Mandy Aftel is a revered world-wide authority on natural fragrances, and flavour too. To receive samples all the way from Berkeley California to my humble end of terrace home in overcast South Wales makes me feel very honoured. When I heard Mandy was working on a scent called Velvet Tuberose, my antenna twitched in anticipation. It’s no exaggeration that since learning more about fragrance, tuberose has become a firm favourite of mine. I couldn’t wait to see what Mandy would do with it.
Velvet Tuberose is in solid fragrance form. This means that you can travel with it, apply it on a train without annoying anyone and Mandy can post it to you, even in the UK. It also means that the waxy texture won’t dry your skin out. Reader, it lasts and lasts and lasts. Here’s what I thought about it:
Velvet Tuberose opens brightly and loudly. It’s heady and thick and reminds me of the hottest days in summer full of flowers and bees and heat. As this peaks, there is a pleasant woodiness to Velvet Tuberose, which takes over when the thick summer flowers tail off. You have the creamy headiness of the tuberose, that faintest hint of celery that plays hide and seek and a sweetness that lies somewhere between a florist and a snapped fern leaf. I found a lot of sharp greenery here, which offsets the richness of the tuberose absolute. Yes, Mandy has used tuberose absolute. It’s not the cheapest way of doing things, but Mandy sources her materials with great care. The quality of the ingredients really shows: not just in the longevity but in the fully rounded notes that seem to get plumper and richer, rather than tailing off and fading as some liquid fragrances can. Although it’s not listed as a note, my nose found traces of earthy honey in here that warms this big white floral up for winter.
Longevity is remarkable. Apply in the morning and when your head hits the pillow at bed time, you’re sniffing the air and thinking, is that still me? It is.
Velvet Tuberose is a high quality rich tuberose with a chorus of flowers to introduce it, and a finale of sandalwood and honey to round it off. Tuberose fans will adore it, and people who are not yet tuberose fans might find that this is the one that converted them to Tuberose Love.
You can but Velvet Tuberose from the Aftelier website. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy Aftel, for which, warmest thanks. No conditions were attached and this is not a sponsored post.
I had some incredible news yesterday. I have been shortlisted for a prestigious Jasmine Award. Often regarded as the Oscars of perfume writers, to say I was bowled, over, chuffed and did a full West End Musical number in my kitchen would be an understatement.
The Jasmine Awards are run by the Fragrance Foundation UK and this year’s sponsors are Dior, Guerlain, Penhaligon’s, Lalique and Moyses Stevens. The reception is on Wednesday 15th March in London and if ever a woman needed a beauty salon, it’s me right now.
Win or lose, just being shortlisted is an enormous thrill and I would like to thank you all for giving me the confidence to keep going when confidence has been hard to find. It can be lonely beng the only perfume blogger in the village, but every like and site vist and retweet and comment and giveaway entry and social media follow has really helped.
Check me out! I’ve been experimenting with editing sites. The world is my lobster. Watch this space for disastrous pixellated pics and clumsy graphics until I get the hang of stuff. I’ll soon be running with the pack.
Well, dear readers, it’s time for me to sum up a busy fragranced year and award plaudits to my favourites from 2016. These are purely based on my opinion, which is therefore The Law.
Not all of these are actually 2016 launches: some have just impressed me so much after four years of blogging that I have declared that they deserve accolades. Now, we’d’d best get on before all this power goes to my head and I start doing villain’s laughter.
The IScent Award for Best Longevity
This has to be a three way tie between
4160 Tuesdays Midnight in the Palace Garden
Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose
I sprayed 4160 Tuesdays Midnight in The Palace Garden into thin air yesterday and 24 hours later it is still there. This is despite eating a roast dinner in the same room and trying on various perfumes throughout the day. It smells like I have been burning very expensive incense among church pews and I love it.
I sprayed two sprays of Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange on my neck three days ago. Since then I have had three showers and changed my bedding. This morning when I woke up, I could still smell lily of the valley. This is a bottle I purchased in May 2015 and it has barely gone down. I think a genie keeps refilling it.
Made by the delightful Liz Moores in her compound in the New Forest, Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose lasted over fifteen hours on me. Rich, woody roses that just stay put. I could bask in it. Two sprays and you’re wrapped in spiced, woody roses until bedtime.
So all three of these niche brands get the Iscent 2016 Award for Longevity. Isn’t it interesting how they are all niche and not mainstream? Just sayin’
Best Summer Perfume – Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic
Gin &Tonic by Art de Parfum stopped me in my tracks with its new take on Gin &Tonic. So much more than just refreshing juniper, I wore this until my sample ran out and had compliments every time. A full bottle is in my sights in 2017. Check out my reviews on the rest of the range here.
Most Original Launch –REEK perfume Damn Rebel Bitches
This has to go to Reek Perfume for Damn Rebel Bitches. It’s a scent that smacks of rebellion. Rustic touches speak of the heritage of the strong women it pays tribute to. With notes of malt, blood orange and herbs, you won’t be surprised to learn that Sarah McCartney was the nose behind the scent Her fingerprints are all over it! (NB That is not her hand in the illustration).
Best Celebrity Launch-Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This one was easy. It goes to Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP. Breaking the mould of the usual celeb fare, SJP goes down the niche-style route of a churchy sandalwood incense unisex scent with not a hint of fruity floral fruitichouli in sight. It’s superb quality and I hope it will set the tone for other innovative celeb launches.
Best Flanker-Chanel No 5 L’Eau
It’s got to be Chanel no 5 L’Eau. Not a diluted version of the original, but a twiddling of the tuning knobs to bring out the lighter and muffle the darker. It’s divine and light and deserves classic status already.Oh, and lightness doesn’t mean a lack of longevity either: this really sticks around. Full marks to the beautifully simple marketing campaign showcasing the lovely Lily-Rose Depp.
Another three-way tie. I simply couldn’t choose! Here are the turkeys, the raspberries, the No-Nos. I don’t want to be mean but I’m going to be anyway. Dior Poison Girl,Estee Lauder Modern Muse Nuit and YSL Mon Paris left me wishing I’d never even taken the lid off. The prices are steep for what they are and the money seems to be going on the marketing rather than the ingredients (what’s new?) Least said soonest mended. Moving on!
Best Winter Fragrance- Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacre
This one has to go to Le Jardin Retrouvé. When I smelled Sandalwood Sacre for the first time, it was like cupid had shot me with an arrow. I simply had to own a bottle and now I do. You can read my review here. Don’t just keep it for winter though. I’m not.
Best Gourmand: Library of Fragrance Chai Tea and Library of Fragrance Tomato
Trust Library of Fragrance to come up with the goods once again. This was a tie between Chai Tea and Tomato. I am sure they won’t mind sharing the award with um…themselves.
Chai Tea combines lightness and spice to bring a new angle on the word “cosy.” if you don’t like your gourmands too sweet ( like me) then Chai Tea will win you over. Meanwhile, back in our very short summer of 2016, (it was a Tuesday afternoon as I recall) Library of Fragrance Tomato took me back to my grandfather’s greenhouse in the 70s faster than a Tardis. As fresh as a new bud and with accents of verbena, Tomato became one of my very favourite warm weather scents.
Best Chypre: DSH Mata Hari
Over the ocean in Boulder Colorado, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz brews and macerates her beautiful perfumes with skill and passion. I was floored by DSH Mata Hari Extrait and in a blind test I would have thought it a priceless original 1920s vintage. It made me want to wear long gloves and arch one eyebrow at people. Glorious! You can read my DSH reviews here.
Best New Scent 2016: Beaufort London Fathom V
Beaufort London Fathom V turned an unassuming day into a vivid montage of sea faring adventure. It transported me to the slimy flanks of a London ship and the distant calls of pirates in one sniff. This stuff is like letting a genie out of a bottle. It’s green times a thousand, with sea notes that you can almost hear. It’s the best sea scent ever, and I can’t see that anything will make me change my mind about that. You can read my love letter to Fathom V here.
Best Natural Fragrance 2016: Mandy Aftel – Aftelier Amber Tapestry
Using only natural ingredients ( and that takes some doing!) Mandy’s instinctive connection to nature transports you to another place, via taste and even flavour. Amber Tapestry unfurls, layer by layer, enveloping the wearer in the kind of warmth that has a uniquely human touch. You can read my review here.
The IScent Fellowship Award: The Perfume Society
I’ve invented a Fellowship Award because The Perfume Society defies other categopries. Not only do they provide white boxes of treasure that even the most jaded perfume palate would salivate at, but they’re a sort of Mothership that we can all turn to when we get a bit lost in the murky depths of fruity-florals-chypres-colognes-my-nose-is-confused-help! Ever had a day like that? I have. The Perfume Society Scented Letter magazine also makes me settle down with a contented sigh and think “I’ve found my tribe” as I read what other perfume obsessives are up to. Fumeheads, you are not alone.
I was delighted to receive a little parcel via Fed Ex all the way from Berkeley California recently. It was from master perfumer Mandy Aftel and was wrapped like a piece of precious treasure. Mandy is a fragrant and flavourist expert who has the worldwide respect of customers and peers alike.
I received my sample spray phial of Amber Tapestry last week and I have been taking my time in getting to know it before reviewing it. After all, Mandy didn’t rush making it, so I owe it such courtesy in return.
Amber Tapestry is suitably named. Each component makes up the overall picture with splashes of colour and vibrancy that make this scent a constant unfolding enigma.
The heliotrope, which my nose mistook for lilac, speaks of springtime optimism. There was a note of pollen in there too, that reminded me of the dust you get on your nose when you sniff a daffodil (I should know, it’s the National Flower of Wales). The orange and the jasmine together give this a creamy and alluring opening act. The combination of the two makes for a sort of exaggerated orange blossom.
The middle phase is where this gets more tapestry like. The resin-y incense tones of benzoin (often used in cough mixture) seem to add a faded grandeur to the big white flowers that start so brightly. The heady white blooms are toned down by the warmth of golden amber as the base notes cast a sunset over this evocative scent. There is a subtle touch of animal in the finale, but rather than being a body odour animalic, its more of an intimate back-of-the-neck scent- if you’re familiar with my review of Aftelier Memento Mori, you’ll know the honeyed skin scent I mean.
Each note is interwoven to give an overall accord of a resinous, leathery vanilla. It was a real grower on me. The longer I have worn it, the more I like it
Amber Tapestry is a scent for all seasons. From Spring to Autumn in one fell swoop, the floral optimism of its opening gives way to a cosy richness that ends with the feeling of being hugged by an amber blanket of warmth.
Mandy uses natural ingredients and to my nose, these have an authenticity that makes for a deep and rich olfactory experience. It is my ambition to visit her perfume museum in Berkeley one day. Like Aftelier fragrances, I just know it will be unforgettable.
“Memento Mori is about the tender memories of the skin and body of someone with whom you have been intimate, and the ways that you treasure and long for that which you remember when they are lost to you. We want to hold the vanished beauty close even as we experience the piercing quality of memory” -Mandy Aftel
I am hugely honoured to be on Mandy Aftel’s mailing list when it comes to receiving new samples of her work. Always gracious to all she deals with, a friendly handwritten note in a shiny Fed Ex parcel from Berkeley California never fails to make me feel special.
Memento Mori follows in the tradition of relics worn as jewellery for a lost loved one. Everyone knows that life consists of light and shade and that you can’t experience joy without grief nor grief without joy. After all, if you hasn’t felt the pleasure of love, then you would not grieve its loss.
The most memorable piece of Memento Mori jewellery that I ever saw was in Keats’ house in Hampstead, London many years ago. It was a locket, kept by his grieving lover Fanny Brawne ( see photo, below right). Inside the locket was a glass pane and inside that glass pane was a lock of blond hair from the head of the poet himself. It blew me away to think I was looking at an actual lock of hair from such an iconic artist. It seemed especially apt since one of Keats’ most famous lines was “A Thing Of Beauty is a Joy Forever.” Via the wonders of the digital age, I was able to Google the exact piece I remember (see left).
Fast Forward to 2016 and I have in front of me a tiny phial of Memento Mori from Aftelier perfumes- the memory of a love now gone. There is an intimacy to this, as you would expect. It’s the kind of smell you will only pick up if you nuzzle someone you know very well. Mandy has used orris, butter and beta-ionine (woody/violet), as well as organic, less acidic alcohol as a suspension. Mandy only ever uses natural ingredients, which is an incredible feat, involving much innovation.
The scent does not jump off skin, but begs that the skin be sniffed more closely. This is not because it is weak, it is more because it does not project. There is musk, but an animalic musk, rather than a pretty clean laundry musk. This is very much NOT the place for clean laundry. As the skin warms up the scent, a subtle miasma of patchouli peeks out, making this richer and sexier. I don’t actually get any civet, but I think I am anosmic to that. Let’s face it, if I don’t get civet from Bal a Versailles, there’s no hope for me.
There is a curious smell of “human” to this, as if the person wearing it (in this case, me) hasn’t bathed for a few days. (Disclaimer- I have!). It kind of smells of hair. I don’t know how Mandy does this- it’s so evocative and clever.
When you love someone, you know their scent at all times of day: first thing in the morning, Day Three of a camping trip and the “after-work” smell. This is what Memento Mori is tapping into. This is the scent of love without adornment. When your beloved gets up and leaves the bed, this is the scent you’re looking for when you sniff their pillow for one more memory.
With warm thanks to Mandy Aftel for my sample. Opinions are my own.
Looking through my blog I found it hard to believe that I’ve never done a Spring round up. Since I am a devoted fan of hesperides and green notes, this seemed nothing short of a shortfall. Spring is that time when you can leave the heavy hitters behind and start to wear the scents that reflect a cold earth coming back to life. Many of my favourite flowers are Spring flowers: daffodils, bluebells and hyacinths. I love them in real life and I love them in my garden.
1. 4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green
This brings to mind a madrigal I can sing (the only one actually) “Each with his merry lass/Upon the greene grass”. This is, as that quote might suggest, green and grassy and a little chalky and violetty in the base, like a mossy white cliff. I adore it. You can buy it from 4160 Tuesdays. I reviewed it here.
2. Aftelier Palimpsest
Dear Mandy Aftel sent me a lovely sample of Palimpsest and my first thought was “she has captured the daffodil!”. It is an exact capture, and being Welsh, I know my daffodils. My review is here. You can buy Mandy’s wonderful (and all natural) creations from her website.
3.Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
I could not leave out a lily of the valley scent in a Spring line up. I am attempting to grow lily of the valley for the first time this year and I hope my late grandmother’s green fingered genes will live on. I have a full bottle of Carillon Pour Un Ange on my dressing table and believe me when I say a little goes a long way. Here’s my review. You can buy it from the Tauer website or you could try Les Senteurs.
4. Shay and Blue London English Cherry Blossom
What could be more springlike than blossom? Here you really get the cherries as well as the petals. I have a full bottle of this and the packaging alone is worth owning. It’s a joy to look at and to wear. You can read my review here. You can buy Shay and Blue from trusty Marks and Spencer.
5. Friedemodin Vertine
A delightfully green and refreshing scent with hints of mint and basil. It is as gentle as a watercolour. This is one of four beautiful scents in this small but superb capsule range. You can read my review of it here. You can now buy Freidemodin in TK Maxx as well as instore at Harvey Nichols.
6. Library of Fragrance
There are two Library of Fragrance scents that sum up Spring for me: Wet Garden has a touch of earthiness and bags of fresh hyacinth. My review is here. It smells like total heaven on my friend Alison!
Library of Fragrance Tomato proved that if ever it was worth smelling something blind it was this. I was sent it as a surprise and I fell for it hard. Replete with green shoots, leaves and that rhubarby/lemon scent of a true greenhouse tomato, this is an uplifting scent that deserves it place in any Spring list. My recent review is here. You can buy Wet Garden and Tomato from Library of Fragrance or Boots.
7. Penhaligon’s Bluebell
How can it be Spring unless there are bluebells? Bluebells are one of my favourite flowers. Penhaligon’s has captured it better than anything else I have tried. My review is here. You can buy Bluebell from Penhaligon’s, Amazon UK or allbeauty.com.
8. Carven L’Eau de Toilette
I reviewed this beautiful green scent recently ( see link here) and it was light, airy and clean smelling. This is a delight to wear on a spring day and reasonably priced too. You can buy it from Amazon UK or from Fragrance Direct.
9. Miller Harris Coeur de Jardin
Miller Harris, ever reliable, comes up with the goods yet again. Coeur de Jardin is a beautifully spring like fragrance that teams pear, tuberose, jasmine and moss together for the scent of a garden straight from your childhood. My review is here. I also recommend Cassis en Feuille (review here), which is blackcurrants and tomatoes, but a realistic greenhouse version. You can buy these from the Miller Harris website.
10. Jo Loves No 42 The Flower Shop
No 42 The Flower Shop is named after Jo Malone’s first workplace. Jo Malone MBE of Jo Malone fame (does that make sense?) has created a second, more personal perfume house. Using fragrance notes she is passionate about,No 42 the Flower Shop has that lovely accord of a florists that is as much about stems and leaves as it about fresh petals and buds. My review is here. You can buy this from Jo Loves.
Photos: Top photo of cherry blossom from www.brambleberry.com. Tomato photo from www.westmillorganics.co.uk. Miller Harris photo from Miller Harris. Jo Loves photo from Jo Loves. . Library of Fragrance photo from Library of Fragrance. Photo of Mandy Aftel from www.aftelier.com. “Wet Plants” photo from Pinterest. All others are from Fragrantica
Welcome back. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I am currently smelling of my Christmas present: First by Van Cleef and Arpels, and loving its classic aldehyde nuances. I smell like a proper lady.
2015 marks the third year of my blog and I always like to do a top ten round up as we say farewell to another twelve months. Scent wise, it’s been an interesting and busy year. I have thoroughly enjoyed several new scents and innovations and I only wish there were ten first places. This top ten then is in no order of preference. These are my ten favourite scent related things that happened in 2015. As far as I’m concerned, they are all joint first.
1. The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes
Never has a postman seen a face light up like mine when these familiar boxes come my way. With around ten hard-to-get samples, carefully curated and with smelling notes too, each Discovery Box is a Treasure Chest. I have them all.
2. Papillon Salome
It astounds me that Liz Moores is a relative newbie. Every one of her first three début scents were nominated for coveted FiFi awards. Her fourth, Salome, is the kind of stuff Anais Nin would have worn. It’s dirty, sexy and already smells like a vintage classic. If this one doesn’t get a FiFi, bloggers and perfume fans will riot in the streets.
3. Aftelier Perfumes.
Dear Mandy Aftel of Aftelier perfumes and I struck up a friendship this year and what an enriching friendship it was turned out to be. Amazingly Mandy uses all natural ingredients and the results are vivid, real and evocative. I’m looking forward to more from Mandy in 2016, and in the meantime, I really recommend the to-die-for Bergamoss EDP and the deliciously cosy Vanilla Smoke.
4. 4160 Tuesdays Blooms and Grows
Sarah McCartney keeps innovating without saturating and this year is no different. I am yet to try many of the Crimes of Passion range ( and will soon be putting that right), but one of my favourite things about Sarah is that she makes affordable niche. If you can’t stretch to a full bottle ( and they are priced fairly), there are sample sets and purse sprays which puts high quality artisan niche within everyone’s reach. I like that.
5. Library of Fragrance
This is the second year of my love affair with Library of Fragrance and I think we’re getting serious. With soliflores (Iris, Mango, Orange Blossom), the “quirkies” as I call them ( Rain, Bonfire, Play Doh) and the Whimsicals ( Pixie Dust, Moonbeam, Sunshine), Library of Fragrance continues to give me what I want. I can wear them alone, I can blend and I can find that favourite note that I only like on its own. Prices are very reasonable and longevity goes far beyond its cologne label. Happy to see purse sprays now as well!
6. Pell Wall Perfumes
2015 was the year I discovered Pell Wall Perfumes. Chris Bartlett is an indie perfumer who sells good honest scent that he created himself. It’s quality stuff with a nod to vintage classics as well as a flair for staying modern. I’ve had fun discovering how versatile this brand is: violets in Deep Purple, leather in Sticky Leather Sky, rose in Pretty in Pink. Discovery Sets and a good sample service make Pell Wall user friendly. Chris gets a firm handshake from this blog.
Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour is a well known, shall we say, “homage” to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, but did you know they have also launched Suddenly Woman which smells like Chanel No 5? or Suddenly Diamonds which smells like Boss Orange? Or Xbolt that smells like Hugo Boss Bottled? Big companies hate this, but I like that they’ve put scent within the reach of the most parsimonious shopper. Whilst you’re there chuck in some Tiramisu ice cream if they’ve got it.
8. Retro Returns
I’m talking about the joy of seeing Aqua Manda, Aqua Citra and Goya Black Rose again. Babe and Tribe are back. Yardley repackaged their timeless soliflores as Contemporary Classics (I’ve bought three bottles) I’m also talking about the fact that Geminesse, Lutece, Raffinee and Moon Drops are marching back too Watch this space. Further developments may well end up in 2016 Top Ten too.
9. Miller Harris Jardin D’Enfance Range
The Miller Harris Jardin D’Enfance range brings back the endless summers I spent making mud pies and eating blackberries in the 1970s. Miller Harris has made an evocative capsule collection of three fabulous fragrances, my favourite of which is Coeur de Jardin.
A capsule range created by Nina Freide and Elisabeth Modin, the Freidemodin range is ethereal, delicate and beautiful. I especially adore Vertine and Rosee de Nuit. I’m exscited to see what Freidemodin comes out with next. You can find them in Harvey Nichols.
Happy New year everyone! I really value your kind loyalty and readership.
You may recall my recent review of Bergamoss solid perfume from the lovely Mandy Aftel. Well dear Mandy has now launched Bergamoss as an eau de parfum. To say it works well is a understatement.
Bergamoss is an unusual green chypre in that it is delightfully spiky and refreshing in summer but rich enough to be perfect for winter too. It’s hard to do but as usual, Mandy has pulled it off, and amazingly, by using only natural ingredients too.
Bergamoss opens with lime juice so fresh it makes your nose tingle. It’s as fresh and immediate as if you’ve just sliced into the lime that very minute. With the subtle sweetness of a peach giving this a pretty face, the nutmeg and herbs take over giving this a slightly savoury bite with a mossy finish. I find the notes jump out at me more in this liquid form. The solid Bergamoss has the same notes but the nuances emerge at different times. The EDP spray has more of an immediate impact. The base notes have a delightful thick greenery, although I didn’t quite catch the civet- you may find it, but I did not. This does not mean it isn’t there- I often find civet where there is none and fail to find it when it’s there.
As much as I loved the solid Bergamoss (and how I long for more solid perfumes!) I found the EDP pleased my need for instant gratification. Longevity is the same, but the EDP is slightly louder. My advice is buy both. The solid is perfect for inoffensive office wear and commuter train etiquette. The EDP is when you want to take Bergamoss out on the road and see what it can do.
Green chypres are my favourite type of scent and Bergamoss is up there with the greats.
NB Whilst Bergamoss solids are now a long term Aftelier item, the EDP is only available until Valentine’s Day. All Aftelier scent can be ordered from the Aftelier website. With warmest thanks to Mandy for sending this to me.
Aftelier Vanilla Smoke is the latest launch from delightful Mandy Aftel of Aftelier , the friendly genius who kindly sends me samples from sunny California to overcast, chilly Wales.
Vanilla Smoke is exactly what this overcast chilly Welsh woman needed. If you look in the dictionary for the word “Cosy” you will find a description of Vanilla Smoke.
Vanilla Smoke opens with prickly spice and a creosote note that lands somewhere between Tauer Lonestar Memories and the smell of a leather jacket that’s just come in from the rain. I don’t know how Mandy achieves this, especially since she uses all natural ingredients, but this is what I could smell.
There is dark Lapsang tea, smoked over pinewood, and ambergris. Green mandarin is also listed but I could not detect it, unless its responsible for that slightly sharp tang on opening ? There are woods, or in my mind’s eye, logs, and there is saffron. But the star of the show, in every scene and frame, is vanilla.
Now what Mandy has done here is help me fall back in love with Vanilla. I used to love vanilla, and The Body Shop Vanilla Oil in the 1980s is to me, the epitome of a time when vanilla, worn alone, was good enough for any day.
Lately however, all the joy has been sucked out of vanilla for me. Cheap, synthetic vanilla seems to have been used in every mainstream scent with an overly heavy hand and frankly, even in fragrances where it had no business. Sometimes mass produced fake smelling vanilla reminds me of vanilla candles that you find in the pound shop, when what I actually want from vanilla, is something that borders on liquor and marzipan.
Vanilla Smoke is exactly what I’m looking for. The smoke is the smoke of a winter fireplace and the vanilla, although sweet, has nothing of The Cupcake Accord that has ruined many a sniff for me in the last few years. Rich and boozy, Aftelier Vanilla Smoke is blended seamlessly with wood and smoky dark tea to make it smell like that log fire I can see when I smell it.
Lasting many hours- around eight in fact, the last of the base note that is left on my skin reminds me a little of Dior Hypnotic Poison, which I consider an enduring classic.
Vanilla Smoke is a glass of whisky by a log burning fire in a huge old fashioned fireplace that heats the whole room. If you’re me, you’ll be adding Christmas Tree lights very soon. Superb.
Vanilla Smoke is available from the Aftelier website. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy Aftel. Opinions are my own.
I was recently sent a sample of Mandy Aftel’s new solid chypre “Bergamoss” from the delightful Mandy herself, who is a pleasure to deal with and has no qualms about Fedexing stuff from sunny California to overcast Wales to my eagerly awaiting mitts.
Funnily enough, Lisa Wordbird and I were recently lamenting the lack of solid perfumes these days, with Lisa making the very valid point that you can usually get them past customs when taking fragrance on holiday. There is a nostalgia about them too, and I guess I’ve never grown out of the novelty of having an Avon Daisy shaped brooch that concealed a solid perfume wayyyy back in the 1970s when I just a slip of a girl.
So I love solid perfume, I love chypres and I love Bergamot. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all. It’s wonderful.
Bergamoss initially threw me a little because it was so remarkably refreshing. I don’t know about you, but as much I love my chypres, I don’t always expect them to go zing! But this one does. I had all these questions coming out of my head like a cartoon: Is that lemon grass? Are there herbs in this? Why does it smell so zingy? Well as you know, Mandy navigates the tricky world of making all-natural perfumes so when she uses Bergamot, it’s the real deal, hence the sharpness of the citrussy opening. This beds down into something greener and more complex and I find myself wearing a beautiful summer chypre.
Yes this is a refreshingly green and pleasant warm weather chypre which, rather than being mossy and rich and decadent ( i.e the types of chypres I am used to) it is spicy, tangy and green. It reminded me in fact of lemon grass, which manages to be both delicate and strong at the same time. Although beautifully blended, you can smell that these ingredients are natural. There’s no whiff of synthetics and no hint of everything being sanitised for the modern palate. This is earthy, beautiful and bangs its own drum. I give it ten out of ten.
Longevity initially confused me. Once you put this on you don’t smell it in the same way as if you’ve just sprayed yourself liberally, it’s more close to skin, but catching little wafts of it as I go about my day made me realise that even if I can’t smell it (at least not without sniffing my skin), it is very much there and this reassures me that others can smell it too.
I got around five hours of pleasant wafts, and not much after that, but the beauty of applying a solid perfume is that you don’t offend anyone. Imagine someone sitting on a train or in an office and having a good few squirts of their usual EDP. They’d get looks and possibly tuts (In Britain, that’s actually warfare). Imagine applying a solid perfume to behind your ears and neck- not a mutter from anyone, just a pleasant subtle waft that gradually floats up in a very inoffensive “Don’t mind me” sort of way, whilst at the same time, allowing you to smell how you want for the day.
As you can see from the photos, Mandy can decant the solid scents she makes into the most beautiful antique compacts, and you can rest assured that Mandy uses pure ingredients such as organic beeswax and jojoba to make them invisibly spreadable.
You can buy all Afterlier products from Mandy’s website, which also gives you an insight into the work she carries out. Thank you Mandy for my beautiful sample! ( Opinions are my own)