A “dream of white and gold” is the tagline for White, the latest release from the luxury brand, Puredistance. The company makes one of my favorite fragrances, the glorious M, so I always look forward to their releases. I also appreciate that they don’t release an avalanche of fragrances each year, settling instead on one scent that they work hard to perfect, and I greatly admire the luxuriousness elegance of their packaging. There is just something about Puredistance that I really like, even when one of their fragrances leaves me cold, like their Black.
Thankfully, White (or “WHITE” in all-caps as it is officially spelt) isn’t the disappointment of that last scent, though it is no M, or even Opardu with its head-turning opening phase. White is elegantly done, has a gorgeous drydown, clearly uses some very expensive ingredients, and certainly creates the visions of white and gold (or yellow) that were intended. That said, it is also a simple fragrance that is very safe in my opinion and, for much of its opening stage, also excessively commercial in profile as well. Its beauty lies in its drydown, due primarily to the superb quality of the expensive ingredients (real Mysore sandalwood!) that dominate at that point, but the rest of the scent didn’t feel distinctive or special to me. It’s a testament to just how warm, friendly, and nice the people behind Puredistance are that I feel like an utter cad saying that, but I can’t help it.
White was created by Antoine Lie who spent over a year on the scent. At one point, when the outcome didn’t match the vision that Puredistance’s founder, Jan Ewoud Vos had for the scent, everything was scratched and Mr. Lie started all over again. Mr. Vos wanted something pure, sunny, bright and evocative of happiness, and he wouldn’t settle for anything less. The final version is meant to “enhance your mood through intense, but comforting beauty” with “shades of serene white and warm gold” created through “the best and most expensive ingredients in the world.” White will debut at the Milan Esxence show at the end of March, but will be officially released around April 20th. Like its siblings, it is an extrait de parfum, but White exceeds the levels of prior scents by clocking in at a whopping 38% fragrance oil.
On its website, Puredistance describes White and its notes as follows:
The main idea behind the creation of Puredistance WHITE Perfume has been to create a perfume so beautiful and positive that it gives the wearer an instant flow of happiness. We asked Master Perfumer Antoine Lie (who also created Puredistance BLACK for us) to create a white and golden dream; an intimate escape from harsh reality. It took Antoine Lie one year to complete the magic formula, using the best and most expensive ingredients in the world. The result is a one-of-a-kind perfume made to enhance your mood through intense, but comforting beauty – if you like it, a warm and natural happiness will be yours!
Ingredients: Rose de Mai from France, Tonka bean absolute from Venezuela, Orris absolute from Italy, Sandalwood from Mysore, Bergamot from Italy, Musk, Vetyver from Haiti and Patchouli from Indonesia.
White opens on my skin with crisp, chilled bergamot flecked with dabs of spicy patchouli and a touch of greenness that vaguely translates to vetiver. The mix lies atop a pillowy base of orris and sweet, slightly vanilla-ish tonka, all cocooned in a very clean cloud of white musk. The orris doesn’t smell rooty, earthy, dank, or musty but, rather, like a sweet marshmallow that is vaguely floral and just barely powdered. In a lot of ways, it strongly resembles heliotrope in both feel and aroma, only this is less sweet thanks to the heavy amounts of brisk bergamot and the even heavier blanket of white musk.
In essence, White smells exactly like a lemon square on my skin, an impression that I’ve had each and every time I’ve tried the scent, only this confectioner’s sweet is less powdered and less sugared than the actual dessert. The resemblance is particularly strong when White is smelled up close, and only increases when the dabs of patchouli and vetiver-ish greenness retreat to the sidelines after a few minutes. In the background, there are wisps of a very pale, pink rose, while the base bears a subtle hint of something vaguely woody in nature. Nevertheless, all I can think of is fluffy lemon bars with a heliotrope-like marshmallow fluffiness, all blanketed by an excessive amount of white musk.
White doesn’t shift or change enormously on my skin for the first few hours. The rose eventually emerges onto center stage to thoroughly infuse the lemon squares. It took 40 minutes in one test, 20 in another, but, in both cases, it’s never as prominent a note as the bergamot, orris, or white musk. As for the tonka, it’s hard to know where it begins and where the orris ends; the two notes are thoroughly fused together from start to finish, radiating a combined sweet creaminess that is slightly nutty at times, slightly floral at other times. The spicy patchouli flits about, occasionally quite noticeably, but usually hovering at the edges in the first few hours. The woodiness in the base feels indistinct, not spicy or smoky enough at this point to resemble Mysore, though it is somewhat creamy and very beige in feel. I never smell vetiver as an actual note on my skin, only the tiniest suggestion of greenness, but that disappears entirely after a few minutes and never reappears.
The clean musk has the most consistent trajectory. It grows stronger and stronger during the first hour until it plateaus out as a truly singular, excessively dominant note throughout the first 5 hours. Regular readers know just how much I loathe white musk, and the quantities here are at Francis Kurkdjian levels for most of White’s opening and middle stages. The overall result is laundry detergent cleanness with confectioner’s lemon squares and a translucent rose atop a creamy, vaguely wooded base.
It’s an overly simplistic, wholly commercial bouquet that feels like a designer scent, albeit one with luxury ingredients (minus that blasted white musk that I always think smells so cheap). Yet, from a distance, White is a pretty scent in its opening hours with a sunny mix of freshness and sweetness. It definitely skews white and yellow as intended. It is also elegant and chic in its commercial way, though I’m sorry to say that I don’t find it remotely interesting. It’s not merely the loads of laundry-fresh cleanness, even if that is the kiss of death for me. Rather, it’s that a mix of lemon patisserie with lightly powdered fluffiness, egregious levels of clean musk, and a thin, translucent rose is pretty much as basic (and boring) as it gets these days.
The order and prominence of the notes shuffles around at the end of the 3rd hour and the start of the 4th. Now, the tonka-fused orris takes over from the bergamot as the lead element. It smells more like marshmallow fluff than ever before, though White is never cloying or painfully sweet. It’s not even heavily gourmand on my skin, thanks to the continued power of the brisk lemon and the white musk, both of which keep the orris more on the buttery, nutty side than a sugared one. At the same time, the rather generic woodiness rises from the base, while the rose feels blurrier and more muted than before. There is little patchouli, and no vetiver or greenness on my skin. For the most part, White is primarily a soft, lightly sweetened, rather indistinct floral woody musk. Except for the bergamot, musk, and orris, all the other notes feel blurry or undefined.
The first sign of a turn-around occurs roughly 5.5 hours into White’s development in what is essentially the early part of a very long drydown phase. The perfume has turned into a simple, luxurious, and very pretty mix centered primarily on creamy orris, creamy tonka, and creamy sandalwood. The latter smells like the most refined version of Mysore, filtering out its smokiness and some of its red richness, but bringing out its buttery qualities. There is a quiet spiciness about White now, too, though I can’t tell if it’s from the Mysore or from the lashings of spicy patchouli which have now become quite pronounced. The bergamot continues to run through the scent like streaks through marble, but it’s taken a significant step back. It’s the same story with the clean musk. It continues to cloak everything like a veil but it, too, is better calibrated now and almost minor relative to the first few hours. The whole thing clings softly to the skin, coating it with a smoothness that is truly impressive for the buttery nature of its notes. It’s too light and sheer to be comparable to a custard, so perhaps an air-whipped mousse might be the closest analogy, one that is dominated by expensive orris butter and creamy, golden Mysore.
By the end of the 7th hour, White is set on the course which it will take for the next 6 to 8 hours and which can essentially be boiled down to: soft patchouli-sandalwood-tonka cream. It’s a luxurious, indulgent, expensive-smelling, comforting, and delicious blend of different forms of creaminess and butteriness. It’s best up close where you can detect the layers of spicy, sweet patchouli and Mysore sandalwood atop the tonka-orris buttered mousse. From afar, White is merely a hazy blend of lightly spiced, sweet, creamy woods. It’s simple and gauzy in both cases, but also elegant and cozy. In its final moments, all that’s left is a wisp of something vaguely woody and creamy.
White generally has moderate projection on my skin but outstanding longevity. Using several squirts from my slightly wonky, little atomizer that were roughly equal to 2 good sprays from an actual bottle, White opened with 3 inches of projection, maybe 4 at best. However, it left a nice scent trail in the opening hour, especially when I moved, radiating out about a foot. The projection dropped after 30 minutes, leaving a soft, airy, thin cloud emanating about 2 inches above the skin. It became an inch at the end of the 3rd hour, and a skin scent at the start of the 6th hour, though the fragrance wasn’t hard to detect up close for a little while to come. White lasted just a hair under 15.5 hours with the equivalent of 2 sprays, and just over 12.75 with about one.
White won’t be officially released until the end of April, but there are a few early reviews out already. Patty White at The Perfume Posse loved the fragrance, writing in part:
This is a scent made for spring/summer. it goes on with the gorgeous orris/rose/sandalwood with a little zest from bergamot. No white flowers here, but it feeeeels like they wafting in from far off in the distance. Musk and tonka warm this so beautifully as it stretches out into this warm olfactory embrace. Puredistance White lasts an embarrassingly long time. Good thing it stays interesting. The changes in it are minor as it shifts more to musk/tonka/vetiver/sandalwood, with the orris lending it it’s more interesting warbling. It seems simple perfection, but it is the simplicity of a faceted gem. But a warm gem, not one that is offputting. Luxury that begs to be lived in and not admired at a distance. [¶] The open seems a little more feminine, but this is definitely a unisex scent after that brief open. I am so in love with my little sample. This is joy and warmth and so perfect for the end of a long, cold, snowy winter.
On Fragrantica, the one person who has tried the scent thus far thought that White was overly feminine in nature. “Cassiano” writes, in relevant part:
This is a women’s fragrance, even for those who believe that a perfume shouldn’t be labeled by gender. On my skin, it resulted in a floral-musky with great presence of roses, especially in the initial moments. First, the fragrance creates a euphoric effect. After a while, it becomes more engaging and relaxing. In this stage, creamy and surrounding nuances of tonka bean and sandalwood became noticeable. Unfortunately, on my skin, I couldn’t feel the presence of either bergamot or vetiver.
I would say that Puredistance White is designed for women of all ages and types. Its fragrance will please from younger to older. Its scent is chic, yet current. One word describes it: sophistication
For Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume, White was not really a floral scent at all but, rather, a “tonka-centric gourmand” one. She writes, in part:
My overriding sensation, however, is of a seamlessly blended nutty, woody, slightly peppery?, tonka-centric gourmand scent. The tonka itself has those characteristic overtones of coumarin and hay as well as vanilla, which lend it a slightly sterner, drier, more offbeat facet – possibly buttressed by the vetiver. […][¶] I should mention that my nose / skin tends to amplify anything on the tonka-heliotrope spectrum, and I see tonka as a halfway house towards heliotrope, although I may be completely wrong there. For me, tonka and heliotrope both hover around that vaguely almondy, milky foody territory, with just a hint of a bitter or anisic twist. […][¶]
So overall I would say that I like WHITE quite a lot; it does fit the brief of being warming and comforting in these troubled times. I particularly like its quieter phase about 1-2 hours in, when the coumarin-y aspect of the tonka has settled down, and the composition becomes a little sweeter and more floral (more the iris than the rose, in fairness). The feel of the scent on skin is also more silken and smooth than at the outset. This is when WHITE truly slips into its lazy, hazy, dreamy phase. […][¶] I doubt that I will ever feel mad love for WHITE in its entirety, as I am not that keen on tonka bean when it’s centre stage like this, and I think you really have to be to fully appreciate WHITE.
I was glad Vanessa detected a heliotrope-like note as well, and I generally share her feelings about the scent as a whole. In my case, it’s not the tonka which prevents me from loving White, but the excessive white musk and the boring, generic lemon-rose squares opening which puts me off. It’s the drydown which saves White for me, since I actually like tonka quite a bit, heliotrope even more, and am utterly mad for both spicy patchouli and Mysore sandalwood. It’s a drydown that I find to be genderless, but I do agree with Patty White of The Perfume Posse that the fragrance skew feminine in its opening.
Ultimately, though, the gender perception issue is going to depend on the notes that your skin amplifies. If it is the rosy, floral woody musk experienced by the Fragrantica chap and seemingly by Patty White as well, then White probably will feel like a feminine scent at the start. My rose-flecked lemon squares certainly seemed so to me. However, the drydown is quite a different matter, and wholly unisex in my opinion. If your skin mirrors that of Vanessa from Bonkers and the creamier, sweeter notes dominate right from the start, then you’re much less likely to find White to be a “woman’s fragrance.”
I sway back and forth in my overall feelings about White. In both my tests, my notes on the early hours were quite harsh. I didn’t expect such a commercial, designer vibe from Puredistance, let alone the excessive laundry-fresh cleanness, or a dissolution into an indistinct, basic, floral woody musk. I expect far more from a brand like Puredistance, especially after the masterpiece that is M and especially at their prices, so White was quite a disappointment at that stage. However, there is a noticeable change in my notes once the drydown begins near the start of the 6th hour because the other reviewers are right, it really is “dreamy” or “warm” in its fluffy, silken creaminess. Its smoothness truly feels like an indulgent luxury. Orris butter and Mysore sandalwood are phenomenally expensive, and you can clearly tell significant amounts were used in White. As both a patch head and a Mysore snob, I find the ensuing combination in the drydown to be absolutely lovely. Plus, it lasts for ages, even though it’s merely a silken coating on the skin. If only there were a way to skip the entire first half of the scent; I truly would be as “happy” as Puredistance intended.
DISCLOSURE: My sample was provided courtesy of Puredistance. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.