New Perfume Review Puredistance Aenotus- Engineering a Signature Scent

There are a few creative directors of independent perfume brands who have shared their personal bespoke fragrance with the wider public. I enjoy these expressions of how those creative directors desire to experience fragrance in their daily life. It informs how that translates to the rest of the brand. I had heard that Jan Ewoud Vos of Puredistance was going to be sharing his own perfume. When I finally received my sample and heard the story of Puredistance Aenotus it turned out to be slightly different.

Jan Ewoud Vos

The briefs for many of the Puredistance perfumes have been so interesting. For Aenotus it is perhaps the simplest brief as Mr. Vos asked perfumer Antoine Lie to create “my signature scent”. Mr. Vos had an idea a “perfume that would first refresh (then) transform into a sensual but subtle skin scent.” It presented many challenges not the least of which is defining the concept of refreshing from Mr. Vos’ perspective. I bet if I asked a hundred readers to define “refreshing” in a perfume I’d find little consensus. I find refreshing to be a mixture of citrus and herbs if I was directing someone to make this style of perfume that would be where I started. With Aenotus it seems like Mr. Vos and I have a similar, but not exact, vision of refreshing. The other part of that brief, to simmer down to a skin scent, is another tricky piece of engineering. M. Lie employs a set of heavier green notes to achieve that.

Antoine Lie

Aenotus opens with a fantastic flair of citrus notes, mandarin, yuzu, and petitgrain. It feels like a cool mist on a hot day. M. Lie then uses mint in its most herbal form to add a green aspect of freshness. I usually don’t like mint in perfume; that’s not the case here because the herbal is as present as the sweet. The linchpin ingredient of Aenotus is blackcurrant bud. This is one of those difficult to work with ingredients. If you go too high in concentration you get a urine-like effect. If you go too low, you get an insipid vegetal component. A perfumer must find the way the other ingredients can be guardrails preventing either extreme. In the first moments the blackcurrant bud appears it is complementing the mint with a sticky green quality. Over time as the citrus and mint fades it is the entry to the skin scent side of Aenotus. That skin scent accord is made up of oakmoss, patchouli, and a mix of synthetic woods. That sticky green finds the oakmoss; together they sing of green in a lower key. The patchouli adds depth and grounding. The synthetic woods provide a dry finish to it all.

Aenotus has 18-24 hour longevity and low sillage. This is 48% perfume oil it will last forever on fabric as well as skin.

The evolution of Aenotus has been enjoyable on the two very warm days I wore it. The refreshing part energizes me through the first part of the day before it settles into a pleasant skin scent. I don’t often get unsolicited compliments but one day I wore this was my weekly day of errands. The cashier at the grocery store, the clerk at the county office, and the waitress where I had lunch all remarked on how good I smelled. Aenotus might be Mr. Vos’ signature scent but I suspect there are going to be a lot of other people who find it to be theirs, too.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Puredistance.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance Warszawa- Warsaw Curves

I hate waiting. I was an impatient child. I’ve become better in my old age, but I still don’t like it. I am particularly bad about it when one of my favorite perfume brands makes me wait a year. Last December Puredistance released Warszawa exclusively at Quality Missala in Warsaw, Poland. When I contacted the brand about getting a sample I was told it would be released worldwide in November of 2017. Then a couple of my Polish readers told me how much they enjoyed it. None of this helped the wait go down any easier. Now that I have had the chance to try it I find Warszawa to be one of the most elegant retro nouveau perfumes I’ve tried in a long while.

Jan Ewoud Vos presenting Warszawa in Poland (November 2016)

When we say they don’t make perfumes the way they used to I also tend to couple it with the idea of what passed for beauty back then. The perfumes and the women were curvaceous. There was contour to their structure as the eye, or nose, enjoyed the sensations of swooping in and out and around those curves. Warszawa was based on the Polish society women during that Golden Age. Creative Director Jan Ewoud Vos and perfumer Antoine Lie takes us back to a time where things had curves.

Antoine Lie

One of the great things about Mr. Vos’ creative direction is that it comes from a visual perspective. For Warszawa he visited with the Missala family in Warsaw and was shown the family pictures from this period. He walked away thinking about how to turn this into perfume. Working with M. Lie for the third time there is seemingly an easy creative rapport. The model they use for Warszawa is a floral chypre where the floral part feels very Golden Age but the chypre feels very modern.

The opening is a silk glove being drawn along a sinuous arm as candied violet and grapefruit provide a smooth opening. A big green emerald flare of galbanum transforms it into something more extroverted. The floral heart accord is made up of a deep jasmine absolute paired with a rich orris butter. Just those two notes would have been spectacular, but M. Lie adds in the broom flower which provides its own twists and turns as it swirls through the more extravagant florals. The broom adds in a softness as its herbal nature inserts itself within the overall effect; it gives a slightly acerbic nip. The base is patchouli and vetiver carrying the chypre frame while styrax tries to add into a contemporary form of the classic base.

Warszawa has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Warszawa is a perfume which celebrates another time where a different aesthetic was ascendant. It is nice to have a reminder that the days of elegance can still inspire great modern perfume. Warszawa is proof that there were curves a plenty during the Golden Age in Poland.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Puredistance.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance Sheiduna- Arid Oriental

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When it comes to Orientals one of the things I think gets missed from this Saharan milieu they evoke is the dryness of the source. If you spend any time in the desert you rapidly understand how dry it is. Every bit of moisture is removed from the air. Most Oriental perfumes will nod to this but will add in a figurative humidity along the way. Very few will stay desiccated throughout. The new Puredistance Sheiduna is one of those which does.

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Jan Ewoud Vos and Cecile Zarokian

Jan Ewoud Vos is the owner and creative director behind Puredistance. He is a creative director who extensively works with visuals and inspiration. For Sheiduna he chose to work with Cecile Zarokian for the first time. In a blog post on the Puredistance website about their working relationship he reveals that during Mme Zarokian’s effort Mr. Vos was sending a weekly postcard with a visual and text meant to help refine the process.

The initial brief Mr. Vos provided was the name Sheiduna which he saw as a mixture of Sheika and dune. He wanted a perfume which would be a “sensual Oriental”. Mme Zarokian provided a first formulation which was seen as “too heavy and too Oriental”. As she went back to the drawing board she would go in a drier direction one that brings to life the sunset in the desert as the heat of the day begins to lose its grip.

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Mme Zarokian uses a frame of Amber Xtreme to set the boundaries for which the rest of the fragrance will be encased in. Amber Xtreme is one of those woody synthetics that can dominate a perfume. In the case of Sheiduna it is the ingredient which imparts the dryness which sets the stage. It takes a particularly skilled perfumer to overcome the overwhelming nature it can have. Mme Zarokian is one of those who knows how to tune the effect to allow other notes to breathe within this very definitive boundary. In the early going she uses a set of aldehydes to mimic that hot desert breeze skirling sand off the top of the dunes. This leads to a heart of spicy Bulgarian rose made even more spicy by the addition of cumin and clove. The two spice notes keep the rose from becoming lush or dewy. They serve as a desiccating agent as if the rose was placed in a drying jar. The aridity persists into the base as vetiver sets itself in the middle of the frame. It then is joined by benzoin, labdanum, and frankincense. They provide that moment when the setting sun drops behind the dunes and the last rays of orange flash across the sandy horizon.

Sheiduna has 18-24 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I have been aware of Sheiduna throughout the year and had smelled it on a patch of skin a couple of times before receiving my sample. I liked it in those previews but it wasn’t until I wore it for the couple of days necessary for me to review it that it revealed itself to me. I must tip my hat to Mr. Vos and Mme Zarokian for taking this path for I found uncommon beauty within this arid Oriental.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Puredistance.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance White- Soft Focus

I really appreciate the effort Jan Ewoud Vos puts into every new release from his luxury perfume brand Puredistance. We went all of 2014 without a new release and when I received the press package for the latest, White, there was a reason. Mr. Vos had been collaborating with perfumer Antoine Lie on White. It was due to be released contemporaneously with Black, also by M. Lie, which was the last release. What is great was instead of pushing something out to satisfy a timeline Mr. Vos and M. Lie thought they could do better and so they returned to the beginning of the creative process.

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Jan Ewoud Vos

If Black was all about introspection and inward exploration; White was meant to be all about happiness and outward joy. There is no mention about what the discarded draft of White was centered on. The version which ended up carrying the name takes one of the more common supporting notes in many perfumes and gives it a starring role.

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Antoine Lie

M. Lie chooses a particularly bright bergamot to lead into a pairing of Rose de Mai and orris. M. Lie keeps this very light and slightly powdery. It has a very expansive footprint in the early moments as it seems to just suffuse itself throughout my awareness. I like a powdery floral and it did make me smile. I would guess if you are not a fan of powdery florals it might be more challenging. The star of White comes up through the powder as tonka not only arrives, it takes over. Tonka is most often used as a way of adding warmth and a slight bit of sweetness into a fragrance it is used in. M. Lie takes tonka, and using it in overdose, gives it a platform from which you can’t ignore it. The tonka used here, from Venezuela, rewards the scrutiny. By having it in high concentration the hay-like coumarin, the nutty character, and the slightly vanillic sweetness all have a more noticeable effect. If this was left in overdose it would become cloying and annoying. Instead M. Lie like an olfactory cinematographer softens the focal point by the addition of sandalwood, vetiver, and patchouli. They take that tonka and blur the edges making it just right while still retaining its starring role. A lovely cocktail of musks are the finishing touches to White.

Puredistance White has 24 hour longevity and average sillage, more than you might expect from a fragrance at 38% concentration.

White reminds me of waking up from a summer afternoon nap as the late afternoon sun flows into the room giving everything a soft glow. Mr. Vos wanted a perfume which would make one smile; I also found White to be a deeply comforting scent as well. It produced a smile of pure contentment each time I wore it.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Puredistance.

Mark Behnke