Aftelier Perfumes: Palimpsest


 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.”

(  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.

The Archimedes Palimpsest fromThe Guardian

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.

Mandy Aftel, from
Mandy Aftel, from

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.

wiki commons
wiki commons

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.


13 thoughts on “Aftelier Perfumes: Palimpsest”

  1. I think Mandy is completely fascinating as well. You capture Palimpsest’s essence perfectly here: I couldn’t quite get a hold on it myself (was that part of the point, though?)

    1. Thank you- I am honoured to have a visit from an esteemed blogger such as yourself! Palimpsest is ever changing which I think adds to its mystery.

      warmest wishes and thanks again!

      1. Hello dear Mandy and thank you again for your kindness. It was pleasure to sniff my way through the samples- watch this space for Cuir de Gardenia- it’s terrific. I like your style! You stay true to yourself and that authenticity is so important.

        Warmest wishes and please keep doing what you’re doing!


    1. Thank you Rita for stopping by to comment. I think what Mandy is doing is unique. It’s rare to find an all natural brand and she’s not afraid to put hersefl out there and buck convention. Longevity was astonishing- 18 hours for Palimpsest! I tried it in the morning and it was still there at midnight.

      warmest wishes

    1. It’s so lovely when a perfumer takes time to comment on a blog. It means a lot. Thank you Mandy.

  2. Well, I’m glad to say how much I appreciate your work here Sam. Your posts are a real service to your readers, and I can’t wait to read your thoughts about Cuir de Gardenia!

  3. Hi Portia, sorry for late reply- I thought I had already responded. Cuir de Gardenia is fab and so long lasting- review coming soon! xxx

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