I always report on the osmanthus. Whether it is one or two days early or late (by and large, it usually comes out predictably on October the 1st): this year it is in full flower three weeks early. A strange but gorgeous sensation: fuming the air with its persistent floral apricot like a tangential dream from another universe, the scent as dense as a petit fromage à l’abricot, creamy and benign; clear; yet almost eerie in its insistence. It floats on the air, and fuses with your thoughts, a floral accompaniment to each inhalation of mid-September air.

We decided to keep it local again this Sunday, going no further than down the hill, finding another undiscovered coffee shop with delectable cakes, before deciding, then, to go and have a look around Tokei-ji, a temple we haven’t been in for a while. Founded in 1285 (and it really feels it; I sensed something viscerally ancient while slowly making my way through the grounds in the mosquito-heavy humidity, osmanthus in every breath;) a wetness that could prove oppressive if it didn’t so perfectly go with the surroundings. Mossed trees and thatched rooves; wooden houses; this sanctuary was once the only temple where battered and abused women of the period could seek refuge from their tormentors; after three years on site, they were granted divorce.

D was wearing Nº12, the new perfume by Puredistance. And it smelled heavenly. Also containing osmanthus absolute, along with orange blossom and a touch of vanilla, the powdery, chypric sillage of the base note trailed him in a way that, given the visual and spiritual beauty of the Buddhist precinct, alongside the deep wet green of the lush, almost hopelessly serene gardens, added a dry, melancholic pathway back to him as he took these photographs; the osmanthus trees leaking their perfume silently into the air as the complex patchouli and oakmoss floral chypre androgynously insinuated itself into the droplets of air and my brain. I was completely entranced, and haven’t had an olfactory experience of this blissful intensity for quite a while.

Granted, there is a lot going on. After all, this scent is intended to be the jewel in the crown of the set of twelve perfumes that will now form the permanent collection by Puredistance: thus perfumer Natalie Feisthauer was commissioned with the responsibility of creating a perfume that would leave an absolute and unmistakeable impression. And it does. On my skin, there is, admittedly, a slight, almost saline rinseishness that comes from the initial tang of oudh-like ambroxan flashed with bright mandarin, bergamot, coriander and cardamom – a fresh opening that is rather dazzling (‘quite grapefruity!’ D exclaimed) with a Montale-like gleam and immediacy, with probable nods to the Middle Eastern markets. Soon veering off course from typical expectations, though, this attention-grabbing opening accord cedes to a rather intriguing contrast between a Faberge-fougère-like accord of powdery heliotrope, orris, geranium, hedione, tonka, oakmoss and ambrette, set against a more classical, Aromatics Elixirish rose, ylang ylang, vetiver, sandalwood, and crucially, patchouli – the key ingredient in the perfume, beautifully used – to form a characterful, long-lasting modern chypre; it is an emotively rich cushioning that is distinctive and frankly gorgeous – particularly when smelled from afar. The Amsterdam niche house, now this fragrance is complete, will be henceforth referring to its full collection as ‘The Magnificent 12’, and in this instance, I certainly cannot say that I disagree. On Sunday, in all the perfumed air, I was in heaven.


Filed under Flowers


    • Beware of the almost sports fragrance-like brasher aspects, but fall heavily for the sillage. I want Ric to wear it!

      • Robin

        Me too, hearing that. Puredistance is all about quality, so I’m sure Ric’s skin will respond as it always does, which is (as you know by my occasional banging on about it) to make almost anything smell incredible. (If I want to appreciate a new scent to its fullest on my skin, all I have to do is imagine it on Ric and suddenly everything comes into focus, at its best. The tricks a girl can do with her mind!)

        I adore the photos and would love to experience the atmosphere around Tokei-ji. That saggy, mossy wooden roof alone evokes the sense of a great deal of loss and grief, literally breaking down.

        Osmanthus. Swoon. The idea that a flowering plant could resist the length and intensity of summer sun over the days of July and August and bloom when the sunshine is waning and the rain is heavier kind of blows my mind. Here, virtually everything blooms in spring and summer and everything is slowly fading away by now, which makes more sense to me — and which is why osmanthus seems wonderfully renegade.

        For pure perfume, No 12 doesn’t seem that insanely expensive, although it would still take a fair chunk out of the average wallet to acquire. Would you ever buy 17.5ml at 175 euros?

      • I reckon that if the sillage continues to fascinate, I might possibly not be able to stand it when it runs out. You know how these things go though. Sometimes you have your fill. But then you crave a PARTICULAR accord that only that perfume affords.

  1. This sounds as gorgeous as your writing and the photos (D’s? or yours?).

  2. Everything about this post has me feeling such joy; the photos, the talk of osmanthus, the fragrance, how it smelt on both of you. I just love this!!!

  3. It always amazes my how such tiny, inconspicuous flowers can be such a powerhouse of scent. The night-blooming jasmine outside my desk window has just begun its nightly riot of honey-buttered orange blossom loveliness which waxes, wanes, and alternates into a saccharine sweet almost toothpaste-y wintergreen note. It astounds me how many night pollinating creatures Asia has, the night blooming jasmine bush is just buzzing with all sorts of moths, beetles, bats, and even bees the entire evening.
    I have never been able to try any of PD’s fragrances. Opardu has been on my list to try for ages.

    • Opardu is strangely fascinating: I have a bottle here on my desk. VERY soapy, quite mothbally lilac weirdness.

      Our ginger lily is still blooming and wilting, incidentally. We get new flowers on it every other day. I love the idea of your jasmine wintergreen – reminds me of Serge Lutens Sarrasins.

  4. gunmetal24

    Looking forward to testing this after reading your experiences. I haven’t been blown away by any of the PDs and a large part of it is was I expected alot more in relation to the high costs. But I love Osmanthus so lets see!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s