'And as a consequence of the concept of BLACK, we will not reveal the ingredients of Puredistance BLACK...Envision, Smell, Feel. Don't analyse.'
"I clocked the ‘elegant, mysterious and whispering’ (yay!), but wondered if for 'BLACK' one should read 'butch'."
And now my sample is here - thanks, Samira!! I was so keen to test it that I whacked it on just as I was going out the door to a meeting in Edgbaston, taking a leap of faith that its elegant whispering ways with a masculine leaning would make it appropriate as an 'office scent'. More on how it smells in a moment...
|Sexiest Jiffy bag ever!|
First of all, I would like to say that I have a lot of time for Puredistance as a company. They are one of my favourite niche houses, no question. For the people at Puredistance have always been unstintingly friendly, appreciative and generous in their dealings with bloggers, an impression that was only reinforced when I called into their headquarters in Groningen towards the end of a long business trip in 2011. The team working for Puredistance is young, dynamic, professional, and totally enthused by their product range. And for such a high end brand, I was struck by how completely unstuffy they were. As I recounted in my post about that visit, Jan Ewoud Vos endeared himself to me hugely when he offered me some apple cake for the road, and proceeded to wodge a big piece into one of their pristine perfume boxes with its padded satin lining! Nor did they bat an eyelid when, in my review of Puredistance 1, I likened their packaging to a 'top of the range coffin'.
So while I am predisposed to like the house and their perfumes, I don't get on with all of them. M is too masculine for my taste (only to be expected, really). And the musk in Opardu was problematic on my skin, though it was an unequivocably tender and pretty scent. And even though I was concerned that BLACK might go the same way as M, I was still unfeasibly excited to try it.
|Packaging for Opardu sample - foam strips galore!, with a velvet veneer|
And whereas my sample of Opardu had come in a disproportionately large and clunky box - protected by an assortment of foam strips I found so intriguingly odd that I have kept them to this day, long after the perfume vial had been drained - BLACK came in more minimalist packaging, of which I heartily approve. Moreover, the padded, bubble wrap-style envelope, was also black!! What an inspired move! So I was already well on the way to liking BLACK, even though I had yet to extract the vial from its size-appropriate satin baglet (see photo at top of post).
There was a flyer in the package in a black envelope, and a black business card from Jan Ewoud Vos, on the reverse of which one of his staff had written - using black fountain pen at a guess, or a high end felt tip maybe:
'Envision. Smell. Feel. Don't analyse...', reprising the injunction of the press material.
Hold on a minute...I am a market researcher, analysing is in my D & A! So forgive me if I cock a small snook at that injunction right off the bat...;-) As for 'envisioning', well I'm never going to do that, am I? I might picture in my mind's eye, or do a bit of imagining perhaps. The only people I know of who could 'envision' without so much as a backward glance are creative types in ad agencies and government think tanks, PR execs - oh, and the odd political speech writer.
So I will kick off by describing how BLACK smells, which may involve a bit of light comparison, and some pretty wild note guessing, just for fun. Then if this post hasn't got too long by that point, I will shut my eyes and have a crack at a little visualisation...
Right, so the opening of BLACK is hotly spicy, and I was instantly reminded of Neela Vermeire's Trayee and Penhaligon's Elixir. For the purposes of this review I am wearing all three, plus Le Labo's Poivre 23, and I can confirm that the spices in BLACK are nothing like the Le Labo scent, so I can exclude that from my inquiries - they are sharper and drier. This piquant phase is relatively shortlived, especially compared with Trayee, and it is not long before BLACK has melded with my skin (yup, I can absolutely vouch for the staying close to the wearer part!) and embarked on its whispering phase.
How fortuitous that I had already devised this series of perfume reviews founded on the very principle of whispering...;-)
|Elixir sample - also in black packaging!|
There is another part of the press release which states that BLACK 'stays in the shadow, giving away - only every now and then - part of its delicate nature'. That is also true - it really is extremely quiet after the opening salvo of spice.
So to recap, I think I am on safe ground by stating that this is some kind of woody/spicy/incense-y oriental. Eyeballing the commonalities between Elixir and Trayee - and having an almost certainly doomed punt to fill in the gaps - I would guess that the notes might include some combination of cinammon, cardamom, pepper, incense, vanilla, cedar and sandalwood - and maybe vetiver, amber or even musk to round the whole thing out, but I really haven't got a clue...;-)
I should also mention that the similarities between BLACK, Elixir and Trayee are mainly at the start - beyond that BLACK settles into a much more gauzy veil-like effect, while Trayee's hot spiciness persists all the way to the drydown - it just gets progressively softer. I'd even say that BLACK is similar to its 'Careful Whispers' stablemate, Penhaligon's Iris Prima, specifically in that diffusive, indistinct regard, but a woody/spicy/oriental version, if that makes any sense.
|Spice poster - Source: Wikimedia Commons|
If there are any flowers in BLACK they are not making themselves known to me. I note, however, that both Trayee and Elixir have jasmine in them, and I never noticed it there, so who knows? - maybe there is a smidge of jasmine in BLACK too, deftly blended into the softly spicy, thrumming base.
While - to come over all capitals myself for a moment - I ABSOLUTELY LOVE BLACK, to the point where it has just gone and pipped Puredistance 1 as my favourite of the line!, I can imagine that some people may find it a tad too quiet. I sense there are fumeheads out there who are by no means after perfumes that 'shout' as such, but who prefer them to have a normal speaking voice, say.
And that is probably all I have to say as regards my cheeky and hopeless stab at deconstructing BLACK. So now I am going to have a crack at the envisioning bit - here goes...!
I am dressed pretty much top-to-toe in black: black boucle wool belted jacket, black jeans, black patent chunky heeled shoes, black eyeliner and lashings of black mascara, just stopping the right side of demented spider. I am wearing my black leather bracelet I got at the Leather evening of Perfume Lovers London, and my black 'flittersniffer' earrings made from Belgian lace. I am off to meet my friend R, who has a sleek bob of jet black hair and wears a lot of black herself. She turns out to be wearing a black and red shift dress and black ballet pumps, and has spritzed on either Bvlgari Mon Jasmin Noir or Ralph Lauren Notorious - both glossy black carded samples I gave her, which smell fabulous and completely different on her. We meet in the sepulchral gloom of a popular nightspot and battle our way towards the bar, nearly deafened by a cacophonous wall of sound, as it is always heaving at the weekend. I steal a whiff of my wrist, a momentary reverie amidst the jarring Saturday night revelry. My scent of the evening is ethereal yet warm, wistful yet comforting...I am of course wearing Puredistance BLACK.