Palimpsest: A manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing
Mandy Aftel is an independent perfumer based in California with a die-hard fan base, and more accolades than you can shake a stick at- and after trying several samples that she very kindly Fed-Exed to me, I can see why.
Firstly- the name: After I’d read it a few times and stopped saying Pample-est in my head, I realised that, aside from some Yuzu, this was nothing to do with grapefruit (it’s not Pamplelune) and everything to do with layers.
A Palimpsest is “A manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing.”
(www.oxforddictionaries.com). You can see why this is a great name for a perfume that is a cornucopia of layers and which constantly changes on my skin and which juxtaposes the old with the new.
My preconceptions were torn asunder when I first tried Palimpsest, and I have been learning more than ever lately that it will never do to cross olfactory notes off my list of “Likes”. I usually sidestep peach, honey and yellow flowers, but Palimpsest has all three tied together with a hint of citrussy yuzu, and most interestingly of all, an edge that smells like dried incense smoke.
Initially, there was a sourness to this, which isn’t always a bad thing, but then loud peaches took over, bedding down into richer, dried apricots enveloped in a waft of joss sticks. Some borderline indolic Jasmine wafts by, leaving an impression but not staying long. I wouldn’t like to break this down into top,middle and base notes because it doesn’t stay still.
One overwhelming impression that it left me with, is that Palimpsest is the exact, and I mean the exact smell that you get when you stick your nose right into a fully blooming daffodil. There’s honey, yellow flowers and pollen and vanilla and that hint of natural spice in a daff that reminds you that it came from a vegetable like bulb. I don’t even know if it was deliberate or if it’s my take on it- is after all the national flower of Wales where I live, so I consider myself an aficidando of sticking noses in Daffodils.
Palimpsest is not only a superb, multi layered and interesting scent, but it is that rare thing- an all natural perfume. Personally, I don’t mind what’s in my perfume as long as it smells good, but it is no mean feat to maintain this principal.
Mandy is remarkably successful- she was named in the top seven bespoke perfumers in the world by Forbes and Basenotes rated her in the top twenty five most influential people in perfume ( and they know what they’re talking about over there). Her very first brand, Grandiflorum was sold to Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and she has been her own boss at Aftelier perfumes since 1997.
Despite her success, Mandy remains approachable and down to earth, and her passion shines through in all she does.
I would like to also point you in the direction of a blog that is so good that I treat it like textbook: Perfume Shrine. The review of Palimpsest on PerfumeShrine is superb and tells you more than I do in fascinating detail. I’m not worthy!
Aftelier perfumes are available from the Aftelier website. Prices vary, and samples start at $6 a phial.