The Perfume of Mystery: Black. Puredistance Black.


Puredistance, a niche brand from the Netherlands, has just announced the upcoming release of their fifth perfume – Puredistance BLACK.

From the press release:

Puredistance Black is an understated elegant and mysteriously charming perfume inspired by the concept of BLACK; a concept that for centuries has been associated with secrets, mystery and style.
The essence of the concept was to create a perfume that is close to the wearer and releases sensual and elegant scent layers in a whispering way – without shouting. A mysterious fragrance that stays in the shadow, giving away – only every now and then – part of its nature.
a sophisticated perfume full of charm with the same elegant personality as the timeless classic Puredistance I, but then more masculine and oriental.

Puredistance BLACK is created by Antoine Lie “[a]nd as a consequence of the concept of BLACK (that treasures the beauty of the unknown) we will not reveal the ingredients of Puredistance BLACK…. Envision, Smell, Feel. Don’t analyse”.

Puredistance Black

I am conflicted here. My first reaction to the announcement of this December release was: A new release from Puredistance? Great! I want to try it now! By the way, what’s in it?..

I have an utmost respect for the Puredistance brand but, from the market point of view, Chanel they are not. Their perfumes are available at very limited POSs. So even with the black bottle (hi to the last year’s fever for Chanel’s Coco Noir) it’s not like they can intrigue a huge segment of potential customers enough to go and sniff it at the closest department store. And with the brand’s price point I doubt there will be significant number of blind purchases. Then why all the mystery?

As soon as first bloggers get to test this new perfume they will start to speculate about which notes went into the composition. Well, ok, not everybody will – I, for one, won’t trust my nose enough unless it’s something very-very prominent (but then, again, we all know we can’t completely trust what we smell) – but just give it to Kafka, Lucas or Mr. Hound and they’ll immediately come up with a list.

Puredistance is one of the brands that have my loyalty and brand recognition to the point where I’d test anything from them regardless of the notes choice. But it’s for me. As Robin at NST said: “What if all 1500 fragrances a year did this?”

I’m really curious what went into that advertising model. Do you have any thoughts as to how Puredistance Black benefits from that approach?


Image: from the Puredistance press information kit


44 thoughts on “The Perfume of Mystery: Black. Puredistance Black.

  1. I have loved everything from Puredistance that I have tried so far and am looking forward to Puredistance Black. That being said, I can’t help but think that, “Don’t analyze,” is a clear dig at the demographic that keeps them in business.


        • You know how in different places where they gather and analyze information they usually promise that it won’t be anything person-specific but rather aggregated numbers… I am an ideal blogger for this Puredistance perfume testing: I rarely really care about notes, I tell my stories about how I feel perfumes – and then I aggregate data to present, in manycases, just sums or extremes ;)


      • I agree! There is no fun in just sniffing and saying that you like it or don’t like it. If you love it, it’s true you can just enjoy it, but isn’t it fun to understand why you like it too? It’s like getting to know yourself better!


  2. Hmm- I am very curious to smell this, but I don’t find the mystery as intriguing as they want it to be (to say the least). Isn’t Antoine Lie the guy who made EdO Rien?


    • Just checked- he was the perfumer for Rien. And now I am even more interested. But calling it black and keeping us in the dark seems a little too gimmicky..but I might just be too tired to make a rational judgement..:)


  3. Hm, I’m torn on the issue of mystery ingredients. Most of me loves the challenge and the fun of it. (In some ways, it was one of my favorite things about Musc Tonkin which also came with no notes. It was fun to narrow things down.)

    My personal fascination with puzzles notwithstanding, I definitely think you have a strong point about how that doesn’t help Puredistance as a company given its size. Or, rather, the size, cost of their bottles, and more limited access. (It’s not as if one can stroll into Neiman Marcus or Barney’s, and give them a whiff.)

    I think what they’re doing will add some mystery for bloggers, but for actual consumers, it will be tough. Not all of them rely on blog reviews for a break-down or even for news of new releases. Then again, anyone who has heard of these sorts of really, really high-end, niche brands is precisely the type to look up a blog review to begin with. So, perhaps it’s a wash?

    Either way, I’m thrilled for the whole thing (I was actually more alarmed by the part about subdued, close to the skin, and whispers. Ugh). Still, I read my email with a excitement at the new release and, then — when I saw the bit about the mystery notes and “don’t analyse” — a quiet, evil voice in my head said “Bring it ON!!!” *grin* It’s like a red flag before a bull…. ;)


    • I would be all for “go and smell it for yourself” if everybody could do it. But since most people cannot there will be questions.

      For this brand (as well as NVC, Amouage, Dior Private colection and several others) I would try to get a sample – swap, split or even purchase – no matter what are the notes. But there are many other brands with which I wouldn’t bother. So while absense of information doesn’t really bother me in this case, I have a general concern about how the potential customers would react to the mystery: will they like it or hate it?


  4. Still haven’t tried Puredistance. Something about it repels me, though they have done nothing to upset me and many of my fume friends adore them.
    In reference to another of your posts they don’t feel like “My Brand” but one day I will have a go.
    I am very excited for you all that they’re doing another though, and that they’ve done something fun to get the conversation started.
    Portia xx


    • Dear Portia,

      In my not professional opinion, you shouldn’t try any of Puredistance perfumes: they are obscenely expensive but you’ll like at least a couple of them and will not care and will spend a really offensive amount of money ;)

      (Do you remember that dialog from Pretty Woman?
      Hollister: Exactly how obscene an amount of money were you talking about? Just… profane, or really offensive?
      Edward: Really offensive.
      Hollister: [to himself] I like him so much.)


  5. I must admit to reading the email about this new release rather quickly – it was on my phone and the main press gubbins was many MB to download. I clocked the ‘elegant, mysterious and whispering’ (yay!), but wondered if for black one should read butch. PD are a law unto themselves with such mystique, note obfuscation etc, but I love the house enough to try them on any terms. Though it seems we will have to wait a bit longer to try it…


    • You and your “whispering” hang-up! :) Are you sure you even need a perfume? No perfume would stay really close to skin, you know ;)
      Notes or no notes, I am trying this perfume!


  6. I guess they are using this to play up the dark, mysterious image of the perfume and are counting on a small, loyal fanbase to make the effort to seek it out for themselves. People like me aren’t going to bother unless I like the sound of it. I can’t “envision” whether it’s right for me without notes.


    • I can “envision” all I want. Unfortunately, nothing will come even close to my visions – and it’ll be a huge disappointment. So I’m trying as hard as I can not to imagine any of the perfumes before I have a chance to try them.


  7. I am intrigued, as I noticed that they did not list the notes as well on the materials…I am guessing that it may be incense or something of that nature as it described as sheer. In any case, their marketing materials must be doing something… it’s call BUZZ… We are now buzzing are we not? :)


  8. I’m one of those people who loves a blind buy but even I won’t spend a lot on one unless I know the notes. I’m not good with picking a perfume apart on my own but knowing what’s in it can help me avoid wasting time with things I won’t like. I agree with baconbiscuit212 and think it sounds like a dig at the perfume bloggers.


    • Puredistance is usually very good with bloggers so I hope that it’s rather a friendly tongue-in-cheek statement than a real criticism.

      I’m so not into blind buys that there are just several brands samples for perfumes from which I might consider buying. Most of other samples I’ve purchased in the recent two years were for perfumes I either smelled or even tried on skin at a store but wanted to test more before deciding if I want them in my collection.


      • It probably is. I imagine if I were a perfumer and people kept picking apart my creations I would just want them to sit back and enjoy it once in a while too. Sometimes it’s nice to just try something and enjoy it without thinking too hard about it.
        Blind buys are such a bad habit. I’d love to be more like you are and not do that.


  9. I’m definitely going to try Puredistance Black when it arrives at Quality Missala. Might be a proper dose of luxury for me :)
    And I’ll be happy to give it a try with recognizing notes.


  10. I haven’t tried any Puredistance perfumes. Partly because I know if I ended up loving one of them, I could not really afford it anyway.

    I guess this just further confirms that this brand is not for me. It seems really elitist and anti-consumer to not give at least some sense of the perfume. It doesn’t have to be a notes list. It could even be “this is a resinous oriental” or something like that.

    Anyway. I think I might really like some of the Puredistance ‘fumes but I remain resistant because of the pricepoint, and this confirms my decision!


    • Well, it does say: “as […] Puredistance I, but then more masculine and oriental”… Though Puredistance I is oriental. I’d still want to know some notes but it will be fun playing guessing games (I’m so not good at it! I can’t smell notes even when I know they are supposedly there ;) )


  11. UNDINA! Good to see a post from you!

    Hmm. There are a few places that do this, aren’t there? though they’re not coming to mind. I always just think “bleh” and go look up the notes at Basenotes where some kind soul has entered them, invariably as correctly as I would need to be able to imagine the scent. I’m interested in the push away from analysis – it reminds me of a perfume executive who often comes to Sniffapalooza and bemoans the loss of the “sense of mystery’ that used to surround perfume. Huh? I have no interest in a sense of mystery; I AM interested in the huge varied richness of perfume and all of its facets. Analysis doesn’t “ruin” anything.

    I’m also interested that it’s Black. I’m thinking of the Comme des Garcons’ Play Black, and Andrea Maack’s Coal, as well as Sahara Noir. I think there’s a backlash against light and fresh, and to my mind, this is great.


    • Whoa… I’m glad to see you too but there is no need to yell :) I didn’t go anywhere. But still – thanks for the enthusiasm.

      Once a technology reaches the level when we would be able to smell a perfume by clicking on the “Test” button on our screens, I promise not to care as much about the notes lists, especially takinginto the account that most of artificial ingredients smell differently for different people so it doesn’t really matter if it’s cold “wood” or “Iso E Super.”


  12. I’m looking forward to trying this, because it’s Puredistance and they make quality perfume.

    But to answer your original question about whether they benefit from that advertising approach: in my opinion, no. I’m assuming Puredistance has two main types of customers: random person who likes perfume but isn’t very curious about it and happens to shop at expensive stores that carry Puredistance, and niche perfume fanatics. The first is never going to see this advertisement. The second would try Black without any advertisement.

    Frankly, I fail to see why niche houses even bother with much advertising. Unless they are going to actually *advertise* I don’t see the point. Why not take the money they spend on the photoshoot and the model and the whole advertising concept and do something useful with it. Like lower the price of the perfume. ;)

    Stepping off soapbox now.


    • I think that niche (and even some indie) lines do not want an outside world to know how small they actually are – so they behave like a real grown-up big company. I’m not sure if it’s wrong though: a nice website with professionally done pictures projects success whereas cheaply looking packaging and lack of attention to details distracts from even great perfumes.


      • I do agree completely that a certain level of packaging and product photography is important. I just don’t see the need for elaborate photo shoots, big name PR companies, etc. (Not saying Puredistance has these things – just commenting in general.)


  13. Mystery or no mystery, I can’t wait to try it. For niche / indie brands that are well-made, the anticipation just makes perfumistas (with or without blogs) just salivate until a new perfume is available. As to not analyzing the notes, my prediction is perhaps Black will contain Iso E Super and Kafka should not review it. Hey, maybe I just started a nasty rumor. Thanks for the food for thought, dear Undina!


    • Kafka will try this perfume – Iso E Super or not. But we’ll know soon enough after she does if it’s there.

      Puredistance is one of the brands for which I have high expectations.


  14. Hello U,

    I really can’t wait to try this one! The significant difference than the other perfume within the is Antoine. He is really considered to be very talented and he has made good perfumes recently… Maybe that’s only my subjective and secret wish :) I want to like it hehe… Probably because I felt in love with M and the misterious idea is appealing to me a lot!



    • I hope it won’t be too long now before we’ll get a chance to try it.
      With each new release from one of my favorite brands (Amouage, Puredistance, Dior, NVC, etc.) I both hope to love the perfume and afraid I would. But probably I’m more hopefull more than afraid ;)


  15. Pingback: My Whispering Wrist – Puredistance – BLACK | The Fragrant Man

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