Aftelier Perfumes

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:
Alchemy Solid
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.

26 thoughts on “Aftelier Perfumes

  1. You are more than qualified!!!
    Thank you for the links!
    There are some true gems among Mandy’s perfumes, aren’t there?
    I was astounded by Cepes&Tuberose as well, I hate tuberose, but here it is perfect.
    What did you think of Wildflowers solid? For me it is glorious summer, I wish it were available in a liquid though, I’d love more sillage.
    And they way you imagine Mandy – I see her exactly the same, my soul sister Dee! 🙂

    1. Well, you know, why say something when someone else has already said it better? 🙂

      I’m pretty much stunned by both the Cepes & Tuberose (I hate tuberose!) and the Jasmine… a twist of fate that has me shaking my head in wonder. Just when you think you know what you like… I think I see a solid in my future!

      Wildflowers was troubling for me, because I can’t smell it! LOL! I put a ton on (love the silky formula), and I remembered that you said how it was akin to L’Heure Fougeuse, and yet I feel like I can only smell a little beeswax. At first I thought it was the solid formulae, but the Jasmine proved that wrong: I can smell the heck out of that, and it gives off great sillage too!

      Bee, when we meet in person, my only concern is that we will become siamese twins and become inseprable 😉 Poor Michigan! Haha!

      1. Poor Michigan, indeed! Hahaha! 😀
        Also, forgot to say, I love that picture of Baby Dee! I have to show that to Pauli! (but will be quiet about the joint!) 😉

        1. My mom takes such great pictures, I am so blessed to have such a beautifully documented childhood! I swear, there is a picture for every day for the first few years… lol!

          Haha, I remember the first time I realized what that was he was smoking—first was horror, but now I just roll my eyes 😉

  2. Thank you for that quote from Mandy, dee – it is so true. It is also very helpful to bear in mind when smelling naturals for the first time. I have gone in at the deep-end with Tango and it is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

    So interesting that your two favourites feature notes that don’t normally appeal. Just goes to show the massive difference there is with naturals. I will be very curious to hear how you get on with these over time. And I agree, the presentation is just stunning and something I know you particularly appreciate! As for that photo with your dad…!

    1. That was such a great article from Mandy; it perfectly spoke to me—which I really appreciate.

      Tango has seduced so many! It is beautiful, and I hope a bottle finds it’s way to you 😉

      Yes, I completely agree Tara—the difference between the notes (tuberose & jasmin) within an all-natural setting is so different from all my previous experiences— it really threw me for a loop! They were the last ones I tested, because I didn’t expect to like them, so of course they were my favorites, lol.

      Sucker for elegant presentation—that’s me! Labels, boxes, tissue paper… that’s all it takes to win my heart, haha! Truly though, the presentation sets an expectation, just the way our wardrobe speaks about us in a job interview, if that makes sense! Aftelier fragrances, you’re hired 🙂

  3. Thank you for linking to my reviews, Dee! I would love to read reviews from you once you’ve perhaps had more time with the fragrances, I have a suspicion that you’ll be tempted to give it a try. 😉

    1. Thank you, for writing such wonderful reviews! 🙂

      I think I need to spend a lot more time with them, before I can really speak about them as individuals… but I had made such a hullaballo about ordering them and their arrival, I was worried that people would take silence for dislike!

  4. Cepes and Tuberose was my immediate favorite too- the smell just works for me! It look me a couple of wearings to fall in love with Tango but now I can’t get enough. My newest Aftelier addiction is layering Fig (which I won in a draw- lucky me!) and Shiso- the combination is slightly sweet and spicy and woody- very nice! I think you might like Fig..

    That is such a darling picture of you!

    1. Lavanya, after I placed my order, I was kicking myself for not getting a sample of Shiso—it sounds so intriguing! Also, now that Haute Claire is out and ready to go, I think I’ll need to sample that one too!

      C&T is beautiful, and interesting, and totally unexpected—what a gift!

      Thank you, I was a pretty cute kid 😉

  5. Dear Dee

    Thank you for taking the leap and smelling my perfumes. I am honored. We fuss so over the samples and the cards and you took a lovely photo of them. I am concerned that the Wildflowers doesn’t smell. Could you please email me your address and I will send you another one?
    I am so glad you found some favorites.
    I posted your review on both of my Facebook pages too.
    Thank you again.

    1. Hi Mandy!

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I really love how much care has gone into every aspect of the perfumes, and you really do have standout packaging. I couldn’t believe that even the sample vials were imprinted— so beautiful… they were easy to photograph, because you already did the hard work, lol!

      Regarding Wildflowers, do you think I might be anosmic? That’s what I was thinking; no need to send another—it’s not your fault my sniffer is dysfunctional! 🙂

  6. I’m convinced that natural perfumery isn’t for me. Well, at least yet. Most of the things I smelled (from different perfumers) were nice scents but not how I imagine perfumes. I liked some as smells but not as something that I want to wear on my skin. There are just a couple of exclusions from this rule but just a couple.

    Having said that, I will buy some of Aftelier’s samples soon. I plan to do it because I want to give myself a chance to like them; because I really appreciate good samples packaging; because I appreciate the recent marketing strategy of the company and, mostly, because of all those reviews from people I enjoy to read.

    So, Dee, you are the official last straw 😉

    1. Undina, I suspect that I’ll never love a natural in the way I love my “standards,” but these scents really do belong in a category all their own—I’m glad that you’re going to try them, and I look forward to hearing about them from your perfective, as another non-natural lover!

      I am the last straw! I am honored 😉

  7. Hi Dee, have just ordered my samples from Aftelier, so it was lovely to read your thoughts. I look forward to reading more of your reviews as you live with these fragrances. Thanks for the links to reviews from some of my favourite fume heads, heading off there now…

    1. Hi Sharryn! Thank you for stopping in 🙂 Tell us, which samples did you order? I’m curious! It was hard for me to decide, since my budget was small, I couldn’t get everything that piqued my interest—but maybe I can live vicariously through you! lol 😉

  8. Thank you so much for posting the links to my reviews, Dee! I was rather startled to realize just how many there were! :O

    You’re right in that natural perfumes develop differently than mainstream perfumes, and it took me a while to learn to appreciate them as they were, too! I had a very hard time getting past my own hippie associations…;)

    But there are natural perfumes – and there’s Aftelier. Mandy really is one of a kind – and so are her perfumes!

    1. As I said to Carrie, thank YOU for writing the beautiful reviews in the first place! When I set out to put in the links, because I knew from the start I wasn’t going to do a real review, I didn’t expect there to be so many either, lol! But, we love what we love, and you can’t argue with that 🙂

      I feel like I’m still getting to know these, and unlike some other naturals which I promptly declared, “NOPE!” to, I’m willing to spend the extra time, because they really do stand out. I love beautiful things, even if their beauty doesn’t suite me (like pink lipstick. I love it, I just can’t wear it, lol! Won’t stop me from trying though 😉 )

  9. Aftelier is a bit out of my reach financially. Yes, I know, if a fragrance is great, it is worth the money. But there are so many lines out there to which that argument can be applied. (I’ve been having this conversation with myself about Malle.) Anyway, what I AM interested in are Aftelier’s bath oils and body oils. I actually am in the market for some nice bath oils. So, come August, I’m gonna get me some samples. Thanks for the prompt dee – I had not realised that Aftelier did these sort of products.

    1. Anne-Marie, I totally hear you. Part of my “leap” was buying costly samples for a category I generally stay away from (experience has taught me…), but when they arrived, I was glad that I did leap 😉 The bath and body oils are a fantastic way to experience, and hopefully you’ll share with all of us what you think of them!

      p.s. a lonely Aftelier EDP made it into the package I sent you on Friday… 🙂

      1. Oh my lord. (That is one of my son’s favourite exclamations. Mysteriously, he always pronoucnes it with an Indian accent. That boy watches too much TV. Or something.)

        MANY thanks! Yes, I will post some thoughts in the b&b oils. Gettign quite excited now!

  10. As a tuberose fan, I’m thrilled to hear that you’re digging the Cepes & Tuberose (especially since you don’t care for the note). I’m going to be ordering samples too — today, finally! — and C&P will defintiely go in my cart.

    That photo of you and your dad is priceless! When I see photos of people when they were toddlers, versus what they look like as adults, I often don’t recongize them in their baby pictures. But you were very distinctively Dee, even back then. So cute as a kid, so lovely as a woman!

    1. You know Suzanne, I’ve been wanting to find a tuberose to love for a long time, and between C&T and Nuit de Tubereuse, I’ve found two! Though, an actual tuberose lover might call both of these scents “Not Tuberose,” but I don’t care! I can’t wait to hear what you, as a bona fide tuberose lover, think of it 🙂

      Funny story: I lived in many different cities throughout my childhood, and a couple years back, I visited a place that I have not lived (or been), since second grade. I went into a fast-food restaurant for lunch, and the woman behind the counter knew me. She recognized me from second grade! Alas, I did not know her (que awkward moment).

      Thank you for your kind compliment Suzanne!!!! ❤


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