A fuller pyramid, from Luckyscent.com: lotus, rose, water hyacinth, fig leaf, parsley leaf, osmanthus absolute, cassie absolute, iris, incense essence, jasmine sambac, fig milk, geranium, ylang-ylang, fir balsam absolute, myrrh, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla accord, ambre gris, birch, Haitian vetiver, leather, styrax, heliotrope
Ashoka opens on a powdery blend mimosa/cassie and iris, soon overlain by an accord of milky fig sap and incense, lightly sweetened by vanilla. It chugs along in a linear fashion before trailing off into a chalky/woody drydown. (Comparisons to Hermèssence Santal Massoïa are apt.)
Unfortunately, the base notes of chemically sweetened green vetiver and cedar wood are highly reminiscent of those encountered in Arquiste’s Boutonnière No. 7. They were anticlimactic in the context of Arquiste’s gardenia, and I find them equally disappointing and off-putting here. I enjoy Ashoka for the few hours that the fig and incense endure, but find myself wanting to scrub it off in the drydown. Much better on paper or fabric, where the drydown is postponed, than on skin.
Ashoka was one of my favorite releases in 2013 and was in my rotation for early spring this year.
I get sweet, fruity notes (osmanthus?), milky fig, an incense note, a mild plastic-leather note and a floral melange, all well blended and quite concentrated. After an hour or two, a salty sandalwood note slides in to anchor the whole thing, and it dries down as a milky fig / salty sandalwood combo. To me it is suggestive of Santal Massoia, Profumum Eccelso and aspects of its sib, Trayee. Projection is just moderate, but longevity is good.
The opening few minutes really are beautiful. Ashoka approaches my 'too sweet' limit, but stays just this side of the line. Winner!
A common thread to the Neela Vermeire collection (with the exception of Bombay Bling) is a certain luxurious milkiness. If Mohur is the most dreamy rose milk pudding imaginable (no, believe me, you do want to smell like one where Mohur’s concerned), Ashoka extends the natural sappy quality of fig leaves into a pool of lactones. The fleeting opening flourishes of pine needles and leather (in the floral mode of Heeley’s Cuir Pleine Fleur) quickly make way for the main event – a sumptuously milky and pale green fig, a thousand-fold improvement on the gaggle of sharp fig perfumes that followed in the wake of fine, fully realized, first-wave creations like Philosykos. Sandalwood (which also has a creamy aspect) and a touch of ambergris in the base make for a perfectly calming and gentle composition.
It’s a shame that something so beauteous is so quiet, but there you go – that’s another common thread of the Neela Vermeire range. Also, the deep base evolves into a more humdrum woody fig.
The opening is apparently simple, but actually basing on a quite complex texture, a floral-green accord on amber-vanillin, with a bold "yellow flowers" feel, a fruity hint (the fig leaves, I guess) and even a vegetable note, but above all, flowers and green leaves. The base is a mellow, canonic white musks-sandalwood accord, a milky and creamy pillow – if you are familiar with Duchaufour's style, that's quite it. The overall balance is nice, I like the contrast between the creamy base and the pungent, fresh crunchy green notes, with a pleasant silky floral accord halfway these two. It's basically a dense, but not particularly opulent Oriental scent, dangerously tending towards a gourmand territory. It luckily eventually dries and turns towards a more organic-vegetable floral side, always on a soft base, with a nice "vegetable garden" fresh breeze all around and a tasty blend of spices. As minutes pass it gets more and more denser and cozier, the rose emerges better, it all darkens and gets on a rose-vegetable territory, with a slightly more leathery dusty base, delicate but dry and sharp. This is a nice scent which just... wants to be too much (rose, gourmand, floral, green, leather, woody) and ends up in smelling undefined and a bit unstructured – not in a positive way, since it's quite classic and traditional. The drydown is a bit disappointing – and unrelated, solitary, neverending oud debris. Not bad, but... meh.
A great leather/sandalwood floral combination.
Another wonderful fragrance from this brand which grants a privilege to a sumptuous and vaguely old school type of rich and classic sophistication. Another mature and luxurious feminine creation with the sublime Duchaufour's touch. The aroma is realistic, deeply floral, finally kind of powdery/leathery/lactonic and less elevated in comparison with other juices from Neela Vermeire Creations (probably more modern, with a sublime sort of cosmetic vibe and less retracing the glorious classic chypre footsteps). The beginning is dominated by a sort of lacteous figgy welcome soon followed by an indolic articulated floral presence (the osmanthus in particular is well combined with watery flowers, with the milky fig and a touch of musk). There is something rooty in the background (that i feel for a while under the nose probably aroused by rose's stem and vetiver) flanked by a sort of realistic powdery muskiness that is really smooth and floral with an incense/styrax/leather effect that is the master perfumer's touch of class. I can perceive the sandalwood along the trip but just in the background. In this phase you feel also a sort of contrast between the aquatic flowers vibe and the dusty/powdery/leathery richness. The leather (together with the woodsy resins) is the key note of the dry down with its typical smoothness well combined with musk, floral nuances and hints of balsams. I see just vaguely the resemblance with Premier Figuier as Ashoka is clearly less figgy/lacteous/coconutty but more sophisticated, structured and leathery than the L'Artisan Parfumeur's one (while the sandalwood is more prominent as well as i detect a Santal 33 Le Labo's effect due to a sheer sandalwood/resins/leather/floral powder/balsams effect). Over a couple of hours the dry down is all floral notes, leather, aromatic resins and slightly powdery sandalwood under my nose but the aroma is destined to a sort of "cosmetic type" (resins/fig milk/rose's balsam) of sophisticated amalgam so subtle, white (rosey) and modern. Good longevity and medium sillage.
Pros: A concert of balanced combinations.
27th October, 2013 (last edited: 12th February, 2014)
Ashoka opens with a an aromatic green fig leaf supported by hyacinth florals before transitioning quickly to its coconut milk-like fig tree driven heart accord. Joining the fig tree in the heart phase are the remnants of the fig leaf and hyacinth from the open, now joined by ylang-ylang, sweet sandalwood and coniferous green fir balsam rising from the base. During the late dry-down the composition turns highly coniferous, somewhat dark and less sweet as the green fir balsam takes over with the green aspects of the fig tree remaining in support and styrax adding an underlying leathery touch. Projection is average and longevity excellent at well over 12 hours on skin.
Ashoka on first glance is a composition where different aspects of fig are front and center, but it is so much more than that. The open immediately grabs you with its aromatic fig leaf, but it is the slightly aqueous hyacinth supporting floral that gives a perfect watery balance to the aromatics. Quickly thereafter, the fig milk heart accord supported by what appears to be real sandalwood sweetens the fragrance and adds overall depth while fir balsam from the base provides a fine green backbone. The biggest surprise was the late dry-down as the fir balsam really takes over and dominates with just a touch of dry leather for extra depth. There are a lot of hidden complexities within the composition that on each wear reveal a bit more of its secrets; even now they are still revealing themselves. The bottom line is at $260 per 60ml gorgeous bottle Ashoka is far from a "value play," but this stellar Duchaufour composition delivers the goods quality and fragrance-wise earning an outstanding 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5 rating and a very strong recommendation.
Pros: Superb mixture of various aspects of fig, supporting florals over a fir balsam base.
Cons: The price to acquire a bottle is quite dear.
19th October, 2013 (last edited: 13th December, 2013)