2013 in Review: Best of & Favorites Lists

Source: ronienfoque.com.br

Source: ronienfoque.com.br

The end of the year is almost upon us, so it seems like a good time for a “Year in Review” post with a list of favorites. I can’t say it has been easy for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I always struggle with lists, both in terms of placement and selecting the thing which will take that last spot. For another, I think I may be a little fickle in terms of my favorites, as perfumery can be as much about mood as other subjective factors.

In the case of fragrances that debuted in 2013, it’s been even harder. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed by the vast majority of the new releases that I tested, and the ones I did enjoy wouldn’t amount to a full ten in number. I’m not going to put something on a list simply and solely to round out the numbers, especially if I was underwhelmed with the scent in question or thought it had some serious problems. Take, for example, Tom Ford‘s Shanghai Lily from the Atelier d’Orient line. It is a scent that I liked the most out of Tom Ford’s various new collections this year, but that is a relative thing, not an absolute thing. Just because I liked it more than the rest of the 2013 Tom Fords doesn’t mean I would classify the scent as one of the best of the year. I certainly wouldn’t include Plum Japonais which I found to be a badly done, distorted copy of my beloved Fille en Aiguilles from Serge Lutens.

Mohur pure parfum extrait. Source: Fragrantica.

Mohur pure parfum extrait. Source: Fragrantica.

Another problem is that I’m not sure I should include one scent that was supposed to be released this year, and which I adored when I got to test it, but whose release was subsequently pushed back until Spring 2014. It is Neela Vermeire‘s Mohur Extrait, the formerly named Mohur Esprit. It would definitely be in my list of top 2013 favorites, and I considered saving it for the Best of 2014. In the end, I’ve cheated by including it here for 2013 with an asterisk next to its name.

In reality, my absolute favorite fragrances came from a wide range of years, but since this is the first year of the blog, everything was technically “new” for the purposes of my reviews. So, I’m going to do two lists or, to be more technically accurate, 2.5 lists: my top fragrances released in 2013, even if the number falls short of ten; then my personal top 10 of the perfumes I covered in 2013, followed by the next 15 for an overall top 25 favorites.

TOP NEW RELEASES OF 2013:

  1. Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

    Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

    LM Parfums Hard Leather. Lust in the woods. A scent that, despite the “leather” in its name, is really more about dark woods, oud, incense, and sandalwood, than it is about leather. That said, the stunning, lusty leather and animalic musk give Hard Leather the best opening of a fragrance that I’ve tried in years. Pure, utter sex appeal, and lust. Sex in a bottle. An opening that sweeps me off my feet each time I smell it, and a gorgeous drydown as well. The middle stage isn’t particularly my cup of tea, but if one takes the scent as a whole and judges things on the basis of how intensely one wants a full bottle, then Hard Leather has to come in at first place. That said, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. For one thing, I think Hard Leather skews very masculine in nature, and even some men may find it excessively dry, dark, or animalic, but I loved it and it is my favorite new fragrance of 2013.

  2. Dress: Rami Kadi Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013. Source: FlipZone and Tweets.seraph.me

    Dress: Rami Kadi Haute Couture 2013. Source: FlipZone.

    Neela Vermeire Mohur Extrait**  I like the regular Mohur eau de parfum, but Mohur Extrait is profoundly stronger, deeper, and richer. It has a va-va-voom oomph that transforms the pale, quiet, restrained, sometimes excessively delicate rose Mohur into Cinderella at the ball. A Cinderella with a diva’s charisma, and wearing the most opulent ball gown and jewels around. Mohur Extrait is a deep, rich, potent blend of roses, with real Mysore sandalwood, iris, and violets. There is a touch of leather, smoky elemi, and pepper to prevent it from being too dainty or femme, and the whole thing sits on an ambered base that is faintly milky but always infused with that beautiful, rich, creamy Mysore sandalwood. Mohur Extrait is simply beautiful, and a head-turner.  **I’m cheating, as Mohur Extrait’s release has been pushed back until 2014, but dammit, it debuted at the Milan Esxence show, so I’m going to include it in my list of 2013 releases.

  3. Source: Philolog at Traumwerk.Stanford.eduViktoria Minya Hedonist. A stunningly golden, happy, but refined, sophisticated, lush, floral oriental, Hedonist sparkles and soothes at the same time. It opens with Bourbon-like, boozy, dark honeycombs that are infused with lush peach, heady jasmine, citrus notes and some orange blossom, all perfectly blended in a soft, golden cloud. It eventually turns into a honey, beeswax and vanilla scent that soothes you in its soft sweetness. Whenever I wear it, I feel calmer, more relaxed, like a cat stretching out in the warmth of the sun. Hedonist has a truly classique feel of haute perfumery, but it never feels dated or old-fashioned, in my opinion. It is elegant and opulent without being excessive, heady but perfectly balanced, and sparkles in a way that reminds me both of champagne and the sunniest of skies in the South of France. Truly beautiful, and a stunning debut from Viktoria Minya.
  4. Source: it.forwallpaper.com

    Source: it.forwallpaper.com

    Oriza L. Legrand Chypre Mousse. Elfish green and the floor of a fairy forest filled with the essence of nature in a delicate but strong bouquet of oakmoss, wet leaves, mushrooms, herbs, a strip of dark leather taken over by nature’s minted greens, and a touch of balsamic resins. It’s really hard to describe in many ways, as this is not a traditional chypre, and may be the most unusual, otherworldly scent I’ve encountered. Chypre Mousse stopped me in my tracks, made me turn around on my way to the mecca of Serge Lutens to buy my bell jar, and became something I had to have after a mere 15 minutes, further tests or development be damned. Chypre Mousse won’t be for everyone, but those who love it will experience an incredibly potent, extremely green fragrance that lasts an enormous amount of time for such a seemingly delicate, ethereal scent.

  5. Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for French Vogue, September 2010. Source:  Glamscheck.com

    Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for French Vogue, September 2010. Source: Glamscheck.com

    Amouage Fate Woman. Fate Woman is a beautiful chypre-oriental hybrid that starts off as a very restrained, cool, aloof scent that smells of citruses, oakmoss, and cool daffodils. Like shedding a sculptured black dress to reveal the sensuous lingerie underneath, Fate Woman turns warmer, more opulent, and sensuous with roses, jasmine, animalic notes, and creamy vanilla that is almost gourmand-like at times. The sensual, sophisticated heart turns warmer and more golden as the fragrance ends on labdanum amber, vanilla, and soft musk in a creamy blend that feels like cuddles after a heated night. I’m not a fan of the soapiness that appears at one point, but Fate Woman is a beautiful scent that starts off as controlled restraint before ending in warm abandon.

  6. Mary Cassat. "Mother Playing With Child."

    Mary Cassat. “Mother Playing With Child.”

    Neela Vermeire Ashoka. Ashoka is a creamy, milky fig and sandalwood fragrance with incense, peppered woods, iris, and other subtle tonalities. It has an enormously comforting vibe that feels like a mother’s warm embrace. It is not my favorite NVC creation, as it is far from my personal style which is much better suited to Neela Vermeire’s bolder, spicier creations. However, it is very well done, and an elegant fragrance that is definitely one of the top releases of the year as a whole. If any of the other NVC perfumes have felt too intense, too oriental, complicated, or fiery, then Ashoka will be for you.

  7. Source: ambafrance-kz.org

    Source: ambafrance-kz.org

    Lys Epona Lys Epona. Lys Epona is from a new French perfume house by the same name and sponsored by Jovoy Paris. It is a beautiful scent that caught my attention from the moment I sniffed it at Jovoy and, despite its sillage flaws and longevity problems, it is very well-done, extremely evocative, and has a very vintage vibe. It is also original, taking delicate white lilies, and infusing them with dark, animalic leather, and grassy, outdoorsy elements ranging from hay to daffodils, grass, and amber. The scent is supposed to replicate the dance between a courtesan and a Hussar cavalry officer in France’s elite Republican Guard. For me, however, it conjured up a Celtic princess astride a large white stallion, garbed in a softly burnished, slightly musky, brown leather cuirass, and draped with white lilies. Her skirt is made of hay, wheat and grass; her skin is coated in ambered oil; and her long hair braided with daffodils that matched the flowers in her horse’s mane. Truly, very well done, and the vintage, antique bottles from the 1930s are a perfect accompaniment to the scent.

  8. "Red Orange Rose Yellow Abstract" by LTPhotographs, Etsy Store. (Link to website embedded within, click on photo.)

    Photo: LTPhotographs, Etsy Store. (Website link embedded within.)

    Tauer Perfumes PHI – Une Rose de Kandahar. Andy Tauer’s PHI is a deep, spicy apricot-rose confection with rich vanilla mousse, dark green elements that almost feel mossy, and oriental flourishes ranging from tobacco to cinnamon and ambergris. It’s far from your usual rose scent, and I’d argue that the deep, dark flower isn’t even the main star of the show at times. PHI is a vibrant, sophisticated Oriental-hybrid with the faintest gourmand touches in a rich blend that that even those who don’t particularly like rose fragrances might enjoy.

  9. Ewan McGregor via The Daily Mail.

    Ewan McGregor via The Daily Mail.

    Parfums Retro Grand Cuir. Contradictions and paradoxes lie at the heart of Grand Cuir, which explores leather from one end of the spectrum to the other under the most civilized and sophisticated of veneers. It starts as raw leather coated with birch tar and pungent herbs before turning into the expensive, new black leather of a biker’s jacket, then burnished, softly aged leather with amber, before ending up as the most refined of creamy Italian suedes infused with amber, lavender, and skin-like musk. It’s a journey that is at once animalic and aldehydic, soapy clean, beginning as a masculine scent that is an aromatic, herbal fougère with leather, before it transforms into something very different. And the whole thing is done sotto voce, with the quiet firmness of a confident man who doesn’t believe he has to be flashy and loud to draw attention to himself. Very well done, and very refined.

MY PERSONAL TOP 10 FOR 2013:

Perfume reviewing is subjective by nature, but whittling down those personal choices into a favorites list is even more so. No-one ever agrees fully on a Top Ten list, whether it’s for movies, television shows, food, or some other category, and perfume is no different. So, I don’t expect any of you to agree with everything or even some of the things on this list, but these are my absolute favorites out of the modern, non-vintage scents available on the market and that I’ve tried this year.

I’ve struggled for hours over the placement and order, because I can be fickle and prefer some scents over others depending on mood. After re-testing a number of these, I think I have the order set, more or less, with the caveat that there may be a standard deviation of +1 or -1 for the fragrances listed. In other words, on one day, a fragrance coming in at #4 may be at #3 or #5 from one day to the next, but not really more than that. Then again, I can be a little fickle, ranking things is an utter nightmare, and who knows if this would be the precise order in two months from now? I did my best for now, however, so this is the list thus far.

  1. LM Parfums Hard Leather. As noted in my description above, I think this is sexy as hell. I’ll spare you additional heated descriptions, as I quite lose my cool whenever it comes to this fragrance.
  2. Source: high-definition-wallpapers.info

    Source: high-definition-wallpapers.info

    Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles. At first sniff, Fille en Aiguilles is Christmas in a bottle, from the pine tree before the fire to sugar-plum treats. Look closer, though, and you’ll find Fille en Aiguilles is really all about the frankincense. Spiralling swirls of dark smoke weave its way around the pine, the crushed needles on the forest floor, and the plummy fruits infused with ginger and spices. There is warmth and sweetness, despite the chill in the snowy forest outside. From start to finish, Fille en Aiguilles is my favorite scent from my favorite house. To my amusement, each and every time that I’ve taken perfume samples to share with friends, Fille en Aiguilles is consistently the one that men fall for. The last time I sprayed Fille en Aiguilles on someone, there were precisely 6 women sniffing his neck, his arms, and his chest. I practically had to fight him from grabbing my travel decant there and then for himself. Yet, Fille en Aiguilles is wholly unisex in nature; out of all the people I know who wear it, the vast majority are women.  

  3. Source: Warren Photographic at WarrenPhotographic.co.uk

    Source: Warren Photographic at WarrenPhotographic.co.uk

    Puredistance M. A masterpiece from Roja Dove, M has a citric chypre opening reminiscent of Hermès’ vintage Bel Ami that turns to a rich, smooth leather that briefly smells like the most expensive car seats. Soon, the leather is burnished by cognac, becoming soft, rich, and oiled with honeyed roses, jasmine, spices, and beeswax. At times, it feels a little like Serge LutensCuir Mauresque (see below at #11), but the leather phase doesn’t dominate the scent. In my opinion, the true essence of M is a molten, oriental labdanum amber. Simply stunning, from start to finish, and one of my favorite fragrances. I believe that M is unisex in nature, thanks to the florals and the honeyed amber drydown with cinnamon-dusted vanilla, but it will depend on one’s yardstick. Those who love pure florals, powdery scents, or gourmands will probably consider M to skew masculine. 

  4. Source: Huffington Post.

    Source: Huffington Post.

    Neela Vermeire Trayee. Someone once called Trayee a “force of nature,” in a slightly overwhelmed, stunned tone, and I think that’s quite true. The Bertrand Duchaufour creation is fiery, spicy, smoky, dusty, and woody, dominated by genuine, almost rare Mysore sandalwood in copious amounts that runs through the fragrance from top to bottom like a luscious red-gold vein. There are also two different kinds of Jasmine absolute, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, frankincense, oud, amber, and a plethora of other notes, all superbly blended into a bouquet that is dry, dusty, spicy, sweet, and smoky. Trayee is intense, no doubt about it, but in its later development, it loses its dry, dusty, spiced smokiness, softens and turns warm with smooth, creamy sandalwood, and deep, slightly smoky amber. Trayee is a tempestuous, stormy, fiery, rich mix that I find utterly mesmerizing. If the perfume were a woman, she’d probably be the famous, legendary diva, Maria Callas, with a touch of the young Sophia Loren in all her hot-heated, Italian ways and a dash of the fierce Mistral wind. It is definitely a force of nature that evokes India in all its multi-faceted, complicated splendour.

  5. Photo: Jon Gonzo on Flickr. (Site link embedded within photo.)

    Photo: Jon Gonzo on Flickr. (Site link embedded within photo.)

    Amouage Tribute attar. Perhaps the smokiest of the smoky greats, Tribute reminds me of Darth Vader’s perfect rose, a rose thoroughly infused with darkness and smoke. It’s utterly spectacular, though the variations in batch numbers is troublesome, leading some versions to be out-of-balance and with such disproportionate smokiness that a handful of people have reported experiencing an almost ashtray-like note. Still, the version I tested was magnificent, and makes Tribute my favorite Amouage scent thus far.

  6. Source: 123rf.com photos.

    Source: 123rf.com photos.

    Chanel Coromandel (Les Exclusifs). My favorite, modern Chanel scent is Coromandel, hands down and by a landslide. It’s probably no surprise, as it is made by my favorite perfumer, the brilliant Christopher Sheldrake who normally works with Serge Lutens. Coromandel begins on an intense frankincense note before turning into a milky Chai tea dusted with white chocolate powder and infused with deep, mellow patchouli. It is my favorite sort of patchouli with its nutty, smoky, woody, spicy, ambered warmth, instead of that vile purple, fruited, syrupy, fruit-chouli. The whole mix is perhaps the most refined, addictive, creamy patchouli-incense fragrance I have encountered. If I could take a bath in Coromandel nightly, I would, because I find something endlessly soothing and indulgent about its ambered, golden warmth.

  7. Source: layoutsparks.com

    Source: layoutsparks.com

    Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir. Nothing in Fourreau Noir should make it a fragrance that I would like, as I normally despise lavender with a fiery passion. I’m actually quite phobic about the note, and the mere mention of the word makes me shudder. But there is magic in Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake’s touch, and the two wizards created the most beautiful scent imaginable. It helps that Fourreau Noir is ultimately not about the lavender at all, in my opinion, but about the incense. From the very first moment, until the fragrance’s end in a cloud of spiced, mellow, patchouli infused with amber and vanilla, the dark tendrils of black smoke weave their way around you. It also helps that the dried lavender transforms into creamy lavender ice-cream with almonds. The real gem in Fourreau Noir, however, is that incense and ambered-patchouli cocoon at the heart of the scent. It says something when a lavender-phobe can love a fragrance with a note they despise; it says more when they go out of their way to purchase an expensive bell jar of it. Which I did….  

  8. Source: materialicious.com

    Source: materialicious.com

    Téo Cabanel Alahine. A Moroccan souk filled with spices under a turquoise sky. Sumptuous, dark, red roses concentrated to their headiest essence. Golden amber as far as the eye can see with rich, dark, toffee’d caramel, labdanum amber. A powerfully start of incredibly booziness, but a finish that is pure, vintage Bal à Versailles without the skank or dirtiness. Alahine is a fiery, spicy, incredibly complex, oriental monster that may require a bit of Stockholm Syndrome to love. Spray on too much, she’ll blow out your nose, or traumatize you. Don’t give her enough time or tests, and you’ll be misled into thinking she is all booziness, Moroccan spices, and smoke. It seems to require four tests to understand Alahine, and not be overpowered by her intense, smoldering start. It can take time to see that her real nature is the most sophisticated of slinky black dresses, cut low and deep, with a va-va-voom glamour that is opulent, French classicism at its best. Yet, Alahine ends as a really plush, soft, golden, slightly powdered warmth that is as rich as a cashmere, camel overcoat. Don’t let the roses fool you; Alahine is unisex, and I know a number of very masculine men who love its boozy, spiced fieriness deeply.

  9. Source: e-boolean.org

    Source: e-boolean.org

    Dior Mitzah (La Collection Privée). A start of dark incense that belongs in a Chinese temple, followed by an ode to labdanum amber in all its richness. Labdanum is the true form of amber, and Mitzah highlights all of its facets from honeyed, toffee’d, slightly dirty, occasionally leathery, and deeply warm in an incredibly refined blend that is also infused with smoke, roses, and patchouli. It’s a wave of richness that made Mitzah much loved, and I find it utterly baffling that Dior decided to discontinue one of its most popular scents. However, you can still find Mitzah online and at Dior boutiques while supplies last, so if you haven’t tried the scent and you love amber, I urge you to get a sample as soon as you can.

  10. Oriza L. Legrand Chypre Mousse. (See above. Or, better yet, read the review, as this is one scent that is very hard to describe.) 

THE NEXT 15 FOR THE LIST OF THE TOP 25.

  1. Source: hamillgallery.com

    Source: hamillgallery.com

    Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque. Cuir Mauresque is a shamefully under-appreciated fragrance, in my opinion. It’s one of my favorite leather scents, and, apparently, Serge Lutens’ own choice of perfume to wear. He and Christopher Sheldrake focus on taming animalic leather by infusing it first with clove-studded oranges and spices, then hefty amounts of heady jasmine absolute and orange blossoms. He uses powder to cut through the animalic skank and civet, keeping it perfectly balanced, while also weaving in dark incense, styrax, cedar and ambered resins. The resulting combination resembles Bal à Versailles at times, and oozes pure sex appeal, in my opinion. Cuir Mauresque is wholly unisex in nature. Some men find the leather too powdery, while some women find the skank to be a little too much. It will depend on your tastes. I’ve started using my parents — aka The Ultimate Perfume Snobs who taught me about perfumery to begin with– as my yardstick for other people’s perception of “skank” and leather. My father who finds Hard Leather to be too animalic and “dirty” has Cuir Mauresque as his second favorite leather scent after Puredistance M. In contrast, my mother (who adores Hard Leather and doesn’t find it to be “dirty” at all) thinks Cuir Mauresque is feminine sex appeal and utterly addictive. Your yardstick may vary, but if you love leather fragrances and some skank, then you really should try Cuir Mauresque.

  2. Viktoria Minya Hedonist. (See above.)
  3. "Abstract streams of gold." Photo: Jason Tockey. Site: jstimages.wordpress.com

    “Abstract streams of gold.” Photo: Jason Tockey. Site: jstimages.wordpress.com

    Profumum Roma Ambra Aurea. Profumum’s ode to goldenness focuses not on amber, but on ambergris in all its deep, rich, salty, musky glory. It’s a very different matter and aroma, as my review tries to make clear. Ambra Aurea is the thickest, most golden, opaque, intense, salty-caramel amber fragrance around, a veritable deluge of one note heightened to its most concentrated essence with 43%-46% perfume oils. It’s a linear, non-stop soliflore that coats your skin for hours on end, emitting a slight smokiness from incense. There are strong undertones of labdanum amber that are, alternatively, nutty, toffee’d, honeyed, faintly dirty, and almost chocolate-y at times. In its final stage, Ambra Aurea smells of amber and incense with beeswax, saltiness, and sweetness. Lovely on its own, and lovely when used as a layering base, Ambra Aurea is the single richest amber on the market. It blows all the others out of the water, in my opinion, especially Serge LutensAmbre Sultan which also has a labdanum focus but which is like water in comparison.  

  4. Gisele Bundchen for Vogue Turkey March 2011. Photo: the always incredible Mert & Marcus.

    Gisele Bundchen for Vogue Turkey March 2011. Photo: the always incredible Mert & Marcus.

    LM Parfums Sensual Orchid. A seductive floral oriental, Sensual Orchid is centered on the eponymous flower. On my skin, the orchid is a delicate, pastel, floral note that feels as crystal clear, clean, bright and sparkling as a bell rung at the top of the Swiss alps. It smells of lilies, peonies, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, vanilla — all wrapped into one in a cool, clean, crystal liquidity. It is followed by the richest ylang-ylang; custardy vanilla; a hint of smoky woods; bitter, green-white almonds; and boozy cognac fruitedness. The final result is incredibly narcotic, dramatic, opulent, and heady. For me, Sensual Orchid is all about dressing to undress, and to seduce. It is a scent that definitely skews feminine in nature, though I know a number of men to love it as well.

  5. George drawing via Vogue Italia.

    George drawing via Vogue Italia.

    Jardins d’Ecrivains George. Feminine orange blossoms turned masculine in an ode to George Sand. The potent flowers are transformed into something leathered, dark, and faintly dirty with tobacco, resins, and more. From a mentholated beginning with neroli, George slowly takes on paper, coffee, and tobacco notes, followed by heliotrope, myrrh and Peru Balsam in a play of hardness and softness, lightness and dark, masculine and feminine. Leathered orange blossoms is quite an original take on the usually indolic flowers, and I was taken enough by George to buy a full bottle. Some find the scent far too masculine for a woman, which rather defeats the whole point of a fragrance meant to reflect the particular character of George Sand. I think it’s unisex, though you have to like your neroli and orange blossoms with a dark, dirty edge.

  6. Source: 123rf.com

    Source: 123rf.com

    Arabian Oud Kalemat. Kalemat is a fantastically affordable, easy, rich oriental centered on a honeyed amber with tobacco, incense, and dry cedar tonalities. It opens with dark berries that smell like blueberry purée, infused with honey and incense, then a rich, deep Damascena rose joins the party. Eventually, Kalemat turns into a non-powdery, more concentrated version of Serge Lutens’ tobacco-y Chergui with touches of Hermes’ Ambre Narguilé, Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, and, for some, Amouage’s Interlude Man. There is a subtle whiff of oud underlying the mix, along with dried cedar. Heady and potent at first, Kalemat becomes a sheer cloud that envelopes you in a golden haze of sweetness, dryness, woodiness and incense. It lasts for hours and hours, smells incredibly expensive, and is highly affordable. If you love ambers, tobacco-incense fragrances, or sweet scent like any of those mentioned above (including Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille), then you really should give Kalemat a sniff.

  7. Arabian Horse tumblr_m7dtkdCrFl1rwt5gqo1_500Amouage Jubilation XXV (Men). I love Jubilation XXV, and always regret that it has very little longevity on my wonky skin. What a beautiful opening! Dark oranges infused with incense, balsamic resins, cedar, patchouli, ambergris and a faint touch of oud in a deep, rich blend that often makes me think of HermèsElixir de Merveilles, but better. A few hours later, Jubilation XXV takes you to the wintery outdoors, with a large stone campfire amidst a dark, dry Guaiac forest, a brisk, chill in the air and the smell of burning leaves. There is a slightly medicinal, synthetic, pink band-aids undertone to the oud, but the fragrance is really well done as a whole. If Jubilation XXV lasted on my skin beyond a mere 5.5 hours, it would be ranked much higher.   
  8. Painting by Holly Anderson. "Spherical Romance Art Set" via Artbarrage.com. (Website link embedded within.)

    Painting by Holly Anderson. “Spherical Romance Art Set” via Artbarrage.com. (Website link embedded within.)

    Nasomatto Black Afgano. In essence, Black Afgano is a super-concentrated, richer, deeper version of YSL‘s fabled M7 in its original, vintage form. It’s a smoky plethora of darkness from the dark, quasi/fake “hashish” elements and cherry-cola labdanum amber with all its nutty, toffee’d undertones, to the incense, the oud (supplemented by Norlimbanol), leather tonalities, and resinous sweetness. I didn’t enjoy the synthetic nuances to the oud or the Norlimbanol, but I liked the fragrance as a whole. It seems Black Afgano may have been reformulated to dilute some of its super smokiness and render the fragrance more sweet, as it wasn’t the dark monster of brutish repute that I had expected. If it has changed, then perhaps the reformulation merely makes it more unisex. Those looking for a version of vintage M7 with deeper potency, sillage, and longevity, should definitely check out Black Afgano.   

  9. Source: Wallpapers4desktop.net

    Source: Wallpapers4desktop.net

    Serge Lutens De Profundis. A hauntingly delicate, evocative floral that captures the essence of flowers in purple twilight and feels like a call to Spring. It opens with its core note, chrysanthemums. that have been blended with violets, green notes, white lilies, and sweet, wet earth. Lurking at the edges are peonies, chamomile flowers, incense, a dash of light roses, a whisper of purple lilacs, and some ISO E Super. The flowers feel incredibly dewy and light, almost tender and soft. It is as though they are just waking up, releasing the airiest of delicate floral scents. De Profundis is, at the start, a cool fragrance that is almost chilly in its delicacy. As time passes, however, the floral aroma becomes stronger, more robust, almost as if the flowers have fully bloomed in the sunlight. The dew has evaporated, the petals unfurled, and the meadow floor comes to life with earthy softness, light smoke, and every bit of green around. De Profundis is a bit too watery for my personal tastes, and I’m generally not one for pure florals, but it’s hard not to be swayed by its pale, ethereal delicacy. It is really a hauntingly elegant scent.    

  10. Source: YouTube.com

    Source: YouTube.com

    Dior Ambre Nuit (La Collection Privée). If Mitzah was Dior’s ode to labdanum amber, then Ambre Nuit must be its homage to ambergris. On my skin, Ambre Nuit is smoky, liqueured, salty-sweet amber, with dry woods and a quiet touch of delicate roses that have been rendered a little fiery from pepper and a little sweet from patchouli. It is laced with black incense, creating a mix that evokes parts of Chanel’s Coromandel. There is something extremely sensuous about Ambre Nuit which often makes me think of the Argentinian tango. The ambergris’ special, unique features evoke the warmth of heated, slightly musky skin that has been rendered just the faintest bit salty from sweat. The incense conjures up the smoky, dark feel of those dance rooms, while the gaiac and cedar replicate the incredibly smooth, wooden floors that the dancers glide across. The rose never features much on my skin, though it does on others. On me, the patchouli is more prominent with its spicy, sweet, often chocolate-y mellowness. It’s a beautiful combination, and my second favorite scent from Dior’s refined Privée line.

  11. Painting by Gyula Tornai (1861-1928): "In the Harem."

    Painting by Gyula Tornai (1861-1928): “In the Harem.”

    Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour Le Soir. Described by some as beastly, by others as “dirty,” Absolue Pour Le Soir is my favorite from MFK, but how you respond to it will depend very much on your personal yardstick for honey, cumin, and animalic notes. For me, Absolue conjures up the heart of a Turkish harem besieged by musky, leather-armoured warriors. They bang on the sandalwood doors which open to release spirals of incense, as honey-swathed concubines approach to tempt with deep roses and indolic ylang-ylang. Absolue Pour Le Soir begins as an instant war between warm human flesh, the mysteries of floral-draped women, sweet honeyed intimacy, animalic leather, and feral, musky masculinity. As if tamed, the fragrance later softens to a creamy, spiced sandalwood infused with honey, dark resins, frankincense, and a dollop of roses. It’s lovely, though I’ve found myself holding it at more of a distance these days, perhaps because of the sharpness of the honey which is a core element of the scent. Still, if you want a truly skanky Oriental with the most golden of ambered hues and endless layers of complexity, you should rush to try Absolue Pour Le Soir.

  12. Amouage Fate Woman. (See description above.)
  13. Source: wallpapersnatural.com

    Source: wallpapersnatural.com

    Tauer Perfumes’ Une Rose Chyprée. I’m generally not one for rose scents, but Andy Tauer’s Une Rose Chyprée is an exception. It’s a spectacular chypre-oriental hybrid that features an autumnal, ambered rose nestled in the mossiest of green cocoons. The fragrance swirls all around you in a veiled shimmer of greens, garnet red, earthiness, and mossy trees — all rolled into one. This is a green rose whose petals were crushed into the damp, wet soil of the forest floor; a rose that lies nestled amidst fresh, just slightly mineralized, faintly bittersweet mosses; a rose infused with the concentrated essence of a thousand dark green, slightly spicy, peppered leaves, then sprinkled with hints of alternatively tart and zesty citruses. It is a rose that is fruited, but spiced with cinnamon, and wrapped with the tendrils of black incense. Some chypres can be haughty, cold, aloof numbers that keep you at a distance. Une Rose Chyprée is almost a coquettish chypre that beckons you with a sweet smile, despite the emeralds and rubies glowing around her elegant, rosy throat. If it didn’t have an enormous amount of ISO E Super and didn’t give me a ferocious, piercing headache, I would definitely be tempted to buy a full bottle. Nonetheless, it’s an absolutely beautiful scent, and my favorite from Andy Tauer.  

  14. Tauer Perfumes’ PHI – Une Rose de Kandahar. (See description above.)
  15. Edward Steichen photo, 1931. Molyneux dress. The Condé Nast collection.

    Edward Steichen photo, 1931. Molyneux dress. The Condé Nast collection.

    Puredistance Opardu. I’m not the sort to be deeply moved by pure florals, but Opardu has one of the most beautiful openings in the genre that I’ve encountered in years. It almost gave me whiplash as I smelled the bouquet of lilacs — vast fields of purple with a scent that was concentrated, pure, and incredibly delicate. It was followed by violets, tuberose, jasmine, lush gardenia and heliotrope in a stunning mix. It is pure, unadulterated, classique, haute elegance that calls back to the golden age of perfumery. On my skin, unfortunately, that spectacular start lasts only a brief hour before it fades, and then sheer, vaguely floral powderiness takes over. If there were a way to capture and retain that beginning, Opardu would undoubtedly be in my Top 10. As it is, I think it’s a beautifully feminine fragrance with Puredistance’s signature touch of great refinement, elegance, and luxuriousness.

So, that’s my Year in Review. I may end up having a separate post next week that divides fragrances into categories, from Ambers and Leathers, to Floral Orientals, Pure Florals, Gourmands, and the like. I’m still undecided, as I know it will take forever to compile, and some genres may only have one or two entries in it. Others may have far too many to choose from. In case you hadn’t noticed, I tend to focus on Orientals, and I rarely stick my toe into such fields as foodie gourmands, crisp colognes, or aldehydic fragrances. Plus, many Orientals are either hybrids or have two or more dominant elements that can make the scent fall into different categories. As a result, I’m not sure how useful or precise such a list will be, but we shall see.

As the year draws to a close, I want to wish you all Happy Holidays. I hope that the upcoming year brings you endless joy, peace, prosperity, good health, success, love and laughter. Thank you for staying on this journey with me, and here’s to a great 2014!

Puredistance Black: Shades of Purple & Pink

The night is dark, and full of terrors.”

Source: Puredistance.

Source: Puredistance.

That is one my favorite quotes from the television series, Game of Thrones, and I often come up with fun variations for different occasions. It’s a line which sticks in my head, so I wasn’t surprised when it popped back up just before I began testing Black, the new, about-to-be-released fragrance from one of my favorite perfume houses, Puredistance. The luxury brand talks about how the scent was inspired by “the concept of black,” and about how it is a “mysterious fragrance that stays in the shadow, giving away – only every now and then – part of its nature.”

Upon reading that part of the press release, and seeing the image sent by the company, all I could think of was, “the night is dark (black), and full of luxury.” Well, not quite. As it turns out, Black is indeed an extremely luxurious fragrance that smells very expensive, but I found it to be as purple and pink as humanly possible. At one point, it evoked fluffy pink clouds, and I almost expected a chubby cherub to be sitting on one and offering me turkish delight. For me, “Black” is the absolute furthest thing from its name, and is not my personal cup of tea. It’s not a bad fragrance by any means — in fact, it’s well done and clearly emanates luxury — but we all have subjective tastes or things that we struggle with, and I struggled quite a bit with Black.  

Black in the 17.5 travel flacon. Source: Puredistance.

Black in the 17.5 travel flacon. Source: Puredistance.

Like all of Puredistance’s fragrances, Black was created by a master perfumer, in this case, Antoine Lie, and is the very highest perfume concentration, an extrait de parfum. Black clocks in at 25% perfume oil, a figure that is surpassed only by Puredistance’s exquisite floral, Opardu (which has 32%). Black will be released at the start of December, and is described as follows:

Puredistance Black is an understated elegant and mysteriously charming perfume inspired by the concept of BLACK; a concept that for centuries has been associated with secrets, mystery and style.

Puredistance BLACK is created in Paris by the famous French Perfumer Antoine Lie based on a concept of Puredistance founder Jan Ewoud Vos. The essence of the concept was to create a perfume that is close to the wearer and releases sensual and elegant scent layers in a whispering way – without shouting. A mysterious fragrance that stays in the shadow, giving away – only every now and then – part of its nature.

Black in bottle, non-travel form.

Black in the regular, non-travel, bottle form.

As part of the whole concept of mysterious shadows, Puredistance wants you to treasure the “beauty of the unknown,” and merely describes the scent as one that is more “masculine and oriental” than Puredistance “I.” The company is keeping secret Black’s perfume notes, saying only that you should “Envision, Smell, Feel. Don’t analyse.” If you’re a regular reader, you all know how well I manage not to analyse things…. It’s hopeless. I was incapable of just smelling, feeling, letting go and not analysing with the uber-luxury brand, JAR, and it’s not possible here, either. It simply is not my personality or forte in life, given my obsessiveness with both facts and details. 

So, based on what I smelled, let me give you my guess of the notes in Puredistance Black:

Ginger, cardamom, absinthe wood (wormwood), saffron, rose, patchouli, myrrh, opoponax (sweet myrrh), amber, sandalwood (not from Mysore), and benzoin.

What I’m less absolutely certain of is the possible inclusion of oud, a tiny touch of elemi wood or guaiac as an additional source of woody smoke, and a drop of vanilla. It’s extremely possible, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

Puredistance Black opens on my skin with a blast of cardamom, immediately followed by ginger, amber, absinthe wood, incense, saffron, patchouli, and a whisper of rose. There is a balanced sweetness, a suggestion of sandalwood, and a saffron that is neither buttery nor hot, but wonderfully spicy. The ginger adds a lovely, fresh, piquant bite that works beautifully with the sweeter notes and the woodsy notes.

Speaking of the latter, I guessed absinthe (or wormwood) for a few reasons. First, even before I tested the perfume and simply upon taking the vial out of its white, satin pouch, I was hit by an extremely strong blast of oud-like woodiness that was herbal, spicy, and green — too much so to be real agarwood. It was also extremely similar in smell to the wood note in Amouage‘s Fate Man, a fragrance that officially includes wormwood. On the skin, the woodsy notes was surprisingly less dominant and forceful than what was wafting out of the vial, but it felt even less than complete, total agarwood in nature. Absinthe shares a few cursory, initial similarities with oud, so that’s what I’m going on.

purple smokeThe initial opening of Black in the first two minutes is lovely, but then, my nemesis takes over: purple, fruited patchouli. For all that I love black/brown patchouli, I despise the purple kind that is ubiquitous and everywhere in modern perfumery. A friend asked me the difference the other day, and I think my explanation may help some other people too.

For me, traditional (and rather 1980s) patchouli is brown/black in hue, with chewy undertones of sweet amber, spice, leather, wood, and incense smoke. The current, modern version of patchouli is purple in hue because it’s fruity, syrupy, jammy, incredibly sweet, and with grape and berry undertones. The very original type of patchouli is the 1970s, hippie kind that is really, really black, dirty patchouli and that people describe as a “head shop” scent. Some examples of fragrances with a strong purple patchouli note would be: almost every commercial, department store perfume containing “patchouli,” Marc JacobsLola, Chanel‘s Coco Noir, Le Labo‘s Ylang 49, Frederic Malle‘s Portrait of a Lady, and, now, alas, Puredistance Black. An example of black/brown, more traditional patchouli would be something like Profumum Roma‘s Patchouly, Serge LutensBorneo 1834, Chanel‘s Coromandel, or Reminiscence‘s Patchouli. It’s not a long list at all because that sort of patchouli is incredibly uncommon nowadays.

Source: Tasty Yummies blog. (Link to website embedded within photo. For recipe for Concord grape jam, click on photo.)

Source: Tasty Yummies blog. (Link to website embedded within photo. For recipe for Concord grape jam, click on photo.)

I spent all this time outlining the specific smell and nature of purple, “fruit-chouli” because it is the heart of soul of how Puredistance Black manifests itself on my skin. No less than three minutes into the perfume’s development, the saffron-oud blast takes on an almost grape-y, berry, jammy overtone that is incredibly sweet. Five minutes in, I feel as though I’ve been covered by fruit syrup. Twenty minutes in, I feel as though I’ve been transformed into a berry tart with unctuous, cloyingly sweet, fruited, purple Smucker’s jam, then sprinkled with rose petals and a dusting of saffron. I have to be honest, I lost my appetite — and I hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours.

I wish there were a substantial counter-balance to the deluge of fruit-chouli in the opening hour. There is a herbal, woody note that flitters about like a tiny hummingbird, but it’s far, far underneath, and wholly unable to compete with the grape-y, berry onslaught that is stomping over my arm like a Panzer unit in full fury. I know my skin tends to amplify base notes, but this is a bit ridiculous. I think sadly back to that absolutely lovely opening with its spicy, gingered, slightly herbal, ambered woodiness, but it’s gone, smothered by unctuous, purple, saffron-rose-infused molasses. Even the absinthe gasps for air, then retreats to the corner to hide its head.

"Purple Velvet Gold Flakes" by *Will3style at Deviantart.com. http://will3style.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Velvet-Gold-Flakes-258099755

“Purple Velvet Gold Flakes” by *Will3style at Deviantart.com. http://will3style.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Velvet-Gold-Flakes-258099755

There is no salvation in low sillage, either. That promised description of a wispy perfume that “stays in the shadow”? Ha! Black’s opening is strong and potent, with significant sillage, wafting in a purple cloud almost a foot around me. I normally would be thrilled, but the fruit-chouli is starting to crush my spirit. For a whole hour, I’m drenched by jammy, grape-berry molasses, that is just lightly infused by particles of saffron-infused rose, incense, absinthe wood, and honeyed amber. The ginger is no longer noticeable, and neither is the cardamom.

Source: hdwallpaperplace.com

Source: hdwallpaperplace.com

It was with enormous relief that things start to slowly — very slowly — improve at the end of the first hour. The Smucker’s patchouli jam lessens fractionally, allowing the rose to finally come out properly from its gooey purple shadow. The rose is sweet, just slightly dewy, and pink in visuals. With each passing moment during the second hour, it takes on a weight of its own, and starts to diffuse the fruitedness of the perfume. The woody notes and light incense are also more noticeable, though they’re largely blended into the greater whole.

Rose-flavoured Turkish Delight.

Rose-flavoured Turkish Delight.

By the start of the third hour, Puredistance Black’s purple hues have turned into a gorgeous shade of pink. The perfume wafts about 2 inches above the skin, and has a soft, creamy texture like a fluffy cloud of saffron-rose. In fact, Black takes on a Turkish Delight, or loukhoum quality, though without any of the sugared powderiness often associated with that confection. The patchouli remains, but it is quite mild as compared to its original, completely nuclear blast. Instead, it merely adds to the loukhoum association with a soft touch of grape. It actually works perfectly and brilliantly now. The absinthe wormwood and touch of incense lurk in the shadows, leaving an image that is primarily that of a pink, fluffy, creamy cloud. I almost expect to see a pink-cheeked cherub sitting on one of them.

I mean it quite sincerely when I saw that I enjoyed this phase of Black. I really did. It reminded me of a significantly richer, creamier, more luxurious version of the drydown phase of Tom Ford‘s Noir de Noir. There, the syrupy, very baroque rose with saffron, truffle earthiness, and the merest, speckled touch of oud also turned into a loukhoum confection in its final stage, but there are big difference. Noir de Noir was much thinner at that point than Black, had an almost violet-y touch, and, more to the point, was extremely powdered in nature. I wasn’t particularly fond of the violet, vanillic powder of the drydown, and I’m relieved that Puredistance Black has none of it at this stage.

Source: 8tracks.com

Source: 8tracks.com

Even better, Black is infinitely deeper, smoother, richer, creamier, and more opulent. The perfume is fluffy, but rich; sweet but not excessive; and an utterly beautiful, creamy, deep, pink rose with just the right amount of fruited patchouli. There is also the very necessary touch of woodiness which Noir de Noir lacked in its drydown, adding a balance to the floral sweetness. Here, the woody element has the faintest flicker of herbaceousness, but, more importantly, a creamy smoothness that makes me wonder if there is generic, Australian sandalwood or cashmeran underneath.

Black remains as this lovely mix for a few hours with only minor alterations. For example, at the start of the fifth hour, the perfume drops to lie just barely above the skin. The herbal absinthe wood that continues to hide behind the floral loukhoum changes in strength, fluctuating from mild to weak on the overall scale of things. And there is a growing hint of something anisic that is rising to the surface.

At the 6.5 hour mark, however, Black begins to transform. It takes on a licorice undertone and slight whiteness which makes me think that it must have myrrh. It is a note which is known to display an anisic, herbal facet, in addition to a slightly churchy, cold, white, incense note. The latter is extremely subtle in Black, but it’s there as well. At the same time, there also is a flickering shade of something honeyed which resembles very much sweet myrrh or opoponax. In addition, Black is starting to show a slightly vanillic powderiness that makes me suspect the presence of benzoin. In its final change, the perfume has turned into a gauzy veil that sits right on the skin, though it is still easily noticeable and potent when sniffed up close.

"Pink abstract" by Montserrat Lopez Ortiz via fineartamerica.com

“Pink abstract,” painting by Montserrat Lopez Ortiz via fineartamerica.com

Black still smells of a floral confection first and foremost, but the newcomers become increasingly noticeable. And, in all honesty, I’m not completely thrilled by the overall effect. There is a cloying undertone to the rose Turkish delight when combined with the anisic, slightly cold, white incense-y myrrh, the sweet myrrh, and the vanillic powder. It’s not helped by a new spiciness that faintly resembles All-Spice powder and/or star anise. In small doses and for a short period of time, the sum total is perfectly fine, but Black stays this way for hours on end. I found it a little fatiguing, if truth be told.

In its very final stage, starting at the 9th hour, Black turns into a whisper of sweet vanillic powder with rose, a vague blur of myrrh, a flicker of abstract woodiness, and an odd underlying tinge of sourness. It’s all a shadow of its former self, coating the skin like the sheerest, thinnest glaze. Black finally fades away about 14 hours from the start with four squirts from the small sample, and 15.25 hours with 5 medium sprays. (Note: My sample atomizer didn’t release the same amount as would be available from a regular bottle as it had a very small hole and a wonky release, so the quantity applied was not as large as those numbers may suggest. It would really be the equivalent of 3 small-to-medium smears from a dab vial, and 4 large ones.)

I tested Black twice, and I’m afraid I wasn’t very enamoured on either occasion. I don’t mind the middle phase, but I wasn’t crazy about the last one. And there aren’t words whatsoever to describe my reaction to the opening hour. As I said, I thought Black significantly and substantially improved at the start of the second hour, but the first one was rough.

Yet, it’s important to put my comments into context: I absolutely loathe purple, fruited patchouli. I try to grit my teeth and get over it when the note is minor, but when it is significant, substantial, and potent, then I simply can’t bear it. I don’t think others have quite the intensity of my reaction to fruit-chouli, which isn’t helped by having a skin chemistry that amplifies the note. In short, my reaction is very subjective and personal to me.

It’s also a reaction that is not even remotely common to others who have tested perfume. Black has generally been greeted with uniform admiration and liking, even by those who usually share my perfume tastes and skin chemistry. Take, for example, The Non-Blonde who writes, in part:

Puredistance is stepping into unexpected new territory with Black, a dark and romantic fragrance created by perfumer Antoine Lei[.] … Black [is] an oriental with an edge that could have come straight out of the labs at Amouage.  […]

Puredistance Black holds my interest from the very first second. A medicinal camphoric note there that lets you know that the raw materials here are real and uncompromising. Soon it becomes honeyed and steeped in booze, making the maybe-oud go down easily and deliciously. Perfumes of this kind, from Amouage to By Kilian often use their sillage to assert themselves as luxury. Not here, though, and as the press materials stress– this is a feature, not a bug. And I have to say that I love it. Black is not exactly a skin scent but it lives and thrives on skin level;  the emotional storm is very much there, manifesting itself for one’s own personal pleasure for a full day and night, just without broadcasting it to the world.

My reaction was also different from those who did detect the patchouli, but had a completely different perception of its nature. In a gushing rave, The Perfume Shrine described Black as follows:

a quasi-brutal opening with a tangy citric fruitiness allied to the darkest, earthiest patchouli possible, like snails coming out of the bush in the dusk, but the cloak of the night soon mollifies it with a woody cluster of honeyed plummy-cedar notes reminiscent of the Lutens canon and a “suede” orientalism. The sweet melange is also reminiscent of pipe tobacco, laced with a boozy aftertaste that lingers. (I hypothesize smoky cypriol/cyperus and vetiver should be featured too). Chewy, a meat course for non vegetarians. […]

Puredistance Black reminds me of the darkness and weirdness factor of Goutal’s Un Parfum Cheri, par Camille, fueled by an intense Indonesian patchouli grade replete with all its earthy chocolate and darkness “dirty” facets. […] Black would be also liked by those who appreciate Borneo 1834 and Bois de Violette or by oudh and tobacco fragrances fans, as the bittersweet oriental feel would appeal.

I’ve tested both the Lutens fragrances that she mentions, and I see absolutely no similarity between the patchouli in Borneo 1834 and Black. Not even remotely. As for Bois de Violette, I don’t think mere fruited sweetness with wood is enough to make the perfumes comparable in style. Clearly, we have very different skin and skin chemistry.

Patchouli — of any kind — isn’t mentioned at all by two bloggers with whom I generally have very similar perfume opinions, as well as perfume tastes. Take the lovely Caro of Te de Violetas who writes:

The initial impression is one of chaos: its fiery opening smolders with notes of chili pepper, cinnamon, and green cardamom, soon overlapped by the bitterness of saffron and absinthe. A smoky touch of oud dominates the blend for a while and brands its character. I am not especially devout of oud but the effect here is restrained and it suffices to cast a veil of mystery. The whole effect is opaque but lightweight and refined. As I near my nose to my wrist, I can’t shake from my head images of Bogart and Bacall. The progression is as smooth as velvet. As it turns softer, well into the drydown, vanillatobacco and tonka ensure a plushy sweetness but the darkness never completely fades away.

As a woman, I can wear Black more comfortably than the rugged M, but I still prefer to smell this on a beloved man or on a handsome stranger.

The Scented Hound also never mentions patchouli, though parts of his experience sound to me as though they involved both absinthe wood and myrrh:

WHAT I SMELL:  Black opens with a sweet and deep incense and smoky accord.  I want to say there’s some bergamot and what seems to be a bit of floraled honey mixed with the smokiness.  That initial smokiness breaks away somewhat to reveal this almost butter like creamy light almond.  But as soon as I notice that, the incense starts to waft up from the bottom again, this time with what seems to be a bit of sueded leather. There’s a bit of sour that makes an appearance that doesn’t detract, but like the smoke and incense, seems to pop in and out.  After around 15 minutes it seems like there is a bit of peppered metallic that makes an appearance.  Again, it comes and goes like all of the other notes which seem to intermix seamlessly without one note dominating.  In the end you’re left with a very light, close to the skin, smooth and elegant slightly woody incensed perfume.

As all of this should make clear, Puredistance Black is different things to different people. All these reviews are dissimilar, though mine seems to veer furthest outside any common thread.

So, the bottom line is that you should try Black for yourself, and make up your mind. If, by chance you generally share similarities with my type of skin and perfume taste, don’t be put off by my review. For example, if you love Tom Ford’s Noir de Noir, or if you would like an even richer version of its drydown, you absolutely should consider Puredistance Black. I will only caution you on one thing: if you’re expecting another, darker, woodier version of Puredistance’s absolutely spectacular “M,” then you will be disappointed. They are nothing alike — and every reviewer who mentions “M” is absolutely consistent on that point.

Perhaps that is small part of why I struggled with Black. M happens to be one of my all-time favorite (modern) fragrances, an absolutely magnificent marvel that is in my Top Ten, and which I would bathe in, if it were possible. The chypre-oriental-leather-amber mix is also the perfect representation of my perfume tastes. I don’t do well with sweetness, and Black turned into a very extreme, very pink example of that. If I had experienced something actually black in hue, with smoky, woody, dark Orientalism, then I suspect M might have had some stiff competition. As it is, I’m afraid it doesn’t.

DISCLOSURE: My small vial of Black was provided courtesy of Puredistance. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is to my readers.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Black is an extrait de parfum concentration (the highest), will officially debut in December 2013, and will be available in a variety of different sizes on the Puredistance website. Its European retail price will be as follows: €165 for the 17.5 ml travel spray, €275 euro for 60 ml (about 2.1 oz), and €490 euro for the 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. The American prices are, respectively: $198, $330, and $590. Until its official release, samples of Black are being temporarily offered as part of a promotional special from Puredistance (at the website linked up above). The promotion involves: 2 x 2ml vials of the Extrait for $39 or €29, with free shipping. Retailers: Upon its release, Black will be offered at the usual Puredistance retailers which include: Luckyscent and MinNY in the US; Jovoy in Paris; and London’s Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie division on the 5th floor of Harrods. You can already pre-order at Luckyscent. For all other countries, you can use Puredistance’s Store Locator which lists retailers from Australia and New Zealand to Austria and Russia. I will try to remember to update this post later with more direct links, as well as links to sample sites like Surrender to Chance which normally offers Puredistance fragrances in vials that you can buy for testing.

Perfume Review: Puredistance Antonia

A woman walks through the mist and fog in her small private garden in London. It’s the 1930s, and she wears a long, evening gown with ropes of pearls for the dinner party that she’ll attend later at Grosvenor Square. She is half visible, half hidden in the swirls of the fog; a soft shimmer of a figure, she almost seems like a mirage. Spring flowers surround her, wet and sweet, but there is mostly green in the air from verdant bushes behind her and the climbing ivy that trails the walls of the nearby house.

Photo by Sheila Rock, "Garden Mist," 2012. Source: Photography-now.com exhibitions.  http://photography-now.com/exhibition/details/89795

Photo by Sheila Rock, “Garden Mist,” 2012. Source: Photography-now.com exhibitions.
http://photography-now.com/exhibition/details/89795

That’s the vision that comes to mind when I wear Antonia by the luxury, niche perfume house, Puredistance. It is an elegant, feminine, green floral perfume with an old-fashioned, sophisticated feel done in a very modern, light, airy manner. It is not my favorite from the perfume house (which actually is one of my favorites brands), but that is only because I’m not really a green perfume sort of person. Antonia is a beautiful scent that will definitely appeal to those who love sophisticated, timeless fragrances with these particular set of notes.

Puredistance-Packshot-ANTONIA-01-HRAntonia was released in 2010, the creation of Master Perfumer, Annie Buzantian. Like all of Puredistance’s fragrances, it is an extrait de parfum, the very highest concentration possible. In the particular case of Antonia, it clocks in at 25% perfume oil, which is very high indeed, though it is not Puredistance’s richest. (That would be the stunning Opardu.) The company describes the scent as follows:

Antonia… is a green floral with a great lushness and warmth of heart, but at the same time pillowy and gentle as can be. Key in the creation of Antonia is the image of a strong, positive, but at the same time gentle woman. […¶]

Antonia. Source: Puredistance website.

Antonia. Source: Puredistance website.

The Perfume is neither modern, nor old-fashioned – Antonia is a timeless Perfume with a feel of innocence, yet feminine and confident. She grabs you with gentleness and faithfully stays with you, tenacious, but never overwhelming. She dances with graceful ease in a harmonious balance struck between the crisp, verdant optimism of galbanum top notes and the smooth, creamy sensuality of vanilla in the dry-down.

Ingredients: Jasmine, Rose Essence, Ylang Ylang, Orris [iris], Ivy green, Galbanum, Vanilla, Vetiver.

Galbanum, for those who may not know, is a gum resin from certain Persian plants which resemble large fennel or anise plants. Its smell is very green, often bitter or pungent, sometimes herbal or grass-like, but almost always with a woody undertone.

Here, it is a key part of Antonia which opens on my skin with a burst of green and white. There is galbanum but, also, aldehydes which create a soapy film over the green, softening its usual biting, bracing, pungent characteristics, while also adding a certain fizzy quality to the overall notes. Soft florals are intertwined, creating sweetness that further tames the galbanum note. At the same time, there is a hint of rooty, slightly earthy vetiver. The overall impression, however, is of extremely expensive French soap with rose, iris, green notes and vetiver, all intertwined with galbanum.

Edward Steichen photo, 1931. Molyneux dress. The Condé Nast collection.

Edward Steichen photo, 1931. Molyneux dress. The Condé Nast collection.

There is a certain chilly coolness to the elegance. While Puredistance’s founder, Jan Ewoud Vos, feels the perfume evokes his mother (whose name is Antonia), to me, it conjures up a beautiful, slightly haughty, aristocratic European socialite from the early part of the 20th century, languidly lounging in a stunning dress. Iris notes always create that image in my mind but, here, it is also the fact that galbanum was a key staple of more classique fragrances and is not frequently used today. Yet, Antonia is not an old-fashioned scent. It’s definitely a modern twist on the old classic notes; it’s lighter, airier, without bullying powder, or a heavy base. And, for all that I keep seeing aristocratic British socialites in my head, I also keep seeing beautiful gardens in the Spring, full of sweet-smelling white flowers and lush softness.

Aiken House & Gardens. Photo by Carolyn Aiken. Source: http://warrengrovegarden.blogspot.com/2011/08/misty-morn-in-garden.html

Aiken House & Gardens. Photo by Carolyn Aiken. Source: http://warrengrovegarden.blogspot.com/2011/08/misty-morn-in-garden.html

As the moments tick by, Antonia becomes sweeter and more floral. The soapy aldehydes retreat more and more, while the jasmine blooms. Very subtle touches of rose and iris trickle up to the surface, along with what feels like hyacinth and lilacs. Neither of those last two flowers are in Antonia, but it feels like it with the very sweet, sometimes purple, feel of airy delicacy. In my mind, the aldehydes are almost like a sheer mist, wafting over a garden in bloom, letting them peek out here or there, but also delicately covering them like a gauzy veil.

Forty-five minutes in, the jasmine becomes much stronger, but it’s never indolic or heavy. Rather, it’s fresh, bright and sparkling — which makes me think that Antonia has hedione in it. For one thing, hedione has long been a key part of 20th century perfumery, especially for French perfumes. While it is often used in place of jasmine absolute, hedione is also sometimes used for its own characteristics in order to create a bright, green, lemon-nuanced fizzy note. For another, hedione is also a frequent partner to jasmine absolute (such as there is in Antonia), when the perfumer is trying to prevent the note from turning indolic and to keep it bright. Here, the jasmine note is very fresh, airy and almost green — the way it would be if hedione were used.

For all the lightweight textural feel to Antonia, the florals are both strong in projection in that first hour and soft in nature, almost like very pillowy cloud floating around you. Yet, the sillage soon drops and, shortly after the first hour, Antonia turns into a skin scent on me. It is the exact same situation that occurred when I tested Puredistance’s Opardu, which was one of the most spectacular florals I’ve tried in years. I don’t know if it was the sharp drop in projection which made the perfume notes harder to detect, or if Antonia is intended to turn into an abstract floral, but for the next three remaining hours, the notes are amorphous, light florals along with mossy galbanum, sometimes peppery green notes, a touch of soap and the merest suggestion of light musk. At times, the ylang-ylang becomes a little more prominent; at other times, it’s a combination of jasmine with ylang-ylang — but for the most part, the flowers bloom together as a well-blended, harmonious whole.

Then, at the start of the sixth hour, Antonia changes. The most prominent note is smooth, lush, creamy vanilla, followed by surprisingly spicy green element (the ivy?), custardy ylang-ylang, and a drop of vetiver. Antonia remains that way for a few more hours, softening even further, then turning into a soft, powdery vanilla in its final dry-down. Its caress finally fades away after the start of the 11th hour which is quite a long period of time on my crazy, perfume-consuming skin.

As I said at the start, Antonia is a very pretty perfume, but it wasn’t my favorite out of the three Puredistance fragrances that I’ve tested thus far. For one thing, I’m not the hugest fan of galbanum, which is a solid thread in the perfume for a good portion of its first six hours, and I don’t go gaga for green fragrances. For another, I’m one of those very odd people who does not like strong aldehydes. It puts me solidly in the minority of perfumistas, I know, but I’ve had issues with aldehydes since I was 7 years old and was given a bottle of Van Cleef & Arpel‘s famous First. When I shuddered over that, I was given Hermès’ Caleche — and that almost put me off perfume altogether, until I was saved by YSL‘s Opium. Soapy aldehydes are, in fact, the very reason why I cannot stand Chanel No. 5 — a confession that I know will make me a pariah amongst perfume bloggers. But I’m telling you all this as a context for Antonia. It’s a fantastic scent with undeniable quality and beauty; I’m simply not in the target audience.

Antonia is very loved in the perfume community and justly so, I think. Perhaps the most instructive, helpful review comes from a blogger who also struggles with galbanum and green fragrances, but who adored Antonia nonetheless. The very talented Candy Perfume Boy wrote, in part, in his lovely review:

What is startling about Antonia is how the strength of the galbanum and floral notes seems to be perfectly weighted so that everything can come through and show its own distinct character, no single part takes centre stage. Annie Buzantian seems to have a real nack for creating a perfect equilibrium within a composition.

Antonia becomes much softer and more powdery with time, she also keeps warming until she moves from being sparkling and exuberant to being cosy and comforting. Dry vanilla and amber create a cosy, maternal aura that surrounds the sweet florals and green galbanum. It’s amazing that a perfume can be so classy, yet so cuddly.

Antonia is a perfume of contrasts, at times she can feel old fashioned (thanks to the strong galbanum and aldehydes) and at others she feels completely contemporary. There is also nothing quite like Antonia available at the moment, she feels like a proper ‘perfume’, a signature scent that encourages loyalty from those who wear her.

The link between Antonia and Jan Ewoud Vos’s mother is very touching and it resonates so well because Antonia feels incredibly maternal. There is something wonderfully comforting about Antonia, her presence is reassuring and loving, like a hug from Mum. She strikes me as a fragrance that could be passed down from mother to daughter through the generations. She is timeless enough to be worn by Grandmother, Mother and Daughter simultaneously. To put it simply; Antonia is liquid emotion.

It’s a beautiful review that definitely captures one side to the perfume. (I still see willowy, 1930s British socialites!) But it is a review that, I hope, will tempt you to try the perfume because there aren’t a lot of things out there that consistently have Puredistance’s trademark elegance.

Antonia is currently part of Puredistance’s “Scent of the Season” promotional special. Until April 30th, 2013, it is available at the same prices as Luckyscent but with many extras added on top for free, as well as free shipping to the U.S. or to an E.U. nation:

  • 17.5ml Perfume Spray + leather holder free of charge + plus the Gift Set of all 4 fragrances in 2 ml vials in a satin pouch free of charge for $198 or €165;
  • the 2 oz/60ml Perfume bottle + the Gift Set of all four Puredistance fragrances in 2ml vials in a satin-lined box free of charge for $330 or €275; or
  • the large 100ml/ 3.4 oz Perfume Flacon + 17.5ml Perfume Spray free of charge: $590 or €490.

Puredistance is one of my favorite houses because their fragrances ooze sophistication, luxuriousness, quality, and the very best of the classique, haute perfume tradition. Each one is stunning in its own way and there is something for everyone, regardless of personal tastes. Their M is a magnificent Chypre-Oriental-Leather-Amber and amongst my favorite perfumes (as well as now being a family favorite as well), while Opardu is perhaps the most beautiful floral I’ve tried in years. Antonia is just as lovely in its own way. If you’re looking for a perfect Spring floral and like soft green scents, I hope you will give it a try.

DISCLOSURE: MY SMALL VIAL WAS PROVIDED COURTESY OF PUREDISTANCE. AS ALWAYS, I MAKE IT VERY CLEAR TO ANY COMPANY WHO SENDS ME THINGS, UPFRONT, THAT THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF A POSITIVE REVIEW, OR EVEN OF A REVIEW AT ALL. I ALSO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT I WILL ALWAYS BE COMPLETELY HONEST ABOUT A PERFUME, AS MY FIRST OBLIGATION IS TO MY READERS.

DETAILS:

Puredistance-2ML-SET-01-HR

Cost & Availability: Antonia is an extrait de parfum concentration (the highest), and is available in a variety of different sizes and forms on the Puredistance website. The usual retail prices are as follows: you can buy a 17.5 ml travel size spray for $198 or €168; the small bottle is 60 ml/ 2 oz and costs $330, while the large bottle is 3.4 oz/ 100 ml and costs $590. However, you can also buy Antonia as part of a sample Gift Set of four Puredistance perfumes (Opardu, I, Antonia, and M) with each sample being 2 ml. The whole set costs $59 and includes free shipping. Antonia is also available from Luckyscent in all available sizes, along with a 0.7 ml sample vial for $6. In the UK, Puredistance fragrances are available at Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie division on the 5th floor of Harrods. Elsewhere, you can use Puredistance’s Store Locator which lists retailers from Australia and New Zealand to Austria and Russia. In terms of samples, at the moment, Antonia is not listed on Surrender to Chance’s Puredistance page but I’m pretty sure I remember seeing it there before for the same prices as the other Puredistance samples. ($3.99 for a small 1/4 of ml vial, $7.98 for a 1/2 vial and $15.96 for 1 ml.)

Perfume Review – Puredistance Opardu: Exquisite Femininity

Exquisite.” That word just blew through my mind the minute I put on Opardu by the luxury niche perfume house, Puredistance. An explosion of lilac, purple and white filled my eyes, I moaned a little, and then I sprayed on some more. I barely restrained myself from putting on more than the usual, standard testing amount; I would have bathed in Opardu if it had been possible. It is, quite simply, spectacular. 

Source: Wallpapers4desktop.net

Source: Wallpapers4desktop.net

Puredistance Master Collection - Opardu

Puredistance Master Collection – Opardu

Puredistance is a small brand whose perfumes typify the luxury, elegance, and restrained richness in the best style of classic perfumery. Each of their fragrances is made by a Master Perfumer and is an extrait de parfum blended at a whopping 25-32% concentration from the finest perfume oils. Opardu for Women is no exception. In fact, it tops the numbers at 32% concentration; I can’t think of a single modern perfume that is anywhere close to that degree of pureness.

Released in 2012, Opardu was created by Annie Buzantian and is classified on Fragrantica as a “floral woody musk.” Puredistance’s description for the perfume explains both its inspiration and its overall essence:

The word OPARDU expresses a deep longing for the bygone days of dreamy opulence and true romance. Puredistance OPARDU has an instant hypnotizing effect that revives memories of love, romance and seduction. Be prepared for a perfume that will bring you back to the velvety nightlife of Paris in earlier days.

The Kees Van Dogen bouquet in the middle which served as the inspiration for Opardu. Source: Puredistance website.

The Kees Van Dogen bouquet in the middle which served as the inspiration for Opardu. Source: Puredistance website.

Central to the ‘feeling’ of OPARDU have been the expressive paintings of Kees van Dongen, in particular one of his illustrations for the book ‘PARFUMS’ by Paul Valéry, published in 1945 in a limited edition of 1000.
When Jan Ewoud Vos [the founder of Puredistance] showed this illustration of Kees Van Dongen – a rich and lush bouquet of flowers – to Annie Buzantian, the famous Master Perfumer from New York, she instantly fell in love with it. She also felt this nostalgic feeling for the early years of the last century; the golden age of perfumery.

According to Wikipedia, Kees van Dogen (1877-1968) was a 20th-century Dutch painter and one of the Expressionist Fauves (like Matisse) who “gained a reputation for his sensuous, at times garish, portraits.”

Puredistance-OPARDU-15-HROpardu definitely evokes the feel of “bygone days of dreamy opulence.” Its notes are as follows:

Tuberose absolute, gardenia, Bulgarian rose, purple lilac, carnation, jasmine absolute, heliotrope, cedar wood.

The perfume opens on my skin with a veritable feast of purple. Stunningly beautiful lilacs — something I don’t come across often in perfumery — fill the air with a sweet, heady, but airy aroma. The scent has a delicacy which can only be described as exquisite.

geishas-and-cherry-blossom-lizzy-forresterIt takes me to Japan, evoking the most willowy, delicate geisha in robes of the richest, embroidered purple silks, the merest whisper of transparent, white gauze at the base of her swan-like neck, the most feminine touch of pale pink on rosebud lips, as she walks daintily in a garden filled with the loveliest of spring blossoms and lush, velvety white flowers. There is wealth and luxury behind the notes, but also a supreme sophistication tied to endless femininity.

There is a fragility to the delicacy of Opardu, but this would be misleading. In the opening hour, Opardu is a strong scent that belongs with a woman who is confident enough to flaunt her feminine nature without fears of being seen as a simpering girl. I cannot fully explain why the perfume summons such feelings in me — but it does. This is seriously classique, haute elegance that calls back to the golden age of perfumery.

Lilacs. Source: Kootation.com

Lilacs. Source: Kootation.com

Tuberose and lush gardenia peek out behind the facade of lilacs, but there is also a sense of violets, perhaps something like the richest, most velvety African violets, unfurling their delicate richness in the night air. There is also a lovely sweetness from the jasmine absolute; while it is heady in that first hour, it never smells sour, over-ripe or plastic-y. Like everything else about the perfume, it is rich but restrained, sweet, and endlessly airy.

"Rosee Celeste" by David Graux via Art.com

“Rosee Celeste” by David Graux via Art.com

Despite the very Spring-like visuals, the scent calls to mind the richness of night-blooming flowers. And, despite the gauzy, airy feel of delicate femininity, that lushness simultaneously evokes sensuality and an almost feline sensuousness. Opardu should not be judged by the delicate surface. Underneath the robes of that prim, restrained, endlessly dainty geisha is a woman who revels in her body and in her power to seduce. And that power is almost hypnotic. Puredistance wasn’t exaggerating when they described Opardu as having “an instant hypnotizing effect that revives memories of love, romance and seduction.” You cannot stop sniffing your wrist, as you are transported back to more golden, more elegant, more refined times. Perhaps Japan of the geishas, perhaps the elegant capitals of Europe in the 1920s. Whatever it is, Opardu is simply spectacular.

Heliotrope.

Heliotrope.

As time passes, the notes change a little. At the thirty minute mark, lilacs and gardenia dominate, followed, in order, by tuberose, jasmine and rose. Those of you who are terrified of tuberose or jasmine should not worry; this is not an indolic perfume by any means. It is definitely not Fracas! Later, midway during the second hour, the perfume transforms into a very woody scent of slightly peppery cedar, conjoined with lilacs and a light musk. By the fourth hour and until the end, Opardu returns to its purple roots with soft lilac and violet overtones over a base of heliotrope. The latter has a scent between vanilla or almonds with a slightly powdery element. According to Fragrantica, heliotrope has been “proven to induce feelings of relaxation and comfort” — and I think it is definitely true here.

I love Opardu, but it is not perfect. I was enormously disappointed in the sillage which is so soft and low that Opardu was essentially a skin scent on me after the first hour. (And I sprayed on a good 3 sprays from the little sample that I had!) Even during that opening hour, it hovered maybe three inches above the skin. Afterwards, I had to bring my nose right to the skin to smell the fragrance. By the fourth hour, I actually thought it was close to gone, but Opardu has surprising persistence. Again and again, I thought it had vanished, only to be surprised when, later, I detected a sudden, noticeable patch of lilac. My notepad is covered with times and scribbles of “gone,” only to be scratched out with later times and “it’s still there!” The perfume seems to perform some sort of ghostly vanishing act, disappearing, reappearing, and so on. And all of this occurred on both occasions when I tested Opardu. I always make it very clear that I have perfume-consuming skin and endless problems with longevity, but I do not usually have problems with projection.

I found it especially frustrating in the case of Opardu because it is simply one of the best florals that I have come across in years. I cannot emphasize enough just how exquisite it is in that opening hour. The word “beautiful” does not do it any justice, and even “exquisite” may not be enough. I wasn’t as hugely enamoured by the rest of the perfume’s development which was lovely, but which didn’t reach the heights of that spectacular opening with its unbelievably delicate beauty, underlying lushness and enormous sophistication.

Kees Van Dogen - "Woman on a Sofa."

Kees Van Dogen – “Woman on a Sofa.”

Don’t mistake my meaning — Opardu is beautiful through and through, but that opening hour positively gave me whiplash in terms of just how magnificent it was. I was hypnotized, entranced, almost moaning out loud, and kept smelling my arm like someone under a spell. Thereafter, it was very pretty, but it wasn’t exquisite. I have to wonder how much the incredibly restrained sillage contributed to that feeling. Perhaps if that lilac-white flowers combination had remained as strong throughout the perfume’s development, the spell would have remained. As it was, the lightly peppered cedar and musk phase was pleasant, and the return of the lilacs at the very end made me very happy, but it was all a little too sheer and microscopic for my personal tastes.

That minimalistic sillage makes it hard for me to assess just how long it lasted on me. I actually smelled faint remnants of it on tiny patches of my arm well after 13 hours on one of my tests! Yet, that ghostly act makes me think that 8-9 hours may be a better estimate for the full perfume, as opposed to a few random, dime-sized spots here and there. I have tried to find reviews talking about Opardu’s sillage and duration on others, but I haven’t been successful. The few votes on Fragrantica seem to range all over the place for longevity, while the majority of people (3, in this case) have voted the sillage as “soft” which is the lowest ranking available. One commentator (“ladykarl“) seemed to indicate that the dry-down phase began on her after four hours:

Opardu is very beautiful as the mature ultra femme superfloral that it is. Would be lovely to the opera or an event where dressing up fine is the standard. Lilacs in the front; tuberose in the back (nice combo) The drydown is much less floral; woodsy which makes the later part of the scent (four hours in) much more laid back and well suited for regular life. If i had the right lifestyle i would definitely wear this.

Apart from the time factor, I don’t think that her brief assessment begins to do Opardu justice. I actually think one of the best assessments of the fragrance — out of the many, many positive ones out there — comes from Luckyscent itself:

Oh to be a madcap heiress, sliding through the crowd in a bias–cut satin gown and glittering pumps, a champagne cocktail in one hand and a leash leading to some exotic pet in the other. Your brows are perpetually arched as you scan the crowd for a dashing aviator or an adorably bookish professor to seduce. What scent are you wearing? Opardu, of course! Well, historically speaking, you wouldn’t be – but in the glorious art deco movie set of our minds, you are. Because Opardu is not about the past, it is about a fantasy of the past, just like our daydreams. It evokes the enchantment and glamour of a bygone era, but still feels modern.

[¶] The opening is especially evocative of another time and it is pure swank – like an expensive gift from a rich suitor, conjuring up images of mirror-topped vanities and red lipstick. This develops into an opulent floral featuring luminous gardenia, heady tuberose, piercing jasmine, and velvety rose. The mix is full and lush and there is the seductive thrum of cedar wood underneath it all. You might guess that the lilac and heliotrope would be overwhelmed by all of this and just sit off to the side and whisper to each other – but they are beautifully present, adding delicacy and charm as they put the twinkle in our saucy heroine’s eye. As the scent wears on, the more ethereal elements continue to shine and the overall effect is absolutely lovely.

For those who love soft florals and who want an unobtrusive perfume without enormous projection, then Opardu would be ideal. Even others who prefer greater sillage may be lucky and should try it — after all, I have very peculiar skin! For myself, in a perfect world where I had endless money, I would buy Opardu in a heartbeat — even with my sillage issues — because this is one scent where I would be perfectly happy to reapply every few hours simply to get that stunning, mesmerizing, hypnotic opening. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how practical that would be in reality, given the cost of the fragrance.

Opardu is not cheap but, thankfully, Puredistance has just launched a much more affordable pricing plan. All four of the brand’s perfumes now come in a 2 oz/60 ml bottle of pure parfum extract that costs $330 or €275. Previously, a full bottle of Opardu was only available in a 3.4 oz/100 ml size that cost $590, while a small 17.5 ml/ 0.59 fl. oz sized spray (essentially, a travel-sized mini) is $198.

I realise that these prices are high. But, first, let me remind you that we’re talking about pure parfum extrait at 32% — something that is almost unheard of. Second, price is a very subjective thing. Lastly, the company has done a very rare thing: it heard the whimpers about the prices for its perfumes, and made every attempt to offer a more accessible, reasonable alternative in both size and cost. My God, how rare is it for an haute-anything company — perfume, fragrance, fashion or something else — to actually listen to its consumers and offer something less expensive?

I loved Opardu’s opening. I loved it with the passion of a thousand suns. I want to be wrapped up in its cocoon forever and to have its magical tendrils weave their spell around me as I sleep. It makes me feel so stunningly beautiful and delicate; and it triggered feelings of pure joy and peacefulness. I could really rave about it morning, noon and night. Whether the rest of the perfume’s development matches that initial magic is something that is up to you to decide. If you love delicate, feminine florals, then you must try this perfume. It’s really as simple as that.

Disclosure: My small vial was provided courtesy of Puredistance. As always, I make it very clear to any company who sends me things, upfront, that there is no guarantee of a positive review, or even of a review at all. I also make it clear that I will always be completely honest about a perfume, as my first obligation is to my readers.

DETAILS:

Puredistance-2ML-SET-01-HR

The Gift Set box with its satin lining.

Cost & Availability: Opardu is available in a variety of different sizes and forms on the Puredistance website and I believe shipping is free to the U.S. (and to an EU nation). You can buy a 17.5 ml travel size spray for $198 or €168. The small bottle is 60 ml/ 2 oz and costs $330, while the large bottle is 3.4 oz/ 100 ml and costs $590. However, you can also buy Opardu as part of a sample Gift Set of four Puredistance perfumes (Opardu, I, Antonia, and M) with each sample being 2 ml. The whole set costs $59 and includes free shipping. Opardu is also available from Luckyscent in all available sizes at the same price (but without free shipping), along with a 0.7 ml sample vial for $6. In the UK, Puredistance fragrances are available at Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie division on the 5th floor of Harrods. Elsewhere, you can use Puredistance’s Store Locator which lists retailers from Australia and New Zealand to Austria and Russia. Surrender to Chance also sells it and prices start at $3.99 for a small 1/4 of ml vial, $7.98 for a 1/2 vial and $15.96 for 1 ml.