Elixir of curiosity, Aftelier Curious

After many years Mandy Aftel was finally able to open Aftel Archive of Curious Scents. A place in Berkeley, California where you can experience beautiful and rare raw materials & learn more about natural perfumery. Unlike in typical museum there are plenty of things there you can touch. Inspired by the atmosphere of a place Mandy created Curious. You can wear it but in the Archive you can also witness its deconstruction into accords and singular notes & discover how they smell separately. I’m sure this would be a valuable lesson to every perfumista.


Aftelier Curious starts with a surprisingly smoky note of a fruit. The smokiness is in the foreground while the fruitiness is a little more distant. However combined they have a very specific aroma. At first impression it instantly reminded me of smoked prune but then it evolved and became closer to apricot. Then suddenly it becomes incredibly musky & animalic that it’s really hard to bear. However Mandy explained to me she didn’t use any animalic notes while creating this fragrance.

It’s the use of tobacco that gives this effect. When it blends with dry, aromatic hay note with a detectable coumarin facet it gets wild & dirty. Suddenly Curious gains a heady, indolic, almost oily vibe to it. Normally I would associate it with jasmine but as I found on Aftelier website, it comes from orange leaf absolute. Once it dissipate the perfume begins to smell of smoky, burnt wood and a little bit of mossy forest. A little bit of green peeks through the foggy smoke. It’s mysterious.

For Curious Mandy also used a wild sweet orange note. I would never expect that citrus note could be responsible for adding a dirty, musky, kind of sweaty facet to the perfume. Very unusual, right? It releases something minimally orange-y too but once its dirtiniess comes out it even starts to remind me a leather note a bit. It takes some time until the perfume becomes more mellow. That’s when it becomes more creamy in its woodiness and musk notes melt more with your own body scent. That’s when it becomes really pleasant and brings a joy of wearing it. When its soft – it’s like a fur.


Aftelier Curious is a perfume of a challenge. It’s unusual and specific, I believe not everyone will be so open to its wilderness. But for the beautiful drydown it is worth to go through the rough opening. The way it changes over time is a sort of magic. If curious was a magic potion then Mandy Aftel would have to be a white witch who brew it in her cauldron. Curious comes in 2 concentrations: eau de parfum and parfum. It has good longevity while sillage goes from big to more intimate.

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18 thoughts on “Elixir of curiosity, Aftelier Curious

  1. Jillie says:

    Not to be confused with the Britney Spears’ perfume of the same name …….. !

    It’s wonderful that there are perfumers like Mandy who have a passion for their work and create works of art that are intriguing and memorable, and that they can be achieved using natural essences.

  2. Hannea says:

    Wow, I wish I could visit that place! You hear so much about all these different raw materials, but where do you ever get an opportunity to smell them without great cost? What a wonderful idea and it makes me even more curious… Do you think it would simulate animalic on most people or do you think this is just how it projected with your chemistry? Sounds like an intriguing fragrance- which I suppose was the whole point!

    • lucasai says:

      Me too! Hopefully one day.
      I think Curious would react differently on everyone although I think this animalic muskiness would appear on everyone, with different intensity maybe

  3. geordie04 says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of some Aftelier samples and am now especially kern to try Curious — animalic without animal derivatives sound very intriguing!
    The more perfumes I try, the more I’m gravitating towards all-naturals. House of Matriarch has me well and truly hooked, and the one perfume I know from Via del Profumo blew my mind… just when I’d decided no more perfume spending…

  4. chocolatemarzipan8 says:

    Sadly those of the Afteliers I have tried in the past very few worked on me/my skin….the rough opening continued all the way to the dry down.

    • lucasai says:

      She has a signature style that gives vintage vibe to all her scents. Not everyone likes it

      • I think there is just something in her fragrances (some have said the ambergris) that just does not agree with me…I happen to love vintage and have worn lots of it in my lifetime…or maybe the fact that it is all natural and my skin chemistry just isn’t right.
        Nonetheless I am glad that you enjoyed the ride with Curious 🙂

  5. hajusuuri says:

    Beautiful review, Lucas! I’ve tried the EDP and sadly, all I got was smokey exhaust fumes and burning rubber. I do have the extrait and will try it to see if I get something different. It’s hit or miss for me with Afteliers. Among the ones that work out for me are: Bergamoss, Vanilla Smoke, Cuir Gardenia, Wild Roses and Tango.

    • lucasai says:

      Oh I see. In fact I’m not sure which concentration Mandy sent to me.
      Our list oczywiście Afteliers looks similar. I also liked Cuir Gardenia, Wild Roses. Am also a fan of Bergamoss but I know it only as solid perfume

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