Tag Archives: Mandy Aftel

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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Two winter ambers from the U.S

Winter season is a perfect time to reach for more rich, opulent and heady perfume. When it’s cold outside I especially like to reach for cuddly ambers, spicy blends (especially when they have rose too), so here you have two interesting ambers from two of our favorite American perfumers.

Sonoma Scent Studio – Amber Incense


This particular creation opens on my skin with an incense accord that quickly surrounds me. It’s pretty simple note but after a few minutes you realize how much complexity there is to it. The spiritual scent is not only about incense, it’s also about resins, the aroma of burning logs in the fireplace as well as a prominent spiciness of black pepper that appears 5 minutes later.

Then there is amber, I find it quite mineral and a bit salty. It has a marine undertone in my opinion, something that makes me think of a salty ocean breeze. As minutes go by it starts to get closer to the animalic aspect of its aroma. But no, it never becomes too much. Later on woody notes become more substantive. It’s hard to tell if it’s cedar, sandalwood, birch or other species of wood.

Few hours later it’s still pretty smoky to me. I can say that in my case Amber Incense maintains its ambery & smoky character for a long time. Then it unveils some fruity notes, I especially can detect a tart plum (it’s a smoked plum of course) and I don’t smell apricot that is mentioned on a card attached to my sample. Unfortunately I don’t smell soft florals either. Generally incense, amber, pepper and woods are most prominent elements of new perfume by Laurie Erickson.

It’s no problem at all, this perfume was meant to be like that in my opinion. “Soothe your spirit with this warm & meditative blend” describes it ideally. Amber Incense is an all-natural blend.

Aftelier – Amber Tapestry


Inspired by experience as a weaver in her youth, Mandy Aftel decided to create a perfume of amber that would be like threads of different colors and textures that can be woven together into a unique canvas. Amber Tapestry starts with a strings of sambac & grandiflorum jasmine – white floral note that is slightly indolic and has a vintage vibe quickly knots with the smell of amber.

Amber is a multi-dimensional accord of this perfume. It combines aspects of something vanillic, mineral, animalic and fuzzy. I find it rather cuddly and glamorous in its unique way. It definitely has a wonderful richness and warmth to it, it gives a feeling of being wrapped by a furry blanket. Mandarin gives it more Christmasy vibe thanks to its aromatic juiciness, while heliotropin introduces a floral and creamy feeling that nicely contrasts with earlier part. The perfume is nice & complex.

Drydown is animalic but in an inoffensive way. There is castoreum that nicely blends with amber (combination makes me think of Ramon Monegal Ambra di Luna) and then it transforms into tonka beans. They’re smelling of roasted nuts that are enriched with aromatic, creamy and mild spicy properties. Labdanum and benzoin are a core of the heavier, balsamic part of Amber Tapestry. There is also a hay like aroma from coumarin plus a burned, caramelized note of maltol. Mandy also used some real ambergris. Additional notes include pear and cinnamon.

Amber Tapestry has a nice smell, good for cold winter days. I think it might actually smell even more interesting during a walk outside in the snow rather than when you wear it staying at home.

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