Tango – Aftelier Perfumes

Tango opens with a spiced orange. Deep and intense, not quite juicy – but more like dried peel, spiked with clove, pepper and warm ginger – and all wrapped up in a veil of dense smoke. The base notes rise up quickly: a glowing, golden brown blend of tobacco, vanilla and sweet coffee – lacquered with a balsamic, resinous honey-like glaze. It’s overwhelming and complicated, but silky smooth and indulgent.

The floral heart of champaca plays a leading role – a note that is glorious to smell in full force, rather than diluted to something almost tea-like and “pretty”. It’s herbal but rounded, sweet and spicy with specks of rose, orange blossom and an almost osmanthus-like fruitiness. The coffee, that smells almost lactonic due to the vanillic tonka underneath, entwines with the floral notes and the mystery smoke to take it away from gourmand territory but still makes my mouth water.

The smoke isn’t birch tar, and only a little of it seems to come from the tobacco – instead, the perfumer lists “choya” – the natural aroma of toasted seashells. Whether this plays on my imagination (as I can only dream of what this raw material smells like!) – the salted marine note of it really seems to push forward, in an almost ambergris-like holographic way. The smoke is smooth and abstract, it doesn’t smell of burnt wood, coal or tar – but blended with the other ingredients it comes across as a delicately smoked cream – the coffee pushing this vision further. The outcome is a blend of sweet, floral smoke, a dash of spice and a vanillic almost lactonic woody note that combine to make something that flickers between the scent of an imaginary, exquisite latte, and the sexy scent of someone’s skin which has lapped up the salty sea and sun. It’s contrast between the gourmand notes and the almost human warmth of the smoke, sweet milk and what I think is patchouli and civet in the base, bring to mind the more simplistic Musc Maori that feels similar to me (in the sense that it combines gourmand notes with animalic musk to turn it into something sexy and not-quite edible). It’s this teasing which makes the scent so appealing and keeps my nose glued to my skin.

The drydown is a sweet (I keep using this word – Tango is not particularly sweet but the bitterness of notes such as tobacco, smoke, coffee etc. keep it completely counterbalanced), honeyed, smoky tobacco, a slightly salty muskiness, vanilla and woods – with the delicate cream of the floral coffee clinging to the base for many hours. Tango gets more delicious each time I wear it and I think my sample will be completely drained as soon as Winter draws nearer and nearer – I may need a bottle of it to get me through the cold months. It is a fragrance that can be warming and homely, or mysterious and sexy – polar opposites I know but you’ll just have to try it to understand! Beautiful as always.

Tango 30ml EDP Aftelier – $170 www.aftelier.com

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15 thoughts on “Tango – Aftelier Perfumes

  1. lucasai says:

    You sound like you’re really fascinated by this smell.

    I personally feel kind of scared to give it a try. This fragrance sounds like not my climates at all. Oh, that’s really ok, there are so many other perfume to love :)

    • The Aftelier line just captivates me completely, I connect with the perfumer’s work so so much that I literally LOVE everything from the line I’ve tried – similar to how you feel about the Histoires De Parfums line. Yes yes, many many fragrances out there :)

  2. Sounds like a perfect perfume for the autumn. Although you seem to love it… which concerns me because we seem to be polar opposites as of late! :)

    • Haha! Very true. It is perfect for autumn and winter though, it’s hard though, I want so many bottles from this line but I just can’t afford it. At the end of November I’m treating myself to two of them, Haute Claire is for certain, and it’s then a tie between Tango, Sepia, and the new one Wild Roses (the sample is on it’s way to me as we speak and I KNOW I’ll love it hahah). This line is amazing Steve!

  3. I love Mandy Aftel’s work and now can’t wait to try this. It reads SO good,
    Portia x

  4. Ana says:

    Freddie,it’s your reviews that make me want so badly to try the Aftelier line!Oh my, between Mandy’s line and Vero’s fragrances I’ll probably end up completely broke!

    • Hi Ana! Thanks so much for reading :D
      Have you tried Vero’s work then? It’s soooo good isn’t it :D
      The Aftelier’s are outstanding, really. I feel like readers may think I can’t write a bad review of one – but really, even the ones that aren’t to my taste, I can’t help but thoroughly enjoy. The ones that work for me though just click like no other fragrances do. I love them :) I hope they are everything you hope they will be when you get around to trying them, but some do take work to fully understand and if you’ve little familiarity with natural fragrances they can be a challenge to get into. But yeh, blah blah :) They are fantastic, and Tango is a brilliant smoky floral unlike anything else out there.

  5. Floral coffee? Oh, swoon!

    A while ago, there was this Nespresso limited edition capsule (I know, so fancy, but it was a Christmas present!) that was an Ethiopian Yrgacheffe that smelled like white florals. Gorgeous!

    This sounds like it smells completely different, but the combo of flowers and coffee has haunted me ever since.

    • It’s a must try for you then :D
      I love this – mayyyyyy get a bottle at the end of the year :P
      It’s very hard to describe because I’m so unfamiliar with the “choya” note that is clearly potent but hard to interpret how it blends with everything else as I start to mix up what I’m more familiar with, blah blah, it’s great – try it :P

  6. Mandy Aftel says:

    What a stunning review Freddie! I just love reading your deep, expressive, clever writing – thank you for such a treat!
    xo Mandy

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