Aftelier Perfumes is based in Berkeley and it’s there that Mandy Aftel crafts her wonderful fragrances. Aftel makes not only natural perfumes but also scented teas, chef’s essences and body products. If you wander over and take a look at her website you will find any number of tantalising fragrant curiosities to tempt and covet. She also teaches perfumery and has the Aftelier Archive of Curious Scents. As if this isn’t enough her books are brilliant too. I’ve started to dip into Fragrant : The Secret Life of Scent and I’m seduced, the writing is transportive and very evocative as well as informative. Her most recent book is The Art of Flavor : Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food with chef Daniel Patterson and as soon as Fragrant is finished this will be ordered. As a side note, from my contact with Aftel (via email) she is very welcoming, generous and highly regarded as a creator and a role model and influencer for many.
If you would like to know more about Mandy I have an interview published with her that I think you’ll find interesting to get a glimpse into her creativity and various projects.
Recently I reviewed four perfumes in the Atelier Perfumes collection (Vanilla Smoke, Velvet Tuberose, Palimpest and Cuir de Gardenia) and today we are back with thoughts on Cepes and Tuberose, Oud Luban and Amber Tapestry.
Oud Luban EDP : Notes // Elemi, orange terpenes, blood orange, frankincense CO2, oud, opoponax, choya ral, benzoin, aged patchouli
A stunning oud perfume, Oud Luban has darker tones than the others I’ve tried in the range so far. It’s resinous as well as being totally addictive. A blend of eight different ouds are included and the brighter orange provides a lightness while there’s also a deep patchouli to round out the base, although to be honest I smell this immediately and right through the development. This fragrance has story, it’s an old soul and you can feel it in your bones. It’s a perfume in which you can sense a life’s journey, a life extremely well lived. It’s no surprise that Oud Luban was Leonard Cohen‘s favourite perfume; that makes sense to me.
Here’s a track from Leonard Cohen‘s final album, You Want It Darker. The song is called Treaty.
Cepes and Tuberose EDP : Notes // Porcini mushrooms, tuberose, bitter orange, sandalwood, rosewood
Cepes and Tuberose is one of Aftelier’s legendary fragrances. This is the perfume that has grown on me and is now wonderfully addictive. Admittedly the mixture of mushroom and tuberose sounds like an overdose for the senses. It is and then again it isn’t, but what it will do is transport you to places in your imagination and take you out of your comfort zone.
The cêpes in the title refers to what you know as porcini mushrooms, cêpes being the French name for this rather pungent variety with a hearty, nutty flavour. You can also get dried or frozen versions if the real deal isn’t available at your local food market and these still provide a hearty flavour.
The perfume smells dirty and clean, damp and earthy yet at the same time ripely floral with the queen of flowers smelling natural, far from the world of screechy overdone tuberose. Cepes and Tuberose definitely plays with contrasts as there’s a beautiful creamy rosy tint that shines through too, pitching the rough against the smooth. At times I smelt chocolate and then it turned into vegetable broth so this is a perfume that will challenge your senses but in an exciting way. Cepes and Tuberose is like nothing I’ve smelt before. It’s from the forest, bathed in moonlight, set to a scene with Guillermo del Toro‘s art direction in full force. Another must try.
Amber Tapestry EDP // Notes // Powdered yellow mandarin, cinnamon, pear, jasmine grandiflorum, jasmine sambac, sweet ambers, leather
I don’t know if you’ve thrashed the album Tapestry (Carol King) at any stage of your life but I certainly did many years ago and there’s a feel of that era in this perfume. A naturalness, a certain bohemian, airy vibe. Jasmine is used to stunning effect, with sambac and grandiflorum varieties coming together in golden harmony with mandarin and fruity pear tones. Aftel ensures there’s a strong floral thread woven with intricate detailing and dimension. The base is darker but not too much so. A strong cinnamon facet in the fragrance was delightfully potent on my skin. The perfume lives and breathes sumptuously. Another winner.
By the way I’m currently reading about the allure of cinnamon in Aftel’s book Fragrant and did you know that the Egyptians used the spice in mummification and the Romans burned it in religious ceremonies, either throwing it into the fire or burning the sticks like incense. If you want a deep dive into the history and uses for various materials used in perfumery, Fragrant features cinnamon, mint, frankincense, ambergris and jasmine. I can assure you it’s a great read.