I would never claim to possess any from of synesthesia, but I do often think of colours when I smell a fragrance. Sometimes these ideas are led by the presentation of the fragrance, for example, despite how its ingredients are more brown and amber-coloured, it’s difficult to think of Mugler’s Alien as any colour other than purple. The scents themselves possess colourful characters too. Take Malle’s Portrait of a Lady as another example – has any fragrance ever been so ruby red? I think not!
So yes, perfumes have colours, whether they be pre-determined by the shade of the bottle or the juice, or even the fashions rocked by the ‘face’ in the advert, they are cast in one hue or another. Pichola, the latest fragrance from Neela Vermeire Creations is blue. Well, to be precise, its a deep, expansive body of sapphire-coloured water. It’s big, blue and beautiful, with great depth and complexity. Subtitled ‘majestic reflections’, Pichola takes inspiration from the lake of the same name in Rajasthan, India and attempts to capture its “timeless beauty” whilst adding a “new twist” to Neela’s incomparable range of India-inspired fragrances.
“A myriad of colourful historic, architectural and spiritual reflections fall on this splendid body of water – the sunlight and moonlight of each season bringing out the eternal and timeless beauty of Lake Pichola. Our latest fragrance captures such countless reflections on the lake from the past to the present – showcasing the splendour of opulent and vibrant flowers, princely spices and precious woods taking us on an unforgettable and hypnotic fragrant journey. Once you have experienced the diverse and stunning beauty of these indescribable reflections you will understand the true meaning of timeless luxury and effortless beauty….”
– Neela Vermeire
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The Machine
Top: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Saffron, Neroli Oil, Clementine and Bergamot
Heart: Orange Blossom Absolute, Rose Absolute, Tuberose Absolute, Jasmine Sambac and Ylang-Ylang
Base: Benzoin Absolute, Sandalwood, Driftwood and Vetiver from Haiti.
How Does it Smell?
Pichola’s opening accord is intriguing to say the least. It starts with rich spices, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron to be specific (an aromatic thread that runs through many of the NVC collection), sparkling citrus and an odd, offbeat aquatic marzipan note. Initially, there is a passing resemblance to the richly textured oceanic tones of Dalí’s bizarre Laguna however, the impression here is entirely more refined and less weird. I especially admire the complexity of the freshness in the opening – the fragrance sparkles and gleams, with each refraction of light highlighting an unusual and fascinating nuance.
The floral heart is staggering. Tuberose, which is usually a hot and carnal note, feels fleshy and cool, almost as if it has spent a few hours chilling in the shade. It has a zingy freshness to it, as well as that white flower sweetness that makes it undeniably ‘tuberose’ in nature. The tuberose isn’t shy either, and it really gives Pichola its presence, allowing the more transparent notes to really shine. There’s also strong touches of jasmine and ylang ylang, both of which make the whole thing a little bit more exotic and definitely place the fragrance somewhere in the heartland of India.
As Pichola dries down it becomes warmer and resinous. That said, it doesn’t every really lose its luminous sense of transparency and weightlessness, despite the woody and slightly-smoky facets of the base. There’s an earthiness in the dry down that speaks of muddy riverbeds and a darkness that gives the impression of sunlight fading as one dives deeper down, and the overall impression is calm, cerebral and quietly contemplative.
Pichola is blue as far as the eye can see. It presents florals, woods and spices in an exotic and aquatic way, creating a fascinating contrast between warm and cold. There is history and thousands of years of culture in these waters, and the duo of Duchaufour and Vermeire (a coupling that has resulted in six exceptional perfumes) has brought these colours and characters right to the surface. Pichola is beautiful and it bears repeating, over and over again.
Pichola is available in 60ml Eau de Parfum.
Sample, notes, quotes and image via Neela Vermeire Creations. Video via Florence + The Machine.