The first time I smelled the raw material of benzoin, I was flush with bliss. The earthy vanillic scent wafting from the glass jar that housed pieces of the resin was pure heaven to me. I was smitten. Even though that evening was over eight years ago, I can still recall the interplay between soft vanilla and dark soil and I wanted a perfume of only benzoin. Labdanum is another cherished aroma for me, and I was able to smell its raw material that same evening. Labdanum is also a sweet resin, but it’s richer with a leathery smokiness that begs to be worn on a cold night. It probably comes as no surprise that both of these resins are frequently used together in perfumery and make up the the backbone of amber perfumes, and Amber Tapestry is no exception.
Here’s my next attempt at a video! Mini reviews of the products I used up over the past few months. Let me know what you think! ~XO Trish
After an absolutely beautiful, sunny summer here in the Pacific Northwest, the rain has finally set in, and that means it’s time to cozy up with your deeper perfumes. Fortunately, Mandy Aftel’s latest creation, Vanilla Smoke, fulfills the hopes for those of us who love vanilla fragrances for the fall and winter. The beauty of this new perfume is its nuanced balance between sweet and smoky. The vanilla absolute used in Vanilla Smoke is in no way sticky sweet, but rather like an aromatic liquor that lulls you into a cushy nap. Coumarin, which is derived from tonka beans and cinnamon, heightens the vanilla note as it too adds dimension to the perfume’s smokiness while not making it sugary.
We decorated our Christmas tree this past weekend, and had *Aftelier Perfumes’ Blood Orange, Ginger & Blood Cedarwood candle filling the air with a fragrance that will now forever remind me of this special family tradition. As you might guess from its name, this candle is a piquant blend of orange, ginger and cedarwood that is effortlessly intertwined yet allows for moments when the individual essences shine on their own.
Aftelier’s perfumed candles are made with beeswax and the finest of natural essences. I wasn’t too sure what to expect in terms of throw, but its festive redolence suffused my rather large living room which admittedly was unexpected and very much appreciated. I’ve got it burning right beside me at this moment, and am contemplating an online Aftlelier shopping trip as there are four other candles to try. Since they are limited edition, you might want to check them our sooner than later. I’m ready to hit the button on Resurrection. With notes of frankincense, vetiver, clary sage, geranium, bitter orange, fir needle, and lime, it sounds like an ideal scent for unwinding during the bustling holiday season.
I’ve written a couple times about Olive & Oud, my absolute favorite place to buy soaps. Laura Natusch, the creator of these divine bars, always has inspired blends with essences like cardamom, bitter orange, ginger, clove, vanilla-like Peru Balsam, amyris, nutmeg, and black pepper. Actually, those are the notes for the above soap, Spiced Chai, my current favorite from Laura. Like the Aftelier candle, Spiced Chai is teeming with ginger and orange, but also has a liberal dose of cardamom and clove which make for warm and spicy suds. I like to say that Olive & Oud is a perfumista’s place for soap, and I really do mean that. Laura is currently sold out of Spiced Chai, but she is always making new batches, so please contact her via etsy or Facebook if you are interested. As of today, Bed of Spice, which is similar to Spiced Chai, and another one of my favorites, Cocoa Butter Mint are both available.
If it wasn’t already apparent, I love citrus scents this time of year. And what better way to relish the citrus than in another winter favorite, body oil! One of my very first posts was on Jo Wood’s Amka. That was nearly three years ago, but it continues to be a treat for my skin and nose that I reach for again and again. Amka possesses a great deal of sparkling citrus. Orange oil, bergamot, petitgrain, and mandarin oil abound in Amka, but are grounded by an incredibly smooth cedarwood. This counterbalance between vibrancy and tranquility is perfectly achieved in this fragrance and I still enjoy its soothing hydration and restorative scent after a warm bath before bedtime.
Spiced Chai is available at Olive & Oud on etsy for ~$5.50
Jo Wood Amka Bath Oil is available at BeautyHabit for $100 for 100ml. Please note: this is different from the body oil I reviewed. It looks like the Body Oil might have been discontinued. Please see Beauyhabit for the Amka Bath Oil and the EDT which I also adore.
Photo of Aftelier candle and the Christmas Tree are mine. Products reviewed in this post are from my own collection.
Haute Claire is a hyper-real perfume. A turn-up-the-volume-to-11, bordering on psychedelic perfume. Its galbanum is the most vibrant kelly green you’ve ever smelled and the ylang ylang buzzes at a fever pitch. It would be safe to assume that these two powerhouse essences might engage in a battle of wills, but they don’t. They join forces and hum along at a high frequency, one that is spirited and very intriguing.
As expected, galbanum is sharp and intense, but Haute Claire’s creator, Mandy Aftel, has ramped up its musty side which gives some density but in no way mutes the excitement of the ylang ylang merger. Mandy has used ylang ylang co2 in Haute Claire, which according to her allows it to be a top note which explains the nearly electrifying burst of this blossom right out of the bottle.
The concentrated galbanum/ylang duo gives way, but not fully, to the emergence of yet another commanding aroma, honeysuckle. Now I like galbanum, and I’ve learned to appreciate ylang ylang’s place in perfume, but I truly adore the scent of honeysuckle. Mandy has sourced a very rare, Italian made honeysuckle absolute which breathes even more magical realism into Haute Claire.
Imagine the blossoms the moment before they fall upon freshly cut grass. The weight of nectar, dew, and the beginnings of decay aid gravity in their descent. Now imagine that you can feel the pulsating of the blossoms and you wonder if you’re hallucinating. It’s like that.
Haute Claire is as fecund and heady as a stargazer lily, but doesn’t consume the air like that flower is wont to do. Haute Claire wears amazingly close to the skin and even though it might cause its wearer to feel mild intoxication, one would have to step in close to share in the experience.
The drydown doesn’t seem to occur until many hours after application when a downy, almost powdery scent comes to life. It smells a bit like burnt sugar and rose. Mandy has used another intriguing ingredient, *ethyl phenyl acetate, which I have never smelled on its own, but I imagine it, as well as vetiver, contribute to the final softer and gentler Haute Claire.
Mandy Aftel has generously offered a 5ml purse spray to a lucky Scent Hive reader. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered. Follow Mandy on Twitter and you get an extra entry. Follow Scent Hive and that’s another one. Please let me know about your follows in your comment. Drawing Closed.
*If you are curious about ethyl phenyl acetate, Mandy’s is an isolate from fruit, wine or whiskey. I do believe it can also be derived from petroleum, but not in this case. There is much discussion about the use of natural isolates in botanical perfumes, and at this moment, I feel comfortable with it. I might change my mind, but I encourage you to do what feels right for you. Below is a guide from the Ayala Moriel Foundation of Natural Perfume Course which she posted in her What is Natural? post on SmellyBlog. It is really helpful in sorting out the ingredients.
Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by Aftelier Perfumes. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Image: Le Chevrefeuille by Marc Loret on etsy
What a gorgeous tobacco scent this is! That was my first thought when I applied Memento to my skin as its sweet smokiness curled toward my nose. I quickly emailed Mandy Aftel, creator of Memento, and shared my quick affection for her luscious tobacco perfume. The response I got was quite unexpected. There’s no tobacco in Memento.
Mandy did however, feature an enticingly rich antique clove on a base of sweet and sultry tonka beans that creates the impression of a pipe freshly packed with aged tobacco. Along with the richly redolent clove essence, nutmeg and cinnamon enhance Memento’s spicy character, but not in a culinary sense. These spices take on a very sensual, smoldering temperament that leads you away from the kitchen and to a comfy couch for some nuzzling.
Rose and jasmine sambac are listed in the heartnotes, and their presence provides a full, round quality to the clove/tonka duo. Specifically, rose lends its powdery softness and jasmine sambac bestows its piquant petals upon the inherently aromatic aforementioned spices. But rather than shift Memento into the floral perfume category, rose and jasmine augment the sweet “tobacco”, making it even more sumptuous and distinct.
Memento was originally created for “The Alchemy of Taste and Smell” event in NYC this past November. Mandy’s culinary aromatics and perfumes were used in the evening’s dishes, but the focus was the intentional pairing of select Aftelier perfumes with specific dishes. Memento was experienced with dessert, a cinnamon smoked apple with buttermilk and hazelnut. In this moment as the drydown becomes a touch sweeter, and even more alluring, all I can think about is getting my hands on that dessert while wearing this alluring tobacco perfume.
Memento is available at Aftelier.com, $45 for a 2ml mini flask.
Image: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” by René Magritte
Posted by ~Trish
Mandy Aftel, founder and creator of Aftelier Perfumes is a busy gal. She writes, creates gorgeous scents, collaborates with chefs, and has just revamped her website. The above image is from her art collection and greets the visitor at the Aftelier homepage. Mandy’s new site is visually lovely with beautiful art and stunning images of her products. The best part of the website is its elegantly simple design that makes it so easy to navigate. At the left of every page, you’ll find a list of the website’s pages such as liquid perfumes, solid perfumes, perfumed teas, and my favorite, the samples page.
Since the Aftelier website is much more user-friendly, it’s far easier to discover all of Mandy’s previously hidden gems like the Face Elixirs, found at the Face-Body-Bath page. I have the Violet Leaf, Neroli and Chamomile Face Elixir and I use it as Mandy suggests, which is to apply it to my clean face before bedtime. The Violet Leaf, Neroli and Chamomile Face Elixir smells exceptionally leafy thanks to the violet leaf absolute. I find this essence to dominate the Face Elixir with its damp earthy greenness. Neroli gives the slightest hint of citrus and the chamomile boosts its herbal tones, but violet leaf is the heart of this Face Elixir. The 7ml bottle is a petite thing, but I find I need only a drop or two added to my nighttime moisturizer of choice, typically Kahnia Giving Beauty’s Organic Argan Oil, for an aromatic lulling to sleep.
Another tiny bottle that packs a wallop is Aftelier’s Bath Oil. I’m used to bath oils in large bottles, so when I first laid eyes on the diminutive 15ml bottle, I was taken aback by its size, but once I learned that these Bath Oils are made only with pure essences and no carrier oils, the dainty size made perfect sense. The Bath Oils have droppers to ensure you’ll never use too much in one steeping. And believe me, one dropperful is all you need to create an unbelievably redolent bath. Mandy recommends adding the bath oil after your bath is drawn rather than under running water since the natural essences volatize immediately when exposed to hot water. After I squeezed my Forest Flower Bath Oil dropperful into the tub, the entire bathroom was filled with the camphorous and piney trail of Black Spruce essential oil. Relaxing in a Forest Flower bath soothed my sore muscles, and replenished my mind with a calm energy.
You all are probably wondering about the giveaway part of this post, so let’s get to it. There will be four winners in this drawing, and each winner gets to pick out one of the following: a Face Elixir, a Bath Oil, a Body Oil, or a perfume Mini (except Parfum Privé). You need to do two things to be entered, so read carefully! 1). Go to the Aftelier website and give a little feedback in your comment about the new design. 2) Let me know what item you want if you are one of the winners. You can get extra entries if you follow Mandy at Facebook or Twitter. Extra entries as well if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect,Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! Drawing is closed, we have our winners!
Here are my past Aftelier reviews if you need help picking out a fragrance.
Posted by ~Trish
image from Mandy Aftel’s collection
As a mom, the focus of Halloween tends to be on costumes, post trick-or-treat candy negotiations, and not so much on grown-up-time fun. I’d like to change that with this post, and focus on some delicious treats for those of us out of our tweens. So pull up a chair, and get to deciding which scent you’d like to wear for Halloween.
Aftelier’s Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil
I almost needn’t say more after you read this product’s name, right? Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil. It’s luscious, luxurious and very sensual. But there is one element missing in the name, and that’s jasmine. The oil smells as if it’s been infused with jasmine, bittersweet cocoa, and a boozy-honeyed quality that I’m assuming the saffron imparts. The chocolate oil is so dense, you must shake it vigorously to disperse it before using, and it’s beautiful to see it mix and meld with the golden saffron tinged oil. On the skin, the fragrance is decidedly chocolatey, in a dark and sexy way. Imagine walking down a tropical moonlit path with night blooming jasmine surrounding you, and impossibly, the blossoms are dusted with bittersweet cocoa powder. Like a dream, the cocoa melts into the petals and the petals into your skin, and you’re far far away from any children asking you how much candy they can eat on Halloween night. And…end dream sequence. Go get some Aftelier Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil, it’ll make trick or treating much more pleasant.
Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Black Cat
As I’m sure many of you have noticed, 100% all natural perfumes can run on the expensive side, and Laurie Stern, the artistic mind behind Velvet and Sweet Pea, has answered her clients’ calls for something a little more affordable. Black Cat is one of Laurie’s newest offerings, and not only is it appropriately named for Halloween, its scent is perfect for the coming festive winter months. Cocoa, ylang ylang, aniseseed myrtle and biodynamic Italian blood orange blend beautifully, like biting into a bittersweet chocolate-orange holiday confection, spiked with anise. The drydown is gorgeous as the base of this Eau de Parfum is Tahitian vanilla infused organic grape alcohol. This freshly crushed vanilla bean essence alluringly opens in the fragrance’s final stages, and lasts for hours.
Anise has become one of my favorite notes over the past few months, most notably in Honoré des Prés’ licorice tinged Sexy Angelic , Ayala Sender’s The Purple Dress, and now in Black Cat. Its anise component is from Aniseseed Myrtle, a tree whose oil smells just like anise, and its bitterness tempers the beloved chocolate/orange duo perfectly.
Soivohlé Oudh Lacquer Parfum
This is a fragrance that brings together oudh and chocolate. Some might feel this is a meeting of exasperation and the ultimate in comfort, respectively. I have not had the experience of oudh being unapproachable or difficult to wear. Maybe it’s because I have mostly worn it in all-natural formulations which possibly gives it a warmer, rounder impression. So while Liz Zorn, the nose behind Soivohlé, has created a fragrance that boasts a dry and robust oudh, the perfume will not keep you at arm’s length. From the get-go, dark chocolate envelopes you and guides you into this deep, spicy, smoky scent encounter.
Anise and orange are subtly blended in Oudh Lacquer Parfum, steeped into the tangy woody texture of the perfume, and imbued into the cocoa absolute. An expert hand and artistic mind was clearly used in achieving the fine floral balance of the honeyed linden blossom and spicy/heady champaca. Several other blossoms are present, such as orange blossom, rose, aglalia, as well as orris butter, but the linden and champaca are the florals that give luster to this Oudh Lacquer. And thankfully, the warm, rich cocoa never strays from beginning to end.
Please visit Nathan Branch’s blog for his two part review of Oudh Lacquer. It truly deserves a Part I and a Part II. All three of these fragrances merit more words than I have room for here. They are all sophisticated, compelling, and most importantly, beautiful to wear.
Aftelier’s Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil is available at Aftelier.com $40 for 4.6 oz.
Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Black Cat EDP is available at Potion. $105 for 15mls.
Soivohlé’s Oudh Lacquer Parfum is available at soivohle.com for $95 for 4.5mls or $260 for 1/2 oz.
Posted by ~Trish
Skyclad Witch by WinonaCookie on etsy.com
Disclosure: Samples from each company were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other. This post contains links to Potion, which I am affiliated with.
The name for my blog, Scent Hive, is clearly inspired by bees. I’m no expert on these insects, but am fascinated by their amazing ability to communicate with each other and of course their attraction to (and need of) scent and flowers. Communicating about natural scents and beauty products, and a maybe a little sharing of information, is why I started Scent Hive, hence the tagline, “Collect your pollen. Fly away inspired.” I’ve collected a little pollen from the New York Times on colony collapse disorder, or in other words, the disappearance of honeybees. Most of the nitty-gritty behind the vanishing of bee colonies is way over my head, so I appreciate the common sense advice given by Marla Spivak, a professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota:
What can we do to help bees? Plant lots of flowers that provide nectar and pollen for bees, and reduce pesticide use. These two tangible and relatively easy actions, when implemented by many people, can save our bees and restore health and diversity to our agricultural and urban landscapes.
So let’s heed Dr. Spivak’s call to plant more flowers and support perfumers who use real flower essences in their perfumes to get more bees buzzing shall we?
Ayala Moriel Parfums’ The Purple Dress
For this bee focused post, I’ll be reviewing perfumes that have honey notes in them, and Ayala Sender, the creator of Ayala Moriel Parfums will release honey tinged, The Purple Dress, in December 2009. For those of you who love champaca, oud, anise and honey, you might want to go ahead and purchase a sample as they are available now.
The Purple Dress is an elegant tannic brew steeped in anise that is unique in its own right, but is of the same ilk as Aftelier’s Tango, another honeyed perfume. Both are dark and smoky, moody and sexy, and have gorgeous powdery woodsy drydowns. But Tango’s opening exploits champaca’s headiness to its fullest whereas The Purple Dress is probably more versatile in its smoothness. Its champaca is tempered by the lightheartedness of magnolia and an easy touch of honey but also grounded by black tea’s continual presence. According to Ayala’s website, this fragrance is a salute to Alexander Argov, who composed the famous Israeli song, The Purple Dress. You can hear an excerpt of it here and enjoy its evocative melancholic beauty, similar to its namesake perfume.
Artemisia Natural Perfume’s Yuzu Citrus
Yuzu Citrus is the creation of Lisa Fong, founder of Artemisia Natural Perfume. With a description like “honey, lemon verbena, in a subtle grassy base,” you’d think Yuzu Citrus would be all citrusy and green, which it no doubt is. It’s sparkling and uplifting. I feel like a young girl with flaxen hair (I’m a brunette by the way), running amuck in a late summer’s wildflower meadow with grass so dry you can smell the need of rain in the air. But it’s more complex than that thanks to galbanum and frankincense. In the opening and in the heart, there’s an expansion of the grassy/honey pairing that’s warm and haylike and reminiscent of beeswax. Ahhh beeswax! Such a sweet resinous scent that embodies heat and depth. After several hours of skintime, Yuzu Citrus morphs into a delectable liquid honey skinscent. I love it, and it’s most definitely full-bottle-worthy.
I’ll declare Artemisia’s Yuzu Citrus seasonless. A perfect warm weather citrus perfume that’s not too sweet and most certainly not ordinary. And beautifully comforting for those colder days to remind you of the sun’s toasty glow, but grounded enough to not be a tease.
Velvet & Sweet Pea’sHoney
How could I write about bees and honey and not include Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Honey perfume? Honey is a rich, glistening, golden honey perfume. Laurie Stern, the creator of V&SP, uses the word opulent to describe Honey on her website, and I am in full agreement. It strikes me as a wearable vintage perfume. It speaks with a regal tone, but it’s not going to put anyone off. Quite the contrary.Honey will entice with its luxurious notes of French orange blossom, Moroccan and Bulgarian rose, vetiver, and Madagascar vanilla. Bees are offered the chance to use their charms in three different ways in this fragrance, via honey, beeswax and Laurie’s “bee guru’s” propolis. Not one note in particular stands out on its own in Honey, but rather all are joined together harmoniously and expertly in a floral gourmand with a vintage edge.
And the best bit? Laurie is a bee keeper, enabling her to use the honey and beeswax from her hive for use in her Honey perfume and other products. Additionally, as with all of the aforementioned perfumers (Ayala Moriel Parfums, Aftelier and Artemisia Natural Perfumes) V&SP perfumes are 100% all natural. That means nothing synthetic, no petroleum products and no phthalates. So enjoy your honey!
Many thanks to Roxana of Roxana Illuminated Perfume for organizing this Bee Celebration. I am honored to be included in such illustrious company. Please check out the following list of bloggers for their posts inspired by bees and their honey:
Posted by ~Trish