Coming Home – Review: Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka

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.”

ashokaAshoka 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.

guillaume apollinaire

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59 Responses to Coming Home – Review: Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka

  1. Vanessa says:

    Really looking forward to trying this one! I think – just based on the very appealing reviews – that it will be my favourite too when I catch up with it. Thanks for fattening the lemming with yours!

  2. Ana says:

    You know I want to try this now,don’t you!Very nice review, dear B,one that fits my mood now

  3. Sandra says:

    This sounds sublime and right up my alley. I will look for a sample of this when it is available. Thank you for the lovely review.

  4. brie says:

    Oh goodness, B, I have got to get my hands on this one!!! (and I STILL haven’t tried the other three !!!). (Love the quote as well….will be hanging it on my wall at work! )

  5. The fact that you say that Ashoka is your favorite NV fragrance thus far is amazing since the first three are so incredibly wonderful. I have been patiently waiting to try this, but now…I must have it now!!! Lovely review B!

  6. andreawilko says:

    Oh no you didn’t go an create another lemming for me did you??? It seems that you did, I HAVE to try this one.
    I know what you mean about BB, you do have to be in a happy frame of mind and preferably the sun shining to really enjoy this one to its full potential, I wish every day was a Bombay Bling day. 🙂

  7. Alexandra says:

    Joining the general chorus of : Oh good grief! Neela Vermeire’s launch was my perfume highlight of 2012. I love all three of the scents (imagine – I actually love a mango perfume), and Mohur has become very special for me (and did I read somewhere that she is bringing out an extrait version? HELP!). So this post has made me excited and impatient, it sounds completely beautiful, and I like the idea of a more relaxed vibe. Plus I have never made my mind up about Mimosa as a note, I tend to find it too innocent, but the pairing with leather might change things…

  8. Dear Olfactoria
    That Ashoka is your favourite of the this house’s perfumes is high compliment indeed as they have already set the standard so high!
    I’m now extremely keen to try as The Dandy has above all notes the greatest affinity with leather. I have often wondered whether it was because my family owned a tannery for almost three hundred years.
    Whether personal preference or genetic predisposition my leather fetish has me longing to try this scent.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Olfactoria says:

      I look forward to hearing your impressions of Ashoka once it is released, dear Dandy.
      And you are so right, the standard was already impossibly high and still Neela managed to top it.

  9. lucasai says:

    I’m looking forward to try it when it’s released.

  10. poodle says:

    Like everyone else I can’t wait to try this one. I doubt it will bump Trayee out of the number one spot for me of the NVC perfumes but you never know.

  11. Suzanne says:

    I have a feeling that Ashoka is probably the one that is least suited to my tastes, but still I quite enjoyed reading your review and will try it for that reason alone. I like the idea of a perfume reminding me to be calm and contented; I’m always working in that direction (often missing the boat, but at least trying to catch it), so your review really resonated with me.

  12. ringthing says:

    Ohhh, what a mouth watering review! Like all of us, I too have been looking forward to trying this as I adore the first three. Like Poodle, Trayee is the one that captured my heart, so it will be interesting to add Ashoka to the mix. The list of “must try this” gets longer every day!

  13. Tara says:

    As wonderful as it is to bring out varying aspects of ourselves with perfume, there’s something truly great about finding a fragrance that feels totally like yourself.

    Clearly this a must-try.

  14. I agree that fragrance has a mysterious power that can affect your entire being. I have loved
    getting to know the first three of Neela’s scents. So far my favorite is Mohur, but I love the other two as well. Right now I’m living in a cloud of the original Coco. The parfum was hard to find, but the search was worth it; it’s softer and deeper than the EDP. Thank you for the sensitive review.

  15. Lady Jane Grey says:

    The first three of NV didn’t work on me at all – now this one sounds extremely interesting!
    I’m all for mimosa and leather and lotus (not to mention tonka bean and balsam fir and vetiver!). However, I’m also a bit scared by incense and sandalwood and myrrh.

    Anyway, it’s definitely something to looking forward.

  16. Wow, your favorite of the line? That is saying something! Can’t wait to smell it. I love the trio and looking forward to loving the quartet.

  17. Kafkaesque says:

    I knew you’d love Ashoka! 🙂 It seems very much “you” in my eyes. Plus, it’s very soothing and comforting. Your description of “tenderness” suits it well, I think. It certainly evoked a mother’s comforting embrace to me. I think it’s going to be a huge, HUGE hit.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, Kafka! I’ve read your review only after I’ve written mine, as to keep outside influences to a minimum, and I’m very pleased we had similar ideas about it. A mother’s embrace is a wonderful image for Ashoka.
      Thank you for saying it is very much “me”. 🙂

  18. Kandice says:

    What a beautiful review. If only a perfume could turn us into our best selves – what a miracle that could be for the world! But I’d be willing to take something that just makes me a better person, even for a little while. I have yet to try the other three fragrances, although they are top of my list to sample. While this fragrance sounds beautiful, leather perfumes aren’t my favorite so I would normally shy away from this one. However, your description is so lovely that I might just have to give it a try!

  19. Undina says:

    Even though your review has almost given cirrhosis to at leat a couple dozens of my lemmings (I’m not complaining – just stating the fact) I still think that Bombay Bling will be my first FB from NVC. But we’ll see 🙂

  20. Jordan River says:

    I peeked and saw fig. Bertrand is prolific. This pairing with Neela is very interesting. I still have not recovered from Mohur; swept away and that suprised me as I has thought my journey into rose had peaked with Rose 31. Ashoka sounds like my fig journey will continue past Philosykos. I think I am content but there are more wonders to experience.

  21. Alice says:

    Another very enticing review! I too love leather in fragrances, and this one sounds very appealing, especially the weightless aspec, as leather can be a bit heavy.

  22. Oh dear, dear! I had been convincing myself I could skip Ayoka and now you tell me it is your favorite from the line.
    I’m going bankrupt.

    • Olfactoria says:

      No, dear Caro, you should not skip Ashoka! Even if it turns out not to be for you, it is exceptional enough to warrant having a sample a hand.
      Writing this I realized how hard it is for you to get samples in Argentina. 😦

      • I can always order through the internet, but customs taxes are 50% of the value of the item. Ouch! Sometimes I feel grateful that so many fragrances are difficult to get here. I would be completely broke.

  23. Reblogged this on neelavermeirecreations and commented:
    Ashoka EDP soon to be launched in autumn 2013 reviewed here by Birgit from Olfactoria’s Travels. Enjoy!

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  25. Sandi L says:

    Your last paragraph in this review explains why this perfume is speaking to me so deeply. I can not wait for the release. Beautifully done,

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