In my post about MDCI I yesterday I mentioned that niche firms, guided by the Unseen Hand of market forces, may end up repopulating a vast empty space abandoned by most mainstream outfits, the Land of Nice Fragrance. Neela Vermeire is a perfect illustration of this. I have always thought of her as the Douanier Rousseau of perfume, composing an imagined Subcontinent refracted through French eyes, a sort of contemporary Indes Galantes. Rousseau was an accomplished conventional painter who decided to do naïf paintings because there was more poetry in that direction than in painting Impressionist Paris rooftops. Neela Vermeire’s perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour follows the fantasy-tropical brief perfectly, raiding the spice cupboard and the tropical hothouse and mixing food and flowers in equal parts. All five of his compositions are satisfyingly complex and perfectly polished. They manage that rare thing, a house style without being samey. In my opinion civilised niche outfits that do not raise their voices, like Neela Vermeire and Ormonde Jayne, suffer from the difficulty of being heard in the bacchanalia that is current niche perfumery. They can appear a bit dowdy simply because they do not walk around wielding an olfactory pickaxe. But take the samples home, smell them in the morning when your nose is still open to all suggestions, and you may decide that good manners make a better long-term consort.
Categories: niche houses