Travel Loot

A Passage to India ... Through Scent

by Jane Larkworthy
LilaNur All photos courtesy of LilaNur Parfums.

It is widely known that smell is the strongest of our senses. It is also widely known that scents can trigger memories. (Hello, vanilla perfume = chocolate chip cookies.) 

But what if a scent could transport you to a location you’ve never been before? And what if said location was a journey throughout India? Sign me up.

LilaNur Parfums is the brainchild of Anita Lal, founder of the Indian fashion and home brand Good Earth, and Paul Austin, a fragrance industry veteran. Combining dozens of precious ingredients from all over India with the olfactive expertise of four French perfumers, the unique collection of ten creations — three scented oils (called absolus) and seven eaux de parfums — is meant to immerse its wearer into India’s rich scent culture.

“The deepest purpose of this brand was to showcase India's enormous contributions to the world of perfumery,” says Austin. “The country has thousands of years of scent culture, in so many different forms and iterations, not to mention the fact that it also supplies countless ingredients to haute perfumerie. Despite this, it’s never had its own voice in modern perfumery.” 

Austin and Lal set about rectifying that, working with a community of 5,000 women who pick the flowers — jasmine sambac, tuberose, and mimosa, to name a few — and then giving the perfumers carte blanche to express the fragrance note in question in their own way.

My favorite is Vettiver Mousson — Vetiver Monsoon — which involves two of my favorite things: rainstorms and, duh, vetiver. 

“I always thought vetiver was a French word, but it’s not,” says Austin. “It's a Tamil word from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In the hot summer months, vetiver roots are woven into mats that are placed in windows and splashed with water to act as a natural air conditioner. The cooling breezes are filled with the fresh, earthy smell of damp vetiver roots. And once the monsoon arrives, this smell mingles with the wet, humidity of the rains along with the first flush of jasmine.”

Can’t you just smell it? 

Their point exactly.

The LilaNur Parfums collection is also available at

Journey of the Senses

Here are a dozen more perfumes that will inspire your next vacation.

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