Aftelier Perfumes' tagline is “Modern Natural Luxury,” and with Secret Garden and Oud Louban, perfumer Mandy Aftel delivers more two fine examples of her swellegant specialty.
Secret Garden parfum
I'd say this particular secret garden was originally planted in the tropics, what with its humid, candied jasmine. If that showgirl Fracas ever hauled her feather-festooned hindquarters out of the theatre dressing room for a skip in the fresh air, she might smell like Secret Garden during its bright, happy overture. But after about 20 minutes curing on the skin, Secret Garden's damp sweetness swaps places with a salty spiciness, and any remaining sugar is recast as an intimate honey.
One of the fascinations of Aftel's creations is the way she utilizes rare and antique perfume materials. Even if the ultimate destination of these natural luxury scents is “modern”, Aftelier fragrances first take the wearer on an exclusive tour through the fast-evaporating history of perfume. Secret Garden features antique civet, castoreum, and aged patchouli, demonstrating how essential “dirtiness” is to humanizing the ethereal side of flowers.
Any fella who adores himself in a haze of white florals needs to experience Secret Garden. And anyone bedeviled by jasmine's tendency towards ice-pick sharpness should lick their white floral-phobia with this warm, complex and deep perfume. I'm enjoying the dissonance of spicy sunshine blossoms in these ever-colder, darkening days. Perhaps the secret in this garden is that it's an oriental in tropical clothing. Sounds like the perfect way to sneak a bit of summertime into winter.
Bonus Fun Fact: Secret Garden was created during Mandy Aftel's participation in luxury blogger Nathan Branch's "Letters to a Fellow Perfumer" series, and Nathan suggested the name "Secret Garden." Read his review here.
Secret Garden ingredients:
Top: bergamot, bois de rose, Geraniol, blood orange
Middle: jasmine sambac, raspberry (compounded isolate), Turkish rose, blue lotus
Base: civet, castoreum, vanilla, deer tongue, benzoin, aged patchouli
Oud Luban solid perfume
Oud Luban is a solid perfume, and I love the silky texture of the balm. The feel has a more-ish quality, and as I kept dipping back into my little sample pot for another schmear, I had to restrain myself from putting it on my lips (just a reflexive instinct from years of applying lipgloss.) Oud Luban's blur of glorious orange with piney frankincense say “hello!” right at lift-off, but within minutes, the oud asserts its waxy-burnt-leathery M.O. and predominates in the scent.
The longer I wear Oud Luban, the more the oud shifts from its charred intro towards kitten-paw softness. (Mixmistress Aftel has coaxed this beguiling accessibility by blending no less than eight different varieties of oud.) By the time the kitten paws pitter-patter off, a frankincense ghost remains, along with the specter of softly spiced patchouli and opopanax.
Like another plushly soft oud perfume, By Kilian Pure Oud, Oud Luban makes a wonderful layering scent to deepen one's more frivolous fragrances, or to add some oomph to a pretty rose.
Oud Luban ingredients:
Top: elemi, orange terpenes, blood orange, frankincense CO2.
Base: oud, opopanax, choya ral, benzoin, aged patchouli.
Oud Luban is available in a sterling silver case holding 1/4 oz. of solid perfume ($210) and 1 ml sample ($6)
Both at Aftelier.com
Vintage Women via Vintage Women