A thick blue mist clung to the tall trees like uncarded wool and muffled the predawn calls of the forest birds as they fluttered and fussed themselves to wakefulness. It moved slowly, lazily, like a taffeta silk encased courtesan through the lower wilder gardens making its way up to the chateau of Versailles. With cool fingers it caressed the cream-colored stone and pressed against the wavy glass of the windows. There it condensed into impersonal tears and sensuously slid down the glass to puddle on the windowsill. At one glowing window the little puddles reflected the candlelit room within the palace. A tiny image of the scene within shimmered in the puddle of the only room in the palace where the occupant was awake. The Sun King was up before the Sun.
Louis XIV King of all France was sitting up in bed. Beside him gently mumbling in her sleep was his mistress Madame de Montespan. He paid not a note of attention to her and had completely forgotten to wake her to send her off before the courtiers were to arrive to Rituality wake and dress him. The thing that held him in rapt attention, that had kept him awake since three in the morning was pinched between his thumb and index finger. A 115.16-carat blue diamond. It fascinated him by its uncut beauty. The story of its travels and how Jean-Baptiste Tavernier had brought it and along with it many fabulous tales from the court of Shah Jahan, the Emperor of Mogul India.
He turned the diamond this way and that to see how the light from the candles danced a merry minuet within the stone. The King threw back the bedclothes and slipped into his brocade robe then walked to the window. He held the diamond toward the blue misty imperceptibly brightening eastern sky to study it. He squinted his eyes and tired to pierce the heart of the diamond with his mind.
“Your majesty, this stone is but a pale shard in comparison to the beauty of India.” Louis recalled the voice of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier when the afternoon before he had presented the king for a certain price the priceless stone. “There are colors in India unknown in the west, the music of the court is like nothing you have ever heard. It is like the universe is singing with golden bells and flutes of sandalwood and ivory. The women are unsurpassed in beauty and grace. The cities are vast and teaming with vibrant excitement. In the midst of all of this cacophony of smells and sights and sounds there is the great Taj Mahal. An edifice of such sparkling splendor that I am left with nothing but a melancholy whisper in my heart when I think of it.”
The King smiled to himself and pressed the stone against the windowpane and moved his head toward it as if he were about to look into a spyglass. The world took on a violet blue hue. Cool and calm and of such beauty he wanted to live within the diamond forever.
There he stood his face pressed against the window lost within the magic of the stone.
“You shall my symbol of France, of the enduring monarchy that shall last forever.” He said softly to the stone. “You shall bring glory to my rein and prosperity to my people.”
“And how will I do all of that? I am just a woman.”
The king startled turned to see Madame de Montespan sitting up, her knees drawn up to her chin, arms encircling them. She was sleepy eyed and smiling.
“Indeed, how shall you do all of that my dear.” He put the diamond in his robe pocket and patted the pocket for luck.
“Come now my dear, the courtiers will be here any moment and you must be gone. After all there is my wife to consider.”
“What do you have in your pocket?” she demanded coyly.
“Nothing of consequence.”
“It’s that diamond. Oh, Louie please let me hold it.”
He laughed and walked to the edge of the bed and handed her the diamond. Her eyes danced across the stone in glittering madness captivated by the stone.
“Louis may I have it. Will you give it to me in a necklace or on a pin? Oh please!”
“No… I am the State, and this diamond is, in essence the heart of France. It belongs not to me but to France.”
“Oh! You are hopeless!”
“On the contrary, my dear. I am filled with hope.”
At that moment, the door to the King’s chamber silently opened just as the King leaned down to kiss Madame de Montespan. Three aristocratic heads of the King’s bedchamber peeked in. Eyes widened, the three heads then retreated and very gently closed the door. The royal dressing would have to wait.
Neela Vermeire Creations with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour have over the years since the House was launched created perfumes that are inspired by India but with a French Flair and chic. The new fragrance Rahele (2016) is no exception. Travel is what Rahele means and this fragrance was sparked by three 17th Century French travelers to India. Jean Thévenot, Francois Bernier, and the man responsible for bringing the premier crown jewel of France to King Louis XIV and what became finally the Hope Diamond, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier.
Rahele is a foral woody and earthy fragrance that rises to an interesting level of stylish sophistication. It is bright, pure and ozonic to my nose. It does remind me of travel, that wonderful smell you experience when you first exit an international airport and breath in the air of a strange foreign city. It has a blend of both Western Europe and the Asian sub-continent. It is fluid each time I wear it. Some times I am in Paris and other times I am in Jaipur.
We begin our trip with a bright almost ripe yet on the edge of green mandarin. Cardamom which falls on the spicy side complements the citrus. Then from Ancient markets comes the once rare and precious spice note of cinnamon. I love how this plays against the slightly metallic violet leaf note in the opening.
The midway point of the trip with Rahele is a pure lush Indian garden after the monsoon. A peachy exotic Osmanthis is surrounded by the reddest of rose, a velvet rose in fact and completely devoid of thorns. A fleshy sensual magnolia note hovers above this garden, It is moist and nearly dripping in the heat and there in the heart of this rises up a sweet almost hypnotic jasmine. The kind of jasmine that lifts the senses in the night. The earth below is introduced with purple notes of violet and rooty dry Iris. At this point the flower notes shimmer and move forward and recede in the most interesting way.
When we reach our final destination in the base there is a somber smooth finish of patchouli leaves that are packed in layers of oakmoss, silky aromatic sandalwood and resinous crisp cedar. This nearly finishes the perfume but all is not over. The dominating note here and what constantly rises though out the fragrance is a refined supple leather note. It never over powers the perfume but rather carries the perfume in subtle grace. It seems in the first hour to suddenly die, yet by hour two and beyond it returns to tease and tantalize for many hours to come. It in fact it undulates on the skin. This is pure magic and quite interesting.
Indeed, subtlety is the hallmark of this elegant fragrance. By no means is Rahele ever overpowering or demanding. It is suggestive, intuitive, and lightly sensual. A perfect fragrance for both discerning men of taste and chic women of elegant refinement.
(photo above and below from Fragrantica)