Update: Pure Virgin has been renamed Pure eVe.
It seems like just yesterday that perfumistas were adjusting to the idea of L'Eau Serge Lutens — a resolutely clean, "fresh from the laundry" fragrance from the master of the heady floral and the spicy oriental. Sure, everybody else is making them, but people didn't expect it from Serge Lutens. Pure Virgin, the latest from The Different Company, has similar inspirations — "a simple and comfortable perfume" is how they put it — but it's perhaps not such a leap from some of the brand's relatively light fragrances?
The outcome, however, is quite different from L'Eau Serge Lutens. I didn't love L'Eau Serge, but I didn't hate it either. It was a well-done if not especially exciting clean scent, and that, perhaps, is a big piece of the problem: is there such a thing as an exciting but resolutely clean, just-out-of-the-shower fragrance? I will lay my prejudices on the table by answering my own question: no. They all smell like very tiny variations on a theme that can be explored just as easily in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket as at the perfume counter, and that's true whether you're using "the best quality of Musk", as The Different Company proclaims of perfumer Celine Ellena's creation, or whether you're using the cheapest of cheap aroma chemicals.
Pure Virgin, in particular, smells like any number of fragrances, high-end and low, meant to mimic the smell of clean cotton, from L'Artisan's L'Été en Douce to Clean's Cotton T-shirt.1 Pure Virgin adds a sweet fruit 'n candy note (the official notes: evanescent musk, light wind, linen flower, white rose, cedar and calisson) and a bit more vague rosy-floral than some; it's supposed to be a unisex and I guess it qualifies, but some men will feel more comfortable with the L'Eau Serge. A number of commentators on MakeupAlley have compared it to Sarah Horowitz's Perfect Veil;2 what kept coming to my mind was that if you asked a perfumer to make a more sophisticated version of Love's Baby Soft, you'd end up with something an awful lot like Pure Virgin.
If you like clean fragrances, that might sound tempting, and do give it a try. I am not a fan. I don't demand that every fragrance be exciting, but I do prefer that my personal fragrance not smell like a cleaning product. I didn't mind wearing L'Eau Serge, as I said, but I found Pure Virgin hard going — perhaps that means that if you like clean fragrances, all the better? I will say that the lasting power is excellent.
Pure Virgin is reportedly Celine Ellena's last fragrance for the brand; going forward, she will be replaced by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour (see today's announcement of Oud Shamash). I will be sorry to see her go, but I'll remember her by the brilliant De Bachmakov — my idea of the perfect clean fragrance.
The Different Company Pure Virgin is available in 50 ml Eau de Toilette. For buying information, see the listing for The Different Company under Perfume Houses.
1. Ok, I admit it, I have not smelled Clean Cotton T-shirt. But I've smelled any number of other scents from Clean whilst goofing around in Sephora, and they mostly all smell like clean laundry or shower gel or a mixture of the two.
2. It appears to have found quite a few fans on MakeupAlley, by the way.