Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Twenty Blotters For... Neela Vermeire

Pick a blotter... read the question... give a short, snappy answer!

Although her eponymous brand has been around for a relatively brief time, Neela Vermeire has already managed to convince scent lovers worldwide of her commitment to high-quality perfumery. Her four compositions, Trayee, Mohur, Bombay Bling and Ashoka (all put together by Bertrand Duchaufour) speak volumes about her passion for fragrance and her love of rich, textured raw materials. I was fortunate enough to have a brief meeting with her in Paris a little while ago, during which I asked if she'd mind being accosted by my Twenty Blotters. I'm pleased to report that she said Yes...

In the beginning

At what age did you realise that you would enter the perfume industry?

You want age! I'll be very honest with you. As you know, I started pretty late, so I would say mid 30s.

Can you remember who introduced you to perfume?

My mother.

What are some of your most memorable smell-related childhood experiences?

Temples. Home. A lot sandalwood and jasmine and other fresh flowers. And spices of course.

Who were your role models when you were growing up?

Tough. There were many. Mother Theresa, because I worked with her when I was young. She was a nun at my former school, but then she left to create her own order. And then of course, Indira Gandhi. I admire women who have achieved something great.

What would you do to improve the way young children are educated about smell?

Very interesting question. I guess, make them appreciate from a young age and get them to understand different types of fragrance notes. It's like art, music, food. By being exposed to different things, a child can learn to appreciate different types of smell and trust their nose.

Complete the following sentences

One of my favourite smells in the world is... the smell of freshly prepared sandalwood paste.

Modern perfumery is... fascinating.

One perfume which I particularly admire is... Chanel's Bois Des Iles extrait.

When I walk into the perfume section of a department store I feel... overwhelmed and underwhelmed.

The perfume industry needs to... stop creating so many perfumes every year, year upon year.

Which of these do you prefer?

The past or the future?

I don't like dwelling on the past, nor planning too far ahead, so I must say that I like the present.

Main course or dessert?

Main course, as I don't have a sweet tooth.

London or Paris?

Paris. Paris is always a good idea.

Mozart or Madonna?

Mozart. However, I also admire Madonna very much. Look at what she has achieved in the music industry. All through very hard work.

An early start or a late night?

I think an early start.

And finally...

What's the best thing the Internet has done for the perfume industry?

Social media. Spreading the word. Fantastic blogs.

What's the worst thing the Internet has done for the perfume industry?

Cannot say, but perhaps the discounting and counterfeiting.

Are IFRA and regulations harming perfumery?

I think they're just giving guidelines. Okay, they have certain materials which you can't use for toxicology reasons. But I think it's a guideline. No-one wants to harm the customer. If applied strictly, though, they may harm the industry long-term by pushing out smaller innovative brands who cannot afford to pay for a whole compliance department.

Does the term 'niche perfumery' have any meaning?

Tough these days, because 'niche' is a little overcrowded and over-used. There are some brands that are using it to promote themselves. The word 'niche' doesn't really mean anything to me these days.

What would you say to someone who doesn't consider perfumery to be an art?

They haven't smelt very good perfumes or don’t realize the amount of creative genius that goes into the bottle.



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