This may technically be my 206th post on Bonkers about Perfume, but for logistical reasons the marking of my 200th post milestone was deferred until after my recent US trip. For my 100th post, as the odd reader may dimly recall, I chose to review Maison Kurkdjian's APOM pour Femme, which neatly symbolised how perfume now permeates every aspect of my life in a way I would never have imagined prior to being struck down with sudden onset perfume mania at the start of 2008.
And now for my 200th post I have decided to write about a perfume which isn't totally "me" in the way A Piece Of Me is, but which is in all other respects pretty darn remarkable: Puredistance 1. This scent has already been extensively reviewed, but as with Nuit de Tubéreuse, which arguably didn't need another review from me by the time I eventually caught up with it, there are some perfumes which move me to write about them regardless of the risk of duplication / redundancy / "adding to the noise"... : - )
Let me say right off the bat that, like a number of my fellow bloggers, I was sent a 17.5 ml "test tube"-style vial by Puredistance. This niche house has its main offices in The Netherlands and an opulent showroom in Vienna, the famous Perfume Lounge, where the most expensive presentations of the range - in crystal column bottles - are put on pedestals (literally and metaphorically) and curated in glass cabinets. I have to say that my own "vial" already came in jolly luxurious packaging by my standards: a lavish white leatherette presentation box with magnetic flaps, all lined with padded white satin not unlike a top of the range coffin - not that I have ever seen one close up - oh, and for the record, when the day does come for me to pop my clogs (to stay with our Dutch theme), I would be quite happy with the "one up from least expensive" coffin, following the same principle I apply when ordering wine in restaurants.
Inside the left hand panel, tucked into four satin hinges in a manner that reminded me vividly of my stamp collecting youth, is a Certificate of Authenticity, bearing the flamboyant signature of the Founder of Puredistance, Jan Ewoud Vos, and attesting to the fact that this is a genuine vial of Puredistance 1, with a concentration (that must be approaching parfum strength?) of 32%. I am intrigued by this reassurance of authenticity, because to be honest it would never have occurred to me that there might be fakes about. To my knowledge, the pirates and fraudsters on Ebay are still gainfully employed knocking off the entire Creed line and Coco Mademoiselle, but I may be behind the times.
Now, no disrespect to The Netherlands, which is a fine country - if a trifle flat and with a surprisingly congested road network - and is where I spent New Year with friends this year - but it is not the first EU member you would perhaps associate with fragrance, any more than Cleveland springs to mind as an obvious tourist destination for British visitors to the States. Be that as it may, the Puredistance brand is headquartered in Groningen, a town noted for its prestigious university dating back to 1614, the second oldest after Leiden (of cumin seed-y cheese fame).
Created by Anne Buzantian, the perfumer behind one of my favourite mainstream fragrances, Estée Lauder Sensuous, Puredistance 1 was originally intended to be her signature scent. However, when she chanced upon the first fragrance concept of Puredistance by Jan Ewoud Vos, which chimed exactly with the inspiration for her own perfume, happily for the rest of us she changed her mind and decided "to share her personal masterpiece with the world".
Notes: tangerine blossom, cassis, neroli bigarade, magnolia, rose wardia, jasmine, mimosa, amber, vetiver and musk.
Now when I first sprayed Puredistance 1, two other fragrances simultaneously came to mind, though I would like to stress that Puredistance 1 doesn't smell markedly like either and is very much its own scent. One is - now please don't shoot me - Hugo Boss Deep Red, in which I detect a similar fruity opening, plus they both also share an overtly musky base.
HUGO BOSS DEEP RED
Notes: tangerine, blackcurrant, blood orange, pear, ginger, freesia, hibiscus, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla and musk.
Why, both have tangerine, blackcurrant and miscellaneous other orange! But, notwithstanding its musky base, Deep Red is shriller, thinner and unmistakably of its day - as in today - more or less, whereas Puredistance 1 is sumptuous, rich, and manages to feel both current and timeless.
Of all the reviews I have read, I would align myself most closely with Patty White's assessment - for I also mean "lush" with my "sumptuous":
“It’s stunning and beautiful - lush and rich without falling into the uber-rich notes that scream “expensive!”.
Anyone not too shocked by my comparison with Deep Red to be curious about the second perfume which reminds me of Puredistance 1...well, it is Yves Rocher Voile d'Ambre. Here is a scent with comparable depth and heft: it covers off the amber aspect - at least I assume it does from the name alone - and its notes also include "green mandarin", echoing the vetiver in the Puredistance - or it does if you push the envelope of your fruit analogies as far as I do.
YVES ROCHER VOILE D'AMBRE
Notes: green mandarin, myrrh, incense, opoponax, vanilla, patchouli, sandalwood
So these two scents share an aspect of Puredistance 1 (tangerine/blackcurrant/musky! / amber/green tangerine-equivalent!), but I wouldn't say that you would get anything approximating to it if you were foolhardy enough to layer them. I used to own the Yves Rocher as a matter of fact, but gave it away because the pronounced coumarin note bothered me.
Forgetting the other scents for a moment, how does Puredistance 1 smell - and develop - in isolation? Well, the opening is very tangy and fruity, but just underneath it is a fresh, green accord which cuts through the fruit nicely, ensuring that the cassis in particular doesn't get too sweet and Ribena-y. Then beyond that I get a warm fuzzy, musky amber base that lasts for absolutely ages... Yes, this is a sumptuous and perfumey perfume, in the way Ormonde Jayne Tolu and Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon - and arguably Mary Greenwell Plum - are all "sumptuous and perfumey", with Plum being the most citrussy and the least sumptuous, and Tolu the other way about. I'd place Puredistance 1 between Plum and Le Baiser on the sumptuous spectrum - it has considerably more body than Plum on account of the amber.
And there is something else I should mention about this scent, because it is remarkable - I did think of it independently, but note that other reviewers had the same impression - namely that Puredistance 1 is simultaneously sumptuous AND perfumey AND ozonic/airy. Now I am no perfumer, but this strikes me as a really hard stunt to pull off, and may explain why I like this scent as much as I do, because if it didn't have this airy wateriness it might all be a bit much, what with the juicy fruits and the amber and the musk, plus a bunch of florals I don't really smell at all, though the mimosa may be adding to both the "tangy fruity" and the "powdery fuzzy" vibe, because it has those two facets, strangely perhaps for a small yellow flower.
Additionally, Puredistance 1 is an amber colour, and given my propensity to smell with my eyes, I might have picked up on the amber base disproportionately, were it not for the damp breeze mysteriously blowing through it - and who knows? - it might have gone the way of the Voile d'Ambre.
As an example of how differently scents may behave on different people, Olfacta of Olfactarama, in her review of this scent here, describes it as "subtle" and lacking in "va-va-voom", whereas on me the opposite is true. Now "foghorn" sounds too derogatory a term, but to my nose this scent is a tad on the loud side. Let's call it an airy, ozonic foghorn, and I mean that in a good way - picture yourself standing in the bows of the ship, Kate Winslet in "Titanic"-style, and the ship's foghorn may be sounding behind you, but your arms are outstretched and the wind is in your hair...
I would also like to say that when I first wore Puredistance 1, I was having a bad day, as in a really bad day. My Internet connection had crashed, and I spent 4-5 hours on the phone to India configuring a new router. About 4pm, in between engineers, something prompted me to take the test tube out of its "sumptuous" coffin and spray it on, and I felt immediately comforted by its rich, fruity warmth and muzzy musk. Putting on Puredistance 1 feels like a very deliberate act of applying perfume, unlike so many of the more understated scents I normally favour.
In conclusion, whatever similarities I may have drawn between this and other scents, there is considerable distance between Puredistance 1 and other perfumes remotely like it. Moreover, whilst wearing it, I was also able to distance myself from the technical crisis that was raging at the time, thanks to its dreamy cocooning quality. A critic called Sands, whose name I don't recognise, feels Puredistance 1 has the makings of a successor to the iconic No 5, with which I would tend to agree.
“If Puredistance was aiming for a sort of Chanel No. 5 classic, I think they have found it...”
So all in all, a fitting choice to mark the distance I have come since my 100th post...
UPDATE: Since writing this post, my work has taken me to Groningen, so I took the opportunity to call in at the Puredistance offices. The account of my visit, and my impromptu interview with Jan Ewoud Vos, is here.
And as I have come quite a way, output-wise, I thought it might be time for my first giveaway. Now I am aware that giveaways are becoming increasingly customary on fragrance blogs, much like the trend in women's magazines to give away - in those cellophane flowpak thingies - a free novel/lipstick/sarong/clutch bag/chocolate bar with virtually every issue, sso for all I know readers of Bonkers may now be suffering from giveaway fatigue, plus I am awfully late to the party.
But anyway, I am going ahead and holding a draw for a fragrance blending kit from The Perfume Studio worth £20. You may choose from either the FRESH or FLORAL varieties (see contents list below - the floral version is pictured). Each kit comprises a 20 ml brushed metal atomiser and 6 x 5 ml mini-perfume blends that you can mix and match further to create your own scent - or multiple scents, if you have spare atomisers, given that there is 30ml of product to play with!:
Ozonic, Gentle Floral, Citrus, Musky, Green, Fruity
Heady floral, Balsamic (vanilla), Gentle Floral, Aldehydic, Rose Floral, Floral Floral
This giveaway would best suit a perfumista who has some decanting tackle, ie blank fragrance strips, say, a pipette or two and some spare atomisers, as the set only comes with the one large atomiser and the scent blends themselves. I can throw in a few plastic spray vials and a pipette if a non-decanter happens to be the winner!
All you have to do to be eligible is leave a comment, mentioning your preferred kit variety somewhere in there. I thought about setting a silly multiple choice question of the kind commonly associated with those "Win a holiday of a lifetime!"-type competitions, maybe something along the lines of:
Which of the following women would you associate with the House of Chanel? Is it:
a) Coco Chanel
b) Choco Chanel
c) Cocamidopropyl Chanel
but I don't want to make people jump through any hoops to be eligible, even patently obvious hoops! Why do they set those idiotically simple teasers, does anyone know? Is it to weed out the robots, as with captchas? If any robot is interested enough to have got to the end of this post without blowing a gasket, it is more than welcome to enter! Why, some people might argue that robots are no strangers to the business of perfume creation nowadays....so why shouldn't they be eligible to win a perfume-themed prize here? : - ) (Sorry, that was a low blow - I know it is mainly about budgetary constraints, really - but I couldn't resist it...!)
Oh, and I will post worldwide, by the way, in case anyone is wondering. This is an Equal Opportunities draw, also in terms of geography.
The closing date is Tuesday 12th April, and the winner will be selected by some dispassionate means/agent, possibly even Mr Bonkers, if he is about and can be roped in to help. At least it doesn't involve smelling anything, so he may well be up for it. Otherwise, I could enlist the services of an online robot, perhaps!