Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Bombay Bling eau de parfum from Neela Vermeire Creations has notes of mango, lychee, black currant, cardamom, cumin, cistus, Turkish rose, jasmine samba, ylang-ylang, tuberose, plumeria, gardenia, patchouli, tobacco, sandalwood, cedar and vanilla. It can be purchased from Neela Vermeire’s website as well as from, where a 55-ml bottle is currently priced at $250.

Photo from Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice is from
Bottle image is from

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When I first met my husband, he was a graduate student in the physics department at Penn State University, and while that association might smack of The Big Bang Theory and lead you to imagine a nerdy courtship between us, for me it was quite exciting because of the international flavor of our lives at that time. I mean this literally, for quite often we were invited to dinner at the house of his fellow classmates and, later, his work colleagues, which in the scientific community meant that we were often invited into the homes of people who were newly arrived from China, Russia and East India. At first we were always the guests, as neither of us lived in a place that made it easy for us to host a dinner ourselves, but within a couple years we had bought a house together and decided it was time to entertain those who had entertained us. Because we both loved ethnic food, it never occurred to us to make American-style meals for our guests—instead, we would spend hours poring over cookbooks, attempting to come up with the perfect menu to match their respective home countries, and though the meals we prepared from these menus were far from perfect, our guests were usually pleased (or at least genuinely amused) by the effort.

One meal, in particular, stands out in my memory for two reasons—the first being that on the most sweltering day of summer, before we had air conditioning, we decided to make a slow-cooking, complicated dish called “lamb korma” for a handsome young man named Amulya, whose wife had once given us cooking lessons and who was now going through a divorce—and the second reason being that this was the night I fell in love with mangoes, a fruit which up until then I’d been sorely disappointed in, never having found any charm in the ones sold at the grocery store. When I say I fell in love with mangoes, I mean it—they are today my absolute favorite fruit, and when I can find ripe ones, they’re the only thing I long to eat—but I think they hold a special place in my heart not only on account of their honeyed-sweetness, but because of their association to that period in my life that seemed so glistening and new. It didn’t matter to me that our house in those days before it was renovated had a kitchen so small that two people could hardly work in it without knocking elbows—and it didn’t matter that it was so hot and humid in our little kitchen that by the time the meal was done my face was an oil slick and my normally poker-straight hair had gone damp and wavy in places. I felt beautiful in that moment—in the company of two fine men, the smell of spices that were still relatively foreign to me at the time, and the kind of intimate conversation that gets served up on a warm summer evening when good food and beer is involved.

We remained close with Amulya for several years, until he remarried and moved away, and when we went to dinner at his house were always treated to engrossing talks not only with him, but with his widowed father, who had once been an ambassador for the United Nations—and treated, too, to the liveliness of Amulya’s young son, who used to gather me bouquets of white clover and dandelions plucked from the lawn and who insisted on sitting on my lap all through dinner, probably because he was missing his mother during those stays, though his mom lived close by too. Crispy papadums and corn-on-the-cob cooked the Indian way, right up against the flame of the gas stove until it was lightly charred on the outside, is what I remember most from those dinners—but the happiness of those times began with the gift of mangoes that he brought to our house that first night. Juicy, sweet, complex in aroma and intense in flavor and color, the mangoes that Amulya brought from the Indian grocery store riveted me; next to a ripe mango, most Western fruit seems tame, or worse—downright boring and even a bit stingy. Though mangoes are eaten in many tropical places across the globe, in my mind mangoes are the perfect match to the East Indians I have come to know—to a culture that is engaging and vibrant and hands-on passionate, not given to small-talk and superficiality.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a review for Sniffapalooza Magazine on a mango perfume from the Jacomo Paris “Art Collection” fragrances. I had been given a bunch of samples from my editor from a number of perfume houses, and the one I most wanted to write about was Jacomo #09, the mango one. I still find Jacomo #09 quite pretty and very natural smelling—it is a sheer, floaty representation of mango, more representative of the slightly soapy scent of an uncut mango than of the exposed fruit—and I wouldn’t mind owning a bottle. But because I tend to favor perfumes that are more saturated than delicate, I am even more smitten with the mango-fronted Bombay Bling eau de parfum from the fragrance house of Neela Vermeire. Composed by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Bombay Bling is a scent perfectly matched to its name—there is nothing passive or subtle about it—it is effusive and intoxicating, featuring a mango note that smells fruity and ripe, almost to the point of fermentation. You won’t ever mistake Bombay Bling for an overly sweet cocktail, however—its emphasis is not only on mango, this is a scent with all of the complexity of a true perfume—but because it opens with such an uplifting combination of mango and cardamom, it’s hard not to smile when wearing it. The opening, especially, is the kind of thing to make a wearer feel tipsy: it has the pinecone-meets-apricot-nectar smell of true mango (a smell that is liqueur-like on its own) and which enjoys further lift and more realism thanks to cardamom, a note which dovetails nicely with the intricate scent profile of mango.

As Bombay Bling develops on the skin, the mango starts to fade and the scent deepens—though I would be hard pressed to describe the notes from here on out if I didn’t have a list in front of me (and which I’ll include below), what I can say is that it begins to smell more ripe and liqueur-like, but also earthy. It is full-bodied enough that, coupled to its name and its reference to Hindi cinema, wearing it at this stage evokes an image of a chorus line of Bollywood beauties mesmerizing an audience with their curling finger tips, their sway of arms and hips. Bombay Bling smells more sensuous than sparkling as it dries down, and in the far drydown, it has some woodiness that brings it into the serious perfume realm, making one further aware that this is a scent for people who love perfume, and not simply a perfume novelty. I think this is what makes me appreciate Bombay Bling the most: it takes a note that most perfumistas would usually view as frivolous and allows it to be what it is—fruity in the most passionate sense of the word, fruity to an assertive degree—and places it in an olfactory setting that says, “How do you like them apples?” Smelling the entire olfactory arc of Bombay Bling, I think most perfumistas would be hard-pressed to reject it.

The name of this perfume might be bouncy and fun—and the perfume itself does embrace that component—but there is nothing flimsy or superficial about Bombay Bling. It’s beautiful with a capital B and the fragrance that proves you can have a serious perfume conversation with fruit.

Bombay Bling from Neela Vermeire:
Because Sometimes You Have to Go Out on a Limb…

May 22, 2012: