I tested Puredistance M in direct comparison to Roja Dove Fetish, both of which I enjoyed. Considering that both are credited to Roja Dove and criticized for cloning Bel Ami, you'd think they'd smell alike. Au contraire, mon frère. Where Fetish cures its leather with a veritable symphony of aromatic spices and dark florals, M opens with a cumin-y snarl that would send Bel Ami running to find its deodorant. How droll that cumin isn't even in the pyramid, 'cuz that ain't cinnamon, kids. Ironically, M is the cat o' nine tails on the basement toy rack, while Fetish is a Helmut Newton Sumo on slightly daring display in the drawing room.
You might expect this assessment to favor M–and for some people and/or occasions, it would. But once the echoes of that snarl die down, M becomes just a dank skin scent that, while sexy in its way, is no Eau d'Hermès. Now, it really is cinnamon, albeit a dirty one, so any "thank you master may I have another" impulse requires reapplication. And it's kind of pricy to use up that quickly.
The leather in Fetish is more sumptuous, and smelling like Taschen's impeccably upholstered Helmut Newton kink all night instead of the sharp crack of M's whip for a hot 30 minutes strikes me as smart choice for most evenings, in or out.
M by Puredistance (2010) is an interesting phenomenon. Perfumer Roja Dove was starting to make more of a name for himself at the time of this fragrance's release, having also assisted in the re-creation of Houbigant Fougère Royale (1882) alongside Rodrigo Flores-Roux in 2010. M is the first masculine fragrance for Puredistance, a super-expensive niche brand from the Netherlands that puts all the emphasis on the perfume with as little packaging frivolity as possible. All Puredistance perfumes come in extrait concentration too, floating between 27% and 32% oil, meaning they wear absolutely forever. The big ruckus over M however is what it most closely resembles: the legendary Bel-Ami by Hermès (1986). For many, doing this was tantamount to blasphemy and for perfumer Roja Dove, this would not be the first nor last time he made a luxury-priced niche perfume to steal the thunder from a vintage scent once sold at designer prices. The problem here is most vintage designers targeted in this way are either discontinued or have been shuffled off into higher-priced limited collections by the houses that once produced them at mass-market level, so with no "economical" alternative, these high-end doppelgangers succeed in rebranding yesterday's common styles as today's luxury exclusivity. I'm not saying this is the reason Dove does what he does with his house or here with Puredistance M, maybe he just really loves older styles and wants to give them a luxury level of polish? Either way, you're looking at something heavily similar to Bel Ami but sold for about five times its price. Beyond that, there are notable differences that makes Puredistance M less redundant than I probably make that sound. There is no getting around the emperor's new clothes feeling of paying the price for a triple-shot espresso take on a vintage designer trope, though.
First of all, Puredistance M is gadzooks strong compared even to vintage batches of Bel Ami, and is a "more is more" kind of fragrance experience. Take those vintage batches, full of the most birch tar, the most castoreum, and crank them up to 11, then concentrate them into extrait de parfum. M is also a much less complex fragrance than Bel Ami, coming out of the gate only with lemon and bergamot that dive immediately into cinnamon, rose, jasmine, and vanilla. Carnation comes in only later, and the birch leather smoke takes over not much after that, while castoreum fills the lungs. Bel Ami plays around more with a greater variety of spices and florals, as it was made in the 80's during a time when dandy fragrance styles were in revival, but M dispenses with that only to shoot straight for the alpha male factor. You get stanky castoreum and ambergris alongside the famous "Mousse de Saxe" note of Knize Ten (1924), or the closest thing Roja Dove can get to it without tripping an IFRA biohazard warning. Isobutyl quinoline leather and oakmoss blend with the animalics, spices, and heavy patchouli to make an experience far more baroque even than Bel Ami, but is it necessarily better? This has triple the power, but almost none of the refinement of the Hermès fragrance, like Dove was trying to conjure Tom of Finland with his scent. I think he succeeded, and although I say this lacks refinement stylistically, it is impeccably blended from a compositional perspective. Worth the price? Absolutely not while Bel Ami still exists, unless you're the high-roller niche collector type. Wear time is eternal, while sillage is strong but close. Best use is anyone's guess, but this is definitely not safe for work or the polite company of strangers. You're wearing this for you and nobody else, mi amigo.
When you swap out the amount of things like styrax and vetiver for just more leather, more animalic, more patchouli, and more gut-wrench overall, you create a monster that while novel and interesting as noted above, likely isn't super wearable to even the most strident lover of niche leathers. I like M but this is without a doubt a mood fragrance I'd seldom reach for unless I want to strap on the bull pup harness, codpiece, light a cigar, and call someone my pet. For all my spitfire, I'm actually not that kind of guy believe it or not, so this one would be a lifetime supply for me at even the smaller 60ml size (which is still over $375). The price of Bel Ami has definitely gone up since being relegated to a special collection, but it's still a better deal than this, and you can overspray to your heart's content if for some reason you need more power than it can provide normally. Conversely, you can cosplay as Skeletor and wear this instead. If M is Bel Ami on steroids, then Roja Dove Fetish pour Homme (2012) is Bel Ami on steroids and viagra, as Mr. Dove would seemingly continue the ratcheting up the raunch and going where no man's sillage has gone before with that one, making the ultimate pièce de résistance in honor of what I can safely assume is in all probability his favorite Hermès men's fragrance. At least with M, it isn't all about the animal magnetism, just a general bulking up of physical presence that you can interpret in ways other than horny ones, but when you swap charisma points on your D&D character for more points in strength, you lose the ability to talk your way out of a situation, and there is no talking your way out of a cloud of Puredistance M. If you're willing to pay the price for Hulkamania running wild on you, be my guest. Thumbs up
What starts off smelling like oakmoss and cinnamon, transforms into a unique pungent sort of leather in the first opening minutes. To me, it's a dirty leather with a bit of castoreum. Kind of like the leather used in Knize 10, but more animallic and dirty here. This distinctive castoreum like accord, i can't say whether I like it, or hate it, but it's certainly different, and pungent, it's hard to grasp. The dry down is more of an incense, patchouli, amber, and vanilla. I prefer the dry down more than the opening, but the opening I find intriguing.
The price is too high, the style is too unorthodox, the crowd is too niche, and overall, I just don't fit in with this one.
Puredistance M is seemingly the most popular release from this house that I've not actually tried on skin until now. M is an interesting leather scent with spicy and herbal touches, a classy cold-weather-leaning, stereotypically-masculine-but-still-fairly-unisex.
It feels balanced and fine-tuned, with some citruses in the opening and a reasonable dose of florals throughout, though what it mainly feels like is a leather/cinnamon/vetiver/vanilla blend, quite delightful being sweetly-modern yet referential to powerhouse late 20th century fragrances, as well.
Simply put, I'm a fan and would wear this often. It reminds me vaguely of Bvlgari Man in Black and I'd largely use it the same way, though M is a bit more refined, albeit still in the same ballpark in terms of scent profile.
M is highly dense and rich, which it surely better be, as its pricing is pretty much to the point that one needs to be smitten with it in order to consider buying it at its retail cost: $590/$325/$190 for 100/60/17.5ml at Luckyscent.