Learning how to smell a natural perfume is like learning to speak another language: the common vocabulary will not suffice. Words don’t cover the same territory and in fact, the terrain is different. So let me take you by the hand through this narcotic, complex, earthy, dense, sometimes luscious syntax.
—How To Smell Natural Perfume by Mandy Aftel, a guest-post at Persolaise – A Perfumer’s Blog
Taking the leap—ordering samples of Mandy Aftel’s Aftelier fragrances, was a big deal for me. There are people who love natural perfumes, and—I’ll be honest with you—I’m not one of them.
Even the highest quality materials, handled by a master, will always inspire reminisces of my pseudo-hippie childhood. On the dresser alongside her Ysatis and Tresor were the natural perfume oils my mother loved: beautiful essences, yes, with the hallmarks of natural perfumery present: a dark undertone which, if you know what you’re smelling, reveals the life and the death of the organism sacrificed to create the aroma. It’s not that I don’t like this aspect; it’s just that it’s too much tied in with other feelings and memories for me to objectively appreciate.
I’ve spent much more time with the Aftelier samples than I normally spend sampling something new, precisely because of prejudice I bear towards naturals. Mandy Aftel isn’t just blending aromachemicals like a mixologist at the local cocktail bar, and you can feel that in the wearing. You can feel the growth of the materials. You can feel the plucking, the distillation, the marriage between the various elements, and all the baggage each element brings to that marriage. Whether she grows her own flowers, I do not know, but I can visualize Mandy, in a vibrantly colored and flowing dress, crouching down to smell a blossom, speaking to the bloom: “Yes, you are ready now.”
I can feel the balance between artistry and science, the purity of the love that has gone into each delicately beautiful perfume.
My favorites, so far, are Cepes & Tuberose, and the Jasmine solid (interesting to me, since these are two notes that I typically avoid in perfume). Each of the perfumes I sampled possess a profound beauty that I can appreciate, however, I don’t feel qualified to write a review for these scents… but I know a few people who are:
Aftelier Reviews at EauMG:
Aftelier Reviews at Eyeliner on a Cat:
Cacao :: Haute Claire :: Shiso :: Tango
Aftelier Reviews at Now Smell This:
Candide :: Parfum Privé
Aftelier Reviews at Olfactoria’s Travels:
Candide :: Orchid :: Tango :: Wildflowers
Aftelier Reviews at Perfume-Smellin’ Things:
Candide :: Cassis :: Cognac :: Cepes & Tuberose :: Honey Blossom :: Lumiere :: Parfum de Maroc :: Tango
Aftelier Reviews at Scentless Sensibilities:
Candide :: Cepes & Tuberose :: Fig :: Haute Claire :: Honey Blossom, and Wildflowers :: Parfum Privé :: Tango
*I purchased my samples directly through the Aftelier website.