Puredistance Black: Shades of Purple & Pink

The night is dark, and full of terrors.”

Source: Puredistance.

Source: Puredistance.

That is one my favorite quotes from the television series, Game of Thrones, and I often come up with fun variations for different occasions. It’s a line which sticks in my head, so I wasn’t surprised when it popped back up just before I began testing Black, the new, about-to-be-released fragrance from one of my favorite perfume houses, Puredistance. The luxury brand talks about how the scent was inspired by “the concept of black,” and about how it is a “mysterious fragrance that stays in the shadow, giving away – only every now and then – part of its nature.”

Upon reading that part of the press release, and seeing the image sent by the company, all I could think of was, “the night is dark (black), and full of luxury.” Well, not quite. As it turns out, Black is indeed an extremely luxurious fragrance that smells very expensive, but I found it to be as purple and pink as humanly possible. At one point, it evoked fluffy pink clouds, and I almost expected a chubby cherub to be sitting on one and offering me turkish delight. For me, “Black” is the absolute furthest thing from its name, and is not my personal cup of tea. It’s not a bad fragrance by any means — in fact, it’s well done and clearly emanates luxury — but we all have subjective tastes or things that we struggle with, and I struggled quite a bit with Black.  

Black in the 17.5 travel flacon. Source: Puredistance.

Black in the 17.5 travel flacon. Source: Puredistance.

Like all of Puredistance’s fragrances, Black was created by a master perfumer, in this case, Antoine Lie, and is the very highest perfume concentration, an extrait de parfum. Black clocks in at 25% perfume oil, a figure that is surpassed only by Puredistance’s exquisite floral, Opardu (which has 32%). Black will be released at the start of December, and is described as follows:

Puredistance Black is an understated elegant and mysteriously charming perfume inspired by the concept of BLACK; a concept that for centuries has been associated with secrets, mystery and style.

Puredistance BLACK is created in Paris by the famous French Perfumer Antoine Lie based on a concept of Puredistance founder Jan Ewoud Vos. The essence of the concept was to create a perfume that is close to the wearer and releases sensual and elegant scent layers in a whispering way – without shouting. A mysterious fragrance that stays in the shadow, giving away – only every now and then – part of its nature.

Black in bottle, non-travel form.

Black in the regular, non-travel, bottle form.

As part of the whole concept of mysterious shadows, Puredistance wants you to treasure the “beauty of the unknown,” and merely describes the scent as one that is more “masculine and oriental” than Puredistance “I.” The company is keeping secret Black’s perfume notes, saying only that you should “Envision, Smell, Feel. Don’t analyse.” If you’re a regular reader, you all know how well I manage not to analyse things…. It’s hopeless. I was incapable of just smelling, feeling, letting go and not analysing with the uber-luxury brand, JAR, and it’s not possible here, either. It simply is not my personality or forte in life, given my obsessiveness with both facts and details. 

So, based on what I smelled, let me give you my guess of the notes in Puredistance Black:

Ginger, cardamom, absinthe wood (wormwood), saffron, rose, patchouli, myrrh, opoponax (sweet myrrh), amber, sandalwood (not from Mysore), and benzoin.

What I’m less absolutely certain of is the possible inclusion of oud, a tiny touch of elemi wood or guaiac as an additional source of woody smoke, and a drop of vanilla. It’s extremely possible, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

Cardamom. Source: www.kitchenheadquarters.org

Cardamom. Source: www.kitchenheadquarters.org

Puredistance Black opens on my skin with a blast of cardamom, immediately followed by ginger, amber, absinthe wood, incense, saffron, patchouli, and a whisper of rose. There is a balanced sweetness, a suggestion of sandalwood, and a saffron that is neither buttery nor hot, but wonderfully spicy. The ginger adds a lovely, fresh, piquant bite that works beautifully with the sweeter notes and the woodsy notes.

Speaking of the latter, I guessed absinthe (or wormwood) for a few reasons. First, even before I tested the perfume and simply upon taking the vial out of its white, satin pouch, I was hit by an extremely strong blast of oud-like woodiness that was herbal, spicy, and green — too much so to be real agarwood. It was also extremely similar in smell to the wood note in Amouage‘s Fate Man, a fragrance that officially includes wormwood. On the skin, the woodsy notes was surprisingly less dominant and forceful than what was wafting out of the vial, but it felt even less than complete, total agarwood in nature. Absinthe shares a few cursory, initial similarities with oud, so that’s what I’m going on.

purple smokeThe initial opening of Black in the first two minutes is lovely, but then, my nemesis takes over: purple, fruited patchouli. For all that I love black/brown patchouli, I despise the purple kind that is ubiquitous and everywhere in modern perfumery. A friend asked me the difference the other day, and I think my explanation may help some other people too.

For me, traditional (and rather 1980s) patchouli is brown/black in hue, with chewy undertones of sweet amber, spice, leather, wood, and incense smoke. The current, modern version of patchouli is purple in hue because it’s fruity, syrupy, jammy, incredibly sweet, and with grape and berry undertones. The very original type of patchouli is the 1970s, hippie kind that is really, really black, dirty patchouli and that people describe as a “head shop” scent. Some examples of fragrances with a strong purple patchouli note would be: almost every commercial, department store perfume containing “patchouli,” Marc JacobsLola, Chanel‘s Coco Noir, Le Labo‘s Ylang 49, Frederic Malle‘s Portrait of a Lady, and, now, alas, Puredistance Black. An example of black/brown, more traditional patchouli would be something like Profumum Roma‘s Patchouly, Serge LutensBorneo 1834, Chanel‘s Coromandel, or Reminiscence‘s Patchouli. It’s not a long list at all because that sort of patchouli is incredibly uncommon nowadays.

Source: Tasty Yummies blog. (Link to website embedded within photo. For recipe for Concord grape jam, click on photo.)

Source: Tasty Yummies blog. (Link to website embedded within photo. For recipe for Concord grape jam, click on photo.)

I spent all this time outlining the specific smell and nature of purple, “fruit-chouli” because it is the heart of soul of how Puredistance Black manifests itself on my skin. No less than three minutes into the perfume’s development, the saffron-oud blast takes on an almost grape-y, berry, jammy overtone that is incredibly sweet. Five minutes in, I feel as though I’ve been covered by fruit syrup. Twenty minutes in, I feel as though I’ve been transformed into a berry tart with unctuous, cloyingly sweet, fruited, purple Smucker’s jam, then sprinkled with rose petals and a dusting of saffron. I have to be honest, I lost my appetite — and I hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours.

I wish there were a substantial counter-balance to the deluge of fruit-chouli in the opening hour. There is a herbal, woody note that flitters about like a tiny hummingbird, but it’s far, far underneath, and wholly unable to compete with the grape-y, berry onslaught that is stomping over my arm like a Panzer unit in full fury. I know my skin tends to amplify base notes, but this is a bit ridiculous. I think sadly back to that absolutely lovely opening with its spicy, gingered, slightly herbal, ambered woodiness, but it’s gone, smothered by unctuous, purple, saffron-rose-infused molasses. Even the absinthe gasps for air, then retreats to the corner to hide its head.

"Purple Velvet Gold Flakes" by *Will3style at Deviantart.com. http://will3style.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Velvet-Gold-Flakes-258099755

“Purple Velvet Gold Flakes” by *Will3style at Deviantart.com. http://will3style.deviantart.com/art/Purple-Velvet-Gold-Flakes-258099755

There is no salvation in low sillage, either. That promised description of a wispy perfume that “stays in the shadow”? Ha! Black’s opening is strong and potent, with significant sillage, wafting in a purple cloud almost a foot around me. I normally would be thrilled, but the fruit-chouli is starting to crush my spirit. For a whole hour, I’m drenched by jammy, grape-berry molasses, that is just lightly infused by particles of saffron-infused rose, incense, absinthe wood, and honeyed amber. The ginger is no longer noticeable, and neither is the cardamom.

Source: hdwallpaperplace.com

Source: hdwallpaperplace.com

It was with enormous relief that things start to slowly — very slowly — improve at the end of the first hour. The Smucker’s patchouli jam lessens fractionally, allowing the rose to finally come out properly from its gooey purple shadow. The rose is sweet, just slightly dewy, and pink in visuals. With each passing moment during the second hour, it takes on a weight of its own, and starts to diffuse the fruitedness of the perfume. The woody notes and light incense are also more noticeable, though they’re largely blended into the greater whole.

Rose-flavoured Turkish Delight.

Rose-flavoured Turkish Delight.

By the start of the third hour, Puredistance Black’s purple hues have turned into a gorgeous shade of pink. The perfume wafts about 2 inches above the skin, and has a soft, creamy texture like a fluffy cloud of saffron-rose. In fact, Black takes on a Turkish Delight, or loukhoum quality, though without any of the sugared powderiness often associated with that confection. The patchouli remains, but it is quite mild as compared to its original, completely nuclear blast. Instead, it merely adds to the loukhoum association with a soft touch of grape. It actually works perfectly and brilliantly now. The absinthe wormwood and touch of incense lurk in the shadows, leaving an image that is primarily that of a pink, fluffy, creamy cloud. I almost expect to see a pink-cheeked cherub sitting on one of them.

I mean it quite sincerely when I saw that I enjoyed this phase of Black. I really did. It reminded me of a significantly richer, creamier, more luxurious version of the drydown phase of Tom Ford‘s Noir de Noir. There, the syrupy, very baroque rose with saffron, truffle earthiness, and the merest, speckled touch of oud also turned into a loukhoum confection in its final stage, but there are big difference. Noir de Noir was much thinner at that point than Black, had an almost violet-y touch, and, more to the point, was extremely powdered in nature. I wasn’t particularly fond of the violet, vanillic powder of the drydown, and I’m relieved that Puredistance Black has none of it at this stage.

Source: 8tracks.com

Source: 8tracks.com

Even better, Black is infinitely deeper, smoother, richer, creamier, and more opulent. The perfume is fluffy, but rich; sweet but not excessive; and an utterly beautiful, creamy, deep, pink rose with just the right amount of fruited patchouli. There is also the very necessary touch of woodiness which Noir de Noir lacked in its drydown, adding a balance to the floral sweetness. Here, the woody element has the faintest flicker of herbaceousness, but, more importantly, a creamy smoothness that makes me wonder if there is generic, Australian sandalwood or cashmeran underneath.

Black remains as this lovely mix for a few hours with only minor alterations. For example, at the start of the fifth hour, the perfume drops to lie just barely above the skin. The herbal absinthe wood that continues to hide behind the floral loukhoum changes in strength, fluctuating from mild to weak on the overall scale of things. And there is a growing hint of something anisic that is rising to the surface.

At the 6.5 hour mark, however, Black begins to transform. It takes on a licorice undertone and slight whiteness which makes me think that it must have myrrh. It is a note which is known to display an anisic, herbal facet, in addition to a slightly churchy, cold, white, incense note. The latter is extremely subtle in Black, but it’s there as well. At the same time, there also is a flickering shade of something honeyed which resembles very much sweet myrrh or opoponax. In addition, Black is starting to show a slightly vanillic powderiness that makes me suspect the presence of benzoin. In its final change, the perfume has turned into a gauzy veil that sits right on the skin, though it is still easily noticeable and potent when sniffed up close.

"Pink abstract" by Montserrat Lopez Ortiz via fineartamerica.com

“Pink abstract,” painting by Montserrat Lopez Ortiz via fineartamerica.com

Black still smells of a floral confection first and foremost, but the newcomers become increasingly noticeable. And, in all honesty, I’m not completely thrilled by the overall effect. There is a cloying undertone to the rose Turkish delight when combined with the anisic, slightly cold, white incense-y myrrh, the sweet myrrh, and the vanillic powder. It’s not helped by a new spiciness that faintly resembles All-Spice powder and/or star anise. In small doses and for a short period of time, the sum total is perfectly fine, but Black stays this way for hours on end. I found it a little fatiguing, if truth be told.

In its very final stage, starting at the 9th hour, Black turns into a whisper of sweet vanillic powder with rose, a vague blur of myrrh, a flicker of abstract woodiness, and an odd underlying tinge of sourness. It’s all a shadow of its former self, coating the skin like the sheerest, thinnest glaze. Black finally fades away about 14 hours from the start with four squirts from the small sample, and 15.25 hours with 5 medium sprays. (Note: My sample atomizer didn’t release the same amount as would be available from a regular bottle as it had a very small hole and a wonky release, so the quantity applied was not as large as those numbers may suggest. It would really be the equivalent of 3 small-to-medium smears from a dab vial, and 4 large ones.)

I tested Black twice, and I’m afraid I wasn’t very enamoured on either occasion. I don’t mind the middle phase, but I wasn’t crazy about the last one. And there aren’t words whatsoever to describe my reaction to the opening hour. As I said, I thought Black significantly and substantially improved at the start of the second hour, but the first one was rough.

Yet, it’s important to put my comments into context: I absolutely loathe purple, fruited patchouli. I try to grit my teeth and get over it when the note is minor, but when it is significant, substantial, and potent, then I simply can’t bear it. I don’t think others have quite the intensity of my reaction to fruit-chouli, which isn’t helped by having a skin chemistry that amplifies the note. In short, my reaction is very subjective and personal to me.

It’s also a reaction that is not even remotely common to others who have tested perfume. Black has generally been greeted with uniform admiration and liking, even by those who usually share my perfume tastes and skin chemistry. Take, for example, The Non-Blonde who writes, in part:

Puredistance is stepping into unexpected new territory with Black, a dark and romantic fragrance created by perfumer Antoine Lei[.] … Black [is] an oriental with an edge that could have come straight out of the labs at Amouage.  […]

Puredistance Black holds my interest from the very first second. A medicinal camphoric note there that lets you know that the raw materials here are real and uncompromising. Soon it becomes honeyed and steeped in booze, making the maybe-oud go down easily and deliciously. Perfumes of this kind, from Amouage to By Kilian often use their sillage to assert themselves as luxury. Not here, though, and as the press materials stress– this is a feature, not a bug. And I have to say that I love it. Black is not exactly a skin scent but it lives and thrives on skin level;  the emotional storm is very much there, manifesting itself for one’s own personal pleasure for a full day and night, just without broadcasting it to the world.

My reaction was also different from those who did detect the patchouli, but had a completely different perception of its nature. In a gushing rave, The Perfume Shrine described Black as follows:

a quasi-brutal opening with a tangy citric fruitiness allied to the darkest, earthiest patchouli possible, like snails coming out of the bush in the dusk, but the cloak of the night soon mollifies it with a woody cluster of honeyed plummy-cedar notes reminiscent of the Lutens canon and a “suede” orientalism. The sweet melange is also reminiscent of pipe tobacco, laced with a boozy aftertaste that lingers. (I hypothesize smoky cypriol/cyperus and vetiver should be featured too). Chewy, a meat course for non vegetarians. […]

Puredistance Black reminds me of the darkness and weirdness factor of Goutal’s Un Parfum Cheri, par Camille, fueled by an intense Indonesian patchouli grade replete with all its earthy chocolate and darkness “dirty” facets. […] Black would be also liked by those who appreciate Borneo 1834 and Bois de Violette or by oudh and tobacco fragrances fans, as the bittersweet oriental feel would appeal.

I’ve tested both the Lutens fragrances that she mentions, and I see absolutely no similarity between the patchouli in Borneo 1834 and Black. Not even remotely. As for Bois de Violette, I don’t think mere fruited sweetness with wood is enough to make the perfumes comparable in style. Clearly, we have very different skin and skin chemistry.

Patchouli — of any kind — isn’t mentioned at all by two bloggers with whom I generally have very similar perfume opinions, as well as perfume tastes. Take the lovely Caro of Te de Violetas who writes:

The initial impression is one of chaos: its fiery opening smolders with notes of chili pepper, cinnamon, and green cardamom, soon overlapped by the bitterness of saffron and absinthe. A smoky touch of oud dominates the blend for a while and brands its character. I am not especially devout of oud but the effect here is restrained and it suffices to cast a veil of mystery. The whole effect is opaque but lightweight and refined. As I near my nose to my wrist, I can’t shake from my head images of Bogart and Bacall. The progression is as smooth as velvet. As it turns softer, well into the drydown, vanillatobacco and tonka ensure a plushy sweetness but the darkness never completely fades away.

As a woman, I can wear Black more comfortably than the rugged M, but I still prefer to smell this on a beloved man or on a handsome stranger.

The Scented Hound also never mentions patchouli, though parts of his experience sound to me as though they involved both absinthe wood and myrrh:

WHAT I SMELL:  Black opens with a sweet and deep incense and smoky accord.  I want to say there’s some bergamot and what seems to be a bit of floraled honey mixed with the smokiness.  That initial smokiness breaks away somewhat to reveal this almost butter like creamy light almond.  But as soon as I notice that, the incense starts to waft up from the bottom again, this time with what seems to be a bit of sueded leather. There’s a bit of sour that makes an appearance that doesn’t detract, but like the smoke and incense, seems to pop in and out.  After around 15 minutes it seems like there is a bit of peppered metallic that makes an appearance.  Again, it comes and goes like all of the other notes which seem to intermix seamlessly without one note dominating.  In the end you’re left with a very light, close to the skin, smooth and elegant slightly woody incensed perfume.

As all of this should make clear, Puredistance Black is different things to different people. All these reviews are dissimilar, though mine seems to veer furthest outside any common thread.

So, the bottom line is that you should try Black for yourself, and make up your mind. If, by chance you generally share similarities with my type of skin and perfume taste, don’t be put off by my review. For example, if you love Tom Ford’s Noir de Noir, or if you would like an even richer version of its drydown, you absolutely should consider Puredistance Black. I will only caution you on one thing: if you’re expecting another, darker, woodier version of Puredistance’s absolutely spectacular “M,” then you will be disappointed. They are nothing alike — and every reviewer who mentions “M” is absolutely consistent on that point.

Perhaps that is small part of why I struggled with Black. M happens to be one of my all-time favorite (modern) fragrances, an absolutely magnificent marvel that is in my Top Ten, and which I would bathe in, if it were possible. The chypre-oriental-leather-amber mix is also the perfect representation of my perfume tastes. I don’t do well with sweetness, and Black turned into a very extreme, very pink example of that. If I had experienced something actually black in hue, with smoky, woody, dark Orientalism, then I suspect M might have had some stiff competition. As it is, I’m afraid it doesn’t.

DISCLOSURE: My small vial of Black was provided courtesy of Puredistance. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is to my readers.

Cost & Availability: Black is an extrait de parfum concentration (the highest), will officially debut in December 2013, and will be available in a variety of different sizes on the Puredistance website. Its European retail price will be as follows: €165 for the 17.5 ml travel spray, €275 euro for 60 ml (about 2.1 oz), and €490 euro for the 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. The American prices are, respectively: $198, $330, and $590. Until its official release, samples of Black are being temporarily offered as part of a promotional special from Puredistance (at the website linked up above). The promotion involves: 2 x 2ml vials of the Extrait for $39 or €29, with free shipping. Retailers: Upon its release, Black will be offered at the usual Puredistance retailers which include: Luckyscent and MinNY in the US; Jovoy in Paris; and London’s Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie division on the 5th floor of Harrods. You can already pre-order at Luckyscent. For all other countries, you can use Puredistance’s Store Locator which lists retailers from Australia and New Zealand to Austria and Russia. I will try to remember to update this post later with more direct links, as well as links to sample sites like Surrender to Chance which normally offers Puredistance fragrances in vials that you can buy for testing.

48 thoughts on “Puredistance Black: Shades of Purple & Pink

  1. Wow – talk about a different experience. I got nothing jammy or syrupy at all, except for a bit o’honey that lasted but for a short time. Obviously, you’re just too sweet yourself which just amplifies the overall sweet effects 🙂 My only concern with Black was the low sillage. For the price of the fragrance I would like others, besides my cats, to be able to notice what I was wearing. But I guess that just adds to the mystery. Another fun read and a rollercoaster of a ride!

    • A TOTALLY different experience! But, if you look at the reports, we *all* experienced something completely separate and unrelated to that of our colleagues. IMO, Puredistance Black is an ideal example that Luca Turin is very mistaken in his opinion that there is one set, very definite scent, and that we’re all merely fooling ourselves by thinking we’re smelling different things (based on skin chemistry, notes, perceptions, etc.).

      Clearly, with such radically different reactions to Black, it’s not a figment of our imaginations! This is skin chemistry, pure and simple. My skin is different from yours, yours from Caro’s, Caro’s from the Perfume Shrine’s, etc. Whether it’s almond notes for you, the vanilla tonka in the base for Caro, the Turkish delight and purple patchouli for me, or the “oily and smoky” blackness for the Perfume Shrine, our skin is bringing out different things. And the lack of notes is letting our senses react unhindered to the result.

  2. So much different from my take on Black. I found it elegant, charming and mysterious. I loved it and would buy it if it wasn’t out of my reach with this price. But you? Pink? Purple? That’s least expected from you… go away bad demon!

    • Believe me, it was quite a shock to my system when the notes unfolded as they did. It’s why I tried it twice. But nope, no black, no mysterious shadows, no smokiness, no serious woodiness. Just fluffy pink, after a deluge of purple.

      My skin is the thing of the devil when it comes to purple patchouli!

      • I hope that you won’t treat me as a pink fluff from now on because I got the right things from Black.

        I know from some sources that we’re up to some nice project together

        • The “right things”? There are no right things, Lucas. You’re not any more right than I am wrong, just as I am no more right than someone else.

          I’m sorry, but I found that comment to be utterly obnoxious.

          • I’m sorry, I only wanted to say that you’re in minority. Everyone around seemed to love it and we got quite similar feelings about the notes.

            Forgive me if you felt offended.

          • Yes, I am in a minority in not liking it passionately. That is an issue of feelings and liking. It has nothing to do with being “right” or being “wrong.” And no, not “everyone” had the same feelings about what was in the perfume. Just read the 4 examples I posted and how they differ. In short, there is no “right” or “wrong” in terms of how one’s skin manifests the notes. There is only a majority or minority in terms of reactions to the fragrance as a whole, and I have made it ABUNDANTLY clear that I am in the minority on that issue.

            Right and wrong in reviewing, when something is all dependent on skin chemistry and subjective personal opinion? This is representative of a larger pattern with you. Grow up, Lucas.

  3. It would seem as if we had smelled two different fragrances 😉
    While I didn’t find Black as Black as its name would imply, it sure didn’t strike me as pink either, nor did it evoke chubby cherubs. But this is the interesting part, right? To see how our perceptions differ.

    Now that I read The Scented Hound mentioning that others beside cats should be able to smell it, I remember one of my cats went mad when I sprayed this on and kept rubbing him against my wrist.

    I, too, sensed a similarity with Fate Man at some stage of its development, but couldn’t compare closely between the two of them as I had given away my Fate sample.
    I am more into classically feminine fragrances these days (powdery, creamy, fluffy) so Black was not my cup of tea. I would love to smell it on my husband, though.


    • Yes, it really was a very wide divergence — to the point that I checked the name on my sample twice to make sure I wasn’t accidentally applying something different. It just goes to show how much skin chemistry makes a difference in the notes it brings out or suppresses.

        • Yes, perception definitely plays a big role, as do subjective, personal tastes.

          As for “M,” I don’t think it is necessarily more distinctive or elegant, but rather, just very different. Different focus, different notes, different style. It suits my personal tastes, while the way Black turned out on my skin doesn’t really fit who I am or what I like. If my skin chemistry had given me something like what you’d experienced, it would have fit my personal style much better, even if it was still different from “M.” The Black that showed up on a number of you certainly seemed very elegant and distinctive indeed! 🙂

  4. Trying to ignore the tension of the exchange above :). (Although I am unaware of the pattern mentioned, these moments always take me by surprise, I guess because we are discussing some a priori “nice” things, right? Let us all be friends, and all that.)
    I actually agree with all the pinkness talk, I have to say, I thought that too. More or less the same feeling. I did not detect (too much) patchouli, though, but my sampling was way more casual and distracted. And less…knowledgeable.
    But, as a REAL patchouli lover – and in the next sentence you will see that I am – I loved your “purple patchouli” take, I think it’s very true. It’s enough to say that my referent patchouli is Santa Maria Novella’s; all dark, brown, earthy, dirty. A true heavy weight. Then come all the others: CdG Patchouli Luxe, Etro Patchouly, Chanel Coromandel, SL Borneo 1834, Villoresi Patchouly and others. (Never tried Farmacia SSA’s Patchouly Indonesiano, that should be amazing as well, from what I read.)
    So yes, no “purple patchouli” for me, thank you vey much.
    But Puredistance M? Sure, prepare the bath. 🙂

    • You found pinkness too??!! Well, at least I’m not completely deranged! It seems we may have very similar skins — poor us. 🙁

      About the brown/red type of patchouli (YES, it is totally the REAL kind! lol), what a great list. There are a number on it that I want to try but haven’t. I did get a sample of the Etro one (I think) while in Paris, but I’ve heard a lot about the Villoresi Patchouly. Is the Farmacia SSA that good? Indonesian patchouli…. mmmmm. My biggest curiosity pertains to the Santa Maria Novella one. It’s a house I deeply admire because of its history and ethos, but I’ve only tried Ambra from them and found it a bit thin for my tastes. Is their patchouli a real “heavyweight”?! Dense and opaque? Because if so, that’s just shot up to the top of my Must Try list!!

      BTW, have you tried Profumum’s Patchouly? Lovely. Absolutely lovely, and the genuine thing, though I wish its opening lasted in all its beauty for the life of the fragrance.

      • Yes, I have tried Profumum’s Patchouly, it’s really great, I agree. And I agree about its opening. While it definitely deserves its place among the very best, it doesn’t beat the SMNP, in my opinion, which for me – and on my skin – holds much better in all the phases. As subjective and as passionate as I might be regarding this particular scent, I am not alone, it seems. Plus, many of the people loving SMNP tend to almost equally love the FSSAPI. So that’s definitely on my to-try list.
        Another nice patchouli I forgot to mention before is Montale Patchouli Leaves. It can also leave a decent smudge on your clothes. 🙂

        • Bruno, you’re killing me here with this Santa Maria patchouli talk. You tempting devil! And the Farmacia SS. one! Well, the very next Surrender to Chance order I place, you know what I will be looking for. 🙂 As for the Montale, I ordered a vial from StC a short while before I left on holiday but you know how Montale=ISO E Supercrappy, so I’ve been a bit… er… leery of trying it. For all that I hate purple patchouli, I hate ISO E Super even more! 😀

          • 🙂 Yes, I got that from your blog, the ISO E hate. But I think you will approve of Montale Patchouli Leaves. Vey unlike Montale, I guess. Very similat to Profumum’s Patchouly in the sense that it also had an epic opening, but doesn’t manage to keep that level forever.
            OK, and the very last patchouli I will mention here (at least in this exchange), the one I love (and yet Luca Turin does NOT mention any patchouli while reviewing it!?) is the Nasomatto Hindu Grass. Amazing. Not your pure-pure patchouli, but a masterpiece nevertheless.

  5. I loved reading about your experience of Black. I tried it yesterday, and also got a lot of cardamom. It kind of reminded me of the opening of Black Cashmere.

    • The cardamom part was so pretty! Re. Black Cashmere, how is it on you? I only ask because I know there are a variety of different ways it seems to manifest itself to people. Some talk about a medicinal start, some think it’s smoky and incense-y, while others talk about saffron and plummy patchouli. I don’t want to assume you had the latter, but I’m dying to know if you did! It would make me feel a lot less like an alien on Mars. lol

      • Hmmm, black Cashmere is always shockingly lovely, let’s start there. Every time I wear it, I’m bowled over by its beauty. I get a big blast of cardamom, and I think that’s why I found it similar to Black. Then there’s incense, but never church incense. And lots of spice, but not like pumpkin pie spice or anything like that, just like a mix of spices that have become a hardened resin of deep spice. I know that doesn’t make sense. I don’t really know what saffron smells like, and I get no plums nor patch, sorry. Although, patch would definitely be a good addition, IMO.

        • Ah, okay, I understand better now. The cardamom was the tie to Puredistance Black, and nothing else. As for DK’s Black Cashmere, it sounds lovely on your skin. You should buy some saffron from the supermarket sometime. (It’s in the Spice section, often in small threads, but better if you can find the actual powdered kind.) Just to educate your nose. Specifically, melt some butter, put in a lot of saffron threads, stir it, wait for the whole thing to turn red-orange, and then sniff the final result. It will give you a good idea about the aroma. I see Saffron as one of the big, new, upcoming trends in perfumery, so you may find it helpful. 🙂

  6. I’m trying to imagine Turkish delight “without any of the sugared powderiness often associated with that confection,” which sounds very intriguing indeed, but I really can’t picture it! It’s a relief to hear, though – because that powdery sweetness is exactly what I *wouldn’t* want in a perfume. Many aspects of this sound quite appealing (cardamom? ginger? benzoin?), but the purple patchouli sounds sort of horrifying. Given that wasn’t a universal experience for everyone, it gives me a glimmer of hope that this could be worthwhile. Although, at these prices, I anticipate my levels of expectation will be extraordinarily high, and it will ultimately fall short. Who knows, though. Perhaps a surprise is in order.

    • I think people should definitely try Black for themselves and see what transpires. Everyone seems to have a different take on it, from no patchouli, to almonds at the top, or tonka vanilla at the bottom/end. I’d be fascinated to see how it turned out on you and what you perceived. 🙂

      And, yes, Turkish delight with creaminess but no sugared powderiness is an oddity, but that stage was absolutely lovely. So, so enjoyable, especially as it wasn’t cloyingly excessive but infinitely smooth and custardy in a surprisingly fluffy way. I’m guessing that the texture might come from cashmeran. It’s supposed to be all about creamy, Cashmere-like, soft but fluffy texture (along with increasing a perfume’s longevity) than about any actual, distinctive smell.

  7. I wasn’t blown away by BLACK either. While i thought it was a decent fragrance with many twists and turns, for me, a few of it’s many stages were more than a bit iffy. I have to take into account the price of this thing at 490 euros for 100ml and dare i say this about Puredistance, but it seemed to have two very icky, El Cheapo, sweet phases, as well as a generic Patchouli note that seemed at odd’s with some very refined stages of the fragrance. Antoine Lie, who has done some pretty “Out There” fragrances, does seem to have been a very bizarre choice for Puredistance.

    • Another one who detected the modern, sweet patchouli! I’m so relieved. I was starting to think I had the absolute oddest skin in town. Thank you for letting me know I’m not off my rocker, C. You’re right, the perfume does have some very refined stages, but it’s a little surprising that a €490 or $590 perfume would include such a common note. I can only ascribe it to a desire to create a modern perfume in the classic style, not something dated. Still, I wish that purple patchouli would die as a perfume trend. I find it to be so utterly unbearable!

  8. Another of those who had a totally different experience with this one – I actually got a lot of cinammon in the opening and some other bone dry spices reminiscent of Trayee, and then the soft whispering incense/woody/spicy drydown kicked in pretty soon after. Absolutely loved it. It really did wrap me in a mysterious cocoon – it wasn’t overtly masculine bar the opening, but no way was it purple or pink, hehe.

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Our Evil Scent Twin streak continues. 🙂 I think the day we have a beloved fragrance in common will be the day the world ends. LOL xoxoxoxo

      • Having now read the earlier commenter who mentioned Black Cashmere, that is another excellent ‘read’ for the opening of ‘Black – Period’ – particularly in relation to the cardamom. And as I own a bottle of Black Cashmere and a tube of Black is rather outside my price range, I am going to dig that out and enjoy its meditative charms! Actually, I do think we will have a beloved fragrance in common one day – if we don’t already have one. (Dives into archives to check, adding, Captain Oates-like: ‘I may be some time…’ 😉 )

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  10. Dear Kafka, I was so looking forward to your take on this one – but then got completely buried into work and Halloween and just got to this post now.

    I’m kind of in between two camps: I’m with you on Black not being my thing at all but, on the other hand, I can’t smell almost any sweetness in it as well. I can smell something that I mentally called agarwood but it’s not too strong so I assume it’s something that just gives that impression.

    • My dear, it’s not a problem about the time of the comment (you know I never mind!), or about having a different perspective. Re. the agarwood, have you had the chance to smell Amouage’s Fate Man yet? If so, smell the wood note there and see if you can detect any similarities. I think it’s the same sort of wood in both perfumes: absinthe/wormwood. I think that’s why you are getting just the faintest impression of “oud.”

      As for the sweetness, I think we’ve talked in the past about how you don’t usually detect that in any intense way. I think your skin may not amplify it, while mine takes certain basenotes and runs to town with them! Like patchouli. So, I really think it’s a skin chemistry thing with me. What I’m more curious about is why Black wasn’t really your thing. What did it smell like to you (besides not being sweet, and having something almost like agarwood)? What stopped you from falling in love?

  11. You got me super interested just by mentioning Noir de Noir. I hope I can find it somewhere in Dubai! I’m a bit scared of the pink fluffy part because I really hate sweetness in my perfumes. But we will see!

    • Those of us who got pinkness seem to be in the minority, so I think it really, really depends on one’s personal skin chemistry and the notes that it amplifies. If your skin doesn’t intensify things like patchouli, you’ll be safe and you’ll experience a dark, smoky fragrance. I’m sure Puredistance is available in Dubai, so look for Black starting in December! 🙂

  12. I hate the Fruit-chouli accord, and thought on first application, it smells like so many other things which I really didn’t like, a half an hour after spraying it morphs into a modern woody (the wood note is clean and camphorous), then the most beautiful and balanced honeyed oud note, it never quite goes in the way of a fruit-chouli to me, thank god!!! an hour later I was back at MIN buying 2oz. size, I hated M, too loud and smelled a little dated to me, like all the other Roja Doves, and Cuir Garamante by MDCI which totally is a fruit-chouli power bomb, But I do love wearing Black.

    • I’m glad you enjoy the Black. I fear we don’t have similar tastes if you hate the M, but love this one. lol. Differences are cool though. Enjoy your fragrance.

  13. One more thing, it most closely resembles Scent 79 man on me, but done with better quality ingredients, it also reminds me of Pure Oud but much more pleasant to wear. And also shares similarities to Timbuktu.

  14. Interestingly, I received two samples of Black from my friend, carrying the Puredistance line. One has a shiny golden paper wrapped around the vial, whilst the other doesn’t have. Apart from that, they both came in the very same silk “sack”. I prefer the non-gold version, but I wonder if really there are two types of juice. Do you know something about this?

    • There is only one type of formula, concentration or juice. Extrait or Pure Parfum Black. Did your friend obtain her sample from Puredistance? My vial from Puredistance came with the white satin pouch, but no shiny gold paper wrapped around the vial. I have never once seen such paper around any official Puredistance vials. Are you detecting a totally different aroma between the two vials?

    • Sandy, I received an explanation from Puredistance on the issue of the gold-wrapped vials that you have. I’ll quote their answer:

      there is only type of formula for BLACK. However, due to the success of & the high demand for our new perfume, we ran out of 2ml vials. However, in order to continue to supply our customers we came up with short term but creative solution, which is to sticker the non printed vials and fill them with the perfume oil of BLACK. In this way, we were able to service our customers and have them enjoy Puredistance BLACK!

      In case this comes up again, you will know why some of your readers could have a 2ml vial from us that has a golden sticker with Puredistance BLACK printed on it.

      I hope that helps to clarify things.

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