It must have been a rather daunting and unenviable task for both Neela Vermeire and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour when creating their fourth perfume together and the first to be launched since the initial trio of India-inspired fragrances in the Neela Vermeire Collection. These three perfumes – Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling! – were so well received and critically acclaimed that the pressure really must have been on when the time came to add a brand new fragrance to the series – a fragrance named Ashoka. Luckily for us, this pressure does not seem to have phased this dynamic duo one bit…
“Inspired by a legendary ruler, Neela Vermeire Creations’ new release Ashoka, is a tribute to an emperor who was conquered by his own compassion at the moment his victory was assured. He converted to Buddhism and devoted the rest of his life to spreading the Buddha’s teachings, to truth, to justice and to compassion for all living creatures beneath the sun. His own evolution from ruthless conquerer to benevolent emperor is reflected in Ashoka’s journey from the fierce opening to a softly floral heart & the gentle embrace of its richly complex drydown.”
Ashoka is Neela’s fourth perfume and first to be released outside of her initial trio of perfumes inspired by different eras of Indian culture. It would make sense then, that Ashoka strikes a slightly different chord from the others in the collection whilst managing not to stick out like a sore thumb. The fragrance is a continuation of the historical Indian narrative but in an olfactory sense, Ashoka leads Neela Vermeire Creations in an entirely new and exciting direction.
Lotus, Rose, Water Hyacinth, Fig Leaf, Parsley Leaf, Osmanthus Absolute, Cassie Absolute, Iris, Incense Essence, Jasmine Sambac, Fig Milk, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Fir Balsam Absolute, Myrrh, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Vanilla Accord, Ambre Gris, Birch, Haitian Vetiver, Leather, Styrax and Heliotrope
How Does it Smell?
The first thing one notices when sniffing Ashoka is that it is distinctly figgy, but the fig note is unique, surprising and not quite like any other (Philosykos this is not). As far as fig notes go, this one is masterfully complex, displaying facets of milky green pulp and sweet, earthy twigs.
There is an astringent intensity to the opening that is very much in line with the story for which Ashoka takes its inspiration. The herbs used to accent the fig, along with a great big streak of freshly-tanned leather add a spiky quality that speaks of a unpredictable and dangerous personality.
Ashoka’s trajectory from fierce to benign is relatively speedy and it shifts focus to a wealth of flowers within a short period of time. These flowers add a honeyed and ever-so-slightly fruity undertone to the fig that remains prominent throughout, keeping the core of both the emperor and the fragrance’s personality intact.
In the base Ashoka softens further to a plush affair of woods (mainly sandalwood), vanilla and leather. Flashes of vetiver permeate through the softness to add stripes of salty green warmth, hinting at the fact that, even though this leopard may have changed his spots, there are still undercurrents of darkness that can easily bubble to the surface. This is one very complex character indeed.
Neela Vemeire and Bertrand Duchaufour’s partnership seems like a match made in heaven. Together they have created stunning perfumes that not only tell the stories they intend to, but also have entirely unique characters that really are a breath of fresh air in a world where there is very little amount of new things under the sun. With Ashoka they have done it again, and there is little more to say than ‘get out there and sniff it. Bravo!
Ashoka is available in 60ml Eau de Parfum for €190.
Samples, images, qoutes and notes via Neela Vermeire.