Monday, February 26, 2018

Puredistance Opardu, Antonia, and Sheiduna

I am reviewing today three scents from Puredistance: Opardu, Antonia, and Sheiduna or what I like to think of as the three beautiful ladies. Puredistance founder Jan Ewoud Vos considers his scents unisex, but in this case I think Opardu, at least, leans decidedly toward the feminine. Both Opardu and Antonia have an old fashioned vibe, and in my interview with Mr. Vos I asked him if there was ever any disagreement in team meetings about the final formulation of a product.

"Our customers are generally at least twenty five or thirty plus," Vos said. "The younger generation tends toward sweeter consumibles as I call them, so sometime I have to say to my team, I understand what you mean but I have to take your age into account. This is a mature product for mature people. So sometimes we may not be totally in accordance but in the end my vote is decisive."

Having a perfume house that gears its product to a mature audience is an uncommon but delightful experience. Any of us that have spent much time in online perfume chat groups have heard the term "old lady perfume" as a descriptive of perfumes that evoke past times, and let's face it, no one wants to be called an old lady, even if one could possibly be considered to fit into that demographic, ahem. If "old lady perfume" means appreciating the past and reinterpreting that style for today's world, count me in. If it means preferring  polish, beauty, and elegance over brassy, flashy self promotion, guilty. If by "old lady perfumes" you mean one that can only be worn by a woman or man of experience, self confidence, and assuredness, I'm all in! Puredistance fragrances, in my opinion, have embraced the glamour of a bygone era while still pleasing today's audience.


At first spray I smell something timeless and a bit old fashioned. Opardu is unabashedly feminine and manages to display both oppulence and innocence.

Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan in the 1973 film, The Great Gatsby.

Jan Ewoud Vos described his inspiration for Opardu as vintage 1920s Paris. "You know the movie, Midnight in Paris, when he's being transported back into time? That was part of the inspiration I had.  I love that he's having drinks with Hemingway and Picasso in a bar. Paris is so romantic, but at that time in the 1920s and 30s, even more so. I want a perfume that goes back into that time, I thought powdery, purple lilac..nothing new, nothing modern, nothing metal, very soft."

The naming of Opardu came about from a play with wording. "Sometimes I make up names myself," said Mr. Vos, "and my feeling with this movie is that we've lost those good old times. In French,  "I lost" is "j'ai pardu", and an exclamation is like "Oh", so I combine to  O-pardu."

A scene from the movie, Midnight In Paris, which partially inspired Opardu. 

Opardu transports me to the memory of a childhood spring day. The gentle waft of pure sweet blossoms moving gently in the breeze; the fuzzy sweetness of flowers laden with pollen and the low hum or insects, the transparency of the gentle light in that bridge season before the sun will find its intensity. Everything is soft, beautiful, and pure, which was one of the goals Mr. Vos had for this scent. The purple lilac and the heliotrope take the stage for a time, and just when I think that Opardu is all about lilac, narcotic wisps of tuberose, or maybe it's the gardenia or jasmine,  drift from my wrist in a mesmerizing haze. I almost expect see yellow pollen dust on my wrist and to hear the buzz of bees in the background. I understand the pull to a past era; it's feminine, there is glamour, and it smells, well, expensive! But for me, more than a Paris nightclub it reminds me of Paris in the spring. In any case, I can't think of a more lovely fragrance to give the experience of springtime.


When I spray Puredistance Antonia I'm transported to a world of green wood nymphs, green buds just before they're ready to unfurl, or the green of a mysterious mossy grotto. This scent speaks of elegance and times past, yet at the same time breathes of life's renewal and fresh beginnings. I feel like I'm diving into a deep green pool but at the depths there is something bright and solid. All the happy pleasure receptors are firing off in my brain. We all have different tastes but you know that feeling when you find a perfume that seems personally created for you? That's how I feel when I spray Antonia. Actually though, Jan Ewoud Vos created it as a tribute to his mother, Antonia.

In our interview, Mr. Vos said, "My mother was like a movie star. Antonia...initially it's like my mother, pretty powerful, and boom, there she is. It is a very unique green floral scent. A favorite color of my mother was egyptian green so I tried to adapt it as much to her wishes as possible. I sent a picture of my mother to (perfumer) Annie Buzantian and I asked her, 'Do you have a second fragrance for us?' "
She said, "Well, I have something on the shelf which is rather unique."
I said, "What's the name?" and she said, "Antonia."
So I said, "Oh my God! Again ! It must not be coincidence so let's see if it fits the character of my mother. We fine tuned it with pictures of my mother and I described her because she was already gone by that time, so to me Antonia is very dear because basically it is the character of my mother in a bottle." Antonia was released in 2010.

The green flacon gives promise to the liquid inside with its elegant simplicity. This is a perfume that makes the wearer feel special. A friend and I were having a discussion the other day about how our mother's generation never stepped out of the house for the simplest of meetings without having bouffant hairdo in place and wearing a well thought out outfit with coordinating jewelry. Maybe that's just a Southern thing? My mother was the same until her death, and her friends I still visit always look perfectly coiffed and coutured, even though they're around ninety. This is the way their generation was, no shopping in yoga pants for them! Antonia makes me want to live up to that ideal. As much as I love Antonia I wouldn't necessarily wear it to get my groceries. It calls for special occasions or meetings with a special person, moments when I want to strive to be a more refined version of my day-to-day self.  In our interview, Jan Ewoud Vos commented that his perfumes, by virtue of price and formula, feel like special occasion perfumes, that extra step you take to add a touch of luxury to your toilette.

As a point of reference, Antonia reminds me in style of two other favorite green perfumes, both by DSHPerfumes: Giverny In Bloom and Madame Pour Vert, both reviewed on my blog. 

The florals in Antonia are listed as jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, and orris and they are blended in that French art of perfumery style where no one note stands out. I do smell the galbanum, because really, could you make a green style perfume without it? Maybe it's my love for nature that make green perfumes so compelling. They always give me a feeling of serenity, but in the case of Antonia, with one spray I feel more interesting, more elegant, and a good deal more beautiful than I actually am. Not bad for a bottle of perfume!


From The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam, illustrator Rene Bull, 1913 edition.

Puredistance Sheiduna is the first and so far the only Oriental style perfume in the line and was created by Cecile Zarokian, debuting in 2016. For me this is the most different perfume in the Puredistance stable. While the others have a definite retro feel, Sheiduna feels to me like a more modern interpretation of the Oriental style of fragrance. On my skin the scent is contained and projection spills only gently around me. When I think of retro Orientals, take the original Yves Saint Laurent Opium, for example, introduced in 1977, it was a powerhouse and was literally a forceshield around the wearer. In our interview here Jan Ewoud Vos stated that the Puredistance line is rooted in sophistication and that the scents will never be overtly sexual or vulgar. In this way Sheiduna presents the idea of the Oriental with all the richness these notes present, but in a more gentle and elegant version.

The strongest impression I get from Sheiduna is the dryness of the desert; miles and miles of undulating golden sand dunes with an orange sun setting on the horizon. Amber, incense, and resins provide mystery and depth. In the first hour I smell something like cumin which is a bit acrid on my skin, but when the vanilla and tonka eventually come in, their creaminess, mixed with the resins, begin to dominate. This is a very well done Oriental scent, but I have many in my collection so I don't feel as drawn to Sheiduna as I do some of the other Puredistance scents. If you are looking for a polished Oriental to add to your collection, this is definitely worth trying.

Opardu, and especially Antonia are scents I'd love to add to my collection in the future. To find out which of the Puredistance scents prompted a buy, come back for tomorrow's review. For my interview with Jan Ewoud Vos and reviews of 1, M, White, and Black, go here. For a review of WARSZAWA go here.

Top Photo: Cyprien Boulet, Avant le Bal, 1877, Google Image. Perfumes were provided by Puredistance and opinions are my own.

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