Ashoka is Neela Vermeire’s and Bertrand Duchaufour’s fourth creation, presented in Milan and set to be launched in September of this year.
The first three scents of Neela Vermeire Creations are incredibly complex, beautiful and moving portraits of India (see my reviews of Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling!), Ashoka is another India-inspired fragrance, but to me it feels decidedly different than its siblings.
Let’s take a closer look.
Ashoka was created by Bertrand Duchaufour in 2013 and includes note of fig leaf, leather, white lotus, pink lotus, mimose, fig tree, osmanthus, rose, water hyacinth, vetiver, styrax, incense, sandalwood, myrrh, tonka bean and balsam fir.
The perfume is named after Indian Emperor Ashoka, it 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 conqueror 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 opens assertively with a leather accord surrounded by cool spicy-green notes, it softens and warms up quickly and seems to unfold and broaden before me, like a vista slowly opening up as the morning mists recede. I am initially reminded of another Duchaufour creation, Cuir de Nacre for Ann Gerard. Ashoka takes on a different direction though and the similarities are only fleeting. Ashoka has moderate sillage and is extremely long-wearing on me, it accompanies me for a full day.
In the heart of Ashoka I smell a beautiful mimosa note that sweetens and warms the leather and together with other floral notes dominates the fragrance. An undercurrent of vetiver, incense and myrrh float through the perfume like the mists I described above. It is a weightless, floating scent, not sheer, but gauzy and see-through without being airy. This is not the same transparency like say, an Ellena fragrance, but a denser, more involved one. Hard to describe, but unforgettable once experienced.
Ashoka is a perfume that impresses me first and foremost with its tenderness. It is a perfume that takes you gently by the hand and tells you to sit down and take a rest. To relax and come to your senses. Literally come to your senses, enjoy them, see, hear, feel and smell what is around you.
Ashoka is by far my favorite of the Neela Vermeire perfumes, which is saying something, as I spent the last year going through several discovery sets unable to decide for one of them (and happy I didn’t have to). Ashoka makes the decision easy. It has been hard to decide between the other three, because they all fit a certain mood, a certain side of me, that is not always present. I can’t be happy all the time like Bombay Bling! wants to make me, I am not always a queen like Mohur‘s regal rose wants me to be and I am not always up for the incredible complexity and intellectual challenge Trayee offers.
But I know I am always willing to be taken into Ashoka’s gentle embrace. Ashoka is the most “me” of Neela’s perfumes and wearing it feels like coming home. Ashoka makes me feel calm and contented, patient and kind. Letting go of resentments, envy, anger, hatred and sorrow is not easy, I feel Ashoka is the kind of perfume that encourages me to do just that. To let go of the negative and focus on the good in my life. It sounds like a tall order for a mere perfume, but we all know of the power a scent can have over us.
Perfume can be a joyride, it can be adventure, it can be travelling in your mind to faraway places and people long-gone. This perfume is about staying where I am, being myself and most importantly not trying or needing to change that.
At least for now.