Suzanne's Perfume Journal

September 10, 2012:

Puredistance Opardu: One Elegant Little Affair

Puredistance Opardu will be launched in November 2012. It is parfum strength (containing 32% perfume oil) and has a suggested retail price of 165 Euros for a 17.5 ml spray. Puredistance now also carries its perfumes in two other sizes (a 60-ml flacon and a 100-ml flacon). My sample was sent to me by the company.

For more details, visit the Puredistance website

Photo of Netherlands-born violinist Janine Jansen is from
Photo of Puredistance Opardu in 17.5 ml flacon and 100-ml bottle is from

Excerpted from Reginald Weiss's Overture, copyright © 2002 by Suzanne Keller. All rights reserved.

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The above is the first paragraph of a short story I wrote some years back, when I belonged to a fiction-writing group, about the beginning of an affair between a conductor of a symphony orchestra and one of his second violinists. The story itself makes me cringe in embarrassment (don’t worry, you won’t be getting the full treatment of it here) but after spending the past week thinking about how I was going to talk about the latest perfume I’ve been sampling, I decided that this story’s opening lines provide the perfect lead-in to what I have to say, notably because they confirm that lilac is a note I understand … even if it’s not a note I hanker for in terms of my own perfume tastes. When I tell you that Puredistance Opardu, the newest perfume from the Netherlands-based, luxury perfume house, is a perfume in which I smell a very realistic rendition of lilac, you’ll know why this perfume is special and worthy of a lovely review—even as I concede that it’s really not my kind of scent and that I experience a bit of a disconnect between how the perfume smells and how it is described in its promotional materials. (Not that this second phenomenon is anything new: companies often perceive their fragrances differently from how I perceive them.)

Opardu is the fourth fragrance in Puredistance’s small but impeccable line, and it doesn’t officially launch until November, but the company sent me a sample for preview. Though a list of notes wasn’t included in the promotional materials, I’ve read two different lists at various places on the Internet. At one site, they are listed as violet, heliotrope, lilac, musk and woods. At another, they include top notes of tuberose, gardenia, and Bulgarian rose; heart notes of carnation and jasmine absolue; and base notes of heliotrope and cedarwood. Both sets of notes sound credible to me, because what I smell is a very fleeting bit of carnation when the scent first hits the skin (when it’s still wet on the skin), soon followed by a very beautiful lilac scent that will make those who love the flower swoon, for it is as realistic and as exquisite as an actual sprig of Persian lilacs. The lilac holds sway for a good amount of time, accented by lightly powdery notes (which make me think of violet and heliotrope) and made floaty and diffuse by what I believe is a good dose of musk. In the far drydown, Opardu is a little soapy, but only a little bit, in a way that I quite like: it is reminiscent of very expensive and finely-milled European soap, making me wonder if it is tuberose’s creamy and waxy nature, marrying itself to the lilac scent, which produces this latent effect.

That is pretty much the evolution of the perfume; I don’t get much in the way of wood notes, and I don’t miss them: Opardu to my nose is a fine waltz of lilac, powder and musk, with just a dash of delicate soap. If Opardu were a lady, she would certainly be elegant, graceful, well-mannered and well-heeled. And if she were a modern-day lady, she would be the type who has held fast to some old-world values; the type of woman who might play violin in an orchestra and have the kind of charms that appeal to a well-cultured man.

Opardu is lovely for all of these reasons—and considering the dearth of lilac-centric perfumes (and the dearth of perfumes that smell like the actual lilac flower)—it should meet with a receptive audience when it is launched later this fall. Opardu is described in its company’s perfume literature as “romantic, opulent, and seductive,” and its name (a name which is not a real word, but one which the owner of Puredistance—the very handsome and cultured Jan Ewoud Vos—came up with, feeling like it was a word that seemed both familiar and mysterious) is meant to express “a deep longing for the bygone days of Opulence and True Romance.” Taking this notion a step further, the literature says, “Be prepared for a perfume that will bring you back to the vibrant nightlife of Paris in the 20’s.”

Well, much as I’d like to say, “Far be it for me to argue with Jan Ewoud Vos”—because who wants to argue with a dishy man who is also passionate, intelligent and very generous to the blogging community—and who wants to argue with the perfumer, the talented Annie Buzantian, who helped him realize his vision on this scent (as well as two other perfumes in the Puredistance line)? But once in a while, I have to put in a bit of an argument, and my argument here is that Opardu is far too soft, demure and polite to call up notions of opulence and the liberated, jazz-rebellion nightlife of the roaring 20s. I’m not sure that any lilac perfume could ever achieve the kind of decadence that I associate with the words “opulence” and “Paris in the 20’s.”

But no matter: for that I have other perfumes. And what is true about Opardu and how it matches the company’s vision of it, is that it does indeed make one think of love and romance. Lilac has a way of doing that—witness again, the inspiration for my short story!—and probably no lilac scent does it better than the dreamy and elegant Opardu.

It started on an innocent note—literally. The first time Reginald Weiss noticed, really noticed, Perrin Sumner she was drawing out the most tender G-sharp he had ever heard. It fairly shimmered between lilac and violet. And the longer she held it, the more delicate it became in both fragrance and hue until it was decidedly Persian lilac. Not the showy French variety with its double blossoms and heady scent, but a daintier cultivar, smaller and paler in color and perfume. It was a flower that understood nuance; one had to bend to smell syringa persica, one had to inhale deeply. And at that moment, Reginald realized with some embarrassment that he had inhaled a bit too deeply—causing his baton to waver ever so slightly and the cymbalists to twitch with a sudden look of fear and confusion, so intently had they been waiting for their cue.                                    

-- from my short story, “Reginald Weiss’s Overture”