In the perfume world one can here a lot of rumble about using natural essences for fragrance making. Some artisan perfumes have given it a try and most of them succeeded, like Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio but who gets the most praise for her exceptional attitude towards creating perfume blends is perfumer Mandy Aftel, who doesn’t launch many fragrances, who doesn’t follow the trends and put a lot of care into quality and small nuances of each creation.
Since the beginning of my adventure in niche perfume world I was well aware of Aftelier and Mandy’s doings but I didn’t try any of her perfumes so far. That state has recently changed when dearest Hajusuuri sent me a sample of the latest launch from this artisanal brand – Cuir de Gardenia. The extrait version I was given a chance to try opens on my skin with a delicious aroma of tiare flower (Tahitan gardenia) – the initial aroma is soft and creamy but it grows more opulent with every minute. The white florals aroma blooms into an unimaginably huge bouquet which doesn’t feel cloying or overdone at all!
The luxurious aroma of tiare continues for many hours but as Cuir de Gardenia sits a while longer on your skin and it takes the warmth of the skin, some completely new elements are revealed. One of them is castoreum. The animalic ingredient sourced from beavers adds a lot of the animalic quality to the blend but it’s not as obvious as someone could expect. Why? Because there’s no actual skank. The impression I get is like I was smelling some ultra luxurious yet old-ish fur coat.
After 45 minutes the warm, furry aroma with inevitable sexual context is tweaked and it starts to smell less fuzzy, then it shortly goes through the suede-like stage, only to become a full-fledged leather accord. It reminds me a little bit like of the leather seats in a new car, but only for a few minutes. Then it mostly resembles some leather boots, a jacket, or a bag. The overall impression that Cuir de Gardenia gave me so far is that this perfume is like a chameleon, it can change almost 180 degrees and dash in the opposite direction. So far I’m enchanted by it.
Later on I could smell a beautiful facet of honey. The shiny golden fluid has many aromas that describe it. First of all, there’s still something animalic about it but I also find some spicy elements immersed in it, like cinnamon or a little bit of cloves. Not sure if they were used in the composition or not but my nose suggests the presence of those notes. Honey note of Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia is also a little bit sweet and powdery like a floral pollen. Delicate but with strong personality.
The mesmerizing scented tale continues with the burst of jasmine. Its soft white petals create a layer on top of the honey, taking some of the animalic and spicy qualities from it and also adding their own aroma which is vegetal, slightly green and loaded with a bunch of indole molecules for some more dramatic effect. After a few hours some kind of a gourmand element appears on my skin, kind of smelling like a patchouli leaves sweetened with cocoa. A gentle buttery vibe mingles in the background as well making Cuir de Gardenia entertaining until the last bit.
Cuir de Gardenia in extrait concentration – the one that I tried, it must be a highly concentrated fragrance blend. Not only because of the intensive orange color of the liquid by also by the fact that after application a thin oily layer was left on my skin and it was shining when I put my wrist closer to the light source or to the window. The longevity of this fragrance is superb, 12 hours and it could probably last for a few more if applied with a lighter hand (my sample was tiny-tiny). For such perfume, which is at the same time bold and delicate, a big sillage wouldn’t be a good thing. I could smell the composition from the distance of 3-4 inches.
Were I to sum up Mandy Aftel’s Cuir de Gardenia with just a few words I would say that it smells very decadent to me. It’s kind of old-fashioned in a good way of the word. Like this perfume came from a different era. Each time I smell it I imagine a huge ballroom with high and decorated ceiling, crystal chandeliers, golden molding on the walls. Ladies wear the fluffy ballroom gowns and hide their faces behind masks. All this happening few centuries ago. To me it’s a retro perfume – you have to know it because it’s such unusual and sophisticated creation. It’s made for those who’re under the charm of the past. The fragrance is available as EdP, extrait, solid perfume. Minis and samples are also in stock. You can choose the format and option that suits you best.