Complex, seductive, intellectual. Trayee is the next great perfume you may not have yet smelled.
Madagascan blue ginger, elemi oil, cinnamon bark, ganja effects, blackcurrant absolute, basil, sambac jasmine absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, cardamon absolute, clove, saffron, sandalwood, Javanese and Haitian vetiver, incense, sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber, oud palao, oak moss.
Some fragrances are more difficult than others to convey and translate. Some of them move and change and shift so much that they defy capture by mere words and instead prefer to exist on some perfumed dimension bringing joy and delight to those who smell them. Trayee by Neela Vermeire is one such fragrance, but this is my humble attempt to catch just a glimpse, a fleeting hint, of what this perfume is like but mark my words, do yourself a favour and go and order a sample now. Don’t wait to the end of the review, do it now.
Trayee begins her song with a beautiful, clear tone which is both woody and fruity. It contains both lift and grounding. The woody elements feel almost earthy, the fruity elements feel sun-warmed and ripe. The composition has a burnished, shiny quality which is friendly, but very complex and right from the start it is clear that this is a masterful composition by an accomplished perfumer. Trayee will show you something different each time you smell her. This is a perfume I have worn and tested more times than I can even remember and yet I still find fascination in each wearing. For a long time, I didn’t think I got the “ganja effects” accord, but over the last couple of wearings I have begun to notice a spicy, tobacco-like warmth which, when coupled with the ginger does give that slight hint of someone walking past you exhaling a plume of smoke from their marijuana cigarette. It’s subtle, and although it hasn’t always been noticeable for me, now I have found it, I can really tell that it is there.
It’s apparent from very early on that the blending of this scent is nothing short of sublime. It is so hard to see the joins between ingredients that at times it feels as if it hasn’t changed at all, only for you to remember how it smelled before and realise it has. The perfumer leads us from one part of the composition to the next so gently that we can only sit back and marvel at the changing landscape around us.
To smell Trayee is a transportive experience, but rather than taking me to a specific place that I have a reference for, the place it takes me is imagined. It is a place with history and stories, a place that has been used for hundreds of years, a market perhaps. Wood, warmed in the sunshine, beautiful exotic fruits, and a hint of something cooler and almost salty as if the sea is just out of sight. Wafts of the fresher marine air bathe the marketplace, so it is never too warm or too cool. There is a glow about the scent, this luminescence that makes it feel like somewhere remembered fondly from a visit or perhaps from a dream.
In great perfumes, there is often a sense of texture as well as a narrative arc, and the perfumer has really played with that here. At first there is a sense of the sun – warm but not fiercely hot – bathing the marketplace square. The wooden stands and barrows, laiden with fruit, are highly polished, so that details and the grain of the woods is visible. It is as if they have been lacquered by years of use, until the wood is worn smooth and silky to the touch. But then, alongside that, there is the texture of peach skin, that slightly velvety burr that fingertips trail against and yet again there is a juicy, sweet, sticky texture which is reminiscent of eating a perfectly ripe mango whilst the juice coats your chin and fingers.
Trayee is a fragrance of sensations perhaps, more than smells.
As we go deeper into the heart of the scent, the mango becomes more apparent. It isn’t listed, but that’s the impression I detect. Sweet, juicy, but also slightly seductive. The sort of fruit which only ripens with warmth and sunshine but which seems to capture that vitality in its flesh.
The mango fruity notes are couple with the most vivacious cardamon. Bright, bold, addictive it really rounds and fills the fragrance out, forming a bridge between the spicy elements and the woody elements, but at the same time really complimenting and enhancing the fruitier aspects. There is so much push and pull in Trayee, as it moves a little this way, a little that, repositioning and rebalancing itself all the time.
If I had to choose only one word to sum up the final phases of a wear of Trayee, it would be “joyous”. The whole scent is a note sung at the perfect pitch, it’s a drink of water served at just the right temperature, it’s a day when it is neither too warm nor too cool and you dressed just right. The whole scent is held in this shimmering, crystalline moment of balance. You wait for it to crack, for the individual facets to dissolve and fall apart, but actually it never does. It fades away slowly rather than breaking down. It is a trail of light from a shooting star across the retina, rather than the explosion that created the universe.
In the base a hint of white smoke wafts across the market square, the sun sets and the market is bathed in moonlight brought as the sandalwood makes its presence known. The fragrance becomes cooler, silkier, softer, and the night-blooming flowers give the scene a heady, intoxicating feeling, but they are just brought on the breeze so held at such a nice level in the composition. The evening feels balmy, velvety, and replenishing.
Nothing is perfect, not in life, not in art, and it would be a disservice to Trayee to say that it was, but it is the fragrance equivalent of a Michelangelo, or a da Vinci, or a Vermeer – one of the old masters for sure. It has a depth and a complexity which so many other splendid fragrances can only aspire to. It feels like a scent with stories, and history, and I want to listen to it speak that legacy all day long.
Many scents talk about love, and always romantic love, fetishising that form above all others, but Trayee has a more real sense of something enduring about it. It’s hard to name, hard to capture in both scent and words, but Trayee feels to me like the love of life, the love of laughter, the love of eating a ripe mango and letting the juice coat your chin. Trayee is something special and whilst I may not be able to do it justice, of that specialness I am certain.
The other stuff
Trayee is a fragrance with many different facets, some of which shine better in warm, or even hot, weather. Even if you do wear it in heat though, this is a scent which doesn’t quit easily and which will last all day – around 12 hours following an application. My top tip is to wear this in the summer, on the hottest of hot days when it just shines but doesn’t cloy or overpower. It feels even purer, even more complete with added sunshine and warmth.
Trayee is a fairly well projecting scent, going to handshake distance with a few sprays, but increasing if you tend to go heavier on the trigger. It trails beautifully and is definitely the sort of fragrance you will be catching whifs off all day when you wear it.
The perfumer for Trayee, and for all the Neela Vermeire line, is Bertrand Duchaufour.
Neela Vermeire Creations fuse Indian and French influences to make scents which often have spices as a backbone, but which are undeniably French in sophistication and elegance. The whole line has such character and they are all bold but somehow quite friendly at the same time – no harsh edges or rough joins here which is testament to the skill of this master perfumer. We’ve previously reviewed the beautiful Pichola and the magnificent Ashoka by Neela Vermeire.
The presentation of the brand is exceptional, with beautiful ribbed bottles designed by Pierre Dinand. They feel gorgeous in the hand and have a beautiful, timeless look on shelf or dressing table. The caps are heavy and metal, adding to the sense of luxury and exclusivity. There have been simply no shortcuts taken whatsoever on this fragrance or its presentation.
Trayee is available from the Neela Vermeire web boutique where it is priced at €225 for 60ml EdP.
We were gifted this fragrance by Neela Vermeire herself with no expectation or pressure that we would review. We thank Neela for her kindness.