Inspired by Lake Pichola in the Indian city of Udaipur, Pichola the fragrance is about as far from bog standard aquatic scent as you can get. The fragrance does indeed flow through spices and woods and florals, but it’s never in a contrived or cliched way, the only thing which feels reassuringly familiar about the scent is the elegance it exudes.
Cardamon, cinnamon, saffron, juniper, magnolia, neroli oil, clementine, bergamot, orange blossom absolute, rose absolute, tuberose absolute, jasmine sambac, ylang-ylang, benzoin, sandalwood, driftwood, vetiver.
A spritz of Pichola may leave you wondering where the lake is in this scent, because it really doesn’t smell like one of those overdone aquatic fragrances. There is a tart, zesty freshness from the bergamot which could feel like the thrill of a splash of cold water on a hot day, but that’s about as close as we could come to finding the lake here. The bitter citrus is structured by a scaffolding of neroli which seems to lift the bergamot up in the mix and really allow those citrus zings to shine. These facets are joined by beautifully blended spices, so gently fragrant and so well incorporated that you could almost forget that they were there, were it not for the warm soothing song of cardamon and the savoury strength of saffron.
The mental image we got when we tried the first phase of Pichola was of the stamens of some sort of huge and blousy flower, ripe and fecund at the height of summer, covered in grainy, dusty pollen and heavy with the weight of the blossom’s beauty, flowerhead nodding in the breeze. There is a real ripeness and potency to the start of the fragrance which hangs between too little and too much in the most perfect sweet spot.
Once the fragrance has unfurled properly, the slight rubberiness of tuberose peeps through. It’s used perfectly here, it seems to tame everything, anchor it down whilst flying itself. A roll of jasmine sambac follows, all sultry and summery, and a sweep of ylang-ylang gives a head-rush of sweetness.
The overall character of the fragrance seems layered and tidal, wave after wave of floral, citrus, spice, wood, all washing over the scent in soothing regularity. And maybe this is where the lake is in the fragrance, in that rhythm and echo, like waves kicked up by a breeze lapping on the sandy shore.
A creamy, slower layer gradually begins to appear, a bit like the undercurrent, but rising higher and higher into the blend until it takes over entirely. Before it does so though, a rich and decadent floral crescendo builds, so dense and layered and full of fruity flecks and nuances. It peaks and passes the baton on to the next phase of the scent, gracefully giving way to a fluid and flowing base.
If the heart of the fragrance is the orchestra all playing together, then the base of the scent is the reprisal of the whimsical oboes coming back for one last hurrah. There is a silky creaminess discernible within the more woody notes which are left when the floral and citrus demimonde has retired.
There’s nothing austere about the woody base of Pichola, instead the word that springs to mind is luscious. This feels like the sort of wood that you could spread, thick and rich – a woody peanut butter. It’s the sort of fragrance that would stick to your ribs if it was a food. If it was a painting style it would be a Pre-Raphaelite. It makes you want to throw yourself on silk sheets, louvre doors opened wide to the world on a sunny afternoon, and lie sated and content whilst the sunshine caresses your naked skin. That’s the character that Pichola conveys: feminine, confident, glorious.
The other stuff
The longevity of Pichola is rather good, it lasted well into the afternoon following an early morning application, although at a much reduced level towards the end.
The sillage was moderate, going to about handshake distance or just beyond.
We felt that the gender of the scent leaned a little more towards the stereotypically feminine side.
If you liked this, the creamy sun-tan lotion vibes of Sunsuality by Pierre Guillaume may also appeal to you.
Neela Vermeire was a perfume connoisseur before she ran a brand herself, and this love of the art form shines through in the creations she champions which are rich and multifaceted. The Neela Vermeire brand chimes classical French perfumery with an Eastern heritage to spark a range which is rich in spiced layers but elegant with it. There is none of the stuffiness or old-fashioned-ness that modernist naysayers may expect from the ‘classical French perfumery’ tag. What struck us from the, albeit limited, number of fragrances we have tried from this range is the joyfulness and abundance that they exude. It would be hard to wear a Neela Vermeire creation and not smile, for example.
The fragrances in the collection of Neela Vermeire are formulated by the renowned (and prolific) perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour.
Pichola is available from the Neela Vermeire e-boutique where it is priced at €205 for 60ml EdP.
We received a free, no-strings-attached sample of Pichola when we visited Jovoy Mayfair in London a short while ago, however, this product now appears to be no longer listed as available there.