Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Review: Pure Distance - Antonia and Opardu, and why florals are the height of current creativity.

Cornelis De Heem - Bird with Flowers

Florals are a contentious genre. Many believe them be blousy and old fashioned. Others worship their photorealistic replication of natural petals or abstract concepts of voluptuous gardens and wild pastures. Me? I’m a convert.

After a recent glut of copycat amber orientals and ouds, florals seem to be the genre where creativity and originality now abound. It’s quite possible to find a floral that doesn’t smell like anything else that has already been bottled. Perhaps the best example of this is Olivia Giacobetti’s creation for Frederic Malle – En Passant. I’m yet to smell lilac, wheat and cucumber prettily sharing space in anybody else’s creation, and it’s a masterwork.

Another perfume house that has cheered my nose with a truly original treat is Pure Distance. Founded in The Netherlands, Pure Distance are an indie brand producing highly concentrated perfumes that reek of opulence. It would be unseemly to nip out for a pint of milk in your grubby joggers wearing a Pure Distance scent, they demand your finest threads and a full face of make up.  

For me, the greatest of the line are two scents composed by New Yorker- Annie Buzantian. Perhaps her urbanization initiated the desire to create symphonic florals in contrast to the city grime? Her creations - Opardu and Antonia, are characterized by complex constructions of many layers. There is no specific ‘flower smell’, more a multi-faceted abstraction of a floral mood that I feel are best described by looking at paintings.

Opardu is a grand floral with a dominant lilac note. Voluptuous and more than a bit slutty, it highlights the sensual side of florality, with ripe open blooms begging for the bees to ‘come pollinate me'. Lilac frequently appears in cool, wistful and romantic compositions, tending to be delicate and gentile in nature. In Opardu it is joined by a sisterhood of bigger boobed flowers, all weeping their indolic fecundity. Jasmine, tuberose, Bulgarian rose, gardenia, carnation (adding a spicy quality), they are all present, celebrating the joys of being a whopping great mass of delicious heady gunk. 

Pandora - Odilon Redon

In Odilon Redon’s 1914 painting of the mythical Pandora, I smell Opardu. Of the painting, the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art describes:
“Here, he represented Pandora—the exquisite woman fashioned from clay by Vulcan and sent to earth by Jupiter—as a graceful nude amid a profusion of flowers. Her innocence still intact, Pandora cradles in her arms the box that, when opened, will unleash all the evils destined to plague mankind, thereby bringing to an end the legendary Golden Age.”
A profusion of flowers indeed. This technicolour floral spectacle (and in particular the oddly animalic oversized snap dragon type bloom in the right of the foreground) speak of decadent temptations, a landscape awaiting an event, a chaotic potential. With this in mind, I have marked Opardu as a magnificent seduction scent. That with which you would anoint yourself prior to unleashing chaos on your lover’s heart!

In contrast, Antonia is a floral of cool intentions. She is an ivy draped ethereal character who conjures a rain sodden landscape of picturesque melancholy. Sap fuelled green florals are my current favourite genre, capable of summoning the outdoors in, they evoke in me an otherworldly serenity that belongs far away from my urban life. Opening with the vivid green bite of galbanum, Antonia is uplifting and spiritual depicting spring’s abundant fertility in full force. Subtle hints of jasmine and ylang appear in the heart contributing a necessary creamy florality that serves to round off the spiky green opening. With orris root and vetiver nestling underneath, further enhancing the earthy qualities of Antonia, it has signified another fantastical forest scent to me. 

Camille Pissarro - The Road

In Camille Pissarro’s ‘The Road’ of 1870, we see a lone figure walking through an arcade of trees adorned heavily with leaves. The long shadows hint at an early morning stroll, a time in which the breeze would carry the scent of the wooded landscape with piecing clarity, long before the rays of the midday sun could muffle the olfactory acoustics. In similarity to the smell of Antonia, the painting has a contemplative and lonesome feel, creating a quiet space in which to allow our thoughts to wander. This is not the scent of seduction, it is the scent of meditation.

Curiously, Annie Buzantian is the nose behind a now departed fragrance that I long to smell - Forest Lily by Avon. If any of my readers have a little juice left I would dearly love to get my nose around it. 

If you've enjoyed this bloom filled post you may like to read these ones too:

On white florals and my (now conquered) jasminophobia and the state of my childhood rollerboots, including Miller Harris - La Pluie and Trish Mc Evoy - Gardenia Musk