Category Archives: Aftelier

SMELLYTHOUGHTS: Best Fragrances of 2013


2013 brought us Perfumistas some outstanding releases. I didn’t want to categorize any of these so I’m putting out this end of year post, as simply as possible: The Seven Best Releases of 2013…
A weird number, not particularly catchy, but these were the standouts. Of course, I haven’t tried everything that has been released, but I generally try what targets my taste. All these fragrances were released in 2013, and are not necessarily what I’ve worn the most for example, but if you wanted to some up the year in perfume, these would be the seven.
In no particular order… (Ok, maybe slightly in a particular order)…

Mito Extrait Vero

Mito Extrait de Parfum by Vero Profumo

So I cannot find a picture of the Extrait de Parfum bottle anywhere, so this Voile D’Extrait will have to suffice! Whilst the composition is the same in both bottles, the concentration of the parfum just wins me over with it’s dense, plush texture.
Vero Kern has created a perfume of immense beauty, and whilst it took me a while to fully “get” the Mito EDP which was released first, the Extrait simply blew me away.
It is a lush combination of bracing citrus accords and bitter greens, with a bunch of white florals laid over it. Lemongrass, cypress, galbanum all lead up top, giving in to a heart of magnolia, champaca and a bitter vegetal tuberose which ties the florals in to the bitter greenery both up top, and the mossy greenery in the base. There’s a hint of peach throughout, and a drop of civet in the base – a reinvented chypre that smells modern yet timeless, referencing great classics of the past with huge admiration. Green florals have been totally to my taste recently, and having tried so many, I can’t see anything surpassing this extraordinary fragrance.

Ingrid Tableau de Parfums

Ingrid by Tableau De Parfums

The final fragrance in the Tableau de Parfums trio was a truly gorgeous release. A frangipani oriental, using the leading floral as it’s never been smelt before… out of a tropical setting, and thrown into a spice basket of dried roses, cloves, cinnamon and woods. It’s an absolutely huge fragrance, overwhelming and extravagant… yet its final hours on the skin are languid and plush; it’s feminine without being sweet or candied. Ingrid is a bold, confident fragrance that is hugely original and truly one of a kind. A fantastic finale for the line by Tauer. His work for Tableau de Parfums has been his most mature and experimental yet.


Zelda by Envoyage Perfumes

Zelda is just an all-round beautiful fragrance. It’s a unique, complicated magnolia oriental – in a similar vein as Ingrid without the hefty dose of cloves. It’s an old-school glamorous floral oriental, concentrating on the more creamy, waxy aspects of magnolia, partnered with subtle greens, hints of booze and old wood, rich in civet soaked woods and tobacco. Zelda is an extremely modern take on a classic structure and whilst complicated, it’s executed perfectly. Shelley Waddington is an extremely talented artisinal perfumer and Zelda is proof of this… it’s truly gorgeous.

Eva Kant O'Driu

Eva Kant by O’Driu

Perfumer Angelo Pregoni has done something with Eva Kant that I just can’t work out – he’s created an extremely beautiful, slightly aquatic floral that has a texture and translucency I didn’t think possible with such a high dose of natural materials. Eva Kant is a slightly spicy floral of rose and ylang, that starts extremely bitter and herbal, with lavender, grapefruit and rosemary. It’s bold, without being overly dramatic, with a fascinating combination of textures and contrasting notes. It’s a hugely intelligent piece of work from the O’Driu brand and undoubtedly his best work to date. Whilst I struggle to wrap my head around it at times, Eva Kant is something I absolutely adore to wear and have certainly never tried anything like it.

Cuir de Gardenia

Cuir de Gardenia – Aftelier Perfumes

Cuir de Gardenia filled a space in perfume land that was desperate to be filled… there has always been a gap for a good gardenia fragrance. I’d say this space has previously been occupied by Jardenia by JAR, and nothing else. Whilst Jardenia is still an extraordinary gardenia, it always felt more a brilliant accord than a fragrance to me. Whilst Cuir de Gardenia is simplistic, it’s a complete fragrance… with an outstanding gardenia accord. In the opening there’s subtle honeyed fruits, pear, a gorgeous gardenia – however devoid of the mushroom earthiness that dominated Jardenia, and jasmine. The jasmine is equally as dominant on my skin, and it leads into a smoky castoreum base that on me, goes through stages of smelling like leather, then smoky bacon. It’s a wonderful, comforting fragrance by the mother of natural perfumery Mandy Aftel – a perfumer who knows her ingredients inside-out. A clever piece of work, executed breathtakingly.

Bogue Profumo Cologne Reloaded

Cologne Reloaded by Bogue Profumo

Excuse the terrible photo, again, I couldn’t find one of the bottle so just took a quick snap of mine :)
Cologne Reloaded was composed almost entirely of vintage materials the perfumer apparently found, or was gifted by someone. The result is exactly as expected, an ancient smelling cologne. Of course citrus oils would have long since gone bad, so there are practically no citrus notes here. Instead, it’s a lavender smoke-bomb of a fragrance. Tons of birch tar, aromatic herbs, astringent, medicinal, bracing, very smoky… It’s one hell of a creation, that dries down to a rather dandified baby powder finale. Hard to wear, but every time I do I love it so much. A brave, and a very interesting release from a very new niche house – this perfumer Antonio Gardoni is one to keep an eye out for. His fragrance Eau D’E for Bogue is also really beautiful!

Santal Exotique

Santal Exotique by The Exotic Island Perfumer

This fragrance is an absolute must try for any sandalwood lovers, any lovers of spicy, Christmas-y gourmands… cinnamon, hot milk, cocoa, sandalwood galore, wood galore in general… It’s a mature gourmand, not at all foody, even more opulent than any of Serge Lutens’ sandalwood interpretations! This puts so many poor sandalwood attempts to shame… and in fact, Juan Perez’s whole line The Exotic Island Perfumer is outstanding. Santal Exotique I didn’t expect to love as much as I did, yet I find myself wearing it most evenings… absolutely comforting, beautifully balanced, totally wearable, and very alluring. A warm, spicy comfort and a reference sandalwood fragrance.

There you go guys! Hope you enjoyed my favourites of 2013… I cannot recommend you sampling these enough!!!!

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Cuir de Gardenia – Aftelier Perfumes

Ok, I’m late to the game with this one, I know it. Well, I ignored the review after positive review of this release, as I didn’t want to know anything about it (enter with an open mind etc.)… after all, a new gardenia release (and an all natural one after all), is a big deal to any perfume fanatic. So I finally got my nose on Cuir de Gardenia…

Cuir de Gardenia

Cuir de Gardenia opens surprisingly astringent, a boatload of natural narcotics pushing forward a feijoa-like, nail-varnish-like harshness often found in raw tuberose… but there’s no tuberose. The powerful narcotic opening is dizzying, but quickly sinks into a more lactonic, and suede-like plush texture, the gardenia pretty much taking full force. So how accurate is the gardenia? Pretty damn good. The natural tiare/gardenia absolute smells as close to the real thing as a fragrance has got before, only lacking that earthy-mushroom quality that gardenia’s seem to produce… is that a good thing? Well, at the end of the day, that’s been done before… Jardenia… possibly the next greatest gardenia fragrance created. I’ve always thought of Jardenia as a singular portrait of a gardenia, rather than a fragrance. Here – Cuir de Gardenia is a fragrance, and the gardenia is treated that way. Whilst it smells as raw as it gets, it’s treated with clever hands.

There seems to be three kinds of gardenia fragrances… Gardenia + Tuberose, Gardenia + Fig, and the less often seen, Gardenia + Jasmine. I never really noticed how similar gardenia and jasmine can be until I smelt the all natural, and slightly garish, Tawaf by La Via Del Profumo… a jasmine so raw and untamed that it throws off a fungal, mushroom vibe, not too dissimilar to that of gardenia. So Mandy has opted for jasmine as a partnership which I was hugely thankful of. Whilst grandiflorum isn’t my favourite floral note, it is a perfect pairing. Whilst I’ve been told there is only a smidge of jasmine, my skin throws it off loudly, my skin always amplifies jasmine… It almost dominates to a point… but maybe it’s just a note I’m more familiar with? But along with this pungent, honeyed jasmine and rich gardenia is a lighter fruit accord up top, and more animal base.

The fruit I initially mistook for phenyl ethyl acetate… turns out it’s ethyl phenyl acetate. If you swap the first words around, apparently they’re different! To me anyway, this note smells like a translucent honeyed fruit, mainly pear and green apple – almost like a pear drop, slightly sugared with a light vanillic, candy-like note (in the background). The animal? Well it’s actually easy to miss until the end. A natural castoreum underneath adds the earthiness that I had missed in the gardenia note (as I said, clever hands!). It’s a rich, slightly fungal, slightly smoked accord that I can’t say I associate with leather myself. But this is my skin, other’s who I have got to try this have got a leathery, dirty, oily vibe straight away. On me, it’s the florals that are blooming throughout it’s life, with the castoreum a subtle sideline… but necessary. The indole of the jasmine adds a dirtiness that is far more present on my skin, and the whole effect is about as simple, and perfect as a gardenia fragrance can get.
There is a surprising turn in the late drydown though: as the castoreum dominates and instead of, on my skin, throwing off the impression of a fine vintage leather, I get a perfect accord of smoky bacon! No lie. Not at all foul, not as intense as the barbeque vibe of Lonestar Memories, but something that I find ridiculously playful and a hilarious partnership with the gardenia, whilst being far more photorealistic than many claim to get from the Tauer. Fantastic!

Cuir de Gardenia is beautifully balanced, handled with a deep understanding of the ingredients… Aftel always knows what she’s doing, and it never fails. A large, empty space in perfumery has been filled by this fragrance.

Cuir de Gardenia Solid
solid perfume

Cuir de Gardenia in the solid perfume is, as expected, a lighter fragrance. It hugs my skin in a more “bass” noise, the gardenia slightly waxier, the jasmine less indolic, but the castoreum more “nutty”, at times reminding me of crushed leaves and adding a quiet “green” to the fragrance. In time, they dry down to pretty much the same thing… the more restrained opening of the solid is much more appreciated if wearing this later in the evening, at home etc… I’ve found myself drawn to it to relax with more so than the more flourescent, astringent extrait. Both are beautiful, but behaving slightly different for the first hour, not drastic enough to review all over again, no I wouldn’t put you through that ;) But worth a mention.
As always… I end feeling inspired!

Cuir de Gardenia available from Aftelier Perfumes:

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VIDEO: Favourite Jasmine Fragrances 2013

Enjoy the video, and as always, the stupidly unflattering screenshot it decides to use as a title frame – thanks YouTube! :) x

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Perfume Pharmer: Primordial Scents 2012 – Water Perfumes

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Primordial Scents project so I thought it was about time to tackle another group.

Primordial Scents Water Perfumes

I’ve already written about Seascape so i’ll just copy and paste my thoughts here ;)

Sea Scape by perfumer Anu Prestonia of Anu Essentials

A herbal, aquatic jasmine/orange blossom thing :)

Seascape is pretty gorgeous up top. It’s a harsh, astringent, herbal (again) beginning of bitter violet leaves, and listed seaweed (which is used much more effectively than in the stomach churning Black Amber by Agonist) – it smells marine without the salt and water – enhancing a more fragrant, idyllic olfactory vision of the sea. A hint of citrus, a lavender-like herbal accord and florals – with an indolic jasmine coming in pretty upfront and that’s where Sea Scape develops – into an aquatic jasmine we’ll say. It’s got a honeyed quality to it, and the bitter herbal notes begin to retreat. The honeyed quality becomes a touch resinous – a bitter orange-blossom like scent stung with more citrus and a hint of anise.

It gets much softer as it begins to settle, the jasmine retreating a touch as the sea-like greenery pushes forward – but still clean, no driftwood or rot in here. The scent of woods, light indolic florals (now paired with a subtle rose) and the citrus-florals create something easy to wear, spring-like and completely innocent… still, the bitter undertone keeps it interesting and a light, musky ambergris finishes. It’s not something I’d wear as I prefer my marine’s with a bit more power and a challenging edge… maybe more photorealistic… still, nice whilst it lasts :)

Essaouira by perfumer Ane Walsh

A strange, flat “smell” of almond/vanilla that starts tropical and ends with wax.

Mmmm, a bizarre coconut/lime opening, both “fizzy” and a touch lactonic – a bit of salty citrus, and a sharpness to it like vodka… it smells like a tropical cocktail for a short while. I struggle with the rest, not too sure what’s going on (no notes pyramids on these fragrances to be found!)… it is a little bitter, a little sweaty with an unusual leathery accord underneath that comes in so quick it was totally unexpected.
Is there something floral in it? Well, there’s a little waxy sweetness, a bitter pollen stain like the rot of an old flower… the coconut morphs into an almond-like scent. From here on, Essaouira remains a bitter almond wax and a touch of cocoa butter/vanilla (and the merest hint of dry woods (the sweatiness?). It’s not sweet, or gourmand, and more of a smell than a perfume – unbelievably close to the skin within minutes… still, an interesting little thing whilst it’s around.

Lylli Bleu by perfumer Justine Crane of The Scented Djinn

A slightly spicy/mossy, anisic blue lotus

Another herbal, anisic thing of an opening… rosemary? Sweet basil? Fennel definitely. This reminds me instantly of a slightly more “homemade” version of Tirrenico by Profumi del Forte with the volume turned down a little. The vegetal, anisic fennel is lovely – fresh, green, lacking the salty driftwood of Tirrenico and seems instead enhanced with a little lavender? I’m not sure.
A lotus-y floral accord comes in, a delicately scented, aquatic floral note – with a soft mossy note underneath. There’s again, the quietest touch of woods, and so far the fragrance is the “darkest” of the Water Perfumes.
It’s very quiet on my skin, remaining herbal start to finish – like a slightly mossy, spicy, super-light floral. Not for me, but a nice smell.

Rain Bath Oil by perfumer Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes

A gorgeous, sharp, fresh, herbal/anisic apple/chamomile/eucalyptus

Well this is a bath oil but I’m not running a bath for my review so, straight on the skin it goes :P
Mmmm! It’s beaut – a super tart green apple, crisp and juicy, paired with again, some anisic herbal notes that bring to mind, again, sweet basil, fennel, star anise (a lot of it!), and a super bright chamomile. It’s sharp, but crystal clear… the apple not turning at all soapy thankfully. The herbal notes are hugely astringent but almost sweet, like a shot of apple Sambuca.

It begins to turn a touch mentholated as a tea-tree oil-like scent comes in, or maybe eucalyptus, something cool that almost tingles your skin… peppermint? Whatever it is, this cooling, herbal scent is super fresh, astringent, and bizarrely sensual (as well as smelling like it would clear your sinuses in the winter! – it’s powerfullllll!). It gets softer as it goes on – and swims on your skin in a dense, gorgeously balanced herbal layer of chamomile and dry woods (with a hint of smoke and vegetation at the finish). Invigorating.

A Study in Water by Shelley Waddington of Envoyage Perfumes

A clever , soapy green floral arranged to smell like an aldehydic accord

Fresh apple, a gorgeous aquatic lily of the valley, dewy green leaves and clean rose – beaut! A Study in Water gets soapy after the top settles, smelling like a mix of various body washes (slightly soapy, slightly creamy, slightly floral, slightly fresh, slightly… subtle?) – I’m not sure, subtle in texture for sure, but it’s actually got a fantastic performance on my skin! Now, the “body wash” reference sounds like a bad thing ey? No. Multiple Rouge by Humiecki & Graef is a bad body wash (but fun!), Puredistance 1 is a bad hand cream (but not fun!), A Study in Water is bizarrely comforting – it’s a watercolour blend of florals and greenery – mixed with ozonic notes and a touch of lactones to create something that doesn’t smell like perfume. It smells undoubtably clean… clean clean clean, but extremely appealing in the same way that Stephen Jones smells hyper-clean up top.

The brilliant thing about A Study in Water, is it smells extremely aldehydic, without the pungency of aldehydes – it retains that bright, white soapiness that seems to disguise the floral accords underneath from start to finish – with a greater weight to it. As for the florals themselves, similar to Chang Chang – they are blended to something almost impossible to pull apart. The muguet disappears, leaving behind a clean pink rose, maybe a hint of jasmine – drying down to a watery wood, with Shelley’s signature musk in the base. It probably sounds like many perfumistas worst nightmare, but honestly – it’s my favourite of the group! Very clever, and weirdly sexy.

SO! Definitely not the strongest group so far, but some interesting things in here for sure :D

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VIDEO: A look at Aftelier Perfumes

Please excuse the kind of, robotic, echo-y audio at times, I have no idea why that happened :(
Let me know what you think of these vids by the way, if they’re clogging up my blog and I should keep them to YouTube and just use this for writing tell me so!!

Thanks for the support as always everyone


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SMELLYTHOUGHTS’ 1 Year Anniversary + Freddie’s Best of 2012

Ok, I’m gonna crack straight on with this.

First of all: Happy New Year :)
Now that’s out the way – here’s what I loved and discovered in 2012.

My Favourite 3 Fragrances in 2012:

Haute Claire

Haute Claire (far too closely followed by Secret Garden) by Aftelier Perfumes. Both of these fragrances are a tie for me, completely different, but absolutely beautiful. The richest, most naturally grand florals I have smelt – truly beautiful, wearable and classic – timeless fragrances that will be with me for a long time. Outstanding!

Rubj EDP

Rubj EDP by Vero Profumo is simply awesome. A sexy, volumptuous floral with an unexpected, almost tropical/sour “fresh” slice of green passionfruit smothering it. Mouthwatering, huge, and an absolute necessity. Exceptional.


Miriam by Tableau De Parfums is a modern classic. It combines so many elements of fragrances I love into something seamless – the aldehydic resins of La Myrrhe, the aldehydic white floral/incense combo of No.22, various fragmented particles of classic Tauer’s such as the bay of Un Rose Chypree, the violet/iris of Pentachord White… I can go on… but it is its own being – Miriam is gorgeous.

Most Unexpected Beauty:


M/Mink by Byredo completely took me by surprise. After months of thinking I hated it (after trying it only twice on paper) – I found it’s evolution on the skin absolutely captivating. Whilst I still struggle to wear it, when I finally accept that it’s a beeswax/incense/patchouli and not the fishy atrocity that my mind conjurs up – I love it.

New Talent:


Mangetic Scent is an awesome line. Indigo was one of my sampling highlights of the year and I can’t wait to get my hands on a full bottle. The packaging is beautiful, the fragrances are truly brilliant and I can’t wait to see what this guy comes out with next :D

Best Marketing and Packaging:


In all honesty, O’Driu is pretty pompous and poncy (a little cringeworthy at times)… but judging the brand through it’s products, marketing and advertising – it owns. Not only have they kicked off massively solely from threads on Basenotes, the gorgeous sample packages were handed out extremely generously, and the packaging is fantastic. I love the boxes stuffed with feathers and hessian, the advertising images are beautiful, the bottles are solid (although a bit wierd, when you buy 50ml, you get 50ml in a 100ml bottle…), and I like the atomizers (but wouldn’t use it – evapouration and all that shit). All in all, kudos to you O’Driu.

Oh and just in the category of advertising, Lady Gaga’s Fame commercial was brilliant (there, I said it)… as we all know, the fragrance was piss poor.

Sad To See Go:

Eau D'Epices

Eau D’Epices got discontinued this year – which gave me a little heartache… but it’ll be back next year I believe so no big deal :P I guess it’s removal from the market re-trigged my admiration for this challenging composition. I will get it when it returns!

A list of other fragrances I loved in 2012:

Iris Silver Mist
Chypre Rouge
Musc Maori
Putain Des Palaces
Ambra Nera
CDG EDP 2011
Bolt Of Lightning/Fermes Tes Yeux/Jarling

Ok so you might be wondering where all the hate is here? In all honesty – there’s too many to write about and compile into neat categories, so I’m just gonna real some off and get the dirty stuff over with…

Crap of the year:

Seville A L’Aube (loved smelling the ingredients that went in it… didn’t like ’em all together…)
Serge Noire/L’Eau/L’Eau Froide/Nuit De Cellophane (obvious reasons)

(the write ups that started the trouble)
(words can’t describe these fragrances… so I won’t try) 
Jean-Claude Ellena’s Dreary Diary (and most of his work)
Seven Veils
(I still re-live the nightmare of when it hit my skin)
(the line, not the shop)
Blah blah blah – I have a terrible memory and the list could go on forever, trust me. That’ll do for now :)

So yes – every bloggers doing these in far more detail so there’s my little two cents. Thanks for the support everyone <3<3<3

Freddie x

Oh, and some perfect music… just because :)

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Wild Roses – Aftelier Perfumes

The new fragrance from Mandy Aftel…

Wild Roses opens with a hugely complicated blast of… well, rose – a clean tea rose, a spiced jammy rose, a hit of cracked pepper – a touch of syrupy anise, a cold eucalyptus and a heavy, bitter-sweet, fruity apricot that verges on peach. It is so overwhelming and rich it almost smells boozy up top – but not with the dense, alcoholic and almost sticky quality that boozy accords tend to have.

The anise vanishes pretty quickly (but leaves a subtle fennel accord behind), the cool mentholated aspects begin to settle, but the fuzzy apricot dominates, paired with a rose unlike anything else I’ve tried – such a huge blend of textures, spices and colours that rounds out into one purely translucent floral. A herb basket rises up underneath the roses adding a bitter, culinary edge of coriander (along with the fennel) – with an extremely restrained powdery/almond quality that I assume is heliotrope? The mentholated aspect which I thought was eucalyptus evolves into a herbal geranium – a note I’ve begun to love. It adds a cool, medicinal layer underneath the warmth of the roses, but still keeping the rose flavour pungent – adding a greener quality to them.

The geranium, rose basket and herbal notes get dizzying, hints of warm, subtle clove and the heat of pepper (a note I only recognize from Piment Brulant, and in Aftelier’s own Shiso) add even more little nuances that dart in and out of focus. At times I mistake the spice for carnation, and at others, a richly indolic jasmine similar to Secret Garden – a slightly resinous floral of orange blossom also makes an appearance, but all pushed out of view by the abstract rose. The turkish rose takes over the greener geranium notes in the heart, adding a more powdery, candied aspect to the florals without it ever being sweet – but still, hints of ripe fruit plump up the petals. What at first was apricot, now seems to have morphed into a plum – adding a fleshy, golden, dried fruit quality.

A patchouli arrives and gets louder after half an hour or so on the skin, and I’m convinced the jasmine is still there. The patchouli has the slightly smoky, rich and earthy quality that I have grown to love from the late drydown of Secret Garden – it’s a head spinning note and it almost seems to have an animal quality to it. A drop of civet in the base seems to be enriching both the patchouli and the roses – or the indole used in Sepia that seems to bring to life florals with an animalic, narcotic richness is at play.

The drydown manages to keep the rose and indole intact, along with the stewed fruit quality of apricot remains and wine-y plums, the earthiness of the patchouli creating a solid base, it all gives the fragrance a “mulled” feeling – boozy again. The animal quality is tame, but it’s there – it makes Wild Roses melt in a warm, human layer – enhanced by a growing, soft woody sweetness of vanillic benzoin. At times it seems to vanish during it’s heart, but when I pull my nose back again, it is out in full force – it is such a shapeshifter of a fragrance, but with a solid personality that remains true from start to finish, it just decides to play around with you whilst you try to figure it out.

Wild Roses is beautiful. A rose perfume that without a doubt stands above the hundreds of generic rose fragrances out there that seem to do little to the actual rose notes themself, and instead just build support around the singular essence. Here, the perfumer takes a rose and gives it a hundred faces – it becomes a rose that is spicy, fruity, sheer, boozy, herbal and green all at once. The fragrance is about the roses themselves and everything they can be, and are, and I love that. It can hardly be considered a rose soliflore, a portrait of a rose, or a landscape – it is a holograph if anything. A spiced, fruity floral that replaces expected candied sweetness with bitter herbs and raw earth – it sums up what Mandy’s perfume’s are all about. Wonderful :)

Wild Roses 30ml EDP Aftelier – $170

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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

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Lumiere – Aftelier Perfumes (& Phenyl ethyl acetate)

The opening note of Lumiere is listed as “Phenyl ethyl acetate”. I always though that was an aroma chemical not derived from natural plant extracts, but there we go I learnt something new – it is in fact a natural isolate. Now, when I first saw this note listed I thought – “What the hell does that smell like” – but rummaging around in my perfumery draws full of samples and other random bits, I find a big bag of aroma chemical samples I have diluted in perfumer’s alcohol. Thankfully, I found it! So I thought I’d include my individual thoughts on this aroma chemical firstly, so I don’t have to explain it in-depth and clog up the review:

Phenyl Ethyl Acetate smells initially of honeyed pears. It has a perfect pear note that so few fragrances that actually attempt it, succeed at. The honeyed notes are floral, clear and clean – with a cool aroma that makes the fruit almost smell glaced. The floral notes are heavily pollinated (I say heavily although the aroma is light and ethereal), and dominated by rose. There is a slightly creamy, white floral aroma too that reminds me of magnolia – with that slight citric edge. The most simplistic way to describe it would be “pear drops”, but simplified and more pure smelling – it’s lovely.

Lumiere opens exquisitely rich – with the phenyl ethyl acetate aroma amped up to become denser and more exotic. The honeyed notes remind me a little of linden blossom, spiked with a dash of pepper. The honeyed floral notes begin to settle quickly, as Lumiere becomes clearer and lighter on the skin. All of a sudden a completely smooth, floral canvas lies underneath the evaporating remains of the opening – the texture is like that of clear water – but not at all thin or overly transparent.

The honeyed pears of the opening are a mere memory after ten minutes or so, but the sweet residue is carried to the heart by a tiny smidge of honeysuckle which in honesty I’d struggle to notice if it weren’t for the nudge by the notes. Lumiere’s heart is almost impossible to describe, it is a clear, translucent, semi-sweet aroma, whose base isn’t oriental, floral, vegetal or woody – it’s presence is almost a sensation rather than a scent – which leads me to believe the ambergris is at play a little bit here!

The listed blue lotus makes sense when I think about Secret Garden (my Aftelier true love!), Lumiere is like the scent of the pond in the secret garden – ever so slightly floral, aquatic without being chemical, salty or ozonic. The scent of green tea is also calmed to a point where it merely adds a colour, and I feel like I smell I little osmanthus in here, maybe even a tiny hint of jasmine grandiflorum, but I may be wrong. A slight, citrus floral keeps the fragrance light with a little texture – and I find myself typing this slowly as though any abrupt movement will shatter the development of Lumiere on my hand! It’s extremely delicate and refined, to a point where it’s making me nervous writing about it – that shouldn’t be perceived as a negative by the way. This fragrance is unlike anything else in the Aftelier line and it’s amazing how much light the perfumer has managed to give these often overwhelming natural essences.

Lumiere reminds me of the sort of perfume By Kilian were trying to achieve with their Asian Tales series (which was a massive flop in my opinion); where those fragrances were overlaid with hideous attempts at bamboo, tea and imaginary flowers but ended up as aquatic colognes, Lumiere manages to hold on to it’s clarity and remain captivating throughout.

A subtle smoke finishes Lumiere – a trail of incense to signal it’s disappearance, but it will slip underneath your nose over the next couple of hours when you least expect it. I’m not sure how comfortable I am wearing Lumiere, it’s light and translucency is something I’m not normally attracted to, but I can’t help but say this is one of the most impressive examples I’ve seen of this style of perfumery – and I know it was a huge change for the perfumer having sniffed so much of her other work. It’s exquisitely composed with such an understanding of the materials that I find it a little too delicate for someone like myself to pull off, but how beautiful it could smell on someone elses skin!! – it’s a haunting perfume that has an almost invisible presence but an exquisite aroma – one that has even left me stumped for words on how to describe it. One of a kind.

Lumiere 30ml Aftelier – $210

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