The Gleam In A Mother’s Eye – Review: Aftelier Secret Garden Eau de Parfum

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.

¹Heinz Kohut Self Psychology
Image source:,

About Olfactoria

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This entry was posted in Aftelier, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Fruity, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Rose, Tuberose and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to The Gleam In A Mother’s Eye – Review: Aftelier Secret Garden Eau de Parfum

  1. Tara says:

    Wow, sounds like Mandy has poured unconditional love into this perfume, how lovely! “The gleam in the Mother’s eye that we are looking for all our life” is wonderful. I love it when you put a bit of psychology in your reviews – more please!

    • Olfactoria says:

      The people in my life usually hate it when I dare to insert something even vaguely psychological into a conversation, so I’m very wary of that. Glad to hear you like it!

      I feel hugged when wearing Secret Garden, and that hug may very well be Mandy’s. 🙂

  2. It’s interesting to have something psychological included in a perfume review, and it sounds like this perfume really resonated with you.

    I haven’t tried any Aftelier fragrances yet, I know I should, there are a good few that sound interesting to me (this included), but I find natural perfumes difficult, and I haven’t quite talked myself in to getting some samples yet.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I know what you mean, natural fragrance can be somewhat hard to access and I experienced that difficulty as well. But that is what I tried to express, Secret Garden is Mandy’s most accessible and easy to love creation in my opinion. Many of the others need time on the skin to “unfold” and come into their own, Secret Garden is lovely from minute one and stays that way.
      I think the EdP concentration helps as well to make the scent more transparent, and not as densely structured as naturals can be at times.

  3. civava says:

    Wow, this is very best description of feelings about perfume. And very good reason to try the perfume. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to try her perfumes yet, but I’m looking forward to try them all, if possible.

  4. deeHowe says:

    I’m with Tara: loving the addition of the psychological element! Having a host who is a professional in the field is a gift, I think 🙂 Especially since we perfume lovers are mostly a bunch of neurotics, lol.

    As with the other Aftelier fragrances, you’ve made this one sound beautiful. I love the idea of the scent of loving approval 🙂

  5. What a beautiful interpretation you have given this fragrance, Birgit. It has left a very positive impression on me. And you get major points for the Klimt, too!

  6. Mandy Aftel says:

    Thank you so much Birgit for your fantastic review! Your writing is incredibly heartfelt and sensuous. I appreciate feeling so well-understood and cared-for in your capable hands, truly blessed!
    xo Mandy

  7. Madine says:

    Thank you Birgit for this lovely review with Kohut and Klimt! Do you know where I can sample a perfume like Secret Garden and maybe also Puredistance in Cape Town?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Madine,
      Samples of Secret Garden are available from Mandy’s website, there surely is also a list of stockists where you can look up possible South African retailers. The same goes for Puredistance. I’m afraid I don’t know a great deal about South Africa…
      Decant sellers like The Perfumed Court, who ship internationally might be your best bet to get both perfumes at one dealership.

  8. Madine says:

    Thank you Birgit, your reviews surely inspires me to find samples of these fragrances. I am interested in natural perfumes and your blog is the best scource of information I managed to find!

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  11. Vanessa says:

    I have now caught up with this one – it is indeed soft and purring and accessible. Just the starter Aftel I needed to ease me into the line!

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