Pure Distance’s M (2010)

Pure Distance M (60ml)
Pure Distance M (60ml) © Victor Wong

Whenever I spray some M on my skin, an image of Super Mario hitting a floating coin box appears in my head. One pump is one jump and a dollar disappears in thin air.

I am not very proud of owning a bottle of M, because I can never mention about it to my family or close friends for fear they might ask me how much it costs. The irony is that I am telling the world of fragrance lovers that I own a bottle through this piece of writing.

I don’t buy expensive perfumes because they are expensive or everyone says it’s really good (e.g. Aventus). I really love M and I have been thinking of getting a bottle since I first sniffed it. People might tell me there’s no need to make any excuses for buying the things you like, but I am not that chic; I still wear my two-year-old shoes bought from an outlet mall everyday, and I hesitate ordering lunches that cost more than ten dollars. But here are some excuses anyway: my birthday is coming, and I deserve a little treat (except it’s not little); I imagine I am buying two or three bottles of niche perfumes at the same time (a.k.a. a fragrance haul) and I don’t need to buy any perfumes for a long time (except I will still buy some more very soon).

While wearing M, it makes me wonder what makes a perfume to be perceived as a luxurious scent, because to me, M does smell luxurious. Or the sales associate would tell me, “you wear it to feel tall.” If you do a blind test, can you pick one that you think is luxury smelling, and it is in fact, an expensive perfume? Or, if you are a perfumer designing a perfume to be marketed at $500 or more apiece, what notes would you choose? Is there an insider formula (I call it the “perfume gravy accord”) and does it change over time? Can a client smell a work-in-progress perfume and immediately know it is not luxurious enough? Are there ingredients whose smells are hard-wired in our brains to trigger a “luxurious” response? If bananas are only available to the top 1% of the population, would people associate the smell of bananas with luxury? Would you pay for a simple perfume that is made out of a few expensive ingredients or the one that is priced the same but made out of cheap aroma chemicals but smells “luxurious”? And what exactly is luxurious? Or is it just a marketing psychology game…

M (which stands for male) is a resinous, spicy incense scent with a heavy dose of carnation, clove and labdanum, with a touch of jasmine and rose. It has very little scent development, but it stays on you for a long time. Sometimes I wish it would go away because it wears you down like a monkey wrapped around your neck that never leaves you alone.

While studying the notes breakdown of M, I realize M is actually half the formula of a typical vintage style perfume. It amplifies the base notes of those perfumes and trims away the floral, fruit and wood accords, almost ditches the oakmoss, and the effect is like buying bacon fat in a jar instead of bacon or drinking straight cream instead of coffee with some cream. No wonder it’s so sickening rich.