Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Puredistance Strikes Gold

To discuss Puredistance Gold, the newest offering from the prestige brand based in the Netherlands, I would like to start at the end rather than the beginning. When initially trying out the perfume, it had been two sleeps since I sprayed Gold on my wrist. Initial impressions: Gold is a perfume that wears close to the skin and is fairly quiet in its reach. Yet as I lay with my  hand resting near my face I was startled by the most beautiful smell, a quiet imprint of Gold still present on my skin as if it has become part of my DNA. Puredistance has firmly positioned itself as a luxury perfumer and one of it's hallmarks is using a high percentage of perfume oils in its fragrances. This doesn't come at a cheap price, but here on my wrist, a full thirty-something hours later, is the result.

Puredistance is one of those rare perfume houses that doesn't flood the market with something new every quarter. Usually once a year a release that has been thoughtfully curated and tweaked will be introduced and in late 2019 this release was Puredistance Gold. The introduction of gold completes Puredistance founder Jan Ewoud Vos' vision of a trilogy based on the brand's three signature colors: Black, White, and Gold. Vos created his own Golden Mondriaan, a term coined to reference Dutch painter Piet Mondriaan who had a huge influence on modern art using a limited palette of colors and brush strokes. Vos wanted his perfume to display "a rich and harmonious fusion of gold tones", and I do find the perfume moves seamlessly through various stages, as if displaying various aspects and hues of the golden color.

When I hear the word gold in relation to perfume I tend to think of glitz and an almost gaudy display of wealth. Puredistance Gold takes the meaning of gold in its original connotation; a measure of something fine and rare. A perfumer has their vision when they create, but a beautiful perfume will connect with users on their own personal level. For me, Gold presented itself as the splendor and beauty of the color gold in the natural world. Gold represents warmth, be it a setting sun or a crackling fire. As the sun hits the water it can glisten and shimmer. This is what the fragrance of Gold suggests; shimmer, sparkle, warmth, glow.

The thing that cannot be argued when you smell a fragrance from Puredistance is the quality of the ingredients. A card came with the Gold sample, listing the top, middle and base notes along with their country of origin. It looks like a tiny menu in a haute cuisine restaurant and it is obvious that much pride is taken in the listed oils. Like all Puredistance perfumes, Gold has a high oil content, this time it is 36 percent.

Let me be honest. I've waited for a while to write this review because although I found the scent of Gold to be beautiful, it didn't initially move me, as when I first sprayed Puredistance Warszawa and heard church bells ringing, angels weeping, and fireworks exploding. Gold was undeniably fine, but was it me? But I kept thinking about Gold and spraying it again and each time I appreciated its beauty more and more. I enjoyed the way the fragrance kept unfolding literally hours after initially spraying. Gold has a certain fluidity as it gently changes and morphs ebbs and flows.

Image photographed by Anh Hoi from web.500px.com

Let's start with the top notes. At first spray, the green mandarin essence from Italy comes out singing. Green mandarin essence along with the Calabrian bergamot essence are front and center but they smell more zesty and green, rather than of lemons or oranges. Pink peppercorn, rosemary essence, and clove bud essence also appear in the opening. Do you know how the clove smell in carnation scents can be slightly powdery — emphasis slightly. I get a sense of that powder feel, a softness. The overall opening is uplifting and energizing, but also soothing and smooth. At this point it is quietly spicy.

Middle notes are jasmine absolute, geranium essence, cinnamon bark absolute, and cistus absolute. I never clearly smell jasmine. I do catch a touch of cinnamon and ciste absolute. The ciste labdanum is what begins to take this fragrance in the direction of a soft oriental perfume. It adds an amber and slightly fruity element to the scent. Gold is not about picking out individual notes, however. The development of this perfume is slow and unhurried and the various notes blend to a harmonious whole.

Photo from wake-my-soul.tumblr.com

Base notes further increase oriental aspects of Gold. There is styrax essence, benzoin resins, myrrhe, vanilla green beans, tonka beans, castoreum, and vetiver. My experience was that the perfume became pretty faint for quite some time, only to surprise me later with alluring aromas that were quietly intense. Benzoin, labdanum, and myrrhe are someof my favorite notes, but rarely have I seen them so masterfully hum with a soft warm energy.

Jan Ewoud Vos turned again to perfumer Antoine Lie to create his latest visionary scent. Lie is also the perfumer for Puredistance White, Black, Warszawa, and Aenotus. 

Don't try Puredistance Gold expecting a pyrotechnic display. Gold doesn't need to call attention to itself. It is pure class and elegance. The scent stays close to the skin, and in my opinion is worn for the wearer's pleasure rather than to elicit comments from those in your orbit. I am far too fickle and too much of a thrill seeker to ever have just one signature scent. If I were so inclined, however, I can see Gold's quiet charm and surprisingly seductive allure persuading me that it could be that one!

Thank you to Puredistance for the sample of Gold. The photo of the bottle is from the Puredistance website. Any other pictures not labeled are Pinterest images.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Scent Trunk's December by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz: A Russian Fairytale

The prolific perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz recently created a fragrance for Scent Trunk, released in December, and fittingly named December. It is such a distinctively beautiful scent perfect for cold weather wear that I wanted to write about it while the Northern Hemisphere is still experiencing winter.

Dawn lives in the Colorado mountain town of Boulder and the surrounding forests have inspired perfume creations for her own brand, DSH Perfumes. She also creates a new fragrance centered around holiday themes every December and these also feature winter vibes with Christmas or Hanukkah references, but with December for Scent Trunk she has created something especially haunting and evocative.

From www.scenttrunk.com website.

Scent Trunk commissions perfumers to create scents that focus on a particular ingredient  and provenance. For December, coriander is the spotlighted note, and St. Petersburg, Russia is the provenance. Dawn really nailed the Russian references. When I first sprayed December I got images of deep, dark Siberian forests and visuals from folkloric fairy tales, where there is usually the suggestion of something dangerous awaiting in the woods.

When I was young my father would read bedtime stories to me, and two books that always delighted me  with shivery excitement  were fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson and also the Brothers Grimm. These were not Russian fairy tales but originated in countries not too distant and contained some of the same dark elements. In these tales threats were waiting for the unwary, children faced danger with uncertain outcomes, and life didn't always offer a happy ending. Today's children read the Disneyfied cleaned-up fairy tales but in my generation the little mermaid never got her prince, her feet were a source of pain, and she died a mournful death as she turned to sea foam in the ocean waves. I would pull the covers up to my chin and shiver with gratitude that I lived safely in a house guarded by my parents and that my sister slept in a bed an arm's length away.

December gives me that shivery feeling of entering a dark woods, wild beasts possibly hiding in the shadows. The forest smells resinous with sappy pine cones and frozen spiky fir and spruce needles. It is as if we are already deep in the forest and far away from civilization. But there is another element that makes the scent whimsical, slightly mysterious, and takes you on a magic carpet ride to the icy cold forests of Russia. A cocktail of notes: bergamot, black hemlock, clary sage, vodka, cardomom, and most of all coriander, combine to achieve this alchemy.  Picture forests more foreboding than welcoming, large furry creatures, icicles hanging from shivery pines, and a spicy melange that does somehow impart a romanticized vision of the East.

The first time I tested December on my skin the scent quieted after a while. I half forget I was wearing it. Then later, and I mean hours later, suddenly it revived like a campfire whose spark had been fanned by the wind and burst into gentle flame again. I smell a deep wine rose and a rooty orris that combine to form a rich velvet against the now dim forest notes. New notes of leather and musk bring visions of bundling up against a white snow storm with leather coats and big Russian fur hats.

Scene from the movie, Dr. Zhivago

Other notes I smell are wisps of smoke, traces of tobacco, and soft leather. Now the scent feels more tamed and civilized. We've moved away from the dark, dark woods and are now cozily ensconced in front of a fire, a small tumbler of icy vodka awaits, and our warm clothing and thick walls keep the cold at bay. I feel enshrouded in my own version of a Russian fairy tale. 

I have used photos from Russian photographer Margarita Kareva, who specializes in these fairy tale images, as for me they perfectly captured the feeling that December conjures.

I am not very familiar with Scent Trunk. I believe it previously had a bespoke element to it, but currently they seem to be commissioning fragrances from indie perfumers in which they feature a certain provenance and highlight a certain note. As far as I know this scent is only available via Scent Trunk, and comes in a very reasonably priced 100 ml bottle or a 5 ml sample spray.

This is not to be confused with the scent called December Holiday No. 10 that is on Dawn's website. I will correct this if I find I am wrong.