Usually wearing an Aftelier creation, is quite a ride. When I apply Tango or Cepes&Tuberose, many feelings are stirred up, emotions abound and I am preoccupied and enthralled, as well as challenged and moved.
It is not that Secret Garden is not moving me, it is, a lot, but in a wholly different way, than I have learned to expect from Mandy’s inspired work. Secret Garden is no less emotional for me though…
Let us take a look at the technicalities first:
Secret Garden was developed in 2011, during a collaborative dialogue with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz published on Nathan Branch’s blog. This review is of the Eau de Parfum, there is also an extrait version available.
Notes include bergamot, bois de rose, Geraniol, blood orange, jasmine sambac, raspberry (compounded isolate), Turkish rose, blue lotus, civet, castoreum, vanilla, deer tongue, benzoin and aged patchouli.
My very first thought upon spraying my sample of EdP on my hand was: This is Mandy’s most accessible perfume. That does not mean that it is simpler or in any way less than her other creations, but it is easy to like, quick to find a way to your heart, without compromising on depth or complexity at all.
A floral with fruity accents, Secret Garden lives and thrumms underneath the lovely surface though. The animalic base is there, from first trill of sunny bergamot, to the heartbreakingly beautiful song of indolic jasmine in the heart.
A purring, a warmth, a quality of something alive and breathing, warm and tactile, soft and yielding.
Secret Garden feels like coming home. It welcomes me in its warm embrace, it takes me in its (dare I say it?) maternal arms and I can lie back and relax, unwind, exhale, just be.
Secret Garden makes no demands on me, it wants nothing, it lets me be, it takes me as I am, with all my faults and shortcomings and it makes me feel like I am forever safe, precious and loveable.
I imagine eyes shining with pride when their gaze falls upon me, when I wear Secret Garden. “The gleam in the Mother’s eye”¹, that we are all looking for all our life, so important for the forming of our sense of self, can also – emotionally at least – be found in an olfactory experience, as I discovered upon wearing Secret Garden.
I know that Secret Garden was intended as a very sensual perfume, but that sensuality has nothing sexual for me. I merely feel the human touch, a caress of a loving mother, father, child, friend. It is warm and familiar, tender, close and full of love.
Nothing can replace the real thing of course, but at times, when we need the unadulterated love only a mother can give, it is good to know that something a little bit like it, can be found in one of Mandy Aftel’s beautiful bottles.
I think she bottled a bit of herself – her generosity of spirit and big-hearted warmth – in there.