Red, in perfumery, is usually created with notes of rose, of spice; deep unguents, rich powder; cherry; geranium, carnation. Rouge D’Hèrmes, Giorgio Red; Tom Ford’s Jasmine Rouge; BDK’s Le Smoking Rouge; Comme Des Garçons new Rouge – all of them take the redness of red – a colour that emanates strength and inner warmth, boldness and courage, and orchestrate their ingredients to capture its strengthening synaesthesia (on days I wear red neckties for work, I can physically sense the colour’s innate power and energy: studies have also shown that in sport, competitors or teams that wear red have a much higher statistical chance of being victorious; the human brain responds instinctively). This colour has a forthright energy and confidence – and red perfumes usually follow suit.

Rather than the all-out, jewel-loaned red carpet glamour we often associate with precious gem stones and their liquid inspiration, I find that Puredistance’s new Icon Ruby -—Rubikona, is – perhaps surprisingly – a more introverted and self-enveloping creation than we might have expected: a warm and reassuring scent that is based on the concept of the enduring love that a mother usually feels for her child. With the approach of winter, and of Christmas, and other traditional family celebrations, it thus feels apposite.

Having heard this perfume described in one review as being similar to Hermès’ Rouge Eau Delicate (in my view completely inaccurate), I will admit that before smelling Rubikona I was excitedly gearing myself up for an operatic, powdered rose – a floriental with a hint of the Tchaikovskian tragic.

Adjusting my senses to reality, I came to see that Rubikona is in fact a soft, warm and lingering ambered-patchouli, with glinting floral (ylang, iris, rose), gentle clove, and citrus facets (grapefruit, mandarin, bergamot), notes that all provide the precious sense of transparency, or translucence that the perfumer and the perfume house were looking to capture in a luxurious scent (available in extrait only) based on the ruby — and that it works nicely on its own terms. I have been enjoying wearing this perfume around the house these colder last few days – it is soothing.

Fitting effortlessly into the Puredistance collection somewhere between Warszawa and Gold, I would personally describe this perfume as a lactonic patchouli soliflore, almost like an evolved Thierry Mugler Angel or Cacharel Eden, with the delicate florals and citruses surrounded its milky halo ; quite craveable and smooth, and suffused with light. Although one of the company’s mantras for the perfume is ‘chic inside out’ (and it could certainly work that way on certain individuals, if they actually can find any elegant gatherings to go to this winter), I myself find Rubikona to be much more of a comfort scent – to spray on a freshly tumbled-dried favourite hoodie and spend all day alone. Good for introspection and defending yourself from the outside world: protective. A perfume, in other words, fit for the times.


Filed under Flowers

11 responses to “RUBIKONA by PUREDISTANCE (2020)

  1. A lactonic patchouli! Hard to imagine.
    I’ve also heard that driving a red car makes other drivers on the road more aggressive.

    • Oh god yes.

      But Angel is a lactonic patchouli, surely. As is Gucci Rush.

      • The last time I smelled Angel was a long time ago, and I don’t think I’ve tried Gucci Rush, but am curious about it.

      • All of these have that laconic patchouli glow – although Rubikona is not cloying at all like Angel, nor aquatic/green in the way that Eden is. Rush was a gem of its time.

        Have you tried many perfumes from this line? Antonia and Opardu are both really gorgeous and strange green florals that really stay with you once you have smelled them; Warszawa is another one I really like.

      • I haven’t tried any from Puredistance yet, but “strange green florals” sound like ones I would like.

      • Not strange: that is not the world I am looking for. There is an old fashioned quality, a ‘removed’ or ‘beyond’ quality to the scents that I find simultaneously delicate, yet robust, being of full parfum strength; to me they smell nothing like ‘vintage’ perfumes whatsoever – I am sure Robin can help me here – but some kind of Pygmalion ideal of beauty that sometimes I am completely in the mood for. I would say that Rubikona is more commercial, in a way, like Gold and Black.

  2. I have small vials of Antonia and Opardu and Black (?) the original three (they came in a lovely set). I remember liking them but they were expensive back then (and probably more expensive now but I don’t really know), so I never purchased a full bottle of any of them.

    • Yes, Puredistance isn’t cheap, but I do think they have their own identity; sometimes I need that ‘soapalescent’ quality, a certain clean purity that is present in Opardu and Antonia especially (ivy and galbanum, vetiver and vanilla – love it : it smells great on me); I think you would like Warszawa ( a word I have a total dyslexic inability to spell, sorry), which is possibly their best in my view; a dark and velvety green floral – really gorgeous.

  3. Tara C

    I’ve tried a couple of scents from this brand but none were love. This one does sound appealing though.

  4. Robin Razzell

    Ooh, I can just tell that I would love Rubikona, Neil. I’m reassured that it’s not a completely dense, saturated dark blood red in a synesthesiac way, but something a bit more nuanced, less obvious way. (When I think of red in a bad way I think of Chopard Madness. Cough syrup and gooey amber.)

    Puredistance: I’m a big fan. They’re not cheap but they’re worth the price. I have bottles of M and Opardu. They’re got the quality of ingredients, complexity and depth, non-linear evolution and classical proportions of vintage, but it’s as if they’re high-tech versions of something that might have been created many decades ago. They are high tech, in fact; their perfumers have a far broader palette to work with and both palette and performance can be calibrated precisely. Vintage fragrances have incomparable, now crazily expensive or essentially extinct ingredients (I always think of the old nitro-musks, boo hoo, and genuine animal essences) so the bar is high. But what vintage fragrances don’t have is that clarity, that fine-tuned definition, that range of notes; they’re a little muddier comparatively — although I do like that blurred quality when it’s a great fragrance. Also, I think the vintage fragrances that are around now, that we own, are sometimes thirty years old or so at the youngest. I have things that go back to the seventies and even further back. They aren’t the same as when they were freshly bottled. It varies from composition to composition, but they can get a bit, hmm, what’s the word. Compressed. The top frequencies clipped.

    I do think that modern fragrances are every bit as beautiful as vintage, or can be if enough talent, money and access to top-end materials are thrown their way. I put on Opardu this morning when I quickly read this piece and have been following its trajectory all day. Right now, hours and hours later, it is still almost super-naturally focussed while still smelling beautiful natural. It also has just what you say: “an old fashioned quality, a ‘removed’ or ‘beyond’ quality.” To my own tastes, the best modern ones do.

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