Interviews Olfactory Pearl Rahele: A New Journey by Neela Vermeire

Olfactory Pearl Rahele: A New Journey by Neela Vermeire

10/03/16 12:29:56 (2 comments)

by: Sergey Borisov


Neela Vermeire, art-director of Neela Vermeire Creations.

We waited and longed for a long time, and a miracle happened! After revealing that the next chapter of Neela Vermeire Creations's fragrant saga will be “something completely different” – Neela herself opened up the first page at the Pitti Fragranze event in September 2016 in Florence. And the new perfume is not about India – well, actually, it’s about historical links between France and India! The link, the bridge, the connection, the travel there and back again.

The new fragrance is called Rahele, and this word means “traveler” in Persian. This fragrance is like an endless captivating song about the long journey to exotic countries and back again. Rahele is dedicated to the legendary French travelers of the XVIIth century, who visited the Great Mughal Empire – Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, François Bernier and Jean Thevenot. A jeweler, a doctor, and a linguist / botanist – who all three became writers and described the exotic life, customs and social relations of India in their books so perfectly.

SERGEY: Dear Neela, please tell me, why did you choose Osmanthus as the main theme for this fragrance of India – France travelling?

NEELA: People know Osmanthus as an Asian flower and it also grows in Northern India. Osmanthus is used to protect clothes, just like patchouli leaves were used – hence the flowers were put inside clothes chests. So dried osmanthus flowers may have been little travellers as well, and they reached France permeating the smell of clothes.

It is not only Osmanthus flower absolute that forms the main theme for Rahele. If you wait long enough, eventually you will find certain perfume ingredients that are the link to classical French perfumery. For instance, there’s a permitted amount of Oakmoss Absolute in it. There are a lot of different ingredients from the East and West in the fragrance.

I love the smell of Osmanthus, and you could smell this note in Ashoka as well, even though it is not the main heart note there.

SERGEY Did you work with Bertrand Duchaufour again? His style is so recognizable here…

NEELA: Yes, I did. And it was very long journey to the final result. As you know, every Neela Vermeire Creations perfume took us at least a couple of years – and we worked over two years to create this new one, Rahele. It was a long journey for the creative process, from the first trial to the last one, and we finalised on number 242, to be precise, so we indeed moved slowly to this result. It took time to find the right balance between East and West, and between all the ingredients of Rahele. And I am very happy that we worked with Bertrand, as he is very precise in his work. Some people like diffusive, loud fragrances, but I like perfumes that are close to my skin – and Rahele is a skin fragrance.

SERGEY: Really? Your previous perfumes – Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling! – have very good projection, they were lasting and with great trails…

NEELA: Well, maybe that proves that it’s all about skin chemistry – on me all the NVC perfumes remain fairly close to the skin. They were created this way intentionally, I like it when my perfumes are not very loud.

SERGEY: Could you tell me what did you do to escape The Indian Cliché about your brand?

NEELA: First of all, my perfume house is named Neela Vermeire Creations, Parfums Paris since it’s based in Paris. Bertrand Duchaufour is a French perfumer, and he works in the style of French perfumery. We use an European style of “architecture” for all the NVC perfumes. When we created the perfumes, I was the one thinking of the history and came up with all the ideas for the relevant naturals while discussing and working with Bertrand – and he selected the aroma chemical ingredients to fit them all, using his own perfumery and travel experience. So far – all the NVC perfumes were stories about Indian history or historical figures or a places, but now we are changing the direction, and Rahele is our first bridge to an East-West perfume.

Speaking about myself, I have lived most of my life outside of India, mainly in Europe and the UK, and in my early twenties I studied in the USA. I would recommend that you smell Rahele carefully, and you’ll find some very European ideas and ingredients in it. I would even say – some “retro” ideas in a modern composition. 

SERGEY: The bottles and the design will be the same as the previous ones?

NEELA: Well, almost, yes, and as it’s the next chapter, it will be the transitional part – so there maybe some new details in the external design. It is a new direction for us. Now we are previewing the perfume and we'll be launching the fragrance in the next few months.  


I experience the perfume as a smooth and sleek object; if I would be forced to express it with a jewel, it would never be a diamond or any other cut stone. I’d rather compare Rahele with a pale cabochon, or even with a rose pearl that is filled with dimmed shimmering light. And in order to discover this gem, I had to overcome some of my own likings and habits.

For example, the initial orange-balsamic sweetness which is too feminine for my taste. Or the combination of peach jam, powder and some bright green – for my nose, together they don't work, turning into an artificial flower with a wet-powdery smell (neither Peony, nor Mallow). And this initial part, while being sort of a French dessert, in my experience became a hard shell that hides a pearl.

Because then, even though not suddenly, Rahele becomes the grand pink pearl in the heart. The soft, feminine and beautifully tender fragrance of ideal forms and proportions was created with thoughts of both festive balls and comfortable  parties with friends at home as well. I would say that Neela Vermeire created Rahele in the spirit of the classic Caron and Guerlain fragrances, but it is better and closer to true history than Caron and Guerlain currently are offering. And I believe that Rahele in Extrait form will be even better, as it happened with her wonderful Mohur Extrait.

The powdery bouquet of rose, jasmine and violet in the classic proportions (I recalled Joy Jean Patou, but not by its size and attitude), with osmanthus as innovation, will not be an absolute revelation for those who at one time have become acquainted with Chypre Palatin and La Belle Hélène, created by Bertrand for Parfums MDCI. But if you try and enjoy Rahele – I’d suggest you to go a couple of steps back and find out why we love Bertrand Duchafour and his complex perfumes. And if you love those MDCIs - then Rahele will probably end up on your wish list for this year.

There are new twists to discover closer to the drydown – beneath a lightly sweet powder one could find cedar wood under a thick benzoin lacquer, labdanum darkness, thick honey, moss-covered oakwood and thin vetiver roots – to the joy of all chypre fans and vintage perfume lovers! And a very humble residual sweetness – the comfort of silence and almond meringue.

Rahele is truly an East meets West composition, centred around Osmanthus - melding the woods and spices of India with herbal and floral essences of classical French perfumery.

Like the fabled French Blue*, Rahele mesmerizes. Its sparkling facets reveal a delightful journey...


* the Blue Diamond of the French Crown.

Sergey Borisov has been involved in perfumery since the early 90`s when he had his own perfume-devoted program “Close to Body” on Krasnoyarsk radio (1993). As a perfume enthusiast (known as moon_fish), he became famous in Russia for his translation of  Luca Turin's Perfume: Le Guide. He collaborated with GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Interview, Forbes, Allure, Robb Report, Flacon, Departure, RBC-Style, TSUM-Magazine (2008-2016). His own online columns for,, and (2006-2015) have earned him international recognition and an invitation to be an editor for the Russian edition of “The Little Book of Perfumes” by Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez.  In 2013, Sergey joined the Fragrantica team

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I also love Rahele on my skin but much more on Elena's skin. It is very tender and intellectual as Sergey said. I like opening but what is really nice about this fragrance is actually very beautiful and changing development that settles down to a lovely fragrance that creates aura and do not bother you with it's presence like some fragrances can do. I believe this fragrance also might have good commercial potential. It is very artistic fragrance no question about it but sometimes perfume creators in their wish to fulfill some vision go too far and when you try that fragrance if you are acquainted with the brief or fragrance name is very descriptive you may agree ah yes this is really it but you would never wear it. That might be a problem with some fragrances they deliver story very well but they are not wearable. Contrary Rahele is very wearable and pleasing fragrance. I would call it unisex and gladly wear it.


I did not get it while smelling at the exhibition, it was too quite and calm to smell it over tons of strong fragrances. I agree with Serguey about a new chapter and a new direction in Neela's work. Nothing oriental in it.

It is a perfect fit for fall. On my skin it is not floral, but a beautiful chypre with a sparkle of citrus and a very pronounced leathery nuance, oak moss and patchouli. It makes it very suitable for men too.

Intellectual, nostalgic, calm and refreshing. But when you smell osmanthus based fragrances, you have to know about it, otherwise you might not do it justice ;o)


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