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