Friday, October 30, 2020

Puredistance Rubikona

A new launch by Puredistance Master Perfumes is always a cause for anticipation. Unlike so many niche perfumers that flood the market with new product, Puredistance has deliberately adopted a "less is more" philosophy. Puredistance 1 was introduced in 2007, and Rubikona will be just the eleventh perfume introduced in the thirteen year period since then. Each perfume stands on its own merit as a unique and individual scent. Each breaks new ground and offers Puredistance customers a new and distinct choice.

Puredistance founder Jan Ewoud Vos relies on just a few master perfumers to bring his inspiration and ideas to fragrant reality, and for Rubikona he turned to Cécile Zarokian, who also created Sheiduna. I know from a past interview I did with Mr. Vos that he takes great care in creating the names that will represent his perfumes, and he likes forming a word out of descriptive parts. The brief for this newest perfume started with the word "Ruby", to respresent the deep and warm red of the precious stones, and the word "Icon", to represent timeless beauty and style.

When perfumes are centered around a color, as several in the Puredistance line are, one can't help but draw conclusions in advance as to how the color will be represented in fragrance. With Rubikona's pictured inspirations of a ruby necklace and the vibrant color red, I expected something fiery, maybe even spicy, big and bold. I should have learned after Puredistance Gold, reviewed here, that Mr. Vos would have his own vision, and it would be led by class and restraint. With Gold I expected shiny and bright, and I discovered shimmer and mystery. So I don't know why I expected pyrotechnics or the red cape of the matador waved in front of the bull. Instead it is the red of love and comfort. At the same time it represents the color in a blood red ruby, revealing both shaded depths and glints of sparkling light. Rubikona the perfume juggles that contrast of light and dark with a scent that has  depth, yet also lightness and loft.

First, the notes: 

Top notes: Bergamot, Grapefruit, Mandarin

Middle notes: Rose, Iris, Ylang, Clove, Orange Blossom, Creamy notes

Base notes: Parchouli, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Solar Notes, Musk

So the big question is how does Rubikona smell, at least on my skin? The opening is a full creamy floral, but I smell the citrus notes too, a tart grapefruit and pungent mandarin notes. These citrus notes add a quick moment of lightness, but then disappear into the big bouquet of florals. The floral bouquet is blended in such a way that no one flower is distinct. When thinking of a "red" perfume and seeing that it has rose as a note, one might think they have the scent all figured out. For me this bouquet of flowers does smell "red". Just like you can identify a white bouquet in perfume, this one feels red, but don't expect to have a distinct smell of rose, or any of the other florals for that matter. In a style I find to be distinctly French in perfumery, everything is well blended. In addition to the rose, there is iris, ylang, and orange blossom. I always love the combination of rose and orange blossom which translates to a lovely opulence and richness. Both bring out a creaminess and sensuality in the other. The first time I wore Rubikona, I thought I could pick out carnation in the scent, but when I look at the list of notes I see clove. Carnation can have clove aspects, so I guess this is what made me think it was there. Carnation as a note always gives scents a chic and dressy feel, at least to my nose. The iris is indistinct to me, but certainly adds to the richness of the bouquet that is Rubikona.

During the blooming of all these beautiful florals there is one aspect of the scent that is a standout, and it is the sumptuous, billowy cream notes.

Ahhh, the cream!

The creamy notes give an extravagant plushness to the scent, but at the same time give it a comforting aura. The creaminess is not too sweet, just soft, as if you've sunk down into a pile of billowy pillows. The ylang, and also vanilla, reinforce the scent's creamy nature.

Sink into the comforting softness!

Rubikona carries on with the floral creamy notes, but patchouli, which was slightly evident in the beginning, becomes more pronounced. Rose and patchouli are an often done pairing, but here the combination is more delicate than is sometimes the case. As a patchouli lover, I find its presence brings the flowers and the light creamy notes back down to earth. 

The red and the earth!

The patchouli is subtle to me, just adding a slight earthy depth. Patchouli can sometimes take over a scent, but in Rubikona we have the florals, lashings of cream, soft vanilla, and also gauzy musk. Without the grounding of patchouli and cedarwood in the base, the florals, vanilla, and cream might have felt too sweet and the scent too edible. Instead, there is a balance, a yin and yang that translates to an extremely beautiful but also very wearable perfume. While to me this perfume leans more feminine  I am a firm believer in anyone can wear anything they like, and the patchouli does perhaps make this more man friendly.

Twenty-four hours later I can still smell Rubikona on my wrists, not surprising since it is a 28% extrait. It smell like what could be memories of a beautiful night— a box seat at the opera, a night at the ballet, a dinner out with friends; all the sort of events that have been missed in this solemn year of the pandemic. But as appropriate as Rubikona would be to grace a grand event, it is also warm and comforting, like sinking into the plushest, softest bed ever or being held in the embrace of a loved one. It manages to do a difficult thing, really. It is equally at home as a chic accessory or as simply providing casual comfort, a true definition of effortless chic.

As a final thought, the beautiful red flacon would make a stunning Christmas gift, or Valentines, if you plan ahead. Puredistance packaging is exquisite and substantial, and each finishing bow is hand tied by the staff and family at the brand's Amsterdam office.

By now you may have read other reviewer's opinions of Rubikona. They will all comment on the exclusivity and the exceptionalism of the scents from the Puredistance house. Some perfume houses hype themselves as exclusive and a luxury brand, and they tack a high price tag on their scents as if to prove this. Jan Ewoud Vos set out to create a truly exclusive brand and cater to that select group of customers who appreciate fine craftmanship and quality. In an interview Mr. Vos told me that perhaps his favorite customers are those that can't necessarily buy every new release, but save for one that really speaks to their heart. I respect the way that Puredistance deliberates over each release, perfecting it and adding it like a jewel in the proverbial crown....this time a ruby! Mr. Vos is proud to use master perfumers, quality ingredients, and high levels of perfume oils in his fragrances, never less than 25%, all the way up to 48% found in Aenotus. I know I risk sounding like a sales pitch, but do yourself a favor and buy the discovery set if you haven't sampled this brand. As a perfume lover, it is one of the best gifts out there you can give yourself.

In the literature I received from Puredistance, I believe Jan Ewoud Vos says it best and it's worth repeating here:

"The world is facing dark and uncertain times. The past six months have been very challenging for most of us. But I look back with pride....For this new perfume we selected a deep red colour that evokes soothing emotions of love and warmth in a luxurious and perhaps good old-fashioned way...I really believe that truly beautiful experiences and emotions can help us weather the storm better. So whatever will happen next, we will keep on trying to create timeless beauty."

I believe Rubikona could be an antidote to the year 2020, offering both comfort and beauty as a balm for the soul.

I met Mr. Vos a few years ago at an event in Singapore when I lived there, and since then he has generously shared with me his new creations. I would like to share some of his generosity with you. I have two spray samples of Rubikona to give away to readers. Please leave a comment as to what intrigues you about this perfume, or if you have another favorite Puredistance perfume. Draw closes November 7. Draw is limited to USA readers only. Apologies, but postal issues! Please either check back with comments, or private message me on facebook as to where I can reach you if you win.

All photos not identified are from the Puredistance website. Top photo of rubies, Thank you to Puredistance for allowing me to try Rubikona.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Der Duft Grasse


I picked the Monet painting above to illustrate my review of Der Duft's  fragrance Grasse, because it reminds me of the charming small hotel where my husband and I stayed on the outskirts of the city of Grasse. There was a small patio where one took breakfast and dinner, or just sat with wine to enjoy the view and take in the air perfumed by flower fields, as well as perfume factories scenting the air with their production. This perfume was created by the Der Duft founder, Anselm Skogstad, to capture the essence of the time he spent in Grasse, training to be a perfumer.

Der Duft is a new fragrance brand based in Munich, and Skogstad made the very brave decision to launch this year into the gathering storm of a worldwide pandemic. Der Duft translates in english to "the scent", and the choice of such a non-descriptor name was purposeful. So many brands today have a theme or romantic story line to draw the consumer's interest. Skogstad took a different approach and reveals as little as possible about his scents. He wants the wearer to consider the scent on their own terms and to allow their personal memories to find a connection to the fragrance. 

On his website he states, "I wanted to create a perfume house with a brand name that conveys a simple message and intention to anyone interested in scents. I wanted there to be no need for further explanations or complex stories. The intention is that each perfume, each scent will create their own story and association for the person wearing it."

Upon spraying Grasse I am reminded of the opulence of traditional French perfumery. There is a light rush of aldehydes that lend an air of formality and elegance to the scent. As the frisson of the aldehydes slowly dissipate I am aware of gorgeous blooming florals. In the manner of well constructed French perfumes, no one element overpowers the others. Instead there is a melody composed of rose, iris, lotus, magnolia, and jasmine. All of these are beautiful scents individually, but when melded together into one bouquet, the whole becomes more beautiful than the individual notes.

As the florals unfold, I smell a very distinct bitter note, which to me smells green. I love it, because amidst all the charm and loveliness of the sweet florals lies a slight note of discord, something unexpected, that elevates the perfume to another level and makes it even more interesting. The green note is very fetching, and during the time it is the dominate note on my skin, I can't stop sniffing my wrist.

Later the scent changes again, the florals becoming muted and a very slight powder note emerges. Everything becomes softer, more faded, and there is an undercurrent of mild earthiness from patchouli. At this point I have had Grasse on all day when the most lovely and extraordinary thing happens. Just as I am approaching the end of my day and preparing for bed, a soft lavender note becomes evident as if sniffing a slight trail of scent carried to you by the wind. This is a perfect ending for a perfect scent day.

The perfumer wants the wearer to translate each scent personally so I will do that here. Even though I have been to Grasse, this perfume stirs another memory for me. This year because of covid I found myself in my husband's home town of Adelaide for several months, rather than the three months of summer we typically visit. In thirty years of marriage I had never experienced an Australian spring. Our neighborhood is full of beautiful English-style gardens, heavy on flowering bushes and trailing vines, but dotted with native flora such as wattle trees. If I timed my daily walks for late afternoon the air was an adventure park for a scent lover such as myself. Every few steps the scent would change: cherry blossom, rose, pink jasmine, lily (to name a few). It was a gorgeous olfactory experience being able to sense so many different smells at once. This is what Grasse reminds me of, bringing all sorts of distinctive florals into a cohesive whole, uplifting and joyful. 

Der Duft currently shows five scents on the website and some of these Skogstad has done in collaboration with Miguel Matos. 

If you are interested in reading more about the city of Grasse itself, you can follow my visit here.

Top Photo: The Luncheon: Monet's Garden, Claude Monet.