Friday, 21 October 2011

Review: Trayee from Neela Vermeire Créations (2011)

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Neela Vermeire Créations in 2011; fragrance tested on skin.]

It’s a cliché, but like many clichés, it happens to be true: India is a land in which you’re constantly confronted by smells. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that it’s often inspired perfumers to bottle the sensation of being overwhelmed by its spices, woods and flowers. Few have accomplished this task as memorably as Bertrand Duchaufour in Trayee, one of the first releases from the brand new Neela Vermeire Créations line.

Rather than trying to sum up the whole of the country’s diverse culture (which would have been an impossible task) the niche world’s most prolific perfumer has taken his lead from the unmistakable tastes and odours of India’s sweets and desserts. Cue: a delicious, silky condensed milk note (not unlike the lactonic effect in Amaranthine) sprinkled with a well-judged quantity of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Next on the menu is a dose of saffron – simultaneously dry and sugared, as only saffron can be – which reinforces the foodie associations and calls to mind the sheer delight of enjoying a glass of black tea with generous helpings of badam barfi and kaju katli.

Duchaufour is an expert at using green notes and he employs a particularly bitter, zesty one here to cut the sweetness and prevent his work from being pigeonholed as a gourmand scent. Lime goes well with cheesecake; raspberries go well with chocolate; a tiny bit of peel left on a mango rounds off the syrupy heaviness of the flesh. By the same token, the fresher aspect of Trayee’s composition balances its more calorific features, allowing them to become appetising rather than cloying.

But that's not all! Languishing beneath all these delights is a sumptuous jasmine-and-sandalwood accord. It takes place next to the other aspects with remarkable ease, imbuing the whole with an air of sophistication befitting a fragrance inspired by India’s ancient Vedic culture.

In short, this is how Trayee works. It takes the most refined elements of Artisan’s Traversée Du Bosphore and Safran Troublant, lifts them with the openness of Nuit De Tubéreuse, places them on a backdrop of the sexiest facets of Guerlain’s Samsara and creates one of the most compelling releases of 2011, a gorgeous Moghul empress of a scent, replete with courtiers bearing baskets of jasmine petals. My only criticism is that it reminded me that I haven’t had a decent malai kulfi for ages… and that you can’t really get a decent one unless you pay for a plane ticket. Maybe I should start leaving travel brochures where Madame Persolaise will see them...

[The other two fragrances in the range are Mohur and Bombay Bling! For more information, please go to Neela Vermeire Créations.]



  1. Oddly, I'm not getting at all the same vibe from Trayee -- spices, granted, but nothing to remind me of Indian sweets, which must be surely put down to my lack of experience, but also to the richness of the composition. I got into it very much by its smokiness, and it went distinctly balsamic on me, but I've only tested it twice and so I'm sure other facets will come out in further wears.

  2. I love Traversee du Bosphore (though oddly it's identical to Sonia Rykiel for Women on me) and Safran Troublant, Nuit de tubereuse, and samsara, so I think this will be a must-try for me. I just visited the website and the e-boutique is not open yet. Do you know what the sizes/prices will be?

  3. Carmencanada, thanks for writing.

    I've had a re-smell and a re-think in light of your comments, and yes, I think you're right: the difference comes down to the richness. (Okay, if you've never had Indian sweets, that might have something to do with it too, but we'd probably never stop if we started listing our differing olfactory autobiographies.)

    The smoky incense note is part of what provides the 'lift', but for whatever reason, I see it as green. And the base was definitely woodier rather than balsamic on my skin. But then I find sandalwood quite smoky, which brings us full circle. Duchafour has really created a gourmandise feast with this one.

    I understand Vermeire's intention was to convey a Vedic ceremony, so I have no doubt whatsoever that your smoke/balsamic reading is as legitimate as my pre-Christmas-diet-greed reading.

  4. Lauren, I think this is a must-try for anybody.

    I'll try to get some of the info you've asked for.

  5. Lauren, I've heard back from Neela Vermeire, and she's informed me that prices won't be announced until the eBoutique is open. In the meantime, please feel free to email her at

    contact at neelavermeire dot com

  6. Nice review! I enjoyed the privilege of sniffing several iterations of Trayee even before it was named, and have been wearing the finished product for a couple of weeks now, courtesy of my dear friend Neela. It's interesting to hear your impressions of spicy sweets - I certainly get the spiciness, including the dry saffron you mentioned, but the overall vibe is more sacred incense than dessert bar, to my nose. Although, I will grant that the finished product is sweeter than the earlier versions - there was some fear that many people would have found it too dry and sober. In the end, BD used a ridiculous amount of real Mysore sandalwood and also natural oudh, so although it's officially an EDT concentration, I find one spritz lasts a good 12 hours. The drydown is divine - uplifting and grounding all at once, as only a good incense can be.

    As for prices, I understand we'll all have to wait for the e-boutique to open, but I expect it'll be on the expensive side - the juice is soo rich!

  7. Debra, thanks very much indeed for your insights.

    I'm not sure I'd say Trayee is a 'dessert bar', because I think that's a phrase which conjures up images of 'Western-style' sweets that are much more overtly sugar-based than Indian ones. Indian sweets ARE very, very sweet indeed, but they always have all sorts of other interesting flavours in the mix, so that one never has the feeling that one's eating a simplistic, mono-dimensional 'dessert bar'. Does that make sense?

    As for the incense, I can't say it was the most prominent note for me: I just kept 'seeing' the saffron and the sandalwood. But Trayee has so many facets, that I'm sure lots of people will read it differently.


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