INDIA AS INSPIRATION: Neela Vermeire

Neela Vermeire
 

Neela Vermeire started in 2012 her own brand: Neela Vermeire Créations. Before she was a perfume-enthusiast. Recently she launched her new creation: Pichola.

 

What’s your philosophy? 
“Perfume is emotion. It has to touch you. I’m not interested in trends, for us there is much more complexity. I work on several fragrances at the same time and launch one every year. I’m not in a hurry. I’m not a commercial brand, in my perfumes there are depths. So everything you smell is, I hope, something you did not smel before.”

In 2012 you launched three eau de parfums at one time: Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling. Why three? 
“It’s three periods of India, for me they are a very broad generalisations of the history of India. Trayee stands for the ancient spiritual India, it’s a complex scent and has a lot of vetiver, rose, iris and leather a whole gamut of spices. Mohur is inspired by the mogul-era during the British occupation with rose as heart combined with oudh.  Bombay Bling symbols the chaotic modern India, and contains mango and black current.”

These perfumes are like a loveletter to my country. But because I live in France, I wanted to work with old perfumery done in the best style with the national Indian ingredients.”

Bombay Bling is a very funny name! 
“I was looking for a name that translates India right now. It’s tongue in cheek, in a nice way. India has got a lot of bling at the moment. Bomby Bling is loved by a lot of people because it’s a happy fragrance, because of the green mango.”

You just launched a new fragrance, please tell! 
“I just launched Pichola with bergamot and tuberose. You know Ashoka won an award last year in Los Angeles. This gave us the feeling that we can’t rest on our laurels. So on Pichola we worked a year and a half. The idea was strength, with the base note first, which is very difficult to make.  We ‘build’ the architecture of a fragrance ourselves, from scratch.”

 

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All your fragrances are inspired by India, a country with a great legacy in scents. Can you tell something about that? 
“In the sixteenth century Moghuls brought a lot of ideas about perfumes. For them it was rose, sandalwood and oud oil.  Those were the original, natural ingredients, and called attar. Alcohol was not used. Later came jasmine and whatever could be distilled in terms for oils. I grew up with those smells, my first memory is sandalwood that smelled milky and comfortable. If I now smell artificial smells I get allergic reactions. Aroma chemicals give me a headache.

About the attars, you just need one drop of oud on cotton wool and put it behind the ear.”

That’s still common to do? 
“Yes, in rural areas and even in cities, people prefer attar, pure perfumes. Because of the western influences light perfumes with alcohol are becoming more popular.

But historically it was all attars.” 

How are you distributed? 
“Stores find me. I’m selling in 12 countries now. They see it somewhere and contact me, or they discover the brand on a fair. I work with a distributor in Russia and one in Italy.”

How about India?
“Not yet. India is a very difficult market for Indian brands. Indians like logo’s, they love Chanel, Gucci and Armani. The old culture with little stores is disappearing, which is a pity.”   

Finally the Mirror Mirror question: how many times do you look in a mirror? 
“Very little. I put my makeup on. That’s it. I think for me it’s lack of vanity.  I grew up in India in a catholic school, and was not encouraged to be vain.

We all have our standards of beauty, for me the standard is head – heart. That connexion is very important.”

Neela Vermeire Créations is sold at perfume lounge.nl