Aftelier Vanilla Smoke ~ fragrance review

lapsang souchong

Autumn and the scent of smoke seem made for each other. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of the season’s first wood fires, or a taste of peaty Scotch, or the steaming pots of smoky Lapsang Souchong tea that sound so good on a rainy afternoon, but for me it’s hard to separate smoke and November. For that reason, I looked forward to sampling Aftelier Vanilla Smoke.

Not that I didn’t have my concerns. After all, not all smoke is good smoke. Would the smoke be toasty or touched with cumin (like real wood smoke can be) or acrid? Worse, would the vanilla smell like cake batter? Fortunately, with Mandy Aftel we’re in good hands…

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It smelled kind of like cat pee

"I shared it with Daniel [Patterson], my co-author. I did a cookbook with him, and he uses my oil in his food,” she told me. “But I didn’t have that much left, and I started to try and rebuy, and everything was dreadful. It smelled kind of like cat pee. It moves a little bit over and it’s just awful.” She spent 10 years on the hunt, sampling different crops, until she found the right kind.

If this happens to a perfume sold on a small, independent website, it’s a problem. It would be a disaster if it happened to a fragrance at Sephora, which was expected to sell millions of bottles every year.

— Mandy Aftel of Aftelier talks to The Guardian about the challenge of sourcing natural materials. Read more at 'All-natural' perfumes rarely are – but independent makers hope to change that.

Aftelier Bergamoss ~ fragrance review

Aftelier Bergamoss

With all the restrictions on fragrance materials and perfume house budgets, a lot of us fear for classic chypres. Aftelier Bergamoss is proof that the chypre as François Coty conceived of it lives on.

Mandy Aftel created Bergamoss with top notes including bergamot and wild sweet orange; heart notes of peach, citronellol and nutmeg absolute; and a base of oakmoss, flouve absolute, coumarin and antique civet. For me, Bergamoss tags all the bases of a beautifully made chypre and slides in for a home run with its seamless construction.

Because there’s little I like more than abusing a metaphor, let’s examine Bergamoss’s progress as it scores. Prepare your Cracker Jacks…

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