The Beauty of Scent, Scrutinized for Pleasure

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aftelier Perfumes Cacao: voodoo for your inner child

The power of an original and successful gourmand fragrance cannot be underestimated. It has the ability to entice, boost moods, trigger childhood memories of foods your family used to make for you, comfort the soul and induce amorous feelings in a way that no other style of fragrance can. Gourmand perfumes with tremendous lasting power and a chemical-tinged vanillic background exist in abundance in the open market, with any number of variables used to distinguish one from the next. There are a few synthetic or blended gourmand scents that I think are excellent, namely from Guerlain, but when dealt with in the world of naturals, it is more difficult than you would think to create something that rises above all-- synthetic, blended or otherwise. Aftelier Perfumes Cacao manages to do this.


notes: blood orange, pink grapefruit, jasmine sambac and grandiflorum, chocolate, vanilla


After applying this perfume, the first thing I am struck with is the perfect blending of fruit acids and chocolate cream. I am not actually a person who likes to eat chocolate all that much, but when I do, I love it with orange or raspberry. Not once have I thought to seek out something similar for a personal fragrance for myself, but when it fell into my lap in the form of Cacao, I recognized it immediately: this is my soul dessert. To be honest, I'm much happier wearing it than eating it. I don't even think about it as a perfume; when I smell it on my skin, it betrays any desire I might have to retain ladylike composure and it just makes me want to giggle. Cacao offers up a direct line to the inner child in an impossibly sophisticated manner. I am able to converse with her while my feet are still firmly planted in adulthood. A really good perfume can do that, it is an emotional and psychological bridge to another time in your life.

One of the things that helps Cacao become such an outstanding gourmand is how the jasmine is used here. It brings a certain authenticity to the blend as well as provides a weighted center for the citrus and the chocolate, preventing it from becoming too sweet. I think of it as an olfactory see-saw that is suspended from movement. The natural jasmine stabilizes and grounds the perfume by adding a pinch of rich earthiness. It's much like attending a magic show as a child; you may sense that there is a logical explanation for the mind-numbingly cool things you are bearing witness to, but there's no need to think about it too much. All that's required of the wearer is to enjoy it, which is increasingly easy to do each time I dab it on. Cacao does not come across as complicated in the least, in fact, it would fall under the umbrella of "simple pleasures". Yet, I am certain that creating this seemingly facile, cheerful and satisfying composition was no mean feat. Naturals can be deceptive that way. Mandy seems to work her own personal brand of voodoo, and while I would never dare ask her secrets, I will always be there to enthusiastically devour the spoils. For Mandy Aftel, the Marie Laveau of natural perfumery, mystery abounds and sometimes, things are not quite what you think they are. They're better.

[image: bonappetit.com]

[Aftelier Cacao is available at Aftelier.com in perfume and EDP concentrations, and samples are also available. My sample was provided by the perfumer]

18 comments:

  1. I have been enjoying the discussions about naturals lately and look forward to smelling Mandy's creations. Thanks Carrie

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  2. I'm not into mixing chocolate with fruit, but I could use an injection of some more amorous feelings! Continuing to live vicariously through your perfume journey. :)

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  3. Hi Liz! Mandy makes top-of-the-line natural perfumes. I really think you would love Memento and Tango, probably a couple others too.

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  4. Thanks for stopping by Sharryn, I hope you get to try Aftelier soon!

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  5. Wow!
    A direct line to my inner child? I'm all for that. :)

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  6. Thank you so much for the incredible review of Cacao.
    I am so pleased about how you understand and beautifully convey that chocolate isn't just for eating. When i work with "gourmand" essences I am always aware that I need to take them away (somewhat) from their food origins into the world of perfume so that they are something familiar but also something new. I am deeply appreciative.
    Mandy Aftel

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  7. Thank you for your sweet comment, Mandy! I always appreciate hearing the tidbits you leave us about how you create your perfumes!

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  8. Another try... :)
    I loved this post, it is so beautifully written. Also I long to indulge my inner child for once instead of my outer kids. ;)

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  9. I remember really enjoying cacao when I smelt it years (around 4?) ago..There was something very joyous and comforting about it and it totally worked on my skin. I smelled the whole lot of them in Bendels in the span of 15-20 mins- so didn't register all of them (I remember loving Shiso the best).I really need to order some samples from Mandy and live with them for a bit- That's usually the best way to understand a perfume (for me atleast). thanks for the review, Carrie!

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  10. Haha, Birgit, you deserve to indulge yourself, but I've got a feeling you know JUST how to do that. :) Thanks for commenting, I'm glad you finally got through!

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  11. Also you are right about its simplicity- It *is* a deceptively simple perfume and I almost dismissed it because of that- but then realized that I was loving the smell and that was all that mattered..:)

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  12. Thank you for commenting, Lavanya! Shiso is wonderful, it's very distinctive, I've never smelled anything quite like it before. It suits a particular mood that's hard to describe. I find it very refreshing to wear.

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  13. Once upon a time, I wasn't a gourmand person...at all. The thought of smelling like dessert - never mind a three course dinner! :)

    Needless to say and as you know, I've (d)evolved a bit since then, so indulging my inner child sounds like the perfect way to play! I've got to try this some day.

    Really. I must. Mandy's perfumes tend to do wondrous things on many levels! :)

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  14. Oh Sheila. You understand the intense longing these perfumes stir within the soul. An unscratchable itch, that is, until you can wear them again. I've always loved gourmands, but I don't like them to be TOO foody. Like Cacao, and Iris Ganache for instance, they reach that gourmand-y bliss without going over into EAT ME territory. I appreciate that.

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  15. Fanastic review!

    I have always rejected gourmand fragarances before even trying them, fearing I'll get a whiff of that chemical vanilla you mentioned. Well, the joke is on me because I'm missing out on this perfume!

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  16. Carrie, your reviews are an absolute joy to read -- every bit as unique and as seamlessly composed as the perfumes you've chosen to highlight here, and which you so obviously adore.

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  17. Joanne: This might be a gourmand that could change your mind a little bit! Or a lot. :)

    Suzanne: Thank you so very much! Adore- that's the perfect word to describe how I feel about Mandy's perfumes, and come to think of it, Mandy herself. After awhile, the person and the art couldn't be separated anymore.

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  18. Gourmand, especially oriental gourmand, that is "my" genre. The notes in this sound delicious and your vivid review helps me "taste" it.

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