Puredistance Master Perfumes - an interview with founder Jan Ewoud Vos

I have discovered Puredistance about ten years ago, as I was searching for something different. Created by Annie Buzantian, Puredistance I was my first encounter with the house. Discreet, yet delightful, the fragrance sent shivers down my spine and made me fall in love.

Today, Puredistance offers one of the most exclusive collections in the world and I am absolutely positive that if I were to choose one niche perfume house for the rest of my life to love and cherish, this would be it. Therefore, I am excited to present you an exclusive interview with Jan Ewoud Vos - the founder of Puredistance Master Perfumes.

Jan Ewoud Vos
Q. Every amazing story has a beginning, so I would love to know how it all started. Could you tell me more about yourself and Puredistance beginnings?
It all started with a dream I had early in the morning. I was half sleeping, half awake. I pictured an elegant lady, dressed in a simple, white dress, stepping into a room where people were partying in a loud way. Drinking, showing off their wealth through big logo’s, overdressing, showing too much intimate details and talking too loud... The lady is barefooted. The lady does not wear any logo's or jewellery. Apart from the white dress she wears nothing. And she is stunningly beautiful. In a pure way. In a natural way. Think of Grace Kelly... her pure beauty creates a distance: 'PUREDISTANCE'.

That was the start of Puredistance and the dream enclosed all the main ingredients of our concept: beauty, pure elegance, simplicity and honesty. It also included the message, "less is more”. Our motto always has been "small is beautiful and less is more”. Already 12 years ago, when we started, our business model was based on a model of sustainability. After registering the brand ‘Puredistance’ (in 2002), it took me 5 years to launch our first fragrance ‘Puredistance I’, the personal fragrance of the famous Master Perfumer Annie Buzantian from New York. When she learnt of the concept of Puredistance that was a direct match with the idea behind her perfume, she was so kind to gift us her personal scent. In 2007 we launched our first perfume. (Right now we have 10 perfumes, which means we launch one perfume a year on average. We need a lot of time to create something really beautiful and original. Not only the perfume itself, but also the concept behind it, the packaging and colours we use. All elements have to be perfect.)

My main talents and the things I really care for, I can all use in building the world of Puredistance: giving artistic direction to Perfumers, designing the flacons and packaging, visualising the DNA of Puredistance through pictures and movies, travelling the world to represent my brand and in the end making people happy through a total experience of elegance and beauty. The first years were difficult. But fun. We had to learn almost everything and there were no free rides. But then I like a challenge and not easily give up. And from start on I knew I would have to be patient and never compromise on quality or ethics. Now, when I see our collection in the most beautiful stores worldwide, I feel proud and am happy we never compromised indeed.

Q. I would like to know more about how a Puredistance new perfume is born. How do you decide which perfumer will create the new masterpiece? Is it the idea, the inspiration first and then you choose the perfumer or the other way around?
The concept and the name of the perfume is always first. With the exception of ANTONIA. This perfume was proposed to me by Annie Buzantian and she had created it already (she created it for herself, for one night only; the night she was awarded the title of Master Perfumer, and after this big night she put it on a shelf). Because synchronicity always has played crucial role between Annie and me, in this case it was meant to be that she had created a perfume for herself with the name of my mother: ‘Antonia’. 

I sent her pictures of my mother and described my mothers character and with this information Annie fine-tuned this perfume to exactly match the essence of my mothers nature. But in all other cases it is first the concept and then the perfumer. First, for many months, I work on a concept so the concept is in my blood. Then I communicate my concept to a Master Perfumer through visuals, text and sometimes music and ask him to make something that matches the feeling of my concept. Then I get some possible perfume directions, my team and I smell and evaluate and select one that is the base for future refining.

I never give feedback on ingredients or do comparisons with other perfumes (which is easy for me, since technically I don’t know much about perfumery and ingredients and like to keep it that way) Instead I come up with metaphors. For example I ask to put more red in the perfume or that I want to hear the violin more clearly. Based on such feedback we get reworks. Often we need three or four rounds of reworks to get to a perfume I am satisfied with because it matches my feeling of the concept. In some cases we have to start all over again or go back to an earlier version. In one case this process did not work and I decided to stop it completely and find another perfumer. Obviously this way of cooperating needs good chemistry and being on the same planet in order to make it work.
Our perfumers can spend as much money as they want on the ingredients and there is no time limit. We give complete artistic freedom. But as creative director I decide in the end what is the perfect match with the concept.

Q. I find that today luxury has a new meaning. Most of the new niche brands call themselves ”luxurious” or ”exclusive” and I feel that these terms might have lost their sense. Puredistance is such an atypical brand. How do you manage to remain small and beautiful in this hectic world of modern perfumery?
Very simple. We don’t fake or lie. We only sell to less than 100 authorized retailers in the world. We hardly spend money on marketing, but prefer to spend it on the product itself. Make it truly beautiful and high quality. Not only the perfume itself, but also the packaging, the visual presentation and the overall feel of it. We put our soul in it! Also, we often say ‘NO’ to proposals, deals and people that value quantity over quality. This is a simple recipe for true exclusivity that everyone can copy. But most companies are more focused on money and profits and quick growth than on the quality of inner life in general and the inner quality of their products in particular.

The part that is not so simple to copy is the talent and passion it takes to come up with true and timeless beauty. Fortunately our company is blessed with highly creative (and patient) people that are passionate about what we do. And I personally am blessed with a love for beauty and creativity that is in my genes and runs in (part of) my family. Another reason Puredistance is considered to be one of the most exclusive and beautiful perfume brands in the world is the fact we know our retailers personally and make sure they will give our customers the right service. This is possible because we sell directly to less than 100 stores worldwide and hardly work with distributors. In every country you will find only one or two stores that are authorized to sell our brand. We find it very important that in select stores knowledgable, friendly sales people inform our customers in a setting that does justice to the beauty of our brand and tell - if people ask for it - the Puredistance story and the details that make our brand so interesting and special.

Q. Can you tell me more about Puredistance artwork and the design of the bottles?
All Puredistance artwork is done in-house. Most of it is done by me, some of it by our team, mainly by my eldest daughter Iris. In 12 years we have created a rich visual library that perfectly communicates the world and DNA of Puredistance.

If you type our name in Google and display images, you will see what I mean. Few brands have such a rich and consistent visual language. To me this is important, since a picture often is worth a thousands words. Also the design of our flacons, giftboxes and accessories I do myself. And when I say myself, I have to add to this that I always show my ideas to our Puredistance team and their feedback and our ‘collective intelligence’ is very important for the final outcome of the design.

Q. What makes a Puredistance fragrance different from the rest?
First of all the fact we only sell high concentration of perfume oil, so pure perfume extrait. Then the ingredients our perfumers use are precious. High quality, expensive raw materials. Many other brands save money on this. We don’t. It’s the heart of our product. Saving money on this would be a crime for me! But then if customers prefer to spend a lof of money for the marketing of mass brands and don’t realise or care the money they pay for the product, for a large part disappears into the pockets of celebrities that are paid high fees for appearing in perfume advertisements, I can’t feel sorry for them. And I shouldn’t, since very likely they are happy doing so!
Another thing that sets us apart from many brands that call themselves niche or exclusive, is the fact we really ARE exclusive and we can proove it and it shows in very detail of our collection and our visuals. Then we are one of the few companies that is 100% independent and not owned by luxury powerhouses or investors. Puredistance is 100% financed with my own money. This gives us a lot of artistic and ethic freedom. And fun :)

Q. What does the future hold for Puredistance? Do you think its DNA be the same?
The first seven years of Puredistance (2005-2012) I created the brand from scratch. My baby was born. The next seven years of Puredistance (2012-2019) the baby quickly matured: our collection of master perfumes is praised all over the world, our DNA turned out to be very strong and our image worldwide became one of true exclusivity.

The upcoming seven years I want to consolidate the beauty of our brand and with our team continue to create uncompromising quality and elegance based on the same simple and pure DNA that has served us so well since we started.

Q. Any final thoughts?
Happy customers and loyal ambassadors like yourself give us the energy to continue to work hard and put all our passion into what we do. In the end we do what we do to make people happy. So as long as you and other enthusiastic people will support us, and give us their energy and sometimes even love, we feel privileged to be in the position we are.

Puredistance fragrances can be found on the official website or in Elysee online shop, for the Romanian customers.


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