Thursday, May 23, 2024

Puredistance Papilio -Spring Awakenings: fragrance review & musings

 Papilio, the latest Puredistance fragrance, almost coaxes a butterfly to sit upon your shoulder: Its realistic depiction of a magnolia tree in bloom, of the fresh, lightly green scent of far off jasmine vines, the hint of greenery, the almost musky suede foil for its precious bottle is unparalleled. Everything about Papilio is lyrical and like a poem's cadenza; everything about it is a work of art.

butterflies by panpan on we heart it via pinterest

What will I ever do when I run out of my small sprayer? I'd be at a loss... Seriously, without the dramatics of a perfume collector who is always contemplating the end of their pleasure measured in missed sprays, like J.Afred Prufrock measures his life in coffee spoons, it's something to savor to the very end.

When Nathalie Feisthauer took on the creation of PUREDISTANCE Papilio, which launched back in 2023, magic happened. Soft citruses, heliotrope, and berry-stained palms of summers spent outdoors came back in the guise of colorful butterflies. Papilio got its name after the founder of PUREDISTANCE twisted the French word for butterfly, papillon. Seemingly entirely floral, but the soft leather and luxurious silky woods in Papilio wrap the memory into a creation irresistible among all floral suede compositions — it feels like being caressed by dewy petals!
It's difficult to contemplate just what makes a floral synthesis wonderful, just like it is difficult to render separate the effects felt by the intricate, but seemingly effortless composition of ikebana. Where one thread begins, another completes its course, rendering the final result silky and homogenous, without compromise to expectations for disparate effects, surprises and awe. Papilio caresses with the silky feel of a cool spring morning that raises your skin into goosebumbs just before the sunrays warm it up, the magnolias offered upwards to the sky in full bloom.

It's joyful and contemplative at the same time — a rite of spring, indeed.

Stylistically, it recalls the best days of L'Artisan Parfumeur, when they innovated with delicate compositions that seemingly brought nature on your plate, so to speak. Dewy, cool, the ballpark of Jardins de Bagatelle and Cristalle eau de parfum.

Or maybe it's the idealized effect of nature, all Galatea-like, standing in front of an awe-struck Pygmalion, the tale of antiquity which prompted so many reflections about the relationship between creator and work of art.
The main office and design center of PUREDISTANCE is located in the Netherlands. In a historical building a small creative team — guided by visionary founder Jan Ewoud Vos — designs and refines the artistic world of PUREDISTANCE. All Puredistance products consist of high quality ingredients and components and are assembled by hand with great care, passion and a strong eye for detail. We have often reviewed them with this in mind.

It is also important to note that all PUREDISTANCE fragrances are only available as Pure Perfume / Extrait de parfum in perfume oil concentrations that vary between 25-32%. This is no different. They project moderately, with utter class, eschewing the hyped "beast mode" of the consumer who wants to get noticed, but last long on the skin.

Puredistance Papilio set and sizes

Papilio by Puredistance is available as extrait de parfum in 17ml (175 euros), 60ml (295 euros), and 100ml with handmade leather folder (490 euros) at the official Puredistance website and e-store. 

In Athens, Greece, it is available in the King George boutique at Syntagma Square.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Etat Libre d'Orage Exit the King: fragrance review

 When Etat Libre d'Orange introduced Exit the King as a soapy fragrance to the perfume loving crowd it was lost upon the majority that the tale derived from not Shakespeare, but a surrealist play of the same name by Ionesco.

open rose peonies kleenexArabia on X via pinterest

From the feeling of well-being in classical times (when people used a mix of ashes and olive oil) to the purification concept in later Christianity, all the way to its ambiguous modern connotations of both Puritanical "cleanliness next to godliness" and the loaded innuendo of superficially washing away improper smells deriving from fornication, the history of soap is full of interesting trivia and manifestations of perception put before smell.

 Perfumers Ralf Schwieger and Cecille Matton created Exit the King, which launched in 2020. Presented as a chypre, whose name and story refer to Eugene Ionesco’s play from 1962, the fragrance is the third instalment of what appears to be the founder Etienne de Swardt‘s perfume narrative about perfumery itself. Here however, the name of the king who is about to exit, to die, isn’t Berenger. It is Etienne himself and when the curtain rises, the narrative sees Etienne already yielded in submission to a new sovereign, a woman named Lola, sentenced to lose his head. Before the deadly final act, Etienne presents his last perfume, a new chypre for the new world coming after him.

 Etienne was put down on record saying, “I think that I have to reinvent Etat Libre D’Orange a little bit,” he said. “I want to move the brand to a new era. I’m trying to find a new way to extend the brand’s visibility without corrupting the philosophy. I have 28 perfumes and I cannot add a 29th or a 30th. So I think this is the end of a cycle."

Hence Fin du Monde (end of the world), see what he did there?

 This is a different take on word play, Exit the King is exiting the concept of both soap and chypre, which are part of its presentation. It's ROSE first and foremost.

  In Exit the King we are met with a strong and very discernible rose, dense and dry like pot pourri, which rises with a mock sweet element from the bottom up. It's felt upon spraying on skin and it rises and surfaces again and again as the scent dries. Is it good? It is if you like roses. It can be a little too rosy if you're averse to them, especially if the dried-up varieties put in a bowl bring elements of melancholia and a certain miserliness in you. It's rather easy to wear, as a personal fragrance, like most newer ELDO fragrances are. I do yearn for some of the old revolutionary spirit in the French brand by Etienne, but hey, monarchy is also an obsolete institution too. In Exit the King, the play by Ionesco finds its surrealistic realization indeed. Nothing is as it seems.

Montale Luban -incense with guts: fragrance review

 There is a serenity but also a dark horror surrounding incense. The zen and the apocryphal. Which is which, each time? While Kilian's Incense Oud composition is overwhelmingly frankincense dominant rather than aloeswood (oudh), which is exactly why I like it so much, in Montale's Louban, the dominance of frankincense betrays the given pyramid and audience's impressions: there is no distinct oudh with its usual bitter, medicinal and smoky nuance, but neither is it associated with the Middle East, being more reminiscent of Ethiopian dry landscapes with their resinous bushes and trees. 

Nummen by Husvik, via Pinterest


Mysterious citrusy-pine effects zing at the top of Montale Louban, as sour and crystal clear white frankincense does (after all, this is what luban means according to our Arab speaking readers) and this overwhelms the nostrils initially. A phase that may be considered sharp by non-mystics, but necessary for the spiritual uplifting and purification that frankincense brings - literally and figuratively.

And because the heat is rising as we speak, coupled with Saharan sand winds that travel over the Mediterranean, this dry incense has been keeping me company for the gloomiest days when the sky is cast with this alien shade of orange-grey that denotes a Saharan gust of sand storm...It's priceless.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Dior Dolce Vita: fragrance review of a perfumery classic

Photo by Bianca Czarnock on behance, borrowed for educational purposes


Dior's Dolce Vita fetes its 30th anniversary this year, being launched in 1994, when Dior was very careful with its new launches and the firm was creating mega-hits that shattered antagonism in one fell swoop. The promise of happiness, exuberance and confidence in Dolce Vita, in its flamboyant and optimistic package, looked smashing. A drop of sunshine, dropped magically in your lap, for special moments and for making it your own.

The scent of Dolce Vita by Dior indeed smells as voluptuous and sensuous as Anita Ekberg looks in the classic Fellini film La Dolce Vita. It was under the direction of legendary director Maurice Roger that Dolce Vita came to be, composed by Pierre Bourdon.

Under Roger's direction Dior's iconic perfume, Poison, was born in 1984, launched with much aplomb, as well as Fahrenheit in 1988 and later in 1994 the subject of our story, Dolce Vita. The fuzzy peach fruitiness in Dolce Vita is part of its succes. The effect, possible since at least Mitsouko by Guerlain in 1917, is mainly accountable to γ-undecalactone and despite many other molecular options today, it is still used by perfumers. The scent thus becomes wondrously sensual, with a fuzzy feel akin to caressing the skin of a peach or a smooth epidermis still with vellus hair, all tactile contours. Just beautiful. With the addition of baked goods cinnamon, the pleasantry in the fragrance is exponentially increased. The inclusion of palissander, commonly known as rosewood, is what ties the comfortable woody backdrop with the gourmand impression of the more delectable notes and makes for a soft, pliable, squishy feminine woody. 

Happiness in Dolce Vita lies in sweet accords that immediately seize you by the taste buds: warm cinnamon, spicy cardamom adding a middle-eastern touch, and the juicy lushness of soft apricots and lush peaches. An accent of juicy citrus puts a welcome dash of sharpness so as not to lose the bones amidst the plush. The magnolia, key within the floral bouquet, puts a spin on the citrusy fruitiness and almost lends air to the molecules. It feels expansive and melodious in the air at this stage. Finally the composition renders woody and soft notes: as the scent of Dolce Vita dries down the notes of palissander with heliotrope and vanilla beckon you even closer. It's a come hither of a scent, yet exuberant and confident too. 

I have dedicated an anniversary article to Dolce Vita on Fragrantica, if you care to read in its entirety.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Chanel No.5 Eau Première 2015 edition: fragrance review

Chanel often comes to mind when we talk about festive occasion drenched in champagne, if only because of the reputation of aldehydes being fizzy and sparkling materials (the aldehyde sequence in No.5 is mostly citrusy and waxy, to be honest, though). 


Chanel's perfumer, Olivier Polge, taking the baton from his father Jacques, had stated clearly that the legendary perfume of Chanel No 5 Eau de Toilette has no age, yet the newer edition Chanel Eau Première No.5 from 2008 would "effortlessly outshine the original without denying its relevance." The choice of words was not random, it seems. Effortless seems to comprise the very essence (no pun intended) of the bright insouciance of the newer interpretation of the venerable classic.

However great Eau Première from 2008 was, nevertheless, the advancement of tastes meant that it wasn't really appreciated by mass consumers, but only by us, perfumephiles. Logical enough, it followed the well-known formula rather closely. Therefore in 2015, the company revamped it in No.5 Eau Première 2015, in the process liquefying it according to the IFRA regulations, which made an impact around 2012. 

One perfume lover once said, "No5 Eau Première is a gateway perfume to the aldehydic genre. This is a beautiful mix of soft, bright, fizzy, and powdery. Eau Première is Diet No5, about 60% the flavor but still highly pleasing." 

I find myself flirting with a bottle for a long time now because it brings on that girly, lovely, fizzy quality to the fore, most of all. It's not the aliphatic aldehydes' cluster of perfumery materials that made the older versions waxy and clean-soapy; it's the brightness of its facade that belies its being born with a silver spoon in its mouth. It reminds me of New Year's Day mornings sipping champagne and eating eggs Benedict at a posh hotel dining room after a night out dancing. It's festive, dazzlingly bright, ethereal, and with its hopes for the best risen to their apex. The balancing act of the fragrance lies in judging how the citrusy freshness extends and rejuvenates the rose in the heart; there's a delicate, wisp-like chord of citrus and rose. What has kept me then from owning a bottle? Poor performance, mostly, as I have mentioned in an article I wrote "Eau Couture for Chanel No.5 L'Eau". Yet it smells good and puts good-natured charm in one's mien. 

There's a time and place for that, too, and champagne bubbly for January of a new year could not meet with a more reliable ally. 


Careful: the 2008 edition had a tall architectural bottle resembling that of Elixir Sensuel, while the 2015 edition has the classic squared shouldered bottle of No.5. 

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