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