I was a bit surprised not to see cumin listed as a note because it seems prominent in the early development. I am glad other reviewers have noted it as well. Initially I get cumin and dry spices over leather. The cumin fades and the dry spices and leather remain. The leather feels a bit austere to me. I don't say that as a criticism, but as an observation. This is a well made fragrance and of high quality. Still I do not love it. With time, the drydown bores me. I think it is okay and say it is worth a try. Actually I am thankful I do not love it, considering the price.
Just received my order or Puredistance M and the sample set. M is a very masculine frag that provides real bang for the buck. Massive sillage (12+ hours) and projection (2-3 feet). Two sprays is more than enough. M opens up with animalic leather, dry spices (cumin), and a blast of lime. The lime subsides after 10-15 minutes leaving cumin/leather with peppery vanilla. Maybe a little musk.
I've also tried Black which is somewhat similar to M. It shares the same leather and spice base, but more of a boozy citrus/floral projection. Black would do well in warmer temps. I would think that (carefully) layering M and Black would produce something amazing.
I should give kudos to Nele over at Puredistance for her super responsive customer service. She went above and beyond to make sure that I received my order without delay. Thanks Nele!
Is Roja Dove the Kanye West of perfumers, repeating that he's the best until people actually believe him? His pedigree and his perfume writing are great, but he's essentially created a whole new echelon of expensiveness to house his creations, slowly building up an entire new pricing structure of $700-$1200 perfumes based almost entirely on his name. In my opinion, if you're going to create a whole new gradient of price, you need to match that with a whole new level of quality, and that's where things get questionable.
Based on hype alone, the general consensus seems to be that M is Roja Dove's finest work, and arguably one of the greatest perfumes ever. I personally think there's quite a bit of the Kanye effect mixing with a healthy dose of "if it's THAT expensive it must be great" that's leading to the worship of M. I'm not saying it's bad, it's just nowhere near that mindboggling.
So what does it smell like? Amber, with a mix of frankincense and vanilla. There's a realistic ash smell which lends a leathery facet to the topnotes before switching into campfire mode. As the ash dies down, the frankincense, which has always been quite forward, becomes the real star of the scent, sharp and cedar-tinged instead of liturgical. The vanilla smells kind of cheap, but is largely masked - if you have a huge problem with marshmallowy sweet scents, this may be the one to finally win you over, though you may just end up hating it.
All in all, I greatly prefer Ambre 114 for my smoky amber fix, though M goes much deeper into the ashy aspects. Thumbs up, but I'd never buy this. We live in a wonderful world where great amber perfumes are a dime a dozen, and M feels more like a marketing trick than anything close to the finest example of perfumery that people set it up to be.
Puredistance M -
I wanted to love this fragrance and therefore had incredible expectations for it. Leather is my favorite perfume note and Hermes Bel Ami is in my top 5, hence my expectations..(oh and in another life I WAS James Bond!)
I must say that I am a little disappointed, given the exorbitant price.
Puredistance M smells absolutely wonderful in the opening upon initial spray. It smells like ultra new rich grey leather. If this is what a new Aston Martin interior smells like then I fully understand why Mr. Dove would want to encapsulate it into a bottle. It is masculine, powerful and luxurious, it conveys scenes of various 007 films, etc...everything you've read already.
The problem for me is what happens after about 6 mins. The fragrance changes (on me) into a head spinning potpourri of spices, the entire restaurant kitchen cabinet worth of spices. There is still a strong note of leather here, but the spices are overpowering it. There is a note in here that also reminds me of Bijan for men, an incense old church like note that I do not like at all. Thankfully it disappears after a few minutes.
The drydown was also a disappointment. On me, the basenote turns into a hot spicy vanilla combination. It's sticky, hot, too intense, too sweet and the leather has now disappeared.
Bel Ami by Hermes is in my top 5 fragrances and I imagined that M would be an enhanced version of it. It is not an enhanced version in the sense that it is better. M is not better than Bel Ami. In fact, it may be too far a stretch to compare them even. The only place that both are similar, are at the 3 or 4 minute mark after initial spray, where the leather was most intense for both, Bel Ami's leather is also rich, smooth, albeit less dry...
Bel Ami is a much more citrus fragrance in the opening where the bergamot overpowers the leather, but quickly cedes to it. M's leather is front and center at the opening, and the citrus is just a whisper. This is where M is at its best in my opinion.
Bel Ami is much more transparent in the heart, where the spices are faint and the leather is strong. M's spices are powerful in the center.
Bel Ami's drydown is sweet and vanilla and slightly bitter, it is also infused with spices but it is all very light, a whisper so to speak and this makes it very pleasant. M's base as I said is hot, sticky, and far too sweet for my taste. The intense spices and the super sweet drydown is what makes it a much more unisex fragrance, this basenote would certaintly smell delicious on a woman.
This is good however, because it would be redundant for Dove to have created another Bel Ami; M is its own and now you have the choice.
The bottle is gorgeous as is the leather pouch you can carry it in. The price however does not justify the fragrance in my opinion. If M were to cost $150 a bottle, I would most certainly buy it, just for the opening alone. It's worth that price. But the actual price is not. Bel Ami at $125 a 3.4 oz bottle is.
Loved the opening though..that was amazing...absolutely 007'ish...
Notes: bergamot, lemon, rose, jasmin, cinnamon, patchouli, moss, cistus, vetiver, vanilla, leather, musk
Whilst setting out to create the first masculine release for Dutch luxury niche house Puredistance, Roja Dove and his “team” decided to pay homage to a classic, one which has in recent times fallen pray to the evils of dreaded reformulation and that is the heralded Bel-Ami.
Holding the fragrance in such high esteem by choosing to use more than just a subtle passing nod to the Hermès classic, Roja Dove has almost seemingly “borrowed” (or resurrected?) the vintage leather prominent formulation as the inspiration/foundation for M; In conjunction with a creative brief put forth by PD owner Mr. Jan Ewoud Vos, the order of the day was to evoke the image of “luxury, the charismatic, the debonaire, the interior/exterior of an Aston Martin” in short personified by a certain Mr. Bond. James Bond.
This eventually led to a luxurious and modern reinterpretation of the classic leather-chypre which opens in a typical extrait de parfum manner, which I find for lack of a better word turbid and complex (yet immensely satisfying). The rich oak moss and leather let their presence as THE key players be known immediately and they’re joined by a wonderfully fresh and bright bergamot/lemon top note combo giving the opening some much needed and refreshing piercing light.
At this point the subtle and clever use of M’s spices are yet to make their introduction, but lurking behind the clouds is a charming and stunningly crisp semi-sweet jasmine note, making its way to the forefront to join the main cast in the spot light; through the opening of the dark turbulence of the base and the effervescence of the top notes. Continuing on with its progression, once the enigmatic jasmine decides to finally fully emerge, it does not arrive fashionably late, rather punctually on time and joined almost seamlessly with its intertwined guests of subtle rose and cinnamon.
The floral accords are simply beautiful, well conceived and a well paid homage to classical French perfumery, walking that fine line of elegance and femininity, stopping M short of becoming an all out bruiser (or dandified for that matter). I’ll add at this point, that this opening/mid unfold will be quite polarizing to many, due to the use of a prominent oak moss accord, which is often mistaken for cumin and which is giving many the impression of “curried spices”.
Personally, I find M decisively delicious and luckily I get far more leather, rich-smooth earthiness (vetiver/patchouli) and subtle sweetness (vanilla/jasmine), than I do the “curried spice” effect, which I find is more of a feint under cast, than a dominating factor on my skin. Never the less, after the deep opening and the subtly evolving mid salvo, I find M to take a turn towards the linear (which is fine by me) as it settles down to a rich, smooth and subtly sweet leather, conjuring up its indented image of the interior of Bond’s Aston-Martin perfectly.
M is meticulously blended to become more than just the simple sum of it’s parts. Each note is bold, yet is set to a specific “volume” to play its part in this concerto, making the composition appear smooth and seamless, but not to the point of blunting/overly rounding off key notes and rendering them unrecognizable. Dove has left just enough breathing room for the majority of the supporting cast to shine, without disrupting the balance of harmony in the base.
The final result has a decisively masculine feel, although this would work splendidly on the right woman, hence the reason for naming the fragrance “M“, a letter which can be inverted to form a “W” for woman. In closing I’d classify M as a clever and classically elegant tried and true formula, of rich and regal masculine proportions, complemented with a hint to the “naughty” (musk/leather/cistus) to keep it somewhat challenging and to keep an inquisitive nose coming back for more.
One caveat is that due to its high oil concentration level, it’s advisable to go easy on the trigger there slick. Over application can lead to what can be best described as the “muddy” effect, which is the build up of the very rich, dense and potentially overwhelming base notes.
Unlike its predecessor M boasts the wonderful sillage and longevity you’d expect from an extrait de parfum, which in my opinion justifies the hefty price tag. Bravo, a winner.
Occasion: Formal, Playing cards at Casino Royale
This stuff is strong. Every time I put a bit on from my sample, I think I haven’t applied enough so I add just a bit more, and this is always a mistake. Puredistance M seems to only gather in strength and radiance as it goes on, and just a little dab is enough to fill a room with its butch, all-guns-firing presence. It is basically a cocksure piston of a fragrance built around a central accord of rich black leather and a heavy hand of spices – woody cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, clove – all brutal, all dry as hell, all hot and heavy. Then, you begin to notice the sneaky, sweaty cumin note in the mix, jostling its way to the front, and casting a skanky feel over the whole thing. It huffs away in that spicy, hot leather lane for a long time before folding into a dry but creamy vanilla that feels like the thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets that Donald Trump must collapse onto every night.
Having mentioned Mr. Trump, I must bring up the fact that there is a faint sleaziness to M that kind of feels like your boss breathing hotly down your neck while you are typing out his expense reports. In fact, the slight businessman-sweating-through-a-thousand-dollar-suit feel to this would make it a perfect choice for anyone who needs to project an image of male awfulness in a corporate setting. Personally, I find the slight sleaziness to be oddly sexy. I’m weird like that.
M is super-refined, luxurious and rich beyond belief. If you can believe this, it gets more beautiful and even richer as time goes on, as if layers of notes are being pasted on thickly, like oil paints onto a canvas. The phenomenal richness is undercut by a bitterness that I believe comes from the moss. It gets faintly more dry and bitter towards the end, but the sumptuous density never fades. It is here, towards the end, that you realize the sheer quality of the materials that must have been used.
And yet, and yet…..there is something rather soulless about Puredistance M. It is impressive and beautiful, yes, but when something is priced for the wallets of oligarchs only, it begins to lose some of its (imagined or real) soul. I really enjoy the hell out of wearing Puredistance M, but once my tiny (but ludicrously expensive) sample is finished, I won’t be rushing out to purchase a bigger size. There is a price threshold beyond which I simply refuse to go, and Puredistance anything, along with Roja Dove anything, are firmly on the other side of that threshold. And since Roja Dove is the ‘perfumer’ behind Puredistance M, then that is a double whammy of “My wallet and my brain say no thanks” right there. (Now, if only my nose was as resolute, we’d be ok about leaving this behind without a second glance. But my nose is kind of refusing to tow the party line.)
People often cite vintage Bel Ami and Moschino Pour Homme as substitutes – they’re kidding themselves. While M might be Roja Dove’s tribute to these great masculine classics, I have tried both the vintage and the current Bel Ami, and neither begin to approach the phenomenal richness of M. The vintage Bel Ami is great, though – bitter, spicy, ultra-masculine leather, and unfortunately a little bit too 70’s in feel (the current is more delicious and less leathery, but of course, less ‘authentic’, if that matters to you). A friend of mine calls Bel Ami a “chest toupee in a bottle”, and I think that about sums it up. The opening of Puredistance M and Bel Ami are very different, but then converge on a vaguely similar accord later on, in their heart (albeit with more transparency and simplicity in the Bel Ami). Apparently, Roja Dove’s own Fetish Pour Homme is his attempt to take M and spin it off into his own line – I wouldn't know, because, you know, it’s Roja Dove, and I refuse to go there.