Two Divas – Review And Giveaway: Aftelier Haute Claire

Mandy Aftel has launched a new perfume and all the blogs rally. When Mandy releases something new, that is an occasion to pay attention to, because there is no one comparable out there. Mandy is truly in a league of her own.

Haute Claire is an Eau de Parfum combining two strong materials, that are not usually combined because they easily overpower each other, try to fight for supremacy and generally tend to make a mess in their bid for king of the perfume. But Mandy Aftel has found a way to not only reconcile these two brats, but make them sing in perfect harmony.

The story of Haute Claire’s inception is interesting. In a letter exchange with fellow perfumer Liz Zorn hosted on Nathan Branch’s blog, Haute Claire‘s creation can be followed, its name was suggested by Nathan (it is French for “high” and “clear”) and is a derivation of the name of a famous sword from the 12th century French poetic epic, “The Song of Roland“. (Totally off topic side note: another work of art based on the Song of Roland is Stephen King’s Opus Magnum The Dark Tower, that I love. Not relevant here, just sayin’…)

Haute Claire includes notes of galbanum, ylang ylang, clary sage, lime, orange, honeysuckle, vetiver, ethyl phenyl acetate and vanilla.

When I smelled Haute Claire for the first time I heard angels sing – literally, and they were singing a very real melody. Viens, Mallika, the Flower Duet from Delibes’ opera Lakmé. Nothing portraits Haute Claire so perfectly for me as this piece of music, sung here by two divas, Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca. High and clear indeed.

Mandy Aftel has a tendency to make me speechless, as evidenced with Tango recently, but thankfully there are is music that helps to convey the sublime duet this perfume sings.

Imagine my disappointment when I wore Haute Claire on skin for the first time (after initially testing on paper) and, I don’t know why, my skin chemistry and Haute Claire somehow don’t go together well. Haute Claire is very different on me. Somehow I amplify a slight animalic note, indoles abound and I end up overwhelmed.

But, not to be diverted easily, I enlisted he help of a friend. She wore Haute Claire for two days and was subjected to several sniffings and the outcome is, Ladies and Gentlemen, it worked perfectly on her and we have a new convert. Thankfully on her skin, Haute Claire sings without a hitch, the bitter galbanum and the sweet and lushly ripe ylang ylang dance around each other, gracefully underscored by vetiver and a dash of vanilla.

The lasting power of this Eau de Parfum is very good, one of the longest wearing perfumes in the Aftelier range.

While I am not happy that Haute Claire and I did not get on too well, I absolutely enjoyed smelling it on my friend whose skin allows Haute Claire to shine and fulfill its intended purpose of showcasing this incredible pairing.

If you want to try Mandy’s new Eau de Parfum, you are lucky. Mandy generously offered a 5ml sample of Haute Claire to one reader of Olfactoria’s Travels.

Please leave a comment on this post stating what combination of two materials you would find interesting in a perfume? Which duet would you like to “hear” in a fragrance?

I will pick a winner using on Thursday 28, 8am GMT, the draw is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your prize will be shipped directly from Aftelier Perfumes in California.

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94 Responses to Two Divas – Review And Giveaway: Aftelier Haute Claire

  1. Lavanya says:

    Aww- That is unfortunate that Haute Claire doesn’t sing perfectly on your skin..It does sound beautiful – crossing my fingers that it will work on my skin. (Please enter me in the draw)

    The pairing of ylang ylang and galbanum does sound interesting.. After sniffing and wearing and loving Mandy’s Shiso- I am very curious about the pairing of Rose and Shiso/perilla- I think they would ‘sound’ lovely together..

    • Olfactoria says:

      That does sound very good indeed, I’d try your shiso/rose combo anytime!
      I was crushed that Haute Claire is not at its best on me, but at least I can still appreciate it on others.
      Good luck in the draw, Lavanya!

  2. oh, for an olfactory pairing of eucalyptus and tonka! however, this ylang/galbanum sounds rather exciting, and probably works better… please enter me in the draw! ^_^

  3. Ines says:

    I’m very interested in smelling the pairing of galbanum and ylang-ylang. It sounds good to me.
    I love both these notes.
    I keep trying to think of a combination I’d like to try that hasn’t been made yet but can’t really come up with anything. I wonder if there is an ambery tuberose out there, as those are my favourite notes and I’m sure could work great together. 🙂

  4. masha7 says:

    Galbanum is so tricky because it can go “ash-tray” so easily, but when it works, it’s heaven, and I’d love to tray Haute Claire, you know I’ve never tried one of Mandy’s perfumes? Got to remedy that.
    Anyway, 2 that I cannot see going together, but that sound intriguing, are tomato leaf and opoponax, ha! I know, no way….

    • Olfactoria says:

      Got to remedy that indeed! I hope you get lucky and are able to start with Haute Claire!
      I love those combination, maybe there is a challenge for a perfumer like Mandy among those intended duets. Tomato leaf and opoponax – weeeell, 😉

  5. karin says:

    I haven’t tried any of Mandy’s scents – am especially curious about Tango. This one sounds interesting, too, as I love both galbanum and ylang-ylang!

    As to two notes I’d like to see together…hmmm…I love passion fruit. Maybe passion fruit and bitter chocolate? Don’t know if that’d work in a perfume, but hey, I’d give it a try. 😉

  6. Irina says:

    I would love to try ” haute claire”
    please, enter me the draw
    sorry for your not being able to enjoy it- it’s a pitty
    pairing notes? I’m too much of a beginner at this -can’t tell- to my surprise, I very much enjoy the patchouli+ chocolate in Borneo- would have never thougt of ir

  7. andrea says:

    I have so far not been successful with Mandy’s perfumes but I will keep trying, your review for tango and also Haute Claire have had me looking on the website.
    Its hard to think of two notes to put into a perfume that have not already been done, I’d like to see what saffron with datura would be like, could be an olfactory mess but I never claimed to be and expert.

    • Olfactoria says:

      We are all no experts, that makes it easier to dream about combinations, we don’t have to fret about technicalities. 😉
      Good luck to you in the draw!

  8. Lucy says:

    I have tried it a few times on different weather days, we have been having extremes of heat and humidity here, and I must say it works very differently depending on the conditions. Maybe because the natural materials are very responsive to environment. Perhaps try it again in a few days and see what happens. I have often had a different reaction depending on mood/weather time of day, etc. (I used to hate tuberose but now quite the opposite, which is also a material that can be very difficult in certain weather conditions). Just a thought, it may be that it just will never work on your skin. I had an immediate wonderful complex experience, and then the second time anothert very different, almost powdery experience, like a different perfume altogether.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Ah, Lucy, I tried several times under different conditions, that “dirty” facet that bothers me always comes out on me. 😦
      I know what you mean, though I have often gotten very differing impressions of perfumes, that is why I wear them at least three times, before I attempt a review.
      But I won’t give up yet, maybe Haute Claire and I will have better luck next time, as long as I have a bit left in my sample, I’ll try to make it work, it is very interesting after all, to see how it turns out.

  9. k-scott says:

    Haute Claire sounds great, thanks for the giveaway!

    I would love to “hear” the duo of incense and jasmine!

  10. nicolibba says:

    I am not sure that I could come up with the olfactory notes but I would love to ‘hear’ the perfectly paired tap dancing of Rogers and Astaire. So smooth, harmonious and complementary in a flowing chiffon dress and crisp black tux. Seemingly simple and uncomplicated but so difficult to achieve.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Fred Astaire is amazing, the seeming ease is fascinating. To translate a dance olfactorily is what Mandy has achieved with Tango, maybe she can do it as well with a Slow Fox… 🙂

  11. Liam says:

    Hi Birgit,

    You write a compelling piece. I’m only ever more curious to explore Aftel’s wares every time I read about them.

    Thanks for holding the competition. I’d like to hear/smell Birch Tar Oil and Pine Oil. I love the idea of exploring a smokey forest. Not necessarily a forest fire, but something fresh and smokey at the same time…

    • deeHowe says:

      Loving the sound of birtch tar and pine pine oil; I love the smell of pine! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Yours sounds more like a duet for two very deep basso voices. 😉 It took me a while to try all of Mandy’s perfumes, but I am so glad I did. I’m sure you won’t regret tryimg them, Liam. Good luck in the draw!

  12. Suzanne T says:

    Which duet would you like to hear in a fragrance? Licorice & Tiare.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    I wish, companies had consumer tester, to test new fragrance scent and give my opinion.

  13. Denise says:

    I’ve been drooling over Mandy’s Tango perfume thanks to all the beautiful reviews. She sounds like a skilled perfumer and I need to explore her house and what better way to get started than to win a draw! (Thanks to you both for the opportunity)
    Two scents (and it was hard to pick just two scents) I’d like to hear together are eucalyptus and camomile. It sounds soothing and refreshing but it could be a hot mess too. Thanks Birgit!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Eucalyptus and chamomile sound like just the combination I would need right now, but a cup of tea will have to do for now… 🙂
      Goodnluck to you in the draw!

  14. deeHowe says:

    I’m looking forward to testing HC, whether I win a draw somewhere, or add it to my next sample order (must also sniff some Shiso!) 🙂

    The pairing I’d like to see, that hasn’t been done before… How about rose and patchouli?Ha! Just kidding. Okay, for serious: How about saffron and mint? The metallic tang of the saffron and the cool blast of menthol sounds kind of delicious to me. Maybe it’s already been done? I should check Basenotes…


  15. SuzanneK says:

    Birgit, I think it was so smart of you to review this fragrance by having your friend wear it. I’ve noticed that I’ll review a fragrance only to discover later, when I smell it on my sister’s or husband’s skin, from a distance, it’s a different experience. I should conduct my reviews based on that…smelling it on my own self for awhile, nose pressed to skin, and then smelling it on someone else from afar, so to speak.

    I was going to refrain from entering the Haute Claire drawings, as I’ll soon be ordering samples from Aftelier anyway, but what the heck. Please put me in!

    As far as two notes, I’d be interested in hearing as a duet, all I can think about is iris and chocolate (for some reason that combo sounds delicious, though perhaps it’s already been done before?).

    • Olfactoria says:

      Suzanne, it was good training indeed to smell Haute Claire on someone else. If only I had a willing subject (under age boys excluded) more often.
      Iris and chocolate? Iris Ganache!!! I can send you some, if you don’t know it!
      You are entered in the draw of course!

  16. womo531 says:

    Can’t wait to smell Haute Claire, as Mandy’s Honey Blossom was a huge winner in my book =)
    Galbanum and Ylang Ylang can be such difficult notes to work with…

    As for note combos, I’d like to see myrrh with osmanthus… lol totally off the top of my head since I wanted to use osmanthus (one of my favorite notes that has yet to be captured perfectly in a perfume) and myrrh, another one of my favorite notes~

  17. anotherperfumeblog says:

    I love the duet you selected for this; hopefully Haute Claire will sing as beautifully on whoever wins the draw. I’m sorry it didn’t on you, though!

    I’m not sure about notes either! Many of my favorite notes haven’t been expressed in “perfect” perfumes, but probably there is no such thing, anyway. 🙂 Mint, strawberry, and coconut are three that come to mind, so maybe I’ll say mint and coconut. I’m sure it’s been done, though!

  18. Alnysie says:

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you — this weekend I compared for the first time a fragrance on my skin and on others’, and it really amazed me how different it could be. Un Jardin en Méditerranée on me is rich and luscious and amazing, while on my mother and sister it was only a pale shadow of that…

    Hm, a pairing… I don’t know, I just got my decant of En Passant today and it’s just so, so lovely… Maybe lilac and pepper? I’d like to see how a lilac note could be paired with something a little spicy… Maybe it’d be absolutely horrible, it’d probably drown the lilac… But well, that’s my answer anyway!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Lilac and pepper sound great to me, but of course I know nothing of perfume blending! The difference of perfume on different people is often astounding. With some scents there can be worlds in between.

  19. JoanElaine says:

    Ahhh, the Flower Duet – one of the most breathtaking pieces of music, ever. Thank you!

    I’m sorry to hear Haute Claire didn’t sing the Flower Duet on your skin! Will you try it again sometime?

    I can’t think of two notes I would like to sniff together, but I can think of a duet I would like to “hear” in a fragrance: Belle Nuit (Barcarolle) from The Tales of Hoffman. Perhaps a “duet” of two night blooming flowers!

    • Olfactoria says:

      It is such a hauntingly beautiful piece of music… I will surely try Haute Claire again, maybe it’ll change, perfume can often surprise me. Must listen to Hoffmann’s Erzählungen tonight, it has been too long…

  20. Jennifer says:

    I know nothing about duets in either music or fragrance aside from knowing what I like. For me that’s Aftelier’s Fig and Parfum Prive. I’ve only been able to afford samples and it’s probably been a mistake to find out that what I love can only be infrequently partaken.

    Is this sufficient to be part of the drawing? Please???

  21. jasmine incense and vanilla…

  22. Mandy Aftel says:

    Thank you so very much for such a thoughtful and beautiful review and all the time you took with this both in the writing and the experiencing. I am so pleased!
    I loved that you mentioned that Haute Claire changed when it was on your skin. It is one of the things that I love about perfume — how it takes us back to our animal nature.
    One of the biggest challenges when I was creating it was that it would smell one way right after i made it and the next days it would migrate into something else. I don’t understand these mysteries but I sure love them.

    • Olfactoria says:

      It was a pleasure, dearest Mandy! And if I were not such a wimp when it comes to animalic notes… 😉 But, seriously, it is part of the lure of your perfumes that they behave in unexpected ways, like nature, of which they are a part after all. No synthetic can match that.

  23. Lamont says:

    Mandy Rules! Intriguing review, thanks for the draw. I’d like to see/hear a nose combine garlic and ginger. All I can say is, it always smells/sounds wonderful together in a cooking dish.

  24. This might sound a bit crazy but I’d really like a scent of bread and garbage. A friend of mine once said that that’s her definition scent of “home” and I just can’t get over it. Of course, I don’t mean a lot of garbage, just to add something dirty to such a super comfort smell, it would be interesting to see what happenes.

  25. No need to enter me in the draw, I just wanted to participate. 🙂 I have a lot of respect for your writing talents to come up with such a great review despite Haute Claire not working for you personally. I am lucky, Haute Claire hums a sweet melody when mixed with my body chemistry.

    A fragrance pairing I’d love to see is sweet milk/cream and ambergris. It almost sounds revolting, but I could see this sort of combination done very effectively by someone like Kedra Hart from Opus Oils. She does amazing things with ambergris and musk.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I was lucky HC worked so beautifully on my friend, so I could get the full experience.

      Your idea of sweet milk and ambergris doesn’t sound revolting at all, I’d want to smell that in a heartbeat! How is your bespoke perfume by DHS coming along, btw? I’m very curious what will come of such an inspired collaboration!

  26. Alexandra says:

    As I am a violet lover, I could delight in a perfume with prominent violet and amber or incense notes. But my all time classic combo is blackcurrant with roses- eg L’Ombre Dans L’eau, and please let me know about Damascena by Keiko Mecheri if it’s similar to my fave Diptyque! Always lovely questions from you B. !

    • Olfactoria says:

      Violet and amber sounds good! Sadly I am not familiar enough with Keiko Mecheri perfumes (yet) to say something halfway profound about them. 😦 Good luck in the draw in any case!

  27. einsof says:

    one of my favorite things about natural perfumery is it’s inclination to be completely personal to the wearer… for better or worse! and the slow revealing of synergy from layer to layer… in this case the swirling and tea for two of galbanum and ylang. i am so curious to see/hear/smell the ethyl phenyl acetate- having not worked with aroma chemicals myself. a higher vision indeed!

  28. sara says:

    I would like to enter the drawing please. Two notes I would like to are mate and balsam fir!Sara

  29. Sharryn Stormonth says:

    Hello Birgit, I love you reviews and the music connection. No need to enter me, I ordered my little Aftelier stash yesterday. After all the wonderful reviews and discussions I am very excited and eager to smell these wonders.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Sharryn,
      another one succumbed to the lure of Aftelier! 😉
      I hope you will love your samples. It was not love at first smell with me, but once I “got” them, there was no turning back.

  30. Isayah says:

    Oh! I would like to smell a perfume composed around Iris and incense. It might have been done already and I never heard of it so please, tell me its name!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Isayah,
      Hmm, iris and incense, it sounds beautiful, but I can’t think of a perfume containing those two notes right now. Sorry. But I’ll certainly go looking for it.

  31. Mandy Aftel says:

    Thank you all so much for coming here and saying such lovely things about my perfumes. I read them all and am floating!

  32. Michael says:

    Its been a real treat reading the letters on Nathan Branch’s blog on the creation of Haute Claire and seeing all the exciting reviews for its release! Galbanum and Ylang Ylang, who would have thought.

    I would love to see the sweet floral Boronia paired with the dirty, slightly harsh Costus root!


  33. cerise says:

    I love Mandy Aftel’s perfumes!! Shiso adapts so well on me; it’s so warm and enveloping; it just makes me feel peaceful whenever i catch a waft of it.

    i closed my eyes and imagined a scent duet of cedar and honey.

  34. Emma says:

    I haven’t been able to smell any of the Aftelier scents, alas. Postage to Australia is really steep. This would be a lovely beginning if possible.

    I have been racking my brains for two different scents that are not immediately obviously complementary, that seem at first a bit jarring – a bit like cherry red and turquoise – but might come together superbly. Now I think of it, one of my strongest scent memories is of Shanghai, where the ever-present osmanthus and car exhaust took turns coming to the fore, and I reckon that might be a splendid combination for a perfume. Clean and dirty, fragrant and smelly… another type of Dzing!

    While I am here too, I want to thank you for this blog – it is always fascinating, considered and eloquent, and I can’t believe you uncover so many marvellous images! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Emma,
      thank you for stopping by.
      Your idea of osmanthus and car exhaust – marvelous!
      Good luck in the draw!
      And thank you very much for your nice words, it means a lot to get positive feedback! 🙂

  35. lady jane grey says:

    What I love on parfum that a combination of two ingredients would always give a different result and would be more or less a surprise even. I’m sure my two ingredients are already out there somewhere, but still I’d love to have Yuzu with Black tea. And Amber with Cream, pretty please …

  36. Beth Summer says:

    I have been dying to try Afteiler….I just got my first sample of her cepes and tuberose from TPC. Strong but I like it. I wish she still had the vanilla/anise solid-wanted to try that for a long time…so there are my two notes….vanilla and anise (not a sweet vanilla though, I prefer smokey and dark). Or I’d like to see rosemary/basil notes combined with something woody and musky. Also hops work so well in beer and a have a musky scent…I wonder how they would work in perfume.

  37. I have this feeling that absinthe and iris would be awesome. Ultra cold and dark!

    Aftelier made a bespoke scent for Madonna didn’t they? Pink Lotus I think.

  38. Gisela says:

    Great review! It’s a pity Haute Claire didn’t work for you – animalic doesn’t sound so bad to me… 😉
    k-scott mentioned incense and jasmine already, another pairing I would like to smell is leather and broom.

  39. Undina says:

    I don’t think I’m ready for natural perfumes but I’m giving a try to all prominent indie lines – just to be fair. I have at least two Aftelier’s perfumes in my imaginary shopping cart (I’m waiting for the more shipping-appropriate weather) I would like to be entered into the draw.

    There are no notes I’d like to pair as of now (that haven’t been paired already in at least one or two perfumes that I find if not perfect but at least very good). But there is one note I’d love to see in a perfume – with no luck so far: daphne odora.

  40. Rene Groyer says:

    Please enter me in the draw.Mandy Aftel perfumes are not available in my country,but after reading her book,I long to try them.
    The two notes I would pair would be licorique and geranium for fun.Wonder how that would be together.They are two of my favourite notes.

  41. Maureen says:

    Bombay Sapphire Gin and Lime…YUM. Plese enter me in draw.

  42. Pingback: Aftelier Haute Claire EDP Natural Perfume Review | EauMG

  43. Pingback: I Love The Way You Lie – Review: Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose | Olfactoria's Travels

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