Perfume doesn’t bite. It won’t kill you. So at fragrance press launches The Scent Critic is eternally gobsmacked, frankly, when fellow journalists don’t bother to do more than waft a blotter under their noses when being shown a new perfume.
Fact: they’re not everyday customers, who can quite justifiably smell a blotter in a department store to find out if a fragrance is a ‘no way’, or a ‘just possibly…’, before shortlisting a few to try. But beauty editors? It’s our job to smell a scent on their skin, because only then does the true nature emerge. (Which is how come The Scent Critic found herself the other day lecturing to some wet-behind-the-ears beauty journos who politely wafted a pre-spritzed blotter under their noses and then shunned the actual bottles of this perfectly acceptable scent as if they were wired to sticks of dynamite. We had been invited to the Ritz, to the room where the Queen dines, for heaven’s sake – and it wasn’t just lazy but downright rude not to put the fragrance that was being unveiled properly through its skin-warmed paces…)
Nevertheless, there are some fragrances which – on first sniff – absolutely beg to be sprayed onto every square centimetre of skin, and Puredistance M (which I discovered only yesterday) is one of those. Slightly embarrassingly so. No sooner had I unstoppered this than I was rolling up my sleeves, unbuttoning my Henley and anointing myself with smokey, sensual come-hither wondrousness. It’s so dark and smouldering and tarry and very, very naughty, M reminds me of that feeling in in the early, hormone-wracked stages of a love affair. You know: those relationships where you just can’t keep your hands off each other and keep nipping into darkened doorways or over the railings of locked parks, throwing caution (and clothing layers) to the wind.
The inspiration – unlikely but true – is the inside of a grey Aston Martin, a lust object which remains top of the wishlist of Puredistance’s entrepreneurial driving force, Dutchman Jan Ewoud. Puredistance M’s inspiration is actually James Bond, the most famous Aston-driver on the planet. Take the sleek, bullet-like metal flacon (it comes with a sort of ‘test tube holder’ if you want to stand it on the dressing table). The minimalist concept: M is actually very contemporary and sophisticated (and right now does make me want to sweep everything on my dressing table aside to showcase this. Only my mother-of-pearl inlaid dressing table’s not nearly understated enough: this calls for something by Eileen Grey or Charles Eames.) Even the name: M, if you recall, was in charge of James Bond’s gadgets.
Most James Bond of all, however, is the outrageous, blatant, daring sexiness.
The outside may be all smooth, cool steel but inside the contents are virtually molten. There’s absolutely zilch light and airy about M: bergamot and lemon top notes whizz by fast as a Formula One racing car, and M cuts right to the chase: outlandishly rich leathery notes, resinous incense, the forest-floor crunch of autumn leaves and damp mosses under a Tod’s loafer at dusk… I get amber: lots of amber. Plus bonfire a-go-go: a woodsiness that almost crackles, audibly. The Scent Critic’s twin passions for vetiver and patchouli are also more than assuaged by M.
Technically a chypre, the spices and incense nudge this true unisex modern masterpiece into Oriental territory: any ‘M’-wearing, chiffon-clad concubine lolling in an Istanbul harem, aswirl with ‘M’, could smugly have looked forward to being summoned by her sultan for more than her fair share of passionate nights. (Provided James Bond didn’t abseil through the skylight and kidnap her, first…) It’s Moorish – and moreish. I defy even the most junior beauty writer not to be tempted at least to dab this on her pulse points. As for me? I’m still drenched in the stuff, despite falling asleep in the bath last night. 24 hours and quite a lot of shower gel later, it’s still pulsing erotically away.
Indeed, this is so seriously provocative and seductive a fragrance that I’m surprised that Mr. Roja Dove, who created M for Puredistance, can still appear in public without blushing. It’s like he’s headspaced Daniel Craig, Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan’s pheromones and distilled them into a 17.5 ml canister.
Puredistance M may not bite. But man, does it roarrrrrrrrr…