Memento Mori by Aftelier Perfumes


Love and loss…


Top Notes: Butter, Orris, Phenylacetic Acid

Middle Notes: Turkish Rose Absolute, Phenylethyl Alcohol

Base Notes: Beta Ionone, Ambreine, Ambergris, Antique Civet, Patchoulyl Acetate (a patchouli isolate)


Memento mori, “remember that you have to die”, is a Latin expression that dates back to Ancient Rome. We can get so wrapped up in the trivial trials and tribulations of our day to day lives we forget that life is short and most of what we worry about is not worth the torment.

A memento mori is something that reminds us of our mortality, inspiring us to make the most of life. The concept has been translated into many art forms including paintings, music, ceramics and literature.


Since the Middle Ages people have worn memento mori mourning jewellery to remind them of lost loved ones. Rather than being morbid, these were tokens of love which allowed the wearer to hold on to the memory of their dearly departed.  In the perfume Memento Mori artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel portrays this idea in the form of fragrance.  It’s a thought-provoking concept which has been just as  thoughtfully executed.

Memento Mori captures the aroma of the lost lover. Mandy uses musk, butter, the doughy facet of orris and the earthy, mushroom-y facet of woody violets to create the idea of skin. The soft rose adds a pink blush.

She manages to give the scent an unusual lived-in, very human, quality with the warm, ripe smell of an unwashed body. It’s about body heat and someone’s unadorned natural smell rather than anything sexual.

As time ticks on and the pain of grief begins to fade, the fragrance reveals a tender layer of powdery pastel florals. The retro combination of iris/rose seems to reflect the sweet memories the separated lovers shared.  While I find the first stage challenging, this is a classic accord I really love.

In the base, warmth radiates through amber and patchouli while the musk gently lingers on and imparts a feeling of comfort. The bereaved is consoled by the realisation that though we must die, our love does not.



The carrier for the fragrance is a blend of fractionated coconut oil and organic alcohol so that it is fittingly clinging.  I found it has more lift than many all-natural perfumes and that the lasting power is actually better than most synthetics.

Mandy says that Memento Mori was a deeply personal creation for her and I can understand why. It takes courage for any artist to share something so intimate with the world but I find that when they do it is all the more meaningful for it.

Memento Mori is a meditation on love and loss you need time and space to fully experience and appreciate it.  It’s an evolving art-piece as affecting and detailed as any of those other wearable tokens of remembrance and just as emotionally charged.



Memento mori optical illusion painting “All Is Vanity” by Charles Allan Gilbert


Do you have a perfume that reminds you of someone important to you?






Filed under Perfume Reviews

11 responses to “Memento Mori by Aftelier Perfumes

  1. It sounds like a brave perfume, and quite beautiful too. You manage to capture the essence and soul as always 🙂
    I always found hair jewellery a bit disgusting, but I suppose it comes from a time when photography hadn’t been invented yet, and so was the only way to keep a loved one close after his/her passing away.
    That last picture is haunting.


    • It is a brave perfume which will hopefully find the right wearers to appreciate it. it’s not for everyone.
      Oh i know what you mean about hair jewellery. It really got quite elaborate in Victorian times. You make a good point about there being a lack of photos but I still prefer a lock of hair tucked away in a locket 🙂
      The painting is haunting and I presume that was exactly the intention.


  2. This does sound like an intriguing composition, and I would be most curious about the ‘human body’ smell in the opening that you found challenging. Well, I very well might do too, but I would love to sniff Mandy’s interpretation of it. For I have been known to keep hair – of both the living and the dead – and articles of clothing, a lipstick, and once famously some satsuma peel, which didn’t age at all well.


  3. Deeply grateful for your incredible review Tara! 🙏
    I enjoyed so much reading your savvy take on Memento Mori — your writing is terrific and choice of photo is completely brilliant! ✍🏻💜💀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: NEW! Memento Mori by Mandy Aftel for Aftelier Perfumes 2016 « AustralianPerfumeJunkies

    • Ha! Always love to hear your take, V. I want to visit the Yorkshire Moors one day and will prepare myself for a lack of sea air 🙂

      Yes, imagine doing that phalanx of L’Eau d’Issey flankers! I guess the huge sales helped though…


  5. Pingback: A Scented Supper With Mandy Aftel | A Bottled Rose

  6. Pingback: Amber Tapestry by Aftelier Perfumes | A Bottled Rose

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