“India for the Indian’s” she purred as she stretched and turned on the silk pillow in her perch under the columns of the pavilion of the City Palace. Shaded from the hot sun she surveyed her kingdom with glittering green eyes. As far as those exotic impenetrable eyes could see out across the lake and into the hills around Udaipur she knew that with the British leaving at last her people were free.
She sighed with pleasure as she took a sip of honey milk, her favorite drink. Let everyone else drink Chai or Champagne this little Maharani when you got right down to it preferred the simple pleasures of life. Her palace on the lake. Soft silk pillows to lie upon, her diamond choker and the loving attention of her servant. She must be the only Maharani in all of India who had a little British maid. Now that was something. Of course after independence she would have to send her back to London. It would be hard to say goodbye to the one who had waited on her hand and foot, who brought her all her meals and showered her with so much attention. Sometimes even when she just wanted to be alone there she was…demanding to take care of her. Well it would have to be done hard as it would be. Goodbye to all things British and hello to a new world. Yes 1947 was going to be the best year yet.
Something caught the corner of her eye, someone was coming. She was in no mood to see anyone. She would simply pretend they were less than a mouse an ignore them.
Ah India, her beautiful land, it was now hers to rule, well anyway this part of it called Rajasthan where she had been born. “India for the Indians.” How wonderful that sounded. The British Raj was at an end at long last too. Since Alexander two thousand years ago and even before him many had swept into India and tried to claim it as their own. Bit in fact, she swatted at a tiresome bee buzzing past her ear on its way to the tuberoses in the garden. What was she thinking? Ah yes…but in fact India was unconquerable. No matter how long the invader stayed India remained in its soul its very own. It remained always India, the jewel in its own crown. It would absorb and slowly change those who tried to take it and they eventually and inevitably became part of her or as in the case of the Greeks and the British they would leave…India for the Indians.
The approaching quickening steps grew louder. “Little Maharani where are you?” She ignored that shrill clipped voice and closed her eyes to mere slits of green and turned to look out over Lake Pichola. Another lazy regal sigh. She rolled on the pillows and stretched again in the all-encompassing heat. The rains would come soon. She loved the Monsoon and how it made the lake sing like thousands of bells when the water fell from the heavy clouds onto its silver surface. Then when the rains finally ceased the flowers would come back with the heat to perfume her palace on the edge of the lake. Pichola was really most beautiful in spring, when the orange blossoms burst the air with their glory. In the night the jasmine filled the warm breeze off the lake to enchant her. Summer roses enticed her in the mornings and magnolias heavy in the trees smiled down on her, the beautiful little Maharani of Rajasthan. She would never leave this place that smelled of cinnamon, sandalwood and saffron in the summer. And in the autumn could only be described as heaven on earth. The place where the gods touched earth and found the land to be divine. She would never leave her beloved India.
“There you are Little Maharani!” Her servant’s hands reached down to pluck her rudely from her silky soft pillows of peace. “You are the silliest cat in all of India. I had a devil of a time finding you. Now come along or we shall miss our train. You are going to love London!” Mary Elizabeth Thurber hugged her cat tightly as she turn on her heel to see her parents waiting at the end of the terrace looking tired and a little sad.
Little Maharani’s eyes widened in horror as she was carried away from the pavilion to the waiting boat below. The first leg of her journey into exile.
Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations just released in March of 2015 is a lush fleurs blanches rush of romanticism as well as a homage to the beautiful lake in Rajasthan for which it is named. It is a splendid perfume that I find to be intoxicating and perhaps the most beautiful perfume yet from the impeccably brilliant house of Vermeire. It is a fragrance of love, and spring beginning, it is a wedding fragrance that promises a honeymoon of carnal delights that with a holy blessing may never end. It is glorious.
The nose behind this creation of Neela’s is the wonderful Bertrand Duchaufour who is responsible for the entire canon of the house. A brilliant nose who has created many modern masterworks for L’Artisan Parfumeur, Dior, Acqua di Parma, Aedes de Venustas …the list is longer than the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The idea for this house is to blend and marry two worlds. The exotic rich beauty and history of India with the equally rich tradition of classical French perfumes. We are not disappointed in the least by this attempt to bring the two worlds together. Bertrand Duchaufour once again has met the challenge and succeeded brilliantly.
As an oriental floral Pichola sings in accords of spices and white florals, of woods and the aromatic splendors of the East. It is undulating and sensuous. A sublime seduction of the senses.
It opens with notes of spices and citrus, bergamot, clementine, neroli oil, sparkle like early morning sun on the lake…the magnolia smooths and sooths the citric notes down and lays its fleshy white carpet over them to make way for the spices of saffron, cardamom, cinnamon with a twist of juniper that are spilled like jewels before a monarch on unfurled bolts of red, purple and gold silk.
The middle notes take us to the heart of this perfume, the palace where passion dwells on her throne of love. Orange blossom absolute, Rose absolute, Tuberose absolute come in waves designed to weave into a marriage made in heaven with yellow blossomed ylang-ylang and a slyly beautiful midnight Jasmine Sambac. It shimmers on the skin more beautifully than gold dust in the light of a full moon.
This is all supported by a fine if not in fact very glamourous dry down of vetiver, benzoin absolute, bone dry driftwood and a creamed almost caramelized sandalwood. A brilliant armature of notes that is almost architectural, an armature if you will from which all that came before it hangs in perfect harmonious balance. But the notes do much more than hang from this support, they dance.
The longevity of this perfume is epic but never overwhelming. The silage is full and lush and you will be noticed. This is a perfume for both sexes but keep in mind that this sexy perfume demands a bold personality to wear it well. Pichola embodies all the glamour and youth, the romance and beauty, the fluttery butterflies one feels with the realization that you are falling in love with India though the eyes of Paris. This is no shrinking wall flower…this is the belle of the ball at the dawn of a new Belle Epoch in perfume.