Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka ~ fragrance review

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…

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Up for grabs: Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur

Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur

What is it: A 55 ml bottle of Neela Vermeire Créations Mohur, plus a sample of the upcoming Mohur extrait.

How do I get it: For a chance to win, leave a comment on the website telling us that you live in the US, Canada or the EU. Also tell us a) your favorite Neela Vermeire Créations fragrance or b) your favorite Bertrand Duchaufour fragrance or c) your favorite rose fragrance. Or go ahead and tell us all three.

Be sure to use the “Post a comment” box; do not reply to another comment…

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Top 10 Fall Fragrances 2012

gourds and a mushroom

I have been known to change my mind. Still, as far as my love of autumnal perfumes goes, it seems I am as constant as the northern star. I kept thinking of fragrances to include in this post and then realizing, blast, I’d already listed them the last time I covered fall favorites for Now Smell This in 2009. A few of the previous ten are my all-time, all-year darlings, but the fall always casts them in a particularly poignant and profound light for me. As October starts, I often think of lines from John Cheever: “and who, after all these centuries, can describe the fineness of an autumn day?” (via The Stories of John Cheever). He gives it a shot anyway:

The clear and searching sweep of sun on the lawns was like a climax of the year’s lights. Leaves were burning somewhere, and the smoke smelled, with all its ammoniac acidity, of beginnings. The boundless blue air was stretched over the zenith like the skin of a drum.

That ammoniac acidity has always given me pause — ammonia is alkaline, isn’t it? — but the sky and the sun and the lawns are all perfectly right. And then, using his characteristic contrast of the ecstatic and the everyday, he deflates that golden description with: “It was the day to canvass for infectious hepatitis.” Well, of course it was! For autumn is not only the season of reflection and melancholy, a time to moon about in cable-knit sweaters through the mists of the dying year. It is also a practical season, a time to make school lunches and Halloween costumes, to bustle along the sidewalks through gusty breezes on charitable errands. As Cheever wrote, beginnings are in the air.

So okay, you say… begin already, please! As I rounded up the usual suspects three years ago, the following list includes some of my favorite newer scents. (Surely my “Best of 2012″ picks will be predictable enough to excuse a spoiler.) There are a few of my old standbys that got missed last time, too…

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