Saturday, 12 December 2015

Going the Puredistance (III!) to pin down M: a 'wild vial chase' from MI6 to E10

Source: Wikimedia Commons
About a month ago, I had an email from Puredistance, announcing a redesign of the packaging of their perfume collection.

"We also updated our box and ribbon colours to match the emotion of each fragrance in our line. We call this our 'Puredistance Family' because each fragrance truly has a different character, like a family....We encourage you to choose your favourite Puredistance, and evaluate it through the lens of the family and its DNA."

So below is the line up of the new boxes - and very pretty and nicely coordinated they are too. In the spirit of Sabine's recent PLL talk about associating colour with perfumes - which Tara documented over on Undina's blog - I must say the fawn and red combo for Opardu strikes me as an unusual choice. Opardu I see very much in the shades of Monet's lily paintings - to wit greens, blues and mauves. Then for WHITE they have gone with orange, which arguably looks classier than egg yolk yellow, while Puredistance 1 is all white. I must say that with the juice being amber coloured I would have swapped those over and given the orange ribbon to Puredistance 1, and maybe picked a more muted buttery yellow ribbon for WHITE. Then BLACK is all black, which is fair enough, while M has aptly distinguished accents of grey. The sage green for Antonia also chimes with my mental image of that scent, on account of its strong green opening.

Source: Puredistance

Now I don't suppose that any of the above commentary constitutes 'evaluating my favourite perfume through the lens of the Puredistance family', which is probably BLACK still, though I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. ;) When writing my post on the ROADS Fragrances from Ryanair (all these capitalised names, what's that ALL ABOUT?!) I was vividly reminded of the peppery opening of BLACK by something similar in Harmattan, albeit BLACK has a marked cinnamon note as I recall. But that is as far as that smattering of evaluating went.

A little while later, Puredistance sent me a sample set with all six fragrances in it, but I already have samples of each somewhere, so the gift, generous as it was, didn't make me feel any more inspired or predisposed to (re-)evaluate BLACK (review here), and I just put them in the wardrobe for reference. And then, the other day, something quite unrelated came up that prompted me to dig out my samples of M...and thereby hangs a tale, and the subject proper of this post.


I have a perfumista friend I shall call R, who is still very much at the feverish acquisition stage of the hobby - regularly cruising brand websites and T K Maxx for bargains, and messaging me periodically in a pumped up state with news of the latest deep discount she has spotted. I can totally relate to this 'trigger-happy squirrel' mindset, as I was like that for a good four(?) years maybe. Anyway, like all good perfumistas, R is keen to introduce others in her circle to the niche perfume scene, including a particular work colleague who seemed receptive to the notion of expanding his scented horizons. She was putting together a little collection for him to try and I said I would be happy to lob in a few of my own samples that were either squarely masculine or unisex at the very least. It occurred to me to send her Puredistance M, that rugged leather chypre with oriental overtones, which I must admit I never bonded with all those years ago when I first tried it. It was too birch tarry I think, and computed as a bit 'Burt Reynolds-chested' back then. Ah, but as you know, my tolerance for powerful scents of one kind and another has come on by lascivious leaps and butch bounds since then - witness my surprise rapprochement with Papillon Salome, for example. So I got out my samples, was pleasantly surprised at how relatively smooth the leather aspect of M was this time round, and randomly picked a vial to send.

MI6 HQ ~ Source: Wikipedia

Well, it turns out I picked the wrong one, for my friend reported that the vial refused to spray. Point blank refused. Didn't appear to even have a hole to speak off through which a spray could even have been coaxed. I suggested swivelling, wrenching and decanting, taking a knife to it - or a more surgically precise pin. I wondered about putting her husband T on the case, having recently clocked a Facebook post by him about his successful refurbishment of two anglepoise lamps. T seems the practical sort who could wield a pin with panache. And still, despite the best efforts of both, the M vial wouldn't yield up its secrets - though that is of course entirely in character for a perfume based on a member of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in a James Bond film. As luck would have it, when presented with the samples R's colleague thought he could just catch a whiff of M even so, and liked what he smelt.

Source: Puredistance

So, concerned by the recalcitrance of this sophisticated yet secretive scent, I promptly offered to post on my other vial, thinking I could maybe manage without a reference sample. The compelling need here in my view was to capitalise on R's colleague's newly awakened interest in M. Too lazy to go to the post office, I popped the vial into an ordinary envelope - without one of the mandatory ID8000 hazardous goods stickers! A week passed, and my friend and I puzzled over the non-appearance of the second sample, ironically the one with a functioning spray mechanism. And then finally R received a card from the Royal Mail saying that they were holding the item for collection, subject to the payment of the required excess postage. Oh, the shame! Not only had I risked this precious atomiser without the correct label, but I had also - in a moment of 'Pureabsentmindness' - put a normal first class stamp on instead of a 'large letter' one. I was fulsome in my apologies, while R's husband - who is semi-retired - was despatched to the sorting office the following day to retrieve the offending envelope.

Later, I received a message from R:

"T picked up the perfume - he had a 3 hour round trip cos they sent him to the wrong place. They felt sorry for him so didn't charge!"

T has a free bus pass at least ~ Source:

My reaction was a mixture of guilt for inadvertently sending my friend's husband on a wild goose chase, and amazement that the Royal Mail didn't charge him the fee for excess stampage, his flagrantly circuitous route to the sorting office notwithstanding. R assured me that it was all fine:

"Nooooooo Vanessa it's okay!! It did him good to get out of the house!"

And then suddenly the other day, I remembered Jan Ewoud Vos's creative concept for M the perfume:

"Puredistance M is about James Bond-like excitement we every now and then need to escape from boring routines and a dull life."

Well, T may not feel his schlepp round the sorting offices of East London quite counts as 'James Bond-like excitement', but his day definitely took an unexpected turn and he certainly went the distance so his wife's colleague could sniff this scent in all its back of an Aston Martin leather splendour. Many thanks are due to T and the uncharacteristically humane Royal Mail clerk who served him!

PS I happen to share the same birthday as Ian Fleming. Maybe this explains why the chairman of a stairparts company once dubbed me 'the Mata Hari of the spindle world' for my spy-like exploits on strategic research studies.


  1. What a great story, Vanessa! It reads almost like a spy novel :) I hope the colleague will appreciate everything that went into providing him with the experience.

    Now to the colors of the new "family." I think that White should have been all-white. And I'm a little upset about that orange ribbon since I plan on buying that perfume. I like the colors for Black, M and Antonia. And I agree that Opardu is completely off. Not that it was extremely important: I don't envision anybody keeping that ribbon in place after they open the perfume and start using it. But still.

    1. Hi Undina,

      Haha, It is certainly a story of derring-do on T's part, and a bit of subterfuge gone wrong on mine!

      As with the ROADS Fragrances, I am pleased to learn that we have a similar take on the colours of the new Puredistance livery. I magnified the photograph to make sure I had not read them the wrong way round, but I don't think so. And yes, Opardu isn't warm colours to my mind, not at all. Though you make a good point that the ribbon is very much a temporary fixture - even more so with a kitten in tow. ;)

  2. Hi Vanessa,

    I too got another little package from Puredistance and I'm finding it really hard to actually spray them. Not because of any malfunctioning holes but because they are so PRECIOUS! I'm hoarding Antonia for a special occasion and preparing myself for the right mood to get them well and truly sniffed again.

    I love the hairy bruce Reynolds imagery, you will no doubt have tainted my mind for that one...

    1. Hi Sarah,

      They are precious! I feel like that about my BLACK samples in particular. Then I want to try Opardu again as I have got quite different results with it each time.

      Burt Reynolds, you mean? You may be confusing Bruce Forsyth and Debbie Reynolds, hehe.

  3. I got the email too, but not the samples, so can't really say if the colours fit or not, but I really enjoyed your mad story. As always, actually.

    1. Hi Sabine,

      Oh shame, though you know BLACK already - also WHITE maybe? Let me know. Happy to bring any you are curious about next time we meet. Not sure I would feel like entrusting them to the PO again any time soon, even if I have now got a grip of my letter sizes!

    2. PS After all, you of all people are the person who should be commenting on the colour / scent angle!

    3. They have arrived. I will give them a good check.