When Mandy Aftel releases a new perfume and generously sends me a sample, the first thing I do is adjourn to the privacy of my office and listen to Eminem. Soundtrack in place, I cautiously apply a little bit to the back of my hand and prepare for the ride…
Sepia was created by Mandy Aftel and includes notes of blood cedarwood, pink grapefruit, yellow mandarin, pink lotus, jasmine, strawberry, cocoa, coffee, indole, ambergris, tobacco, labdanum, cepes and oud.
Mandy’s perfumes have serious impact on me, they tend to stealthily approach, seemingly innocent at first, only to throw me a curveball later, to disarm me, strip me of my defenses and go right to my core. The biggest hitter so far was Cepes&Tuberose, a perfume I can only wear very rarely, but when I crave it it hits the spot like nothing else can.
Therefore I am almost a bit weary when I sit in front of that cute little sample vial, not knowing what will happen, but certain that something will.
Something always happens when you get involved with an Aftelier…
I inhale deeply and feel myself get sucked in, I get drawn into Mandy’s world and things are decidedly different there.
My reviews of Aftelier perfumes are different too, different from my regular way of doing things. It is hard for me to stick to a formula, even just listing the notes, as I always do, feels off here.
Sepia does not want to conform to my ideas of how a review should look like, Sepia refuses to be put into categories and schemata.
It sounds very strange, but if you have tried Mandy’s perfumes, you probably know what I mean. Her creations are not to be taken lightly. They are not “apply and go about your day” fragrances, there is nothing functional, practical or sometimes even wearable about them. Mandy’s perfumes are experiences, bottled emotions, liquid messages she sends into the world from her paradisaical garden and lab in Berkeley.
For me, Mandy’s creations are more than perfume, they are potions, they hold a bit of magic and as much as the skeptic in me wants to roll her eyes at such a corny statement, the part of me that smells and feels Sepia right now, knows that it is true.
I can’t tell you how Sepia smells - or I could, but I’m reluctant too, there are many great reviews out there already, describing that part much better – but I urge you to go and feel the magic if you can.
Put your nose close to your wrist, inhale and just let go. Dream, fly, dance, be free. Let your memories guide you, let your feelings take over. For that hour that Sepia is going strong, use it to escape.
Sepia is like a window to another world, a means to get away, a portal to your inner world, a safe drug.
You are shaking your head at me? I would too. But I dare you to smell Sepia and tell me you still don’t know what I mean.
A few thoughts on technicalities (added now that Sepia has blown away like a tumbleweed and is fading in sepia tones of memory):
Sepia is available in Parfum and EdP, the parfum is stronger and more dense, and while I love the EdP’s lighter beginnings, I prefer the greater power and longevity of the extrait. Like all natural perfumes it starts to fade after about two hours.
It is available at Aftelier Perfumes.