Suzanne's Perfume Journal

I should probably state this right off the bat (so as not to confuse anyone by my review): WHITE, the new perfume from the luxury perfume house Puredistance, is neither a jasmine perfume nor a tea perfume. Nonetheless, the first time I smelled it, my immediate comparison was to two specific teas: jasmine, with its leaves wound into pearls that unfurl like anemones as they steep, until one’s cup is filled with an infusion that resembles a delicate perfume more than actual tea; and white tea, which is often accompanied by notes of vanilla, coconut or lychee, such that it smells dessert-like, but softly so. “This is a perfume that would appeal to the tea connoisseur,” I said to myself (and thought of my friend Ann of Perfume Posse). “Especially to someone who appreciates very fine nuances of aroma.” Going by the latter criteria, you wouldn’t think that person would be me, but you’d be wrong.

I’ve been sampling WHITE off and on now for over a month, and my perception hasn’t changed. Its scent sweeps me off to a country I’ve never been to – China – where I’m being served jasmine tea in a beautiful setting by an equally beautiful Chinese woman. Or maybe I’m in Japan or Viet Nam or some other part of the part of the Orient – it really doesn’t matter. The feeling is one of pared-down elegance that I rightly or wrongly equate with Asian beauty and Asian art, although “pared-down” isn’t quite right. What I really mean is beauty that has a sense of precision, an understanding of form, and a feeling of alignment. WHITE is a fragrance meant to convey happiness, and it achieves this by being fine-boned, focused, and centering to the mind rather than (in the western way) eclectic, loping and full of itself. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter: when it comes to happiness, the reckless Bohemian approach can be exhilarating – and so, too, perfumes with an uninhibited sense of joie de vivre. I know, because I own a good number of such perfumes, but over the past year I’ve been favoring fragrances that take a poetic and reined-in approach; it is simply where my mood has been. WHITE evokes happiness by way of its elegant and ethereal olfactory strokes that speak of contentment rather than of the dizzying, electrifying joys of freedom.

Composed around notes of rose de mai, tonka bean, iris, sandalwood, bergamot, musk, vetiver and patchouli, WHITE starts off smelling floral and feminine, reminiscent of honeyed jasmine blossoms suspended in a delicately aqueous and green-tinged accord, which is why it reminds me of jasmine tea and not just of the flower itself. As jasmine is noticeably absent from the notes list, I wonder if the effect is due to the Rose de Mai – described by Wikipedia as having a scent that is “clear and sweet, with notes of honey” – in combo with the coolness of iris? Whatever accounts for it, this opening stage of the perfume not only has the aroma of a floral tea but is as gently stimulating as that beverage. It taps the pleasure center of the brain in a way that elicits a feeling of joy that is pure (innocently pure, as there is nothing indolic or strumpet-like about this bouquet), calm and very “present.” The warmth of its bouquet reminds me of sunlight, an uplifting and golden smell that makes me feel like a cat basking in the sunlight of a window. WHITE is not as high-soaring a perfume as, for instance, Jean Patou Joy is with its operatic amounts of soprano-like jasmine and rose. WHITE’s floralcy is softer and anchored by a humid botanical element that verges on the aquatic (but only verges). I often develop crushes on perfumes expressing a dewy, almost minty form of greenness in their opening notes, and there is a hint of that here too, lending youthfulness while secretly working as a ballast that keeps WHITE from being too excitable. It is as if WHITE’S humidity has trapped an innocent bloom in its balmy embrace and both want to stay there and talk for awhile.

And luckily they can, because WHITE’s top-notes stage doesn’t burn off quickly. In fact, it’s probably not accurate to reference the perfume pyramid in regard to WHITE, because its floral accord is evident almost as soon as the perfume hits the skin and is the heart and soul of the perfume. Somewhere around twenty minutes of wear, it’s engaged by the slow-developing scent of tonka bean and sandalwood: an irresistible, dry marshmallow version of a vanillic base. Tonka and sandalwood impart creaminess to WHITE, and in this composition they do so in a way that is tender and discreet; like fine pearls of tapioca, they add starch to the perfume in a way that is in keeping with WHITE’s organic nature. This fragrance development doesn’t alter the floral nature of the perfume, but it does change the scent of its bouquet, which now smells less like jasmine tea and more like the marriage of white tea and vanilla. At this stage the fragrance’s florals and botanicals are absorbed in this luscious, foamy base that increases the perfume’s sense of containment. The conversation between the notes in this perfume has gotten cozier – and fluffier – as if there is also shared laughter.

Overall, WHITE is a perfume of gentle enchantment: it never loses its elegant manners, it keeps up its charming dialogue for a long time, and it wears both its heart and its name on its pristinely clean sleeve. Here it should be noted that it achieves these things partly due to a good dose of white musk, which, depending on how one feels about musk, will ultimately determine how one feels about this perfume. White musks aren’t all the same and neither are the compositions that employ them. This is important to keep in mind because, in my own case, there are many such perfumes I don’t care for, and then there are perfumes like Le Labo Gaiac 10 and Guerlain Lys Soleia, which contain a lot of white musk, that I find utterly captivating. It comes down to the overall fragrance composition and how well musk fits into it (not to mention whether I can smell it at all, because there are some musk scents to which I’m anosmic). In Puredistance WHITE, the musk is an important and well-integrated component, firstly because its fixative property extends the longevity of the delicate florals and their marshmallow base; secondly, because I suspect musk’s diffusive properties might also account for the softness of the bouquet, its ability to entertain the nuances that it does; and thirdly, because it does smell mildly soapy at times – mostly in its far drydown where it concludes with a laundry-fresh linens smell – extending the idea that WHITE is, well, white. Clean, innocent of heart, good-mannered. If WHITE could come to life, she would probably end her part of the long and lingering conversation by checking her watch and letting you know that she must be off to the drycleaners before they close.

Like Taking Tea with an Asian Beauty: Puredistance WHITE

Puredistance WHITE is a pure perfume extrait (with 38% perfume oil, a very rich amount) composed by perfumer Antoine Lie with notes of Rose de Mai from France, Tonka bean absolute from Venezuela, Orris absolute from Italy, Sandalwood from Mysore, Bergamot from Italy, Musk, Vetiver from Haiti and Patchouli from Indonesia. It can be purchased from the Puredistance website where a 17.5 ml. flacon is currently priced at $190. This perfume officially launched just this week, so it should also soon be available in the US at, which carries the rest of the Puredistance line.

My review is based on a sample I received from the company.

Photo of beautiful Asian woman can be found various places on Internet; photographer unknown by me.
Photo of Puredistance WHITE flacon and box is from 

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April 28, 2015: