Notes: Tobacco, Hay, Smoke, Orange Leaf, Siam Wood and Dirty Orange.
A project that has been three years in the making has finally come to fruition: the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is now open in Berkeley, California. Here, artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel shares her personal and unique collection of aromatic materials and antique books.
Visitors can experience over three hundred natural essences and connect with the ingredients that have inspired people over centuries, but which are sadly used much less in perfumery today.
The atmosphere of the Archive was the inspiration behind Curious, the latest release from Aftelier Perfumes. There is even an exhibit that breaks down the fragrance note by note so that visitors can see how the essences weave together to create the finished scent.
The camphor-like, leafy opening of Curious suggests bracing air and pine forests. As it settles, there is the scent of green saplings and creamy white woods over a beguiling mixture of moss and ash. ‘Dirty orange’ is a great descriptor because while the orange leaf is verdant and fresh at the start, it later morphs into a spiral of peel rubbed with earth. I think it’s the orange nuances which lift Curious and give it an extra dimension.
The drydown is a smoky botanical musk; unlike anything I’ve tried before. The smokiness isn’t tarry or rubbery the way it is in leather fragrances – or indeed the fantastic Vanilla Smoke. Imagine instead slender grey plumes twisting skywards from a woodland fire.
Mandy thinks of tobacco absolute as nature’s musk and combined with hay absolute the way it is in Curious, creates an aromatic muskiness without the laundry sheet or skanky facets often present in synthetic musks. It drapes across the skin and melds with your own chemistry.
It’s redolent of the outdoors while possessing the texture of fur and the way it plays with the animal and the vegetal is compelling. As usual, Mandy has made a composition that is as clever as it is rewarding.
Unlike many smoky/musky perfumes, Curious has an enigmatic quality that makes it beautifully mysterious.
When comparing the EdP and the Perfume, I would say the EdP is airier with more swirling smoke, while the Perfume is more potent but sits closer to the skin. Out of the two, the EdP is more my style, but I can see plenty of people soaking up the depth of the Perfume.
In either formulation, it is a fascinating fragrance in the truest sense of the word. Its complexity and presence hold my attention with ease. It absolutely does trigger your curiosity as you try and get a handle on exactly what you’re inhaling.
If Curious is what the Archive smells like then it must be a feast for the senses as well as an enthralling exploration into the history of perfumery.
Do you like the idea of a smoky musk perfume? Would you love to visit the Archive of Curious Scents one day?
24 responses to “Curious EdP and Perfume by Aftelier Perfumes”
It’s hard to believe, but I haven’t been to Berkley – even though it’s just 35 miles from where I live. But I plan to. Probably one day with one of my perfumista friends would come to visit 😉
I’m very curious about Curious and will try to get to try it soon.
Oh yes, a visit with a perfumista pal would be ideal. I wish it could be me!
Berkeley sounds like a pretty cool neighbourhood generally.
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I live in West Sacramento and Mountain Ranch, Calif–so I’m planning on a trip soon! I can’t believe I have not been here yet. I love her incense body oil, but I’ve wanted to try more.
Now you have the perfect excuse to go! Have a wonderful time and do try Vanilla Smoke as well as Curious, if possible.
I have been to Berkeley – on my way to interview a team of sewer maintenance engineers in Richmond! And may I firstly say how much I love that wall-mounted whale – what a beautifully curated exhibition of ambergris. Your photo of the girl with billowing smoke behind her is also a powerful illustration of Curious. As for the scent itself, like Undina I am also curious – as I am about all Mandy’s work – though I do find the green colour a little bit disconcerting, and am not one for camphor notes as a rule. It does sound intriguing, and a complete one off which is always a good thing in my book, whether or not a scent has my name on it.
PS comma after ‘one off’. 😉
I love the often random connections you have with places, V!
The camphor aspect doesn’t last long and is actually really cooling on a muggy day like today. It’s more grey smoke and pine needles than the type of bold green fragrance suggested by the juice.
Totally agree about the merit of original fragrances with so much blah-ness around.
The archive and the fragrance sound so intriguing! I’ve never been to that part of California but if I go, I will definitely try to visit.
Oh you must! It would be a real treat. Good to see the Archive got such a great review in The New York Times too. it really has been a labour of love for Mandy as well as a lot of time and effort.
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Hmmmmm. I might go to California next year, ok Undina??? ❤️❤️❤️
Do it! You’ll have a blast. Or if you wait till 2019, I’ll come too 🙂
Why to wait? Val can come on her own first, and the year after that you’ll come together 😉
Now that is a plan 🙂
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Oi, you scared me with the camphor – but the rest sounds pretty beguiling, just like the whole archive does. One day….
Love from Vienna – missing you,
You know, I nearly didn’t mention the camphor effect because it’s so brief and unless you hold your nose to your skin, you mightn’t even register it as such. There are no camphorous materials used in the composition but the sharp greenness registered like that to me.
Missing you too!
At first, I thought this was a post about Britney Spears Curious. How silly of me! Love the sound of both of these. Nothing like a mysterious vibe. Would love to visit.
Well they do have a name in common! That’s all though 🙂
I think we’re all wishing we could visit. In the meantime, both the EdP and Perfume are fabulous.
Hi Tara, This actually sounds very interesting. I am learning to truly enjoy musk perfumes and adding a smoky aspect would certainly take it to a different level. Have a great weekend. Sandra xo
Hi Sandra, It’s really not what you’d think of as a traditional musk perfume but it does have that feel (hope that makes sense). Wishing you a great weekend too!
I have never come across any of Mandy Aftel’s fragrances, but you make me “curious” with your beautiful description.
Smokey musk has to make most perfumista hearts flutter…
I love smoky perfumes but they’re not always that easy to wear, which is not the case here. The smoke is grey and airy as opposed to thick and black and doesn’t overwhelm. The foresty aspect, orange citrus and musky feel really make it intriguing. I think you’d like it.
ooh I love a bit of smokiness in my perfume! I have tried a couple of Afteliers Perfumes in Sydney and they were very good, it was just a quick visit though. The photo of the girl with the smoke wow so good Tara. I enjoyed your post very much Tara xx
Oh they have some Aftelier’s in Sydney? That’s great! Happy to hear you love a bit of smokiness too. You’d love Vanilla Smoke, I reckon. Thanks also for mentioning the photo, I was really pleased with it. Have a fab weekend.
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