The history of perfumery is a constant source of intrigue for me. I’m fascinated by so many aspects of how artfully scented water influenced (and also reflected) the society it entered. I believe perfumes were often ‘better’ in the past; created and released at a slower pace, with substantial concepts rather than gimmicks, an exhilarating olfactory journey through a pyramid structure and an aspirational desire that you could subscribe to without the wallet of an oligarch.
I have a grand collection of books about perfume, one of my favourites being Roja Dove’s beautiful coffee table slab - The Essence of Perfume. Chapters within celebrate the history of perfumery, featuring advertisements from renowned scents that shaped each decade. The fragrances manifest the design aesthetic of each decade, with those of fashion houses being the most captivating reflections of each era.
It’s no surprise that there are few perfume houses from the 21st century that I am loyal to, whilst I’ll race to smell the latest creations from Guerlain or Hermes, I can wait patiently for a sniff of most of the contemporary niche creations that line the ‘drop em’ if they don’t shift’ shelves of Selfridges and the like.
There are exceptions.
I am deeply loyal to Puredistance Master Perfumes. They create considered, classic and elegant perfume. The upcoming release of RUBIKONA marks 13 years of trading, in this period there have been only 12 carefully curated fragrances. In comparison to similarly placed brands such as Amouage or the aforementioned Roja Dove, this is a tiny output. For comparison, Roja Dove has released 135 scents in just 15 years. With the arrival of a press release from Puredistance comes the knowledge that you are about to smell something that has been a year or more in the making, regardless of ‘wether it’s you’ or not, it will smell of the type of craftsmanship that graced the classic scents of a slower era.
RUBIKONA smells like a scent from the past. Whilst not remotely old fashioned, its potent personality is intensely memorable. It’s almost as if you’ve recalled something that didn’t previously exist. And as you raise your wrist to nose and inhale, you realise with mystified affection that you’ve missed it.
The overall composition pays a grand homage to patchouli in a way that we don’t encounter today. Patchouli has existed in so many guises, from a single note redolent of the 1960s bohemian, to an earthy substitution for oakmoss in the era of IFRA regulations, and, in it’s current role - as the title of many a niche perfume where ingredient focused names and compositions have become a significant trend.
Created by Cécile Zarokian, RUBIKONA treats patchouli as a warm and earthy foundation to a deeply decadent perfume. It isn’t a cool Chypre composition, more a sumptuous giant of a scent, a sensual fragrance for a grand evening. As with the similarly characterful WARSZAWA, RUBIKONA is a truly harmonious creation. Whilst patchouli sings clearly to the wearer, a seamless heart of luxurious floral absolutes and juicy citrus top notes ensure that RUBIKONA is indeed a complete and fulsome perfume rather than an homage to a dominant note.
The pyramid structure of RUBIKONA, for me, offers its greatest treat at the close of wear. The dry down is utterly sublime. My journey lands on a soft cushiony bed of musky vanilla with a creamy hint of iris still present, offering a sophisticated nuance to the ice cream sweetness. It is at this point that I can’t keep my nose away from my wrist.
If it were to magically appear on the pages of The Essence of Perfume, I could find it in the chapter dedicated to the 70s where it would nestle alongside the syrupy patchouli archetype that was the original formulation of Givenchy Gentlemen. Maybe it could jump to the 80s and match the carnal animalic florality of YSL Kouros, or even step into 21st century to join Mugler Alien in a battle for vanilla rich headiness. Whichever era it landed in, we would certainly remember it today.
Top Notes - Grapefruit, Bergamot, Mandarin.
Middle Notes - Rose, Iris, Ylang, Clove, Orange blossom, Creamy notes.
Base Notes - Patchouli, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Solar notes, Musk.
Claire Waight Keller revisits heritage
evening wear for Givenchy Menswear collection 2019
If you would like the opportunity to try RUBIKONA, leave a comment below (or on the related post at https://www.facebook.com/odiferess) for the chance to receive an official sample, a collection of scent cards and a notebook featuring beautiful illustrations from the team at Puredistance. I will pick a winner at random on the release date of the 18th of October.
Apologies, but due to postal law, this draw will be open only to readers with an address in the UK.
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