In 2010, Netherlands-based perfume company Puredistance hired perfumer Roja Dove to create its latest fragrance, a men’s scent that takes as its moniker the male-affirming letter M and (according to the perfumer) its inspiration from “the soft, sensual world of leather.”
When I smell this fragrance, I get very little leather, but it hardly matters: M is soft and sensual, all right, and has a definite masculine vibe. But allow me to anthropomorphize M a bit and I’ll tell you exactly what kind of man he is: one spoiled pup. One lucky son-of-a-gun. This man is whipped, and baby I can’t blame him. There’s a sugar mama behind M—that’s why he’s been massaged and anointed with all those precious resins. And where there is money, well, there’s often a nice ooze of honey too. Honey runs wild and dark in Puredistance M. It is conveyed on a hot breath of clove and the last drags of a Gauloises cigarette. It travels along well-paneled walls and it pools in the creamy pockets of a well-appointed and deliciously disheveled bed.
There’s not an official list of notes for Puredistance M, as far as I’m aware, but here is what I smell in the scent. Top notes that remind me of the opening notes in the vintage Lanvin fragrance My Sin—lemon, bergamot, clary sage—along with something decidedly more masculine: a touch of smoky birch tar or castoreum (just enough to lend smokiness rather than a true out-and-out leather). I smell jasmine that is both sweet and urine-like, which reminds me of honey. (Or maybe jonquil, which can sometimes present that witchy smell of sweetness-laced-with-cat-pee. Or maybe just a straight-forward honey note itself.) And I smell clove and labdanum and aged patchouli and vetiver and sandalwood and musk. Who knows if all of these notes I think I detect are actually in there. Doesn’t matter; this is my best guess, and I don’t think I’ll lead you too far astray by naming them as such.
As mentioned above, aside from the light treatment of what I perceive as a castoreum or birch tar note, M doesn't present a hard and true leather facet so much as it achieves a leathery "feel" to the fragrance via this calico assemblage of viscous notes.
And that's fine by me. I really, really like everything that I do detect in M. Its honeyed resins, pitting sweetness against darkness, are the kind of thing that whispers in my ears and sends shivers up my back. Wearing M is a seductive study in contrasts that makes me think of couples who seem like they don’t belong together, but who click like nobody’s business because they aren't afraid to say, Screw what everybody else thinks, we’re doing it! I think of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. I think of grizzled, Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant grooving with that ethereal and down-home bit of Tupelo honey that is Alison Krauss.
Pondering the latter, I find myself running to the computer to pull up songs from their “Raising Sand” album (from 2007; I keep hoping they’ll follow up with another one). One song in particular, “Rich Woman,” with its film-noir mix of electric guitar and snare drums meeting the sweet hush of Plant and Krauss’s vocals, is the perfect accompaniment to wearing Puredistance M. Like the fragrance, it tells its story from the male point-of-view but rather quickly blurs the lines of gender as it spoons itself around the female element. And I, as the prurient witness to such couplings, can only say that I wish there were more of these arrangements.
Puredistance M: The Seductive Coupling of Opposite Elements
Puredistance M can be purchased from a number of luxury boutiques, including the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie at Harrods in London; the company's own Puredistance Perfume Lounge in Vienna and the Puredistance website, as well as from LuckyScent.com, where prices start at a 17.5 ml flacon for $190 (which might sound costly, but consider that it is made from a high concentraton of perfume oil: 25%).
†Lyrics from the song "Rich Woman" (recorded by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant on their 2007 album, Raising Sand), written by Dorothy Labostrie, Mckinley Millet • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Photo of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant stolen from PasteMagazine.com; photo of Puredistance M stolen from the fragrance blog Cafleurbon.
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I got a woman with plenty of money,
She got the money and I got the honey.
Called my baby late last night,
She told me daddy everything is all right.
She got the money and I got the hon--
She got the money and I got the hon--
She got the money and I got the honey. †