The Beauty of Scent, Scrutinized for Pleasure

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Aftelier Parfum Prive: a siren song

Aftelier Perfumes Parfum Prive was created by Mandy Aftel for herself, but she was so pleased with the results that she felt the need to share it with the world. It's lucky for us that she did, because it's one of her most unique, memorable and stunning fragrances. As is the case with many of Mandy's perfumes, the interplay of opposites is what attracts; sharp against smooth, the creation of energy and then its release. There is also an otherworldliness here, it's your Planet Earth but better.

notes: bergamot, pink pepper CO2, orange flower absolute, osmanthus, pimento leaf, ambrette, ambergris

When I first apply Parfum Prive, the strangest thing happens: my mouth starts to water. It's not a gourmand fragrance, but some part of me wants to consume it anyway, as if inhaling its scent just isn't enough. As I breathe in, it's as if my nose, then throat, then chest expand and tingle with ecstatic anticipation. The spiciness of the pink pepper and pimento leaf are featured quite prominently, and are used to great effect in combination with the bergamot and orange flower absolute. After about 20 minutes, the spices calm down, and the essence of the sea emerges; intoxicating, salty and sweet... this, my friends, is real ambergris. It marries with osmanthus and ambrette seed so seamlessly, and then a tiny hint of coconut comes through. The scent creates vivid imagery in my mind of being shipwrecked somewhere exotic, with traces of flowers and softened, jammy fruits colliding with the breezes coming off of the water... even the sand is present with bits of seashells and pebbles that have been pummeled smooth by the moody sea.

Parfum Prive is haute perfumery at its best. It is a journey in a bottle for revelers to partake in, and also a perfect example of how artisanal excellence and a high taste level can be executed in a fragrance. It is pure, unadulterated luxury.

Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?

-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

A 2ml mini bottle of Parfum Prive can be purchased from the Aftelier Perfumes website for $125, and the perfume solid version is $400 for 1/4 oz in a sterling silver container designed by Mandy herself. Samples are available in both forms for $20 each.

[Sample was sent to me for consideration by the perfumer. Product photos courtesy of Mandy Aftel]


  1. Carrie, you outdid yourself with this gorgeous piece of writing! Besides your sparkling compliments, I am especially moved by your way with words, as you describe the visceral experience and vivid imagery that Privé inspires in you. Thank you so much for this beautiful, thoughtful, heartfelt review.
    - Mandy Aftel

  2. *drool* lemming..*drool*..

    I mean- amazing review Carrie!..:). I love the Melville quote!

  3. Mandy- thank you so much! It was a real pleasure writing this. Sometimes, they just write themselves, like this one!

  4. Lavanya- thank you dearest! I hope you do give Parfum Prive a try, I've never tried anything remotely like it before. It's gorgeous!

  5. Your review makes me so pleased about the fact that I've ordered a sample of Privé. I have it but I haven't tried it on yet as I've been having a cold and that always makes me so negative towards any scents I'm wearing, but any day now! I'm so looking forward to it :)

  6. Oh, that's excellent, Sigrun! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on PP. In the meantime, I hope you feel better soon!

  7. Oh my goodness! This needs a place on my dresser. A question, Carrie: did you try both the solid and the liquid? I am wondering if there are any differences between the two versions.


  8. Hi Joey! I only tried the liquid version, so I can't attest to the differences. Generally, solids don't last as long on the skin as liquids, but for some reason, Mandy's do. I will get around to trying the PP solid as well, because I love to experience the subtle differences as well.

  9. I'm on a real solid kick right now, so I think if I order a sample of this, it'll be the solid version. Please do let me know what you think of the solid version =)

    Also, I think we need to start a petition to get Mandy to make a solid version of Fig. Victoria put the idea out there, and now I can't stop thinking about it!


  10. I love this perfume. I have a sample of the solid and it is wonderful! I haven't tried the liquid version yet. but I will.

  11. Solid perfume! Going to peek at Mandy's fab stuff for this. If I'm not sampling perfume oils, solids are second to none. And, her extracts are so highly refined, luxury is no other way to describe them.

  12. Hi NK! Mandy's solids are totally extravagant in nature, the only one I've not tried is the Parfum Prive. Her Boronia solid (which is no longer offered in her general catalog of solids, but can be special ordered) is one of the most divine things I've ever smelled. Ever. It has a sandalwood element that is as good as it gets. It reminds me of when I was much younger, how plentiful real sandalwood oil was, and good quality was available for very little money. I slathered myself with it and had no idea that one day, I would be dreaming of those days when I could do that.

  13. This sounds gorgeous and I love the physical reactions you describe. I started paying more attention to that myself when I try on certain scents. I am tempted to buy a sample on your reaction alone!

    Strong gag reflex? Yeah...put that away and promptly scrub yourself clean!