Puredistance M: Quiet Strength
I have already expressed my appreciation for the first two Puredistance fragrances; now there is a third release hot on the heels of Antonia. This one is a stylistic departure from the others, as is it not by Annie Buzantian, and it is most definitely not intended as a feminine perfume. M is the creation of Roja Dove, who is well known for his high quality custom fragrances, so he seems like a good match for the Puredistance brand. According to the Puredistance Web site, he was inspired by the high quality standards of the house when he agreed to make the fragrance, which was in turn inspired by the idea of good quality leather.
The description says it's a leather chypre, but to me it's not that obvious. It is certainly not a fierce, dark thing like the old Cabochard, Jolie Madame or Bandit, the holy trinity of leather chypres, and not even leathery in the way of the newer, tamer versions of Jolie Madame. This perfume is a smooth blend of spicy, resinous and woody ingredients with the leathery part seamlessly integrated into the whole. As was the case with the first two scents, Puredistance is not listing the official ingredients in their publicity materials, but this is my impression of the notes after several wearings: Labdanum, patchouli, moss, opoponax, tobacco, honey, cardamom, clove, nutmeg, Tonka bean, balsamic notes, leather and a smidgen of smokiness, maybe birch tar. It sounds like a pretty big, ornate fragrance, no? Well, it's not. In keeping with the Puredistance philosophy, nothing is overdone. I am reminded somewhat of several other fragrances, including Serge Lutens Arabie and Fumerie Turque and Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles, but not because M is overpowering in any way. It kind of simmers on my skin, quietly but persistently, and draws me in again and again. To me its character is more Oriental than chypre, though I certainly do smell and appreciate the resins and leather. In the beginning there is a little pungency, as one would expect from a chypre, with just a scratch of patchouli before it smoothes out and gets warmer and spicier, and it has a fuzzy, comforting feel in the later stages of development that does not say chypre to me. Longevity is excellent but the sillage is surprisingly subtle; it does not shout at all, this one.
I would recommend this fragrance for those for whom the huge, sweet, and yes, sometimes raunchy “Orientalist” fragrances are just too much for wearing regularly. It has some of that quality, enough to be intriguing, but it's dry and restrained where they are gleefully excessive. Sometimes I want big and loud, but I also appreciate a perfume I can wear anywhere, and M is just that, while having plenty of its own character. I have a feeling it's going to be very popular with men who like their fragrances elegant and sophisticated while still standing out from the crowd. In Europe it can be found at select boutiques, but in the U.S. it is only available via the Web site. Samples in a pretty little mini “gift box” are $19 each, which is steep, but it includes shipping from The Netherlands. (A set of samples of all three Puredistance scents is $49.) The regular size is $198 for 17.5 ml, but it contains 25% perfume oil so a little goes a long way. Disclosure: I received a free sample from Puredistance for testing purposes.
Image credit: Puredistance M in its sleek gray metallic cylinder from puredistance.com.