I haven't reviewed anything from French niche line Neela Vermeire Créations so far, primarily because I know Neela — in the online sense; we've never met in person. Pichola so caught my fancy that I've been wearing it for weeks, though, and this time I couldn't resist. Do see my disclaimer below.1
Pichola is named for Lake Pichola, and looking over images of the lake and its palace-studded islands is a pleasant way to while away your morning online, if you were in need of one. So like the other perfumes in the Neela Vermeire Créations line, Pichola was inspired by India. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour's composition, like that of his recent Ostara for Penhaligon's, comes with a long list of notes (cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, juniper, magnolia, neroli, clementine, bergamot, orange blossom, rose, tuberose, jasmine, ylang ylang, benzoin, sandalwood, driftwood and vetiver), and I believe Pichola is classified as a floriental, but if you were expecting a heavy, winter-weight spicefest, you couldn't be more wrong. Pichola is the sheerest from the brand so far, and to my nose, the easiest to wear.
Pichola starts out dewy and soft and springlike, and while the lasting power is good, it gets softer and closer to the skin as it develops — it might not make much of an impression dabbed from a little vial.2 The opening is juicy citrus, done in pastels and judiciously spiced (if you lean in close, you will recognize the spices listed in the notes, but none of them jump out at you, and I would not really call Pichola a spicy fragrance other than in the early stages). The floral notes, heaviest on the orange blossom, with the tuberose and jasmine also evident, manage to stay safely in 'dewy and soft' territory — there is nothing heady or indolic here — while simultaneously giving an impression of creamy lushness, lightly sweetened by the ylang. The base is a pale woody musk, maybe more sandalwood-ish than driftwood-ish. It's clean, and indeed Pichola is clean overall, but happily, there is nothing to suggest detergent, and just enough spice lives on through the dry down to keep things interesting.
Verdict: I thought Ostara was gorgeous but too overtly clean for my tastes; Pichola is just plain gorgeous. It would have fit nicely into my recent post on pretty spring florals, and I'll be very surprised if it doesn't make my best of 2015 list. Fans of white florals should certainly try it, but so should anyone who wants a white floral but usually finds them hard to wear. I also expect that some people who have not loved the earlier fragrances from the line will find themselves smitten with Pichola. Still, I'm betting that others will find it too quiet after the first hour, so if that's a concern, do try before you buy. My own buy list functions mostly as a rating system now since I rarely buy anything (all I've bought so far this year is one bar of scented soap), but if I was still in collecting mode, Pichola would make my list.
Neela Vermeire Créations Pichola is available in 60 ml Eau de Parfum, $235. For buying information, see the listing for Neela Vermeire Créations under Perfume Houses.
1. I "met" Neela on MakeupAlley, way back in the early 2000s, and we have talked on the phone a number of times, although not lately. If I didn't like Pichola, I wouldn't review it at all, so in that sense, I think you can say that this isn't a totally objective review, if such a thing indeed exists.
2. Unlike Kevin, I am a light applier (and I often do review fragrances that I've dabbed from a vial), but I wore 6 or 7 sprays of Pichola to test it.