This month Puredistance invited me to discover their collection of perfumes, which launched in 2008. Whilst a trip to the Netherlands, where the brand is based, was not possible at this point in time; through the magic of the Internet and international courier services, this reconnaissance was possible.
I first discovered Puredistance perfumes in 2011. As a perfume collector, I am always on the look out for new perfumes that speak from a point of difference. Before knowing about the brand’s story, smelling M, I knew I had uncovered something special. It is that immediate sensation you get from smelling something exceptional for the very first time that drives a collector like myself to explore and discover new olfactory experiences, whether they are bottled or simply in nature. This month I rediscovered M as well as three other perfumes that make up the Puredistance line.
The story begins with Puredistance’s creator, Mr Jan Ewoud Vos. It is a cosmopolitan brand with a main office and design centre in the Netherlands. Mr Vos engages perfumers in New York and London, namely Annie Buzantian from Firmenich and Roja Dove, Professeur de Parfums to create perfumes for his brand.
Puredistance is founded on a deep respect for quality, craftsmanship and European style. Every scent is exalted in a perfume extrait concentration, which is presented in a simple yet luxurious flacon that respects the value of both aesthetic form and functionality. The most decadent accessory comes in the form of a crystal column, designed to hold the brand’s 17.5ml perfume extrait. In black or clear crystal, the columns, manufactured by Swarovski, are individually numbered and accented with 24 carat yellow gold or high grade polished steel for a more modern look.
Each of the perfumes in the collection demonstrates a different personality. While both men and women may gravitate towards the rich spices of M, others may prefer the white floral heart of Opardu.
Puredistance I is the first chapter. Unlike other perfumes in the collection, born from a creative brief, written by the brand’s owner, Mr Jan Ewoud Vos, Puredistance I existed prior to the creation of the brand. Sharing his vision with perfumer Annie Buzantian during Puredistance’s infancy, the perfumer understood Mr Vos required a perfume with an understated elegance. Buzantian offered something very personal; a formula she had designed for her own use. Puredistance I is built around crisp notes of tangerine blossoms and cassis. Magnolia and the sheerest rose accord fade into a soft almondy background of mimosa and musk.
If Puredistance I represents the understated woman, Antonia is a woman of presence. For Antonia, Annie Buzantian creates a lush green floral with hints of white buds and roses. Ivy, galbanum and orris cool this bouquet with their powdery green presence. The stoic nature of vetiver adds another layer of shade, and although Antonia is a modern composition, I feel it somewhat connected to classic women’s perfumes of the early 1970s.
Opardu is the most recent Puredistance perfume. Launched in 2012, created by Annie Buzantian; Opardu represents more than a year of dialogue between the perfumer and founder. Central to the theme was a series of expressive paintings by artist, Kees van Dongen. Over a base of heliotrope and cedar, Buzantian paints her olfactory interpretation; a watery floral of rich pastels, lilacs, blush pinks and velvet whites.
Puredistance M is the only Puredistance perfume to date created by another author. Professeur de Parfums, Roja Dove is the author of M, which takes inspiration from the leather interior of a grey Aston Martin DB4. A timeless masculine that oozes charm, M is my favourite perfume from the Puredistance collection and a dedicated post can be read by clicking this link.
A conversation with Mr Jan Ewoud Vos, Puredistance founder:
WMSSL: If you had to describe the Puredistance brand in few words, which words would you choose?
Mr Vos: Modern elegance and true exclusivity
WMSSL: I think a lot of perfumes brands have needed to redefine their notion of exclusivity because of the open market the Internet has created and the common practice amongst perfume fans to ‘split’ their perfumes and share them amongst their peers. Unlike an Hermes Birkin, which cannot be cut into small pieces and shared, do you think it is possible for luxury perfume brands to protect their exclusivity given all these factors?
Mr Vos: In my opinion true exclusivity includes much more than the perfume itself. If you look at our beautiful packaging and stylish flacons, they are definitely part of the total experience of luxury. As is the service that is given by the small selection of perfumeries and luxury stores that are authorized to sell Puredistance. Well trained, friendly sales people will inform our customers in a setting that does justice to the beauty of our brand and tell – if people ask for it – the Puredistance story.
These elements: perfume, packaging, flacon and the right service together create the magical experience of true luxury.
So yes, we can offer our customers a very different, truly luxurious experience. Even if some perfume fans split our perfumes, which I see as positive; it is only a small group of very passionate perfume fans that have found a smart way to try out and use fragrances that otherwise would be too expensive for them. I always admire people with a drive that take initiative and do smart things and many of them are real connoisseurs that say very sensible things about our brand on the Internet.
WMSSL: I think the experience you offer as a brand fully comes to life when one unwraps the box and feels the bottle in hand. The weight, the metal flacon, everything about the way the perfume is presented adds to the brand. How did this multi-sensual design come together for Puredistance?
Mr Vos: Design is indeed one of the key components of Puredistance because I believe that through good and consistent design one can show the DNA of the brand without any words. Design is a universal language that speaks for itself. I am personally responsible for all Puredistance design, sometimes assisted by experts. Sander Sinot, for example, was crucial in the development of our Crystal Column. Guy René in Belgium is our ‘leatherguru’ and then there is the small but very passionate Puredistance Team that I always consult before I finalize a design.
WMSSL: Another luxury is the perfume extrait format, the only perfume concentration Puredistance offer. Was this a conscious decision to only create perfume extraits instead of eau de toilette or eau de parfum?
Mr Vos: Yes it was. From start on I wanted Puredistance to only offer the best of the best. And all people that really know about fragrances agree that the most beautiful way to wear a fragrance is in the form of perfume extrait. Then why settle for less?
WMSSL: M is one of my favourite perfumes, particularly for the leather chypre genre. How did Roja Dove become involved in its creation?
Mr Vos: From the first moment Puredistance entered the market with Puredistance I, Roja Dove was a great admirer of our brand and started to sell Puredistance in London in his Haute Perfumerie on the 5th. floor of Harrods. I learnt that Roja is very good in creating fragrances, which use the best ingredients and reflect the quality of the golden years of perfume. So after I finished the concept of M, Roja was the first person I approached. I asked if he would be interested to create M. It didn’t take him long to say yes. And I am glad he did say yes, since M has gained quite a reputation in the short time after it has been launched.
WMSSL: For me, M proves this classic style of chypre perfume can still be
beautifully created within the current IFRA guidelines. When you are a company that works with so many natural raw materials in such high percentages (understanding that even synthetics are being regulated) do these regulations ever challenge your perfumers when they are working on a Puredistance perfume?
Mr Vos: I never ask my perfumers what challenges they meet along the way of creating their perfumes. This may sound strange to you, but I don’t even discuss the ingredients with Annie Buzantian or Roja. The way I work is I present them a very detailed and very visual concept of a new perfume, which takes me several months to finish, and then give them carte blanche for their creation. When they present me with their olfactory vision I will evaluate the results with my heart, not with my mind and give them visual or sometimes even musical feedback on things I would like to be refined or changed. Usually after three or four rounds I end up with a perfume that matches my concept. By keeping away from the technical side of the creation, by not looking at what other perfume companies are doing and by keeping my olfactory virginity intact, I feel it is much easier for me to trust my own intuitive judgement of beauty.
WMSSL: Do you have a personal favourite from your collection that you are never without?
Mr Vos: Yes. Puredistance I Perfume. I always have one or two flacons with me to give away, because almost everybody loves this beautiful perfume. And making people happy around me through pure and sincere beauty is one of my main drives.
Readers can learn more about the Puredistance collection by visiting www.puredistance.com