January 3, 2011
It seems appropriate that I start my first piece of the New Year with Mandy Aftel. There was a time, not too long ago, when many bloggers and fragrance critics eschewed or dismissed natural perfumery, considering it no more than aromatherapy. Mandy Aftel’s Tango was my entrée into the Art of botanical fragrances (in 2005) and ever since I follow her every accord.
It seems that natural perfumery is now ‘trendy’.Ok, its downright fashionable…Green is the new Black. Not too long ago, I wrote for a popular fragrance site whose Editor-in-Chief told me “no more articles and reviews about natural perfumes, and enough already with Mandy Aftel”. There can never be enough of Mandy Aftel. It’s heartening to see that opinions are changing and to quote our Natural Fragrance Editor, Monica Miller, 'more and more perfumistos have become bi-scentual', and the battle between the “synths” and the "naturalists" is, if not over, at detente.
MANDY: "The development of my new Honey Blossom perfume started with an exchange between me and the perfumer Andy Tauer, where we each chose an essence to use in making a perfume. He chose organic linden blossom CO2 from Bulgaria. An extraordinary beauty, with much in common with fresh honeysuckle on the vine — if honey had a flower, this would be the smell.
Linden Blossom CO2 is a fugitive top note which presents particular design challenges when featuring it in a perfume. I found this essence inspiring, and wanted to add beautiful aromatic facets to it, without taking anything away. I was captivated by its transparent texture – beyond just the aroma profile – the quality of lightness and the gossamer shape of this essence. I wanted to capture and highlight that texture, without diminishing it in any way. I needed to build out from this light beginning, without destroying it.
A special aspect of this perfume’s development was that Andy and I continued to exchange letters about our own processes, and Nathan Branch hosted these writings on his blog. This public dialogue was unusual for me; it prompted me to put into words what I privately and intuitively think about when creating a perfume. It was interesting to have to communicate what I was doing and where I was going, following the twists and turns and blind alleys that I usually traverse alone.
There were essences that I thought would happily marry with the linden that turned out not to be the case. Even though the aromas could work well together, the resulting fragrance texture was muddied, and had to be discarded. Natural isolates provided the texture that I needed. Lumiere was the first perfume I created that included natural isolates and I noticed the particular sheer quality they brought to the opening of that perfume. Often fleeting on the scent strip, natural isolates blend with essential oils and absolutes, spreading out in the perfume, and resulting in a longer life on the skin. Natural essences usually rely on heavy base notes for longevity, so having a translucent aromatic texture is something new and is very exciting to me.
In the end, what I learned about this perfume is that less is more. I stripped down any essence that wasn’t essential. It reminded me of editing one of my books, where I would remove any writing that seemed superfluous, even if it was interesting or well-written."
– Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief
Photos of Mandy Aftel, Honey Blossom and her desk courtesy of Mandy Aftel
Editor's Note: Aftelier Perfumes took two CaFleureBon Best of 2010 awards for Honey Blossom and for Trevert
OUR FIRST DRAW OF THE NEW YEAR: Three readers will receive a petit flacon of Honey Blossom perfume !!! Please enter your comment onsite regarding Mandy Aftel and you are eligble to win. Show Mandy some love on her FB page too. Draw ends Wednesday January 5, 2011 at 10 am EST