How to smell: Bombay Bling



First impressions: Top notes

Spray your wrist once and quickly smell the top notes. What’s the first feeling that comes to mind? 

In Bombay Bling, the first notes out of the gate are tart green mango and lychee, two favorite fruits of Neela Vermeire, creative director of Neela Vermeire Créations. What follows is a medley of white flowers. Can you isolate any of these notes?

Bombay Bling falls into the “fruity floral” category, and the top notes very much fit the description. Fruit notes might seem like the most natural scents in the world—can’t we all close our eyes and conjure the smell of fresh strawberries, for example?— but in perfumery, because most fruits have no natural oils to extract, they can have the opposite character: unnatural, candied, and synthetic.


Bombay Bling, on the other hand, is notable for the way it captures the essence of exotic fruits and not only makes them feel real but also blends them so well that they become an impressionist olfactory painting that evokes the believable idea of fruit. 

Vermeire says this is a major strength of perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, the nose behind her line: He’s a master blender. Vermeire gave Duchaufour carte blanche to use the best possible materials, too, so you can be sure you’re smelling quality in Bombay Bling.

Now smell your wrist again. Does the scent remind you of anything? A person, a place, or a time? Or is this an entirely new experience? Many people who are new to niche will find Bombay Bling a comfortable introduction to niche. It is not a challenging smell, but it is an uncommon one—especially with that first tart blast of green and the tobacco that will soon follow.

You may notice now that a blend of spices is stepping into the spotlight. The top notes are ceding their place to the middle notes.

Sensations and scenery: Middle notes

When you have worn the perfume for a few minutes, smell your skin again and notice how the scent has changed. Some of the initial rush is gone, and you might detect a slight tobacco note in the background, calmly framing the other notes. Tobacco can take on many different aspects depending on the notes that surround it, and in Bombay Bling, it assumes a sweet, woody, dry character. You also might find some exotic spices—cardamom and a hint of cumin—casting a rich rust hue over the composition.

Bombay Bling is Neela Vermeire’s tribute to modern-day India. If you have been to India, do you recognize any of the flowers or spices that are now dancing off your wrist? If you have not been to India, close your eyes and imagine. Saris of orange and red and purple and green, bracelets moving together over dancing arms. Music pulsing through the humid air to the beat of the dafli and the jingle of the tambourine.

You might smell a number of flowers in the middle of Bombay Bling’s development: rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose, frangipani (which you might know as plumeria), and gardenia are all there. Do you sense individual flowers or just one, blooming floral bouquet?

If you try to isolate a flower, you might have the most success with rose—partly because Neela’s composition includes a strong rose accord and Turkish rose, and partly because the smell of a rose is a scent that most of us know well. If you have less experience with tuberose, frangipani, or gardenia, you might not be able to pick them out of Neela’s enormous floral lineup.

That’s okay—just focus on the rose for now, and use it to paint a picture in your mind. Where are you? In a garden? A party? Someone offers you a handful of petals. The heat from their hand makes the petals moist and the scent of the petals blends with the smell of warm skin.

Integration: Middle and base notes

After an hour or more, you might notice how the joyous, bubbly mood of Bombay Bling has calmed down and the sensual side of the perfume is awakening on your wrist. These are the warm base notes coming to life, and their strength will depend on your own body heat. Bombay Bling features a stable, soft background that is rich, sweet, and maybe a bit salty—almost an idealized impression of the natural smell of skin. Try smelling the crook of your naked elbow, where you did not spray perfume, and then smell your perfumed wrist again. Do you note any parallels?

The end of the composition is its most comforting stage, with woody notes of cedar and sandalwood and a milky—but not cloying—vanilla. Patchouli also makes an appearance, but if your only experience with patchouli is the kitschy, new-age-gift-shop, 1970s version of this precious note, you might not notice when it’s used in balanced, sublime proportions.

As you smell the dry down, think back to that first spray. What has happened since then? If you close your eyes and let the smell of your wrist paint a new picture, where are you now? Has this perfume changed your mood? Does it express a facet of your own personality that was already prominent, or does it coax out something that was hiding deep inside?


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