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