kindest people on the planet!

TCPB: Neela, thank you for joining me for the first episode of Desert Island Sniffs, it really is an honour to be on this desert island with you!

NV: Thank you very much for asking and it is a great honour to participate. I am also a great fan of “Desert Island Discs”.

Bois des Iles Extrait

Bois des Iles Extrait by Chanel

TCPB: Let’s start with your very first perfume choice – Bois des Iles Extrait by Chanel – what makes this perfume so special to you?

NV: It is a beautiful fragrance and it is one of my all time favourites much before I started my own venture. It is warm, chic and comforting. I must also add that I adore N°22 Extrait very much and have also worn it for several years.

TCPB: Both are wonderful choices! Are there any specific times when you have sought solace in that warmth and comfort?

NV: Coping with challenges in life, variable weather and our perception of these challenges.

TCPB: There is something special about Chanel fragrances, especially the Extraits – what do you think that is?

NV: The original four exclusive perfumes have been beautifully crafted. They have a retro-modern feel with perfect complexity.

Jicky Extrait

Jicky Extrait by Guerlain

TCPB: Your next choice is another classic and one that many respect if not love. What is it about Guerlain’s Jicky that you love?

NV: I adore many vintage classic Guerlain Extraits. Jicky was a firm favourite and I love all of the notes but I do not wear it any longer. I have a vintage extrait box – I take this box out periodically just to sniff and dream.

TCPB: That’s a very interesting point – I find that we often find fragrances that we often admire but do not wear, especially if we have worn it excessively at an earlier time. Do you have any strong memories associated with Jicky?

NV: Yes but Jicky was always quite balanced (in temperament) in terms of the perfume and times when I wore it.

Neela Vermeire Creations

Neela Vermeire Creations

TCPB: For your next desert island sniff you have picked Trayee from your own line, why?

NV: To connect me to my spiritual India.

TCPB: Out of all of your fragrances I find Trayee to be the most instantly evocative of India, would you agree?

NV: I do agree and am very glad that you find Trayee evocative of India.

TCPB:  You created your fragrances with Bertrand Duchaufour; do you think he was the only perfumer ‘qualified’ enough to capture India so aptly, seeing as he travelled there so often?

NV: Not primarily, but it was a question of meeting a perfumer who had been to India and he understood my concept very well. We worked closely on every stage of the development of all the perfumes for over a year.

Most of the natural ingredients in the perfumes were suggestions from my own research and BD naturally suggested all the aroma chemicals. I also plan on working with other noses on future projects.

TCPB: I think I speak for many perfume lovers when I say that we very much look forward to those future projects! Our next desert island sniff is another from your line of perfumes – Mohur. What is special about Mohur to you?

NV: It is my favourite perfume.

TCPB: It truly is gorgeous and a very unusual rose. What sets Mohur apart from other rose fragrances?

NV: Perhaps because of several layers of floral notes, spices, leather, precious woods like sandalwood, Oudh…. I cannot compare it with others but perhaps you can tell me?

TCPB: I’ve always found it to be a very grand perfume, almost as if it’s presented in 3D on an IMAX screen but it also feels very intimate. Did you set out to create such a contrast?

NV: A great description! I wanted to portray two very contrasting and complex periods in Indian history – the Mughal era and the British East India era. It was not easy but the result is that Mohur is sophisticated/elegant and intimate/comforting at the same time.

TCPB: For your final perfume you have chosen your new fragrance – Ashoka – which represents where you are today. Tell me about the inspiration behind Ashoka.

NV: Ashoka is a tribute to a great Indian Emperor. The perfume’s evolution traces his life from being ruthless to a benevolent king after converting to Buddhism.

TCPB: How does it differ from the initial three fragrances?

NV: Ashoka is a tribute to a great historic personality. The first three are based on vast eras of Indian history.

TCPB: In addition to your five perfumes you are allowed to take one luxury item with you to your desert island, what would you choose?

NV: A solar charged (or infinite battery life) smart phone with my entire music collection (Presuming the island is close enough to mainland for any signal issues).

'Le Sens du Parfum' by Guy Robert

‘Le Sens du Parfum’ by Guy Robert

TCPB: A very sensible choice – life on the desert island could get lonely. You would be pretty far from civilisation so it would be handy to have a phone to call your loved ones – we can’t promise good signal though!

You’re also allowed to take a perfume book of your choice (a ‘perfume bible’ if you will). Which would you take?

NV: ‘Le Sens du Parfum’ by Guy Robert.

TCPB: One of the greatest perfumers of all time! What makes Le Sens du Parfum so special?

NV: It is a precious book as it is out of print. Guy Robert shared his precious insight into the world of a perfumer and is a great introduction for many readers.

TCPB: Finally Neela, before I leave you on your desert island with your five perfumes, I have one last question: if you had to pick just one of your perfume selections to take with you, which would you choose?

NV: Mohur EDP – I can wear it every single day and in any weather.

TCPB: There cannot be a greater endorsement for a perfume than its creator being so in love with it. I like how you’ve chosen something that will comfort you and I can imagine you smelling ever-so elegant on your desert island!

Well Neela, I shall leave you now with your perfumes. Thank you so much for taking part, as always it’s a pleasure talking to you and I personally look forward to the many wonderful things you will continue to bring to the perfume world. You and Neela Vermeire Creations both have a very bright future!

NV: Thank you!

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23 thoughts on “Desert Island Sniffs – Episode 1: Neela Vermeire

  1. Love the concept! And I’m dying to try her perfumes as they all sound incredible. I’m a perfume newbie and am quite surprised by the number of blogs out there. Perfume seems to be a huge love in the blogsphere but is very under represented in mainstream media and social conversation as well. For me, perfume seems to be very similar to wine in how it is appreciated, the categories and emotions that it unlocks – yet it’s so under rated in comparison. Anyway it appears things are changing by reading all of the great blogs. I love yours – I find it quite straight up yet quirky. Looking forward to the next Desert Island Sniffs.

    • They really are wonderful perfumes!

      I agree that perfume is under represented in mainstream media. It’s sort of thrown in with beauty and never given the attention it deserves. That said, things have improved over the last few years and it seems to be getting more attention.

      So glad you enjoy the blog!

  2. What a great idea, and an inspired choice of castaway with absolutely stellar taste in perfumes! (We share quite a few favorites!) Besides…let’s face it, NVC’s original trio rather knocked us all off our feet, didn’t they? 😉 I suspect Neela might continue to do that for quite some time – on a desert island or not! 🙂

  3. Or should that be fortunately marooned on a desert island! Neela, I will come and rescue you when you reach the end of the last song on your playlist! I predict a palm frond accord in your future.
    @TCPB – you are episodic! Follow the sun and throb the oceans…

  4. Fabulous idea, Thomas. I’m going to enjoy this series immensely. I’m another Desert Island Discs fan. It’s such a winning formula and transfers wonderfully to perfume.

    Bois des Iles extrait is a favourite of mine and Neela describes what’s great about it so well. “Perfectc complexity” also sums up those 4 original Exclusifs too.

    I must say also that you did a spot-on job of relating your impressions of the NVC perfumes back to their creator, which must have been a bit daunting. Bravo!

    • Tara, I’m so glad to hear that your a fellow Desert Island Discs fan! I love how the series introduces me to wonderfully interesting people that I may never have heard of before – a winning formula indeed!

      Neela’s description of “Perfect complexity” is definitely spot on – there’s something special about those older Chanels that they’ve never been able to recreate with their newer perfumes!

      The great thing about Neela is that she makes you feel so at ease – it’s like having a conversation with a dear friend. So glad you enjoyed post – hopefully there will be many more in the series!

  5. Dearest Candy
    Outstanding idea (predictably The Dandy is a Radio 4 freak).
    Brilliantly executed.
    Wonderful guest.
    Sensational perfume picks (Jicky would almost certainly be coming with me too).
    That really has made The Dandy’s Day.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  6. Fun topic, and wonderful that Neela was game! After having read a couple of interviews with her, it’s clear that she is such a lovely person! I also love Bois des Iles – probably one of my top 5 perfumes.

    I hope to own a bottle of Mohur someday, it’s breathtakingly lovely!! It’s at the absolute top of my wish list!

  7. Love both the idea and your first guest on a desert island. I bet by the time you’re done with the series “your” island won’t be that deserted and it’ll smell great 😉

  8. Pingback: Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur & Ashoka Giveaway | The Candy Perfume Boy

  9. Pingback: First gentleman of scent… Chandler Burr Talks… to The Perfumed Dandy | The Perfumed Dandy.

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