Travel through India with this evocative osmanthus scent
Green mandarin, cardamom, cinnamon, violet leaf absolute, osmanthus absolute, rose absolute, magnolia, jasmine absolute, iris, violet, cedarwood, sandalwood, oakmoss, patchouli, leather.
An elegant, fruity sharpness opens Rahele by Neela Vermeire. It’s like the chime of an instrument struck, resounding with purity and clarity on a still day, cutting through the noise and hustle and bustle of life to bring a moment of calm and focus. Straight away certain things become evident about the scent. Firstly, that it is exquisitely formulated, no rough edges, only perfect poise and balance, each note burring gently into the next so no seams are visible. Secondly, that this composition oozes effortless elegance. The inspiration behind the scent may be of travellers and their adventures, but the fragrance itself speaks instead of grace, luxury and perhaps even stillness.
In all the Neela Vermeire line, there is a joyfulness, an exuberance to the scents and in Rahele that is most noticeable here at the start of the composition. The fruitiness with which Rahele begins its journey is bright and uplifting. You don’t smell it and immediately think of mandarin, for example, but instead you get a juicy, bright energy which lifts from the skin, flecked with sourness and zing. This is followed by a gentle sense of chalkiness which is reminiscent of the mouth-feel of ripe mango, if not of the actual scent itself. Then, a lusciousness wanders into the fragrance, ripe peaches, apricots; the sort of fleshy fruit which makes poets blush and then pick up their pens.
And finally, whilst you are wondering what wondrous fruit this is, the fragrance does a subtle pirouette and suddenly you aren’t sure it’s a fruit any longer. Perhaps it is a honeyed blossom which is causing this delicate but robust aroma to rise from your skin?
The many facets of osmanthus lead us into the heart of Rahele. Partly fruity, partly floral, even a little spicy, sharp and sweet. It’s one of those ingredients which it is impossible to stick a pin in and say it smells exactly like “that” because it shifts and changes as both the mood, temperature and wearer’s skin affect it. In Rahele the osmanthus is intriguing and welcoming. A fluffy pillow and clean sheets after a day on the road, freshly washed hair, dried in sunshine.
The sophisticated aloofness of iris comes and joins the honeyed, fruity osmanthus in the heart of the fragrance and gives a demure and gentle tone to the fragrance overall. The iris here has that verglas bloom feel about it. To call it “chalky” would be to paint it too roughly. Instead it is refined, finely milled, delicately powdery. Without the osmanthus’ flirtiness it would have perhaps leaned more towards that make-up type scent, but the osmanthus delicately tugs it back towards something which is a little more fun, a little more Neela Vermeire Creations than say a simple lipstick fragrance, for example, although it’s easy to imagine that lovers of those types of scents will find much to admire here too.
If Rahele relates to travel then I would equate it to slow, luxurious travel where there is an excess of time available to spend dawdling over the details. The sort of journey which is itself indeed the point of setting out, rather than the destination. What it actually reminds me of though, however, is the poise, the balance and the innate power of ballet dancers. The way that their movements look so effortless, and yet are born of years of training and refinement.
The base of Rahele turns a little deeper, woodier, but retains that powdery iris elegance, brought out further with a touch of oakmoss. I don’t get much in the way of leather, but there is the barest hint of a sweet, grounding patchouli which whispers through the fragrance here and there.
The success of this fragrance is in the exquisite balance which Duchaufour has built into the composition. It is poised, perfectly harmonious and elegant throughout, a versatile and sophisticated fragrance which would elevate anyone’s confidence to statesperson like levels.
Of the Neela Vermeire collection, Rahele feels like the scent which leans most towards the French perfumery tradition (Neela’s brand blends French perfumery with her Indian heritage) as it is classical and perhaps even nods towards vintage scents in the feel and wear. In fact, Rahele is likely to appeal to lovers of perfumery from the past, as well as those who enjoy powdery or make-up type scents, despite it not really being either of those things itself.
The other stuff
The perfumer for Rahele was Bertrand Duchaufour.
Rahele has a very luxurious tone and character which might make you want to save it for evening events, however, I think this would be perfectly suitable for special day time events too. It is the sort of scent which quietly bolsters confidence and makes you feel like a better, stronger, more adept version of yourself, so wear it whenever you want to feel those qualities.
The longevity of all the fragrances in the Neela Vermeire collection is great, and Rahele is no different. It lasts a good seven or eight hours following application. The projection of the fragrance is also good. With a generous application it goes to perhaps a little further than handshake distance, and it trails very nicely indeed.
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, the magnificent Ashoka and the vivacious Trayee 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.
Rahele is available from the Neela Vermeire web boutique where it is priced at €235 for 60ml of EdP.
Neela very kindly gifted a bottle of this fragrance in friendship, there was no expectation of a review being forthcoming and no strings were attached.
Header image by ha11ok from Pixabay. Images of the product by The Sniff.