Niral is the newest fragrance from Neela Vermeire Créations,1 a Paris-based niche house offering "French contemporary classic perfumes with an Eastern heritage." Each fragrance from this line tells a cross-cultural tale, and Niral is inspired by British silk expert and industrialist Sir Thomas Wardle and "his immense contribution to the promotion of Indian wild silk trade from Bengal and Kashmir to Europe," particularly his innovations in dyeing tussar silk.
Niral was developed by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour and it includes notes of iris, tea, pink pepper, rose, green wine lees,2 cabreuva, angelica seed, ambrette seed, cardamom, leather, magnolia, jasmine, sandalwood and cedar. Its name comes from a Hindu word meaning "unique, calm, serene," and it does feel serene, in a very elegant way.
Years and years ago, when I first started reading conversations and posting reviews on MakeupAlley, I was intrigued by the sensory associations my fellow aromaphiles were making between various fragrances and types of music, times of day, or fabrics. Neela Vermeire's analogy of tussar silk for Niral seems apt — not only because of tussar's history, but also because Niral easily evokes rich jewel tones with a shifting metallic sheen.
As an overall composition, Niral doesn't bother with light or airy top notes. Instead, it starts right off as a smooth and subtly root-y iris scent. If you're an iris-lover, you'll want to try it for this reason; but there's still more to love, like the surrounding accords that make me imagine red wine and Darjeeling tea, and a spicy, moody rose in Niral's heart. There's also an aldehydic effect that "lifts" everything a bit.
Niral is so gracefully constructed that its base is hard for me to pick apart; I can't really isolate the leather or cedar, for example. What I do notice is a creamy sandalwood entwined with something resinous (elemi?) — there aren't any incense or resin notes in the "official" list, but incense is something of a Duchaufour "signature" and I'm noticing it here. It's a quietly magical base.
On my skin, Niral has moderate sillage and excellent staying power, yet despite its complexity and depth it never feels heavy. I can imagine wearing it most of the year, with a break for the summer months. Niral and Mohur are now my favorites from this house; they have different moods (Mohur feels more festive, more lavish, where Niral is poised and gracious), but both are Perfumes with a capital P, and both are beautiful.
Neela Vermeire Créations Niral is available as 60 ml Eau de Parfum ($250). For purchasing information, see the listing for Neela Vermeire Créations under Perfume Houses.
1. For full disclosure: Neela and I were both regulars at MakeupAlley back in the early 2000s and we finally met in person at a fragrance event when she was first launching her line. As usual, however, I wouldn't bother to review this fragrance if it didn't truly appeal to me and/or give me something to think about.
2. I don't know anything about wine, but according to Wine Spectator, "Fine lees, the dead yeast cells leftover from fermentation, can enhance an aging wine with added richness, flavor and aroma complexity."
Note: top image is Edging, piece ("Edging, piece, two pieces joined, fine cream silk embroidered in silk, geometric and stylised floral border patterns in blues and tan colours, some gold thread" / "Unknown date; Victorian-Contemporary Age-European and British-art and design period; 1880s") [cropped] from Elizabeth Wardle; Thomas Wardle; The Leek Embroidery Society; Hencroft Dye Works via Wikimedia Commons.