TASTE Scent Semantics #4

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

TASTE Scent Semantics #4

Daisy has come up with a word this month that’s meaning is so broad and all encompassing to our lives that I had a real problem trying to narrow my field of choice down. So I limited my view to the noun. Still it wasn’t much help. TASTE is a word that deals with food, eating, choices, structure; both internal and external, inclusion and exclusion, action, growth and the opposites. Everything we do is managed by our TASTE. Even how we see and show ourselves is based on the same TASTE factors. This word is hard to pinpoint and pin down.



  • the act of tasting food or drink. the sense by which the flavor or savor of things is perceived when they are brought into contact with the tongue.
  • the sensation or quality as perceived by this sense; flavor. a small quantity tasted; a morsel, bit, or sip. a relish, liking, or partiality for something: a taste for music.
  • the sense of what is fitting, harmonious, or beautiful; the perception and enjoyment of what constitutes excellence in the fine arts, literature, fashion, etc.
  • the sense of what is seemly, polite, tactful, etc., to say or do in a given social situation.
  • one’s personal attitude or reaction toward an aesthetic phenomenon or social situation, regarded as either good or bad.
  • the ideas of aesthetic excellence or of aesthetically valid forms prevailing in a culture or personal to an individual
  • the formal idiom preferred by a certain artist or culture; style; manner
  • a slight experience or a sample of something: a taste of adventure.
  • a feeling or sensation resulting from an experience: a compromise that left a bad taste in her mouth.
  • test or trial.

Ashoka by Neela Vermeire Creations

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Fig Leaf, Mimosa, White Lotus, Pink Lotus, Leather, Fig Tree, Tonka Bean, Sandalwood, Osmanthus, Incense, Myrrh, Water Hyacinth, Styrax, Balsam Fir, Vetiver

As I was growing up the word TASTE when used for style was the simple, go to expression for every experience. Good taste, bad taste, questionable taste. What was really interesting was that good taste would generate an eyebrow raise of approval but both bad and questionable taste would spark discussion. It was in these discussions that Mum and her girlfriends unwittingly taught me the excitement of being right on the line. Also, there was a lot of backstory involved and a persons history always informed some of their choices. This was especially true for a few of our friends and relatives that had lived, or family had lived overseas. A couple of examples are one Aunt had brought back masks and art from their travels with mining. While almost all agreed they were ghastly there was admiration for the way they were displayed and the showing of their shared history. One of my drama school chums family had been in India and they displayed a six foot pair of matched elephant tusks on Jaipuri enamel plinths. While everyone, including them, decried the killing of the elephant and the ivory trade in general they were heirlooms, looked bloody fabulous, getting rid of them wouldn’t bring the beast back to life and where the hell could they get rid of them to anyway.

One of the things I took away from this and used in my costume design was to involve a little jarring change in a single outfit. It could be colour, texture, motif, reflection or any other way to awake the senses to questions. Fortunately with drag there is a much wider scope to play with than regular clothes.

In the year 2000 when my previous long term love, and still best buddy, got together I was suddenly immersed in the subcontinent of India myself. Varun had come to Australia to study a hospitality focused MBA. We met as he was finishing his studies and six months later when we got together he was starting work at one of Sydney’s prestige hotels. Over the years he had to move back and take the reins of his families hotel chain. Through him I was lucky enough to see so much of India and its glaring inconsistencies. We have travelled from Jammu/Kashmir to Kerala, Amritsar to Shillong and many, many places in between. Now India has the world prize for questionable taste and my eyes, ears, tongue and hands discovered new boundaries and ways to incorporate that exciting attraction and conversation.

Cue the entrance music for my choice of fragrance for TASTE.

Ashoka by Bertrand Duchaufour for the Neela Vermeire Creations brand fits perfectly into my story and viewpoint of TASTE. The backstory is of Indian despot and unifier who warred upon India till it was unified under his rule. Then he discovered Buddhism and brought the religion and its tenets into the country. Suddenly this powerful, passionate man became a religious leader and changed the face of India for eternity.

The creamy fig opening is perfectly set, like a jewel set in osmanthus and mimosa with the sweetness of tonka already peeking through. It’s like we are living the Ashoka story in reverse. A perfect, perfumistas dream of sweet floral fruity herbaceousness. This opening lasts unusually well and we really get to enjoy its peaceful, calming, centred tranquillity.

Then the warmth of the resins begins to make its presence known. Still fig-centric but now the glow of fire and the smell of smoke shatters the harmonious zen and we are hit with an exciting change. In the context of our story this feels like a nod to the ravages of war, yet still the fragrance itself remains beautiful.

In drydown Ashoka becomes dryer, darker and malevolent. The woods have arrived and with them an oily vetiver and leather. They’ve been here all along but now they come to the forefront and lead us to the fade.

Ashoka is a journey. It has me excited by change all through and questioning where its will go next. From top to bottom nothing is expected and yet few fragrances make these huge transitions so serenely.

How do you interpret and what perfume would you associate with the word TASTE?
Portia xx

Please go check out the rest of our Scent Semantics crew, I’ll be leaving messages at all of them.
Daisy also created a LinkTree which has us all organised in one place


Filed under Perfume Reviews

37 responses to “TASTE Scent Semantics #4

  1. You have the best taste Portia .
    Through your openess and life experience you find the joys and share them with others. I always love your gracious writing and perfume table next to your computer..umm heaven 🥰


  2. The Plum Girl

    I loved reading your story about taste and love, textures and tones. And this is really a wonderful perfume!


  3. What a fabulous story told through a perfumery pyramid. Your words bring such life to both the tale & your experience of the fragrance.

    I can so get the picture of your Mum & friends discussing the taste of others. My mum was exactly the same, gossiping with my aunties, both by blood & by choice, about the dress & homes of acquaintances! Even at 90 one look at how I’m dressed let’s me know just how poor my taste in clothing is.

    I am now officially requesting “Portia’s Personal Perfume Guide” to give Turin & Sanchez a run for their money!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t know the original story of Ashoka, how fascinating! I’ve never been to India, but my late mother went, more than once. On one of those trips, she and her best friend/travel companion shared an overnight train carriage for a few days with the playwright Terence McNally and his partner; Mr. McNally later wrote a play inspired by them called “A Perfect Ganesh,” about two matrons who go to India.


  5. I always love hearing your stories Portia.

    I agree that those at the cutting edge of fashion are always pushing it.


  6. cassieflower

    I’m going to throw my own slant on this. Something popped into my head, a phrase by one of my favourite comedy characters (from back in the days when things seemed less complicated and people weren’t permanently offended) Cupid Stunt, trashy and loud mouthed. I will scent her in Gucci Rush.
    “All in the best possible taste”

    https://youtu.be/ZkqxagJglaI (in case anyone is interested)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. cassieflower

    Sorry if I’ve broken any rules by posting a link.


  8. Ashoka is indeed a very tasteful perfume, and I enjoyed your Indian memories. What a sumptuous backdrop for the bottle too. There are so many scents to choose from that fit the bill (in the sense of elegant / not crass) eg Rue de Cambon 19 or Cuir de Russie, but these are just two of many examples which popped into my mind. 😉 I could have named gourmand perfumes too – the scope is vast!

    Oh, and thanks to Old Herbaceous for that tip off about the Terrence McNally play, which piqued my curiosity – how wonderful to have your mother inspire the work! She inspired Katharine Brynne then? I have ordered a copy from a thrift store in Dallas. 😉


  9. Portia, it’s a beautiful mélange of perfume, stories and the word meaning. Interestingly, in my native language, we had identical phrases about good/bad/questionable taste!

    I think that all NVC perfumes are in a very good taste, even the most sparkling and carefree Bombay Bling! I like and enjoy wearing Ashoka.

    My own choice for perfume would be also Chanel, Cuir de Russie or Bois des Iles. Very classy and tasteful.


    • Thanks Undina,
      I’m popping over to read your Scent Semantics now, see you there.

      How cool that you also had the three levels of taste. I suppose the idea is universal. That’s a nice thing, makes the world seem a little cosier.

      Yes, I was teetering on the edge of CHANEL and your two picks are very beautiful.
      Portia xx


  10. Brigitte

    Creamy fig sounds delightful. I’m with Undina and Vanessa, to my Chanel speaks of good taste.


  11. What a fabulous post, Portia! I also love hearing your stories. It sounds like India was a crazy kaleidoscope for the senses. It’s funny how good taste can mean classic and restrained, but good taste can also be knowing when to be shocking. Lovely choice of fragrance too. I love reading your description of Ashoka because it fall absolutely and tragically flat on my skin. Thanks for letting me experience what it should be like through your words!


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