Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour talks about the Explosions d’Emotions collection from L’Artisan Parfumeur.
Brief reviews of two 2013 fragrances: Penhaligon’s Vaara and Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau.
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Penhaligon’s new Vaara has a great backstory: it was a private commission by His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II for his granddaughter Vaara. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour reportedly traveled through India looking for the perfect ingredients “to create a scent fit for royalty”. Of course, he’s already done much the same — albeit probably without leaving home — for the four India-inspired fragrances he created for Neela Vermeire Créations (Trayee, Mohur, Bombay Bling and Ashoka), but Vaara stays squarely in what I think of as Penhaligon’s territory…
Though based in Paris, Neela Vermeire Créations’ perfumes are inspired by India: the Vedic period (Trayee), the British Raj/Mughal Empire (Mohur) and modern India (Bombay Bling). With its new fragrance, Ashoka, we’re promised a glimpse of Buddhist India. (It’s funny that Mauryan Buddhist emperor Ashoka, as an older man at least, would have probably been dismissive of those earlier perfume ideas: he rejected sacrifices of animals and what he deemed the “empty” rituals encouraged by the Vedas; he would have fought both domination by outside forces — the Brits — and blind faith in “tradition”; and he certainly would have shown disdain for the “foolish” antics, the flash and cash, of Bollywood.)
In honoring (or channeling) Emperor Ashoka,1 Neela Vermeire Créations, utilizing the talents of perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, has incorporated many standard Buddhist elements in its Ashoka perfume: a temple (sandalwood, incense, styrax), the symbol of purity rising from the muck (pink lotus, white lotus), and fig (a tree under which Buddha meditated and reached enlightenment).2
Ashoka begins on my skin with a striking sandalwood note…