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During the past 10 weeks I had enough time to go through my perfume bottles and samples, making an inventory of a kind. I ended up playing like a little kid with perfume and desert sand, and just sniffing certain fragrances made me close my eyes: I traveled in time and space to deserts I long for, or the ones I’ve always dreamt about.

I wanted to share them with you, and maybe inspire you to do the same, so here are the 5  desert-themed fragrances I wore the most this spring! I’m not (never) saying that these are the TOP5 ever or anything like that – you’ll make your own choices. I’ll try to explain why I singled out these five, and what makes them special.

Nomen est omen, so let’s start from the name. AENOTUS is a non-existing word, Puredistance says that it stands for the notes of the winds blown by Aeolus, the „keeper of the winds“ in Greek mythology:

„In AENOTUS the cool notes of Aeolus are fusing with the soft, sensual warmth of the South. And the classic (Latin) ending of the word Aenotus suggests the depth and maturation of time.“

„Painting is the most beautiful of lies“ – Kees Van Dongen

If painting is the most beautiful of arts and if a fine perfume is a work of art, then…?

If a perfume is a work of art…

I do think that in numerous cases it definitely is, although the idea of defining art is still being discussed: there is no single definition of art that’s universally tenable. The definitions of art are still under constant challenge, always were. I support the thesis that art has more to do with intellectual responses. A lie? Rather: an illusion. Distorted echo of the actual. We do need illusions, after all. Sometimes the actual is too painful, too harsh, too destructive. Art does have the power to take us to a higher level of being, the power of – love. So does perfume…

Here I am, wearing Opardu by Puredistance (again, and enjoying it…), musing about art, truth, beauty, and love. Things perfume can make me think about! Providing not only olfactory but intellectual pleasure a well. An ode to Springtime! This feels so appropriate now, as Spring has already given its best, moving majestically towards its grand finale when rose flowers shed their darkened petals and pave the way for Summer to enter. A perfect floral illusion of opulent Spring as the most glamorous moment of Nature.

Opardu is a „painting“ made by perfumer Annie Buzantin from New York. It all started when Jan Ewoud Vos of Puredistance, in his quest for a new perfume, showed her an illustration for the book „Parfums“ by Paul Valery to illustrate a word he made up – Opardu. A opulent and lush bouquet of flowers, drawn by Dutch-French painter Kees Van Dongen. It is a Fauvistic illustration, with vibrant colors and strong strokes, pure energy in motion, emotions and passion visibly expressed.

Kees Van Dongen is famous for his paintings of flowers, but he also painted portraits of prostitutes first and later on graduated to painting society ladies: elongating their bodies, making them look a bit dangerous. Often nude. Somewhat feline. He did not paint what he saw: his compositions reflect what he felt (He did challenge some social norms at his time! What an interesting read this was!).

These women are femme fatales, yet somehow living in the world of their own: modern in their sensuality, touched by decadence, beautiful in their self-confident glamour. Recalling dreams yet strongly living reality. Timeless. Yet, there is something in their eyes. Van Dongen painted their almond-shaped huge eyes overly made up, dark and mysterious.

Now that we know the story behind the creation of Opardu, let’s see the mis-en-scene: Puredistance places it in Paris, 1930-ties: „..romantic memories of vintage Paris…“.

Well, I can try really hard to relate to Paris in ’30-ties but I will tell you where Opardu took me and how I experienced it!

At first, as I sprayed it gently on, all I could think of is purple lilacs, lilacs everywhere. Me as a kid, lying on the grass underneath a big lilac tree in my grandmothers’ backyard – before she calls me to have lunch, imagining that one day I would have a bed of purple lilacs made just for me.

I was not allowed to climb that tree, that was forbidden: my grandma knew that the branches are hollow. She would reluctantly break off a few, to keep lilacs in a vase just for me. Lilacs for me were a symbol of Spring, warmer days coming, end of the school year nearing, days becoming longer and nights warmer. I always wished they would bloom longer!

There’s nothing childish about this perfume: as I inhaled it deeper and it started to develop on my skin, the first thing that came to my mind was – silk stockings. Black silk stockings, an elegantly dressed woman with gloves and a hat…contained elegance.

I remembered how my grandmother told me stories about fashion and what she wore when she was a young woman, before the WWII. She told me that she wore silk stockings. Black or grayish silk stockings, the ones with seams behind, or „nat“ as Nana called it. Expensive ones, too, the kind you had to take for a mending if you accidentally tore them. They were hold-ups, held by garters (she showed me how that worked out) at mid-calf length. Skirts were longer then, too.

She also told me that when the War had begun, there was a shortage of everything – stockings included. She had moved to the countryside in order to survive, alone with her only son, working and farming on the land of her ancestors. Her legs were tanned (which wasn’t popular at all back then), and when she needed to go to the nearby town, she insisted on wearing – stockings. Imaginary stockings. She painted the line on her sun-tanned legs, replicating a seam because a lady didn’t walk around bare legged. She also taught me how to make my own lipstick, soap, peeling cream, almond oil and shown me how to collect and use basic herbs for skincare. And a thing or two about men…

She said: „You never know what will happen, Eli. You can never know for sure, but know one thing: Nature provides everything we need and land will always feed you. You can survive, but never ever give up on being a lady.“ I was maybe seven or eight years old and little did I know that so many things she had taught me would be so practical later on in my life. I remember her eyes so well: there was always a soft glow of saudade about her, that inexplicable feeling only Portuguese understand perfectly: profound melancholy and love that remains after losing something or letting it go…Something in her eyes.

Maybe I was too overwhelmed with lilacs to feel carnations properly at first, but when I closed my eyes to escape clouds of purple – I felt white flowers emerge, forming a bouquet around lilacs, adding some sweetness. That purity of light purple tones became tainted with not so innocent tones of surrounding flowers: I feel gardenias swaying in wind, jasmine petals falling, turning this perfume into a creamy and seductive cocoon. Tuberose is present too, but what magnificent tuberose!!! Later on, I did feel carnations, just adding a tinge of spiciness in the heart. This fragrance is an opulent, refined, womanly floral. Even woody-musky at the drydown, turning it into a smoother version of the initial opening. The more I wear it, the more I fall in love with it.

The combination of eroticism, elegance, saudade and vibrant colors is a key to understanding Opardu: it makes me think about first stolen kisses, Spring Flings of youth, careless falling in love and fresh green grass under frail lilac trees.

Listed Notes: Tuberose Absolute, Gardenia, Bulgarian Rose, Purple Lilac, Carnation, Jasmine Absolute, Heliothrope and Cedarwood.
Opardu is available in three different sizes: 17,5 ml, 60 ml and 100 ml of pure Perfume Extrait (32%)

Worldwide Giveaway
I’m so excited! This is my first giveaway!

In order to celebrate being nominated for The Fragrance Foundation Awards (New York) – Top 10 2018.– in category: Editorial Excellence Online (with my review of Puredistance Warszawa– The Scent of Slavic Melancholy), I would like to share the experience of Puredistance Master Perfumes with you!

You can win a 2ml perfume spray sample of Opardu and discover this fine perfume for yourself. To enter you need to like and follow The Plum Girl and Puredistance on Facebook (click the link!) and comment on The Plum Girl Facebook page post about Opardu what could this perfume mean to you!

The winner will be selected on 04.06.2018. (I do moderate comments, in case you notice a delay) and announced on The Plum Girl FB page the following day. I will contact the winner personally and your prize will be shipped to you soon afterwards. This is a worldwide giveaway: have fun and good luck!

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Puredistance brochure and materials, photos of paintings are royalty-free.
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WARSZAWA.

The way your lips move when you pronounce its name…
Quite a mouthful sounds so grand, happy and sad at the same time.

I received a beautiful package.
Puredistance Warszawa, a fragrance honoring this city. It was carefully crafted and released in 2016. but one-year exclusivity was granted to Missala family, owners of Perfumeria Quality in Warsaw. This November it will be available worldwide. The nose behind it is Antoine Lie.

The message of the package in which it had arrived is clear: a silver frame for a masterpiece, green velvet, aiming to make you feel special and lavish. It did:

I approached it with respect, ignoring all the information I have gathered before receiving it. Notes, structure, the way others experienced its breath or written about it. The green ribbon is off, I hold in my hands a small vial of promises! A 25% pure Perfume Extract, to be exact.

I thought about it for days. At the same time, just as I was ready to finally test it on my skin, a friend visited the city and sent me these fresh photos of Warsaw last week:

Since there was no ball I had to go to, I dressed up – for the perfume, feeling silly. Velvet and lace, corset and perfume. Felt just right.

My first breath was deep. Eyes closed, I felt the sweetish floral kiss of violets on a bed of white flowers, grand and quite ladylike. Velvet and lace. Feminine, classy feminine. Just a bit powdery but not overly sweet, which was never my game anyway. The first association that came to my mind were paintings of Stanisław Wyspiański, multifaceted Polish artist:


Warszawa recalls the era of Fryderyk Chopin, one of the most famous Warsawians. He learned to play the piano there and gave his first concert when he was eight years old, performing in the salons of the Warsaw aristocracy, capturing the sound of his melodic lines of dreamy romanticism. Velvet and lace, a lot of grace. I bet those salons smelled just like this. As the story goes, Jan Ewoud Vos was inspired by Chopin’s Nocturne No.20: a short piece of music with a rich array of depth and emotion for both the pianist and listener. If you listen to it, you might understand this perfume better.

As the first impression of grandeur fades away, I find the heart of it providing a very sensual sensation of jasmine in a slow and sensual dance with vetiver. Spanish like, just like the middle notes of Nocturne No.20 in C sharp minor.

It sublimes slowly into David Bowie’s Warsaw. I feel styrax, resin-like and down to earth. Bowie dedicated a song to the city he stopped in during 70’ – because he was afraid to fly and traveled by train. That kind of situation, when you travel and stop by accident somewhere and suddenly realize that all things happen for a reason…and you find yourself in a world you don’t belong to but somehow feel at home.

You should know that Warsaw was quite different in the 70’ than it is now. I know the difference, coming from a country that was similarly “different” and I can just imagine how Bowie felt when he got off that train on Gdanska station.

A legal alien. Inhaling the scent of a city before him.

The finale, if you might call it that since it lasts and lasts, is somewhat quieter, in the lower register of tones but playful, refined like partiture of a great classic music theme, twisting the scents in a rather a melancholy filled way. Happy and sad at the same time. Timeless elegance. It requires self-confidence…

Wear it to seduce yourself, to feel good in your skin. With a hint of Slavic melancholy in your eyes…

Dzien dobry, Warszawa!


Notes: Galbanum, Grapefruit, Violet Leaf, Jasmin Absolute, Broom Absolute, Orris butter, Patchouli, Vetiver, and Styrax.


The Plum Girl
Photos by: The Plum Girl & beloved friends
Sample provided by Puredistance
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In the complex and fascinating world of artisan perfumery niche brands, shops are places of olfactory hedonism, a gateway to a different Universe. Just recently, on a rainy day, I found myself in one, soothed by soft lights, meticulously displayed perfume bottles and obligatory “rest and enjoy” corner.

Curious about new fragrances’ arrival, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy more than three perfumes at one visit – that’s where helpful personnel comes in, with samples to take home and enjoy. Here, in Lana, they are superb. Give yourself time to test something new, allowing the fragrances to develop, to breathe, to unfold on your skin. Think of it as an Oasis. A sanctuary. Liberate your mind. Explore the scents. There’s no rush here and I took my time to check out for you what’s new and interesting:

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Sheiduna by Puredistance – check out my recommendation here. If you have previous Puredistance favorites you can also choose between other master perfumes as Black, White, I, M…They launch a new perfume every one to two years, they are beloved by true perfume lovers and are available only as Pure Perfume Extrait in concentration between 25-32%. Names behind these wonders are Annie Buzantian, Antoine Lie, Roja Dove, and Cecile Zarokian. Remember this name. Sheiduna. It will become a classic.

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Il Profvmo perfumes – Caramella dAmore, Othello, Pioggia Salata. Othello was launched in 2016, for men, but it really worked just fine on my skin, came out as my favorite among these three. Il Profvmo, Italian art perfumes is Silvana Casoli’s universe of gifts created by her unique gift to respond to the socio-olfactory needs of her customers. She pays tribute to Nature. Another desert lover, just like me 🙂

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Amouage: Myths just came in, m/w, although, again, I regard them as unisex and liked M better…still thinking about that perfume, still waiting for impressions to settle down. It definitely deserves a more detailed review. Strange…different. Exquisite.Hat down, Your Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said! Love the great Arabian art of perfumery here and now.

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Aedes de Venustas – OMG! It still lingers in my nose. Brain deep. Memories are deep. This perfume is so different, so addictive, so…multifaceted…so intriguing. I kept the testing paper to remind me of my first encounter with it…Definitely my favorite.

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Majda Bekkal: Tendre est la nuit – Sculptures Olfactives. Just look at that bottle – here comes immortelle again, but yet a different one. It is not only the bottle that is a piece of art…what it contains is precious.

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Ormond Jayne – Four Corners of Earth Collection. What a story told by fragrances! Quality, luxury, the pursuit of beauty and elegance…I am deeply impressed. Linda’s life and success story are inspirational. Her perfumes are breathtaking. Give them time to develop fully, enjoy every olfactory shade these provide. You won’t regret it.

When you are in Zagreb, Croatia, be sure that it also offers a fine choice of niche perfumes. As for me, quite a few new recommendations/perfume stories/olfactory memories are coming up as well as my Xmas presents suggestions.
May your Nose be always curious!

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The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl
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