Perfume Review – Puredistance M: “M” for Molten Marvel

Molten lava, gold and red, coursing richly over dark rocks. An aristocratic cavalry officer’s perfectly oiled, brown leather boots, gleaming with scented oils of honey and rose. The richest amber and the darkest honey, intertwined in a kiss.

Source: Warren Photographic at

Source: Warren Photographic at

Those are the images which come to mind when I try “M” from Puredistance, a niche luxury house whose exclusive (and very costly) perfumes are made by Master Perfumers in London and New York. Puredistance M, as it is known, has an added cache: it’s made by the great Roja Dove himself.

Roja Dove. Source: The Glass Magazine.

Roja Dove. Source: The Glass Magazine.

Roja Dove is the only man in the world who bears the title, Professeur du Parfum. His legendary nose is said to be able to detect over 800 perfumes from a mere sniff. After working for almost twenty years for Guerlain, he left to pursue his own ventures which include the speciality boutique within a boutique at Harrod’s called Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie.

Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie.

Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie.

He also creates his own perfumes — some of the most highly acclaimed and admired in the world. A few years ago, he collaborated with Puredistance , a company whose perfumes typify the luxury and richness associated with his own fragrances. Each Puredistance perfume is an extrait de parfum blended at a whopping 25-32% concentration and filled with the finest perfume oils. Puredistance M for Men and Women (sometimes written as PuredistanceM) is no exception.

Puredistance-Packshot-M-01-HRReleased in 2010, Puredistance M is technically categorized on Fragrantica and elsewhere as a unisex leather perfume. All the talk about leather led me to expect a hardcore leather scent — which I’m very wary of —  so I was surprised to find “M” to be a glorious lovechild of an oakmoss chypre and an oriental that merely happened to have leather undertones. I was also relieved to see Puredistance’s own description for the perfume state pretty much the same thing:

M is inspired by the stylish comforts of the interior of a grey Aston Martin. M is a leather
chypre of classic proportions… with an unexpected oriental twist, which lends the perfume an original and modern feel.Puredistance-Metal-Perfume-Spray-Cap-01-HR

The warm smoothness of the blend is incomparable. The composition purrs softly along, weaving the leather accord into the road-map of spices, woods and resins. The chic, sensual and comforting trip takes the wearer from the leathery start to the softly-smoldering woody, balsamic base via the delicately earthy heart.

Enveloping and comforting as it is, M, with its elegantly smoky leather, has a hint of excitement and danger, which is just how it should be, in a fragrance inspired by Bond’s car.

Ingredients: Bergamot, Lemon, Rose, Jasmine, Cinnamon, Patchouli, Mosses, Cistus [Labdanum], Vetiver, Vanilla, Leather, Musk.

Puredistance M opens on my skin with a rich, unctuous, baroque mix of dark rose, labdanum, leather, jasmine, musk and a subtle dash of citrus. There is the swirling aura of leather all around, but it’s almost ephemeral at this point and nothing distinct. And, yet, there is also the faint impression of a barnyard that pops up, only to flit away after two minutes.

Rose Petal Honey. Source: (Click on photo for the website which has a DIY recipe for rose-infused honey.)

Rose Petal Honey. Source: (Click on photo for the website which has a DIY recipe for rose-infused honey.)

The rose is rich, dark, beefy and meaty; it is also slathered with the darkest honey you can imagine. The sweetness tames any zestiness of the citrus note, rendering it sweet, not sharp. There is a noticeable backdrop of oakmoss but, unlike many chypres, it is never fusty, musty or dusty. Instead of being pungently dry, the mosses are sweetened by the honey notes from the labdanum resin — it’s absolutely glorious.

Interestingly, the second time I tested Puredistance M, the oakmoss was even less noticeable in the start. Same with the citrus notes. Instead, the predominant impression was a panoply of honeyed beeswax, rich roses, dark honey and cinnamon. In fact, honeyed beeswax is such a persistent part of this perfume on both occasions that I wore it that I am convinced it is one of the hidden ingredients, along with cloves and a smidgen of cumin. I am also convinced that Puredistance is one of those perfectly blended perfumes which will reveal different facets each time you wear it.


Molten Lava. Source:

The combination of notes — on both occasions — lead to an overwhelming impression of molten lava: a fiery river of honeyed labdanum turned burnished red from spices and roses. The labdanum is so rich that, at times, it has a faintly burnt quality to it. In fact, during my first test, there was an impression almost of burnt wax. The predominant note, however, is of a very balsam-like resin that is as dark as possible; it’s unctuous, opaque and thick. It’s hard to describe what labdanum smells like to someone who has never smelled it but, at its core, it is far more than just an amber-y smell. It takes honey to a depth that is almost unimaginably medieval in its complex, burnished richness. At the same time, it has a subtle, almost dirty, nutty, slightly leathered edge that is never animalic but which definitely turns the whole thing into something more masculine and musky than actual honey. I love labdanum and it is the fiercely beating heart to Puredistance M, evident from start to finish, in the richest way possible.

About fifteen minutes in, the leather starts to appear. It has the feel of darkly brown, softly caramelized aged leather. There is a subtle, earthy feel to it that I suspect comes from the underpinnings of the vetiver which is never a really detectable note, in and of itself, but which is a quiet thread in the overall tapestry. I know the perfume is meant to evoke the leather seats of a luxury car and, for most people, Puredistance M does exactly that. For me, however, I imagine an aristocratic cavalry officer’s well-worn riding boots, tended to lovingly with a mix of beeswax and oils tinged with rose, honey and jasmine.

Royal Household Cavalry - HouseandCountry dot tv

This is really the smell that I expected from Chanel‘s legendary Cuir de Russie which was inspired by Tsarist imperial officers and the Russian treatment of birch leather. Instead, on my skin, Cuir de Russie was all horse feces under a heavy pile of soap. I’m in a very distinct minority on that point, but the disappointment remains the same. No Cossacks, no Imperial Grand Dukes, no passionate sensuality evoking Coco Chanel’s love affair and, most of all, no smooth, aristocratic leather.

Young Winston Churchill in uniform. Source:

Young Winston Churchill in uniform. Source:

With Puredistance M, however, the leather is pure elegance. It feels screamingly rich, covered with cognac, warmed by honey, and reddened by quiet spices. The latter start to become more evident  about thirty minutes in. Cinnamon is the most obvious note, but there is also the merest touch of cumin. It’s not the sort of sweaty-smelling cumin; it’s simply dry and a little bit earthy. I’m convinced there are also big dollops of cloves in Puredistance M, adding a little bit of fiery heat to the sweet honey and resinous labdanum.

The floral and musk accord also become more noticeable around this time. The musk is not skanky, sour, or redolent of personal intimacies. Nor is it even remotely animalic. Instead, it is quietly intertwined with the rose and the increasingly evident jasmine notes for a combination that is narcotically heady and extremely rich.

An hour in, to my surprise, Puredistance M changes quite drastically. First, it becomes significantly less opaque and thick, though it is still very strong and heady. Second, it turns from a floral oakmoss chypre with oriental elements into something that, to me, is purely orientalist in nature. The oakmoss was always a subtly blended accord in the opening, intertwined perfectly with the other notes but never dominating. Now, however, it is completely overshadowed by the growing impression of honeyed beeswax with spices and cinnamon-tinged vanilla. The floral notes are still there, however, including the increasingly noticeable jasmine note mixed with a slightly sweet dose of patchouli. Lastly, the sillage has dropped quite substantially. Where Puredistance M was evident from a few feet away in the first hour (at least, when you put on a decent-sized amount), it is now hovering just a foot above the skin.

Vintage bottle and box of Bel Ami.

Vintage bottle and box of Bel Ami.

In this first ninety minutes and during the opening stage, Puredistance M strongly reminded me of Hermès‘ classic Bel Ami in its vintage form. Bel Ami is a scent I grew up with and loved, so while I haven’t smelled it in years, it was the first thing on my mind in the opening hour of Puredistance M. In fact, I’ve read that Bel Ami is one of Roja Dove’s favorite fragrances.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, vintage Bel Ami is the scent to which most people compare Puredistance M, suggesting that you save your money on the latter and buy the Hermès instead. I don’t necessarily agree. Even if we consider the much stronger, more potent vintage version of Bel Ami (as compared to its current reformulated self), Puredistance M is still significantly richer, darker and denser, with much more labdanum and far less citrus influences. Plus, based on my memories of Bel Ami, it only explains the first ninety minutes of Puredistance and certainly doesn’t fit with its remaining development. Because, you see, at the start of the second hour, the perfume changes again and now, it is almost a dead ringer for Serge LutensCuir Mauresque!

I recently reviewed and loved Cuir Mauresque, so I was quite stunned to find its middle notes replicated here in Puredistance’s similar stage. There are differences in the notes in each perfume and Puredistance significantly lacks the animalic civet of the Lutens but, on my skin, the middle stages for both perfumes was musky jasmine, honey, and resined amber. The burnt styrax in the Lutens is mimicked here by the occasionally burnt aspect to the different sort of resinous amber, the labdanum, and both scents share a subtle, sometimes imperceptible hint of cumin and cloves — all supported on the subtle base of leather. It helps that the Lutens was never very animalic or dirty on my skin because the civet was never strong. Here, however, the real link between the two fragrances is the jasmine, musk and dark amber combination. With the oakmoss having vanished in the second hour, Puredistance has turned into a seductive floral oriental.

Bees on beeswax. Source:

Bees on beeswax. Source:

The final stage of Puredistance M is very simple and is no longer anything close to Cuir Mauresque. The dry-down consists almost entirely of dark, dirty labdanum amber; rich honey and beeswax; and a hint of musky vanilla hovering underneath. The amber accord is tinged by the merest breath of something earthy, but it’s as light as a feather. In its very final hour, Puredistance M evoked pure honey and nothing more. At no time in its development were some of Puredistance’s more earthy notes dominant players; both the vetiver and patchouli added some underlying support but they were barely noticeable in their own right. There was no dirtiness or rooty darkness to the scent, and never anything animalic to the leather.

Interestingly, for a perfume with such strong notes, the sillage on Puredistance was not enormous. It was evident from a few feet away for the first hour, then dropped dramatically. By the second hour, the scent hovered half a foot away from the skin. Thereafter, it became very close and you’d have to be nuzzling someone’s neck to detect it.

The sweetness and spices make Puredistance the least “butch” leather that I have ever encountered. When you throw in the prominant florals, it also becomes one of the most unisex leathers. This is nothing like the stony, cold, black leather that I experienced with Montale‘s Aoud Cuir d’Arabie or the barnyard leather of Chanel‘s Cuir de Russie. It’s also far from the bitter, green, harshness of the butch legend, Bandit by Robert Piguet, which I admired and found most intriguing but which, in hindsight, is simply too brutal for me. It certainly is not remotely close to Tom of Finland by Etat Libre d’Orange which wasn’t even leather on my skin but, rather, powdered, vanilla suede.

Puredistance M is an absolutely marvelous scent, but its steep price is enough to give one the vapors. A miniscule 17.5 ml/ 0.59 fl. oz sized spray (essentially, a travel-sized mini) is a whopping $198. The full 100 ml/ 3.4 fl oz. bottle? A stunning $590! On Luckyscent (where, to my astonishment, that $600 bottle is sold out), one reviewer makes this observation about the scent and the price:

When people say that M makes everything else obsolete, I am afraid that is very close to the truth. From the very first whiff till it fades away (up to 24 hours later), this is an experience of constant astonishment. And just as much – constant, giddy delight. Of course, I will still wear other favorites. But M inhabits that rarified air of very few others – Gobin Daude Nuit Desert and Guerlain Derby come to mind (in terms of quality, not scent). The price is initially off-putting, but the 18ml bottle is easily the equivalent of many 100ml edp’s. The very tiniest little drop last all day, into the night, and into the next morning. Like I said, constant astonishment. This is the real deal.

I don’t agree. I used far more than the tiniest little drop to test the perfume the first time around. When, on the second test, I used the smallest possible amount, the perfume faded away in sillage quite quickly, demonstrated far less complexity, and also lasted far time. On neither occasion did Puredistance M last 24 hours. That said, when I used the equivalent of one large spray, the scent lasted about 11 hours — and I should bloody well hope so for something that is concentrated extrait de parfum! But, again, it was hardly a drop, so I hardly think that the 17.5 ml bottle is “the equivalent” of many 100 ml full bottles of eau de parfum. Nonetheless, on skin which is less voracious than mine, I think the $198 travel mini might be a good compromise if you really love the scent.

[UPDATE – 3/26/13: The perfume, along with all the other fragrances in the Puredistance line is now available in a much more affordable pricing scheme. All four scents now come in a 60 ml bottle of pure parfum extract that costs $330 or €275. For the concentration and size, that is a much, much more accessible deal. You can find the new bottles on the company’s website at the link listed below in the “Details.”]

On Fragrantica, one commentator says simply to buy Bel Ami and to save your money, but I don’t fully agree with that either. Even if you buy vintage Bel Ami on eBay (where I recently saw a bottle starting at around $65), Puredistance M is a much richer affair. Though I can’t remember Bel Ami’s dry-down after all these years, what I do remember is a much more citrus-aromatic chypre which turns into leather that is nothing as sweetly resinous or honeyed as Puredistance M. A review of Bel Ami’s notes on Fragrantica supports that impression: there is no labdanum, not a lot of resin, and those amber notes which are present do not seem to be the driving heart of the perfume according to people’s votes of the main notes. Still, if that is the only financially practical alternative, then Bel Ami may be worth pursuing. (So long as you avoid the current reformulation and stick with vintage.)

My belief is that price is a very subjective thing and, if the quality is there, an outrageous price may well be worth it to a particular individual. For me, a full bottle of Puredistance M is well outside my means. To my cheapskate mind, it translates to five full bottles of Serge Lutens or Chanel. And the 0.5 oz/ 17.5 ml mini is similarly too expensive, given the microscopic size and what else I could buy. If, however, price were no object, I would absolutely buy Puredistance M. The “M” really stands for magnificent, molten masterpiece.


Sample or Gift Set of four Puredistance parfums.

Sample or Gift Set of four Puredistance parfums.

Cost & Availability: Puredistance M is available in a variety of different sizes and forms on the Puredistance website. You can buy a 17.5 ml travel size spray for $198 or €168. The full bottle is 3.4 oz/ 100 ml and costs $590. [UPDATE: The perfume is now also available in a 60 ml bottle for $330 or €275.] However, you can also buy Puredistance M as part of a sample Gift Set of four Puredistance perfumes (I, Antonia, M and Opardu) with each sample being 2 ml. The whole set costs $59 and includes free shipping. Puredistance M is also available at Luckyscent in both the $198 travel size and the $590 full size, though the latter is sold out until the end of March (2013). Luckyscent also sells a 0.7 ml sample vial for $6. I obtained my sample from Surrender to Chance, where prices start at $3.99 for a miniscule 1/4 of ml vial, $7.98 for a 1/2 vial and $15.96 for 1 ml.

73 thoughts on “Perfume Review – Puredistance M: “M” for Molten Marvel

  1. It sounds utterly like heaven to me. Why oh why did I read your review to now find I am utterly crushed that I can never own it. LOL. But really what a great review of an obviously wonderful perfume.

    • Oh yes. this is the first perfume that I am yearning for. Where do I get a sample?

      • Places to buy samples are listed. But it seems you’ve already figured that out and succumbed to getting one. I’m SO proud of you, Anne!! 😀

    • Thank you, sweet Lanier. Truth be told, I wondered at times why I was reviewing something that very few people (including myself) could ever afford. But I’d been so intrigued by what I had read elsewhere and had the sample, so I thought I might as well. I certainly can’t own it either, unless someone arranges to split the bottle into decants and, even then, it will be very small for the price. (Though, perhaps not so small given that it is Extrait de Parfum concentration?) Anyway, it’s frustrating. VERY frustrating. If only we had fallen in love with a significantly cheaper hobby than perfume! 😀

    • Hahaha, I thought of you SO much while testing it and writing my review. You weren’t kidding at all. Definitely far from “Butch” and no wonder all your friends almost took your arm off when they smelled it! I had planned to post a link to your lovely review of it but my post was becoming far, far too long.

      So, if anyone sees this and is curious for the perspective of another woman who doesn’t find the scent to be too masculine, here is Caro’s review (Bi-lingual, so Spanish part first, English part second):

      • Thank you for sharing, Kafka.
        I really enjoyed reading your long and acute review – I had been waiting for it- and hope my M sample lasts forever.
        Have a fragrant weekend.


  2. I like how M smells on my vSO and can’t stand it on me. I appreciate the perfume and hope it has enough fans to support the brand but I have to love a perfume to pay that price. I’d do that for their Antonia but not for M.

    • I’ve heard a lot about their Opardu perfume. Have you tried that one? As for the price of this, it’s certainly outside my range! Every time I think of how it’s the equivalent of 4 or 5 other perfumes, my cheapskate side comes to a foreground and starts shrieking. LOL! 😀

      • I tried Opardu and though thought it was nice, I think it suits better to those who liked Puredistance I. And, unlike Antonia and Puredistance I (which doesn’t work for me but still), I don’t think it’s worth the money: there are other very nice florals for the much more reasonable price.

          • Don’t! The reasoning is quite simple: those are good perfumes. But unless you can imagine paying the price for 17.5 ml of a highly concentrated perfume (I wanted to point out that it’s more than 0.5 oz 😉 ) there is no sense in paying a high price for their samples. They had been reviewed multiple times and mostly everybody agrees they are very nice. So you do not “owe” your readers one more review – be it a positive or a negative one – about these perfumes.

          • 17.5 ml is 0.59 fl oz, so yes, okay, it’s 0.6 instead of 0.5 but it’s still miniscule. LOL. (You’re the maths one out of the two of us. LOL.) I’ll change the one digit. 😀

            You know, had I been aware of the full, crazy price for M before I had gotten the sample, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it. It really is pointless to review things with those prices. But I’m very glad I had the chance to sniff it.

  3. This sounds FANTASTIC. But geez, that price – It makes way, way more sense to buy a large bottle and so a split with one or two others! The price of the small one is nearly 2x the price per ml!

    I didn’t realize until a few days ago it was a Roja Dove creation. I guess my obsession with trying his stuff was well-founded. Speaking of vintage Bel Ami, I’ve been scoping out vintage bottles for a long time now and keep wondering whether I should pull the trigger. It sounds great, plus I like that it was created in my birth year. 🙂 At any rate, a very generous benefactor (benefactrix? benefactress?) is sending me her sample from LuckyScent, so I’m very excited to have the chance to try it. My (greedy) hope is that she sent it yesterday so that there’s a chance I could get it on Saturday. LOL.

    I loved this review – it definitely made me do whatever the perfume equivalent of drooling is. I can smell it in my head, and I wonder if it’s anything like I’m envisioning. I suppose if not, I can be content with my beloved Cuir de Russie.

    • The price of the mini travel size is definitely MORE expensive than if one bought the big bottle and split it! I can’t wait for you to get your sample of Puredistance and to see what you think. Just be aware that this has about as much in common with the lighter, non-ambered Cuir de Russie as I do with Marilyn Monroe. Two VERY different types of perfumes. Truth be told, I don’t think they should really label Puredistance M as a leather at all! And vintage Bel Ami…. fabulous stuff, though much more woody-aromatic than this one!

      • Yay, I finally tried this one. The opening reminded me of Knize Ten a lot, so I was disappointed. But that faded quickly into something more likeable. I still don’t know I’d be tempted for a bottle (even disregarding the price). And speaking of price, as you may know, they now have a 60ml bottle available. What’s strange is that per milliliter, it’s actually cheaper to buy a 60ml bottle than a 100ml bottle (about 40 cents cheaper per ml for the 60ml bottle). That’s a very unusual pricing scheme, but good for the consumer (which is pretty rare, lol). Anyway, that’s my boring fact of the day! 🙂

        • LOL. I think I *definitely* have to try Knize Ten and soon. 🙂 I’m aware of the new pricing scheme but have yet to update my post. I think it’s absolutely fantastic that they have made the perfumes more affordable! xoxox

          • I mean, I suppose more affordable is relative in the case of this perfume since it still clocks in at over 5 bucks per ml. 🙂 But still, the availability of the 60ml is a superb option. 100ml bottles are quite large (although I tend to buy them anyway due to the price differential), especially for people who have many, many bottles. And that’s all to say nothing of the fact that I am positively astounded that they’ve made it a better financial option to get the smaller bottle, as I’m so used to perfume pricing screwing people who want to get a smaller bottle. I really can’t get over it, and I’m curious as to what their strategy is since it’s so unusual. The only brand I’ve ever known to do that is Histoires de Parfums, and that’s only for samples, and you can only get a limited number of each since the program is intended to get people to try, then buy (which is honestly a scheme I wish more niche houses utilized).

          • Some of their reasoning was in the email that they sent out to those on their mailing list:
            “Over the past few years we have received great reviews regarding the high quality of all of our four perfumes. Apart from all the praise about the great quality, the design and other features however, some found the price per ml. rather high. We have to agree that 165 euro for 17.5 ml is at the high end of the price spectrum, but we still think that 165 euro is a fair price, so we never changed it. For 6 years now the price has been a solid 165 euro, no price increases either.

            We think however that with this new 60ml Flacon we introduce the perfect offering for those who felt the 17.5 ml Spray did not offer enough quantity for the money. Without sacrificing the high quality and beautiful presentation people expect from us, this new 60ml Flacon is offered at a competitive price level (275 euro), especially if you take into account the fact it contains pure perfume extrait.”

            I find their attempts to make the perfumes available for a lower price to be worthy of a huge “Bravo,” because — as you said — 100 ml is quite large for most people. Here, perhaps even more so given the extremely concentrated nature of the perfumes. I wish more perfume houses would follow their course!

    • I don’t think it would be for you, Lucas. Too rich and not your style, though the perfume itself isn’t very heavy or opaque at all after the first hour.

        • Very fair. You know, they are carried at “Perfumeria Quality Warszawa” so if you’re ever in Warsaw, perhaps you can stop by and give the line a sniff. 🙂

          • I know they have the line. I got my sample of Opardu from them.
            Next Saturday I’m going on a perfume workshop organized by Quality in Wrocław. This might be a chance to give it a try.

  4. The perfume sounds splendid – though to be entirely truthful it does not sound sufficiently different from Bel Ami or indeed Cuir de Lancome to ever warrant the cost.
    My skin has most definite Oliver Twist tendencies, forever wanting more, and I simply wouldn’t be able to keep it fully fed on this extravagant a diet.

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • What a lovely way to describe perfume-consuming skin! Oliver Twist skin….. absolutely perfect. 😀 I have the exact same sort of skin, so I share your conclusions on the practicality of such an extravagant diet. But, to be honest, even if my skin didn’t scream out for more, the thought of just HOW many other bottles of perfume I could buy for the cost of just one Puredistance would bring me to a screeching halt. Maybe if I won a lottery…. 😉

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  11. If I had the money, I would plunk down for this baby ASAP. I just find it glorious. It’s so redolent of spice, boozy leather, and incense. Kind of like my beloved Amouage Tribute Attar without the dried fruit. The tiny smear on my arm seems to have perfumed the entire apartment too. Granted, I live in an itty bitty studio, but it’s pretty awesome!

    Must. Win. Powerball. Soon 🙂

    • I am so happy, you have no idea, BaconBiscuit! Hurrah! Part of me is not surprised at all, but part of me is also relieved that you love one of my favorite perfumes. It’s magnificent, isn’t it? I don’t find it masculine in the least, and actually consider it to be a bit of a *comfort* scent, if that makes any sense. For me, it’s soothing in its richness and warmth. God, I love “M” so, so much! It also has become my father’s favorite scent out of all those that I’ve worn. He constantly refers to it as the comparison point whenever I’m over there and I force him to smell something else I’m wearing. Almost invariably, his reply is: “It’s not like that OTHER one!” lol.

      Since a little bit seems to go a long, long way on your skin, and since it is pure parfum, perhaps the $195 travel size isn’t too impossible one day down the road?

      • It is divine. I wonder how much different it would smell on a man since it smells pretty darn nice on me! But I tend to gravitate towards more masculine scents in general.

        That is funny about your dad! Seems like he found the one! And of course, the one is over half a grand for 100 ml 🙂

        Yes, the travel size is super appealing since a little does seem to go a long way. It’s still $195 for a travel spray . . . More economical to find someone to go in for a split of the 60 ml, no?

        • I had to get my extremely expensive tastes from somewhere! LOL. Between him and my mother, I’m surprised I can afford to live or breathe. 😉 A split would probably be the best way to go, but I never seem to see Puredistance being included on any of the groups that do that sort of thing. It’s truly a shame that the company is not better known amongst perfumistas, but, of course, the price has a lot to do with that. 🙁

          • Haha! I think the same thing! The lat time my mom was in town, we were perfume shopping. She loves white florals so I was pushing her to the Elie Saab. She said, “No, I want . . .” and made a beeline for the Kilian counter.

            That is a shame about the splits. If you see one pop up, do let me know! (of course, there is always the option of hosting a split yourself. I’ve never done it out of fear. What if klutzy me knocks over the whole bottle?!)

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  14. Every time I try Pure M I love it more. It is really an amazing scent. So complex and it evolves over time. I love the spicy top notes and it just smolders with this luxurious leather.

    • It’s definitely a beauty and one of my favorite modern fragrances. Do you think you’ll succumb and throw in the financial towel? 😉

      • It is one of the fragrances which keeps coming to my mind so often that I doubt I could be without it for long. You find the most interesting ones Kafka. Thanks 🙂

        • You’re very welcome. I’m so glad I could point you towards some scents that you really adore, Cohibadad. It makes all this worthwhile for me. 😀

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  25. “its steep price is enough to give one the vapors.”

    But vapors are literally what you buy perfume for!

    Again, Kafka, your writing has led me to discoveries that have astonished me. First it was the otherworldly Chypre Mousse. Then, believe it or not, I didn’t know who Roja Dove was until I read your review of Diaghilev. That stuff knocked my socks off, even though it left you just a tiny bit cool.

    Now, after reading your tantalizing review of Puredistance M, I’ve ordered a sample, and I feel the same way I did fifty years ago waiting for some coveted cereal-box prize to interminably inch it’s way cross-country. Except this time it’s not a plasticky decoder ring. It’s a Roja Dove creation that Kafka has already decoded.

    Yeah, I guess you could say I’m looking forward to receiving it.

    • HA, those cereal box decoder rings!!! Heavens, I remember those. Lucky Charms! (Do they even sell Lucky Charms any more??!)

      If one has never experienced Roja Dove, I can imagine that his stuff would definitely blow one away. It’s really a very different sort of perfumery. But Puredistance M…… *sigh* what a perfume. WHAT a perfume!!! I know some people prefer his “Fetish Pour Homme” that he did for his own Roja line and which is similar, but for me, M rules all the way. M and LM Parfums’ Hard Leather are my two favorite leathers, by a landslide. (Actually, the new, animalic Hard Leather is my favorite fragrance out of anything that has come out in the last few years, but it is most definitely polarizing and not for everyone. M is much easier, smoother, and quite different.)

      I am so excited for you to try M, and to let me know what you think. Try on a lot at first, as the sillage can be low after a while. Did you ever wear vintage Bel Ami? There is a definite nod to Bel Ami in one of M’s stages but, for me, M is much more of an opulent amber oriental at its heart than a real leather from start to finish.

      • Oh sure! Lay it on thick while TPC takes their sweet time with my sample! (Actually they are very professional and businesslike.)

        It will be my pleasure to let you know what I think of M (when it finally gets here.) You haven’t steered me wrong yet.

        • Hmm, I’m not a fan of The Perfumed Court. I won’t get into their attitude (which I find to be poor and quite snotty on occasion), but they are also incredibly slow. One experience was so bad that I won’t ever link to them again. And I know I’m not the only one who has had problems with them, right down to leaking vials that they took forever to replace. I find Surrender to Chance to be a much more professional outfit and they are incredibly fast, not to mention very prompt at remedying even the smallest thing, and very helpful with orders (like if you make two, back to back, they will immediately refund you the 2nd shipping cost). Trying to get a prompt, speedy response out of The Perfumed Court… well, you better not hold your breath. Ever. And you better not hope for particularly speedy shipping from them either, 9 times out of 10. Surrender to Chance also has more frequent sales or flash discounts. As a whole, I can’t rave about them enough.

          Er…. sorry, got side-tracked from the topic at hand with my opinions about decanting services. lol. My apologies. 🙂

  26. Pingback: Puredistance White - Kafkaesque

  27. Excellent review Kafkaesque! You’re review – and in particular your description of Puredistance M as an “amber oriental” – really helped me to understand this composition (and also why I seem to find myself at odds with the dry down, though it is lovely). Amber does not agree with me, and for whatever reason I am more drawn to the animalic roughness of Fetish Pour Homme.

    While Puredistance M is less to my taste, I find both Fetish and M to be masterpieces. Perhaps I simply adore Roja Dove’s style, and fortunately for me both have been thoroughly and helpfully deciphered in your masterful descriptions.

    Great work!

    • I think that is an astute analysis of the difference between the two, NeoXerxes. You’re right, the balance and focus is slightly shifted in Fetish towards a more prominent leather accord that runs through it from start to almost finish. On me, M has a very limited leather phase and that isn’t really the heart of the fragrance or the predominant note. And, as you noted, Fetish is animalic too, which Puredistance’s M is definitely not.

      It’s interesting that amber is a note that you struggle with. One day, we will have to discuss that further. lol. In the meantime, I have to ask if you’ve tried LM Parfums Hard Leather? It is at the top of my (real)(proper) Leather list and hardly focused on amber. If there is an alternate strand, it would be the animalics or stunning, copious amounts of true Mysore sandalwood. The problem with Hard Leather is that the first 15-20 minutes (and, somehow, it always seems to be 15-20 minutes) can be really brutal on some people’s skin. They find it too excessively animalic, going from skank to barnyard to even fecal in some cases. It doesn’t last long and it is less on actual skin than paper strips, but people do struggle with that. In most cases, though, they seem to find the rest of the scent to be fully worth the momentary raw, sexualized skankiness.

      If you haven’t tried Hard Leather, I beg of you to do so because I suspect that you’ll be enraptured. You can get a sample from Osswald NY. On their website, search for samples and you’ll see their program. Or, even better, call my friend Josie who works there, tell her I sent you, and ask her to put something in the mail for you. (I get no commission or anything for the recommendation, by the way. So don’t think that’s why I’m telling you this.) Osswald is the only place in the US to carry LM Parfums, their samples are pretty reasonably priced for the quantity they give, and Josie is pretty legendary in the perfume community for understanding people’s tastes right away and making other worthy suggestions. Osswald’s number is (212) 625-2111.

      • It’s really fascinating that Puredistance M is categorized by many as a leather when it’s only leather element seems imagined in comparison with fragrances like Bel Ami. It creates more of an idea of leather in my head than an expression of leather on the skin. But yes, for a smooth leather I admit that I would prefer something like Tuscan Leather, and for a raw, animalic leather, Fetish is the best I have tried so far.

        M is wonderful and warm but the amber bothers me and I can’t quite figure out why. I had a similar experience with By Kilian’s Amber Aoud. I liked the smoothness of the composition (like you I detected no oud), but something about the amber note was stomach turning. It wasn’t bothersome in the way that some synthetics can attack the nose, nor was it reminiscent of an allergy or sensitivity – it was simply stomach turning, like the feeling of looking at a massive meal after having just engaged in gluttony. If I were to guess it is the warming quality of amber that I shy away from, perhaps because I am from a hot climate. It is a mystery, especially since I find myself admiring amber perfumes from afar.

        Your description of LM Parfums Hard Leather sounds amazing. I briefly checked Fragrantica for the notes and your recommendation seems to fit with my taste perfectly. I do enjoy smoky leathers (or smoky anything really – birch for instance is one of my favorite notes). And rum with Mysore sandalwood? OooOooo :). I’ll be sure and stick with it past the opening. Usually I don’t care for fragrances that are so challenging as to be “fecal” or unpleasant, but lately I’ve been challenging myself with animalic fragrances like Fetish and Diaghilev.

        Bottom line: Hard Leather sounds right up my alley, thanks so much for the recommendation. When I order more Roja Dove samples from Osswald (they require 3 samples minimum per order from the website), I’ll pick up a sample of Hard Leather and let you know what I think here. I wouldn’t want to further impose on Josie who has always been most helpful and patient with my somewhat indecipherable sample lists, but I do appreciate that offer!

        • I’m so enjoying this conversation. Lots of interesting points. First, while I do think skin chemistry plays a significant role, I very much share your opinion that the leather in M is “more of an idea of leather” than the hardcore, solid, very realistic and thick note in actuality. But perhaps it is different on others.

          Second, Tuscan Leather does have smoothness but it is quite a butch, raw leather at times on my skin, at least in its opening phase. It’s been a while since I last tested it and I haven’t done so thoroughly enough for a review yet (I keep planning to do so but something comes up), but I recall a much darker, raw, butch leather than the sort in some other fragrances. It’s all due to the birch tar and, no doubt, how my skin tends to amplify the note.

          Third, the thing I found most interesting were your comments on why amber is a difficult note for you. You conveyed the issues well. This is where you and I differ, though, as I love amber scents and partially for the precise richness that you highlighted. The thing is, judging by your choice of screen name, I suspect that you and I originally come from the exact same hot climate…. 😉

          Fourth, Diaghilev is challengingly animalic on you?! Interesting and unexpected to hear. My God, you might want to avoid Maai and Montecristo. LOL. (I chose Maai as the best release of last year and Montecristo is also on one of my best of lists, but I suspect that it may be pushing the limits for you at the moment. Maybe later.)

          Lastly, I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Hard Leather when you try it. You can read my review to see just why it entranced me so much. As for samples, if I remember correctly, Surrender to Chance eventually got the fragrance, so you can order from there during one of their sales instead of having to deal with Osswald’s 3-sample requirement. The Perfumed Court has it now, too, I think, if you prefer to get things from there.

          • I’m still quite new to this hobby so I’m never quite sure if I’m describing things properly. I do appreciate the compliment.

            Interestingly I did read a few reviews describing Tuscan Leather as a rather butch and rugged leather fragrance, but on my skin it is exquisitely smooth, with only the slightest hint of birch smoke to give depth to the composition. Birch is one of my favorite notes precisely because it is never overwhelming with my skin chemistry (I especially adore how it smells in Aventus and Roja’s Amber Aoud). Go figure eh?

            Amber does help with creating richness and depth, and I am a huge fan of complexity in my perfumes. You nailed it on the climate, by the way :). Deserts appeal to me in many ways, but when the smell of the desert combines with the warmth of amber (as in Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Morocain for instance) things get really hot under the collar, and not in a good way. I suppose if I lived in a cooler climate I would be able to enjoy amber more. Perhaps then I’d snatch up the “Molten Masterpiece” for warmth and comfort.

            My Diaghilev comment requires clarification. When I first tried it in the store I was unaccustomed both to perfume concentrations and to vintage-smelling chypres. In the late dry down in particular, let’s just say that I felt like I was drowning in Eau de Civet, with an oakmoss forest growing around the edges. I’d have screamed, but my nose and mouth was stuffed full of ylang ylang. Now that I can pick up significantly more notes, and have learned to enjoy the complexity that perfume concentrations bring, Diaghilev somehow smells less challenging and less animalic (for whatever reason). In fact, I love it, and if my sampling concludes on a positive note I will be considering a full bottle.

            I recall a statement by Roja Dove that I read somewhere: “If most people are trying to find a scent for their ego, I’m trying to make a scent for their id”. Or something to that effect. Anyway, that notion appeals to me, as I have slowly learned to accept and love even notes that I find reflexively uncomfortable, animalics like castoreum, cumin, and civet being a few examples. Your blog has assisted greatly with this effort and I am always interested in learning more.

            I will definitely remember to post once I receive the samples. I’d prefer to make the purchase from Osswald but I must first decide on which two Roja feminines I should sample on my skin (I’m leaning towards Enslaved and Unspoken). Hard Leather does look interesting so I will not neglect to make that part of the trio!

          • For someone who has just started on a perfume journey, I’m very impressed by how advanced your tastes are, as well as by how well your nose can pick out the various notes. Your description of your initial Diaghilev experience made me laugh. The other thing I found impressive was that you responded to the “Id” part of Roja Dove’s comment, and that you’ve taken that approach to testing perfumes yourself.

            My God, you should try MFK’s Absolue Pour Le Soir if you haven’t already!! Yes, that is definitely one that will challenge you for a variety of reasons, but it is also a masterpiece and one that I hear (sadly) might have been discontinued. It is ABSOLUTELY worth trying, just to know, just to learn, and just to experience the glorious beauty. The animalic civet, slightly urinous honey, ylang-ylang and amber will all challenge, but I really urge you to try it. Ask anyone and they will tell you what a brilliant fragrance that is. Samples are still easily available, as are full bottles in the US at a number of retailers.

            Interesting that birch is more subdued on your skin, and not a note that overwhelms. Are there any notes that your skin amplifies?

            While I’m making suggestions for your next Osswald trip, I beg of you to try Black Gemstone by SHL 777 if you haven’t already. That is one of my favorite fragrances from one of my favorite houses. Most of the SHL 777 fragrances (except Generation Homme 2022) are luxurious, interesting, complex, addictive, or some combination thereof, but Black Gemstone is exceptional. It was one of top fragrances of 2014, and I fell for it at first sniff. Wholly and completely. Dark, captivating, smoky, multi-faceted, intense, rich, and with a kaleidoscopic character. If Hard Leather was my top choice for 2013, Black Gemstone was almost at the top of the list for 2014. (I’d recommend others from the line, too, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with names.)

            On the amber issue, I now live in an area where the summers have triple-digit heat and humidity that is far from a desert climate, but I wear the heaviest orientals nonetheless. I draw the line only at Absolue Pour Le Soir because fragrances with a lot of honey and ambrette musk tend to turn shrill and urinous on my skin in 110 degree temperatures, but others seem to bloom in the heat. Chanel’s glorious Coromandel is actually better in summer than in winter, imo. And the densest ambers are equally enjoyable because the musky, deeper, richer side comes out. For me, mood always dictates my choice of fragrances to wear, not seasonality, weather, or notes. So, we clearly differ in that way, but my summer-wearing habits are not the norm, I know. lol.

            Norooz Pirooz, NeoXerxes.

  28. The comments system won’t allow me to leave a direct reply, so please excuse my misaligned post:

    Thanks so much! I started this hobby recently but approached it very seriously by embarking on (way too many) lengthy trips to perfumeries. And may I say, I love the journey! My ego enjoys it, and so does my id. I have learned a lot and feel that my nose has become significantly more sensitive. Call me crazy but I even feel like my sense of taste has improved, as I can now pick up many more notes in aged scotch and the like.

    I do recall trying Absolu Pour Le Soir about a month into my fragrance journey. I hated it of course. Rather than being overwhelmed by Diaghilev’s Eau de Civet accord, I felt like I was forcibly urinated upon by a group of angry bears. Quite frankly I’m not sure which fragrance I preferred at first sniff. Supposedly there was rose somewhere in the mix, but all I detected was a sort of unwashed skank. But hey, my tastes have changed a great deal since first trying both Diaghilev and Absolu Pour Le Soir, so I think I will give it another shot at your recommendation, if only to challenge the limits of my tolerance for animalics. When I do I’ll be sure to keep your review handy – they always help me to learn how to separate individual notes from a composition.

    On my skin most notes tend to be fairly clear and temperate. I consider myself fortunate in that I usually get the typical top to bottom journey described by perfumers, but I do have a friend that amplifies spices and smoke, so smelling Fetish Pour Homme on him is like getting one’s face rubbed in a campfire (I still love it though, ashes and all!).

    I admit to enjoying the occasional oriental or quasi-oriental in the heat, but in very hot and dry weather I always prefer my fragrances to be tinged with at least some element of freshness (for instance Danger Pour Homme’s ambergris serves this purpose well). Mood is the highest factor in my fragrance selection also, however on the hottest of days I do restrain myself from wearing things that are strong enough to gas out others. On the other hand, speaking of strong fragrances, I hope to test Puredistance M in the extreme heat out of sheer curiosity – I wonder if I will enjoy it more or less? Like you, I have noticed that many fragrances (fresh or otherwise) bloom wonderfully in the heat, so I often use hot days to test the complexity of my fragrances.

    My next Osswald sample order will consist of Absolu Pour Le Soir, Hard Leather, and Black Gemstone. Even if these are not precisely my style, I’m sure I will enjoy the journey, especially since all your recommendations seem to be extremely complex. I do wish that Osswald carried Neela Vermeire’s creations though :(. After reading your review I simply must track down a sample of Mohur, and probably will through my next order with First in Fragrance.

    Norooz Mobarak! 🙂

  29. Pingback: Fragrance Recommendations: Leathers, Vetivers, Fougères & More - Kafkaesque

  30. Dear Kafka – I wanted to let you know that after trying many, many perfumes with most not “suiting” my taste – whatever that may be:) I wanted to let you know that M is GLORIOUS and I am absolutely in love – I wear it everywhere and even when I am home alone just puttering about – the scent stays in my memory and I just love wearing it. And great review as always!!

    • I’m so, so pleased to hear that “M” blew you away, Ritu, especially since other fragrances haven’t suited your tastes. It’s a glorious fragrance, and I know you smell both enticing and chic when wearing it. 🙂

  31. Pingback: The Phuong Dang Collection: Leather Up, Obscure Oud & The Calling (+ Cryptic & Vermillion Promise) - Kafkaesque

  32. Pingback: Roja Dove Great Britain - Kafkaesque

  33. Hello, Kafka. I know this comment is very late, but I can’t think of anywhere else to post it. The fragrance forums tend to jump on your back if you suggest a reformulation.

    I received a 60ml bottle recently, and I’m wondering if ‘M’ has been reformulated? It’s been about the ‘right’ amount of time, since it was launched. I had only sampled M twice (once about a year ago, dabber vial from luckyscent, and once from an official 1.2ml sample). Now, M was never a “beast mode”, regarding its’ sillage and projection, but I get almost *no* projection from this bottle. It lasts on my clothes for less than a day, and requires a liberal dose, to ‘stick’ and when it does, it settles down to a rather unpleasant Fetish cigarette smoke drydown. Also, on my skin, it seems to dissipate far too quickly, and I am not able to even catch whiffs. I have to hold my nose close to my arm to even pick it up, even just a few minutes after application. The scent becomes like a skim milk version of Roja’s old standard richness, after a short time. I know, that is odd comparison, but that’s what comes to mind!

    My box came with a booklet inside, with “Sheiduna coming late 2016” printed on it. So, that at least gives a good indication of when it was manufactured. Have you heard any rumblings about reforms in this fragrance, or the PD house, in general?


    • I’m afraid I’ve heard nothing, Matthew. However, that does not mean anything in and of itself for the simple reason that I avoid all perfume groups and perfume forums unless I have to look for comparative reviews to quote. Sometimes, people will write to me to talk about how they think a fragrance has change, but no-one has for M. Again, that doesn’t mean anything necessarily.

      By an odd coincidence, though, I was just thinking of Puredistance M a few days ago when writing a review for Hermes’ vintage 24 Faubourg which resembles it in a small way during one of its stages. In discussing 24F, then its reformulations, and the general industry trend of reformulating a fragrance after 5 or 5-6 years, I wondered if M had been reformulated because it debuted in 2010, more than 5 years ago.

      If it has been reformulated, I will say that I wouldn’t be surprised. And what you’re describing definitely sounds like a dilution to me. You’re right that M was never a beast. That was, in fact, the only issue I had with it back then. But it was stronger than what you’re experiencing now. Plus, the “Skim milk” effect with a seeming cut to bodily weight and richness doesn’t sound like the old M. Neither does the “cigarette smoke” drydown that you’re experiencing. I never encountered anything like that with the old M.

      I don’t know what to say except perhaps to suggest that you ask some people with old or older bottles if they’re willing to sell you a small sample for further comparison. I wish I could be of more assistance, I really do. It pretty much sucks to get a big bottle that isn’t the glorious thing that you remembered and once loved, especially when it’s a super expensive parfum and you think you’re going mad in smelling major differences. Both my family and I went through recently with MDCI’s Chypre Palatin, with the company insisting here publicly, angrily, repeatedly, and aggressively that the formula was the same. But, no matter what they say, when the juice smells completely different to 3 different people and in side-by-side tests… well, sometimes it’s not your imagination and you have to stick to your guns or your gut feelings.

      Look for old/older samples of M to settle it in your mind but, at the end of the day, there really isn’t much you can do if you’ve landed with a big bottle that just isn’t the same — either in the way it smells to you or in the way that it makes you feel while wearing it. 🙁

      • I appreciate your thoughtful reply!

        After owning M for a week now, I can confidently state that I believe it has been diluted. I have similar Olive Twist skin, and this performs like an oily, sticky EDT on me. That rich, dark, rosy, citrusy opening is amazing, as usual, but then it changes drastically within the first 5-10 minutes, and becomes a slightly leathery, spicy, (chemical) dry smoky scent. After the first hour, it just turns into a sheer, earthy, cumin-y vetiver on my skin – And a dirty, smoky Fetish Lite on clothes. I’ve felt my neck (which feels like a popsicle has melted on it), just 30 minutes after i’ve applied it, and I can honestly barely smell it. It just cannot be a case of fatigue, sadly. To give you some context, it absolutely pales in comparison to the projection and sillage of Roja’s Great Britain, no matter where it’s sprayed. I realize GB has the overt synthetics working for it, to give it some of that oomph– but my experience and yours just seem to be too much at odds, for it to be just a case of noses and skin types. I can consistently catch GB’s ambergris dyrdown sillage a full day later on me, after just a couple of sprays. M is a below-average weak scent now. 🙁

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