One weekend after buying lottery tickets the husband and I were fantasizing about what we would do with the money we were sure to win (it was one of those hundreds of million dollar draws that we couldn't resist trying our luck). There's the real estate somewhere between Lazio and Tuscany, the little house in Santa Monica, a cat shelter or two. And then there's the perfume line: small, well-curated and commissioned from a our favorite perfumers. Why, of course.
Neela Vermeire already achieved a similar dream (no, not the lottery thing) when she transitioned from practicing law to founding a perfume house. She partnered with super-nose Bertrand Duchaufour and launched three perfumes based on her memories from her native India and her knowledge of the culture and history of that magical land.
According to Professor Wikipedia,
"The word 'Mohur' or 'Mohor' is derived from Sanskrit word 'Mudra' which means 'symbol', 'seal', as also 'ring'Neela Vermeire's Mohur is a tribute to the most powerful empress of the Mughal dynasty, Noor Jahan (1577–1645) who minted her own coins. After her husband's death, Noor Jahan devoted some of her life to the making of perfume, particularly using falanja, an art form her mother had passed down.
...A Mohur is a gold coin that was formerly minted by several governments including British India (including the Princely States) and the Moghul Empire..."
Mohur is also meant to evoke the much later era of the British Raj, the one often romanticized in books and movies, probably because of the juxtaposed images of Victorian and Edwardian men and women against the exotic locales of India. Long lacy dresses, leather steam trunks, high tea, polo matches-- surrounded by the vibrant colors and spices. It's already proven irresistible.
Mohur is a spicy rose perfume, with so much more going on that it amazes me that it's actually contained in the bottle. I smell the cardamom and coriander right away and they take the rose and paint it orange and fuchsia. The rose is also infused with some well-behaved oud and quite a bit of smooth well-worn leather, keeping it from making a gender statement. This is such a round, kaleidoscopic note and image you get the impression of going on a trip and perhaps traveling in time. Just close your eyes and you're there.
Mohur also has a very seductive gourmand facet. I love Indian desserts-- the puddings and sweets-- rice steamed in milk, a carrot confection decorated with blanched almonds, vanilla ice cream infused with rosewater. I find it all in Mohur and feel like I'm getting drunk on the milkiness and spice. It's that good.
Notes: cardamom, coriander, ambrette, carrot, black pepper, elemi, rose, jasmine, orris, aubepin flower, almond milk, violet, leather, sandalwood, amber, white woods, patchouli, oudh, benzoin, vanilla and tonka bean.
More reviews by Ines and Birgit.
Neela Vermeire Creations- Mohur ($250, 55 ml) is available from Luckyscent, but even better, you can do what my husband did when he was looking to buy me an unusual Valentine's Day gift. He ordered the discovery set, 10 ml of all three Neela Vermeire perfumes (90 euro) directly from the perfumer's website, neelavermeire.com (samples also available).
Art: An illustrations for The Raj Quartet by Finn Campbell-Notman for the Folio Society edition.