Radar Love: Puredistance Black
Let me say right from the start that I am a fan of the Puredistance fragrances. The new one, Puredistance Black, which is being launched in December 2013, was said to be somewhat of a departure from the aesthetic of the preceding scents, and as with the first four, the company is not revealing its major notes, just enticing us with the artistic concept behind it. I decided to do something similar for my take on Black – I did not read any other reviews before writing of my impressions of this imposing perfume, or even all of the company's official publicity, and just went with my own unadorned feelings about it. (I actually try my best to do that most of the time, but in the case of perfumes that have been around for awhile, it's almost impossible to avoid reading others' opinions before actually smelling the fragrance.)
The hallmark of Puredistance as a brand is refinement combined with abstraction, using the finest materials, and it's not shy about the judicious use of synthetics to achieve its goals; indeed, Puredistance 1 is as seamless as a watercolor painting and a textbook demonstration of how to use aldehydes, modern musks and other aroma chemicals the right way in contemporary perfumery. Black, the first fragrance from the house composed by the talented Antoine Lie (of Comme des Garçons and Etat Libre d'Orange fame), is just as streamlined but instead of being about diffused light and soft, misty beauty, it is about tone-on-tone warmth and depth, and like its predecessors it is nearly impossible to separate any one note from the overall effect. It wears close to the skin but still emits a steady force field, just enough to create an intimate aura. If I had to make a guess I would say that it will be more popular with men than women, since it has a certain austerity; not severe, but restrained, and the understated sweetness is reined in and never allowed to dominate the whole. That said, I know many women including myself who would wear and love it, as long as the men in our lives agreed to wear it for us too. Its reach is like radar; quiet and unobtrusive, but capable of pinpoint accuracy from which there is no escape once you are within its range.
So what does it smell like? I have to say that it reminds me of a smoothed-out, urbane version of L'Artisan's Timbuktu, since I get a good amount of cumin from it along with other “masculine” spice notes, but that is a compliment, since I love Timbuktu. However, it can be a little bit loud at times because of its spicy exuberance, and Black is something that can be worn for any occasion. I also smell notes of incense, labdanum, glove leather and maybe a touch of oud from Black, but only as brief glimpses before they are folded into the whole again. It has no edges other than the briefest glimmer of sharpness from the cumin when first applied to skin, when there is a momentary impression that it is a conventional masculine fragrance, but that goes away very quickly. Its subtle changes during development provide interest, but one must pay close attention, since the sillage is minimal, so much pressing of the nose against skin is required. Longevity is very good, and you will wake up the next morning still smelling of Black if you put it on the night before, although it will have softened somewhat by then. It never ends up with the vanillic/sweet far drydown that is the usual fate of so many fragrances that might be broadly classified as Orientals, but like the rest of the Puredistance family, and I think of Opardu in particular, its structure is impressively stable, allowing for only small variations throughout its life. This means that if you like it on your skin immediately, you will also like it eight hours later, or for as long as you have it on – and I think you will want to wear it as often as possible.
The Puredistance line is available at Luckyscent in the USA where Black can be pre-ordered now, and at select boutiques in Europe. The parfum extrait formulation is an extravagance, so testing a sample before purchasing is strongly recommended.
Image credit: Abstract Radar art from wallpaperweb.com with added color effects by me.
Disclosure: I received my test sample directly from the Puredistance company.