Hello APJ Family,
We are thrilled that one of the world’s leading and most loved niche perfumers, teachers and authors has agreed to chat to us. There are few in the industry whose perfumes and self are spoken about with such reverence and respect as our special guest today. We have given her a tweaked version of the APJ Questionnaire and edited the answers slightly.
1. Do you have any mentors/inspirations in the perfume world? The person who has most inspired me in my creative life has always been Bob Dylan. I admire his great genius at expressing the vagaries of the heart — he is able to capture rich emotional states and memories which is something I seek to do in my perfumes. I think the first way I have of understanding the world is through my feelings… so strong in me that the only place that I can capture them and put them down is in a perfume.
My other great inspiration is the beauty of the essences themselves: the complexity, beauty, range, texture, and shape of the natural essences. I happily spend large chunks of time sourcing materials from all over the world. When I get a new essence in my hands, I’m always thinking about how I can bring it to life in a perfume and find my way to understanding each essence from the inside…. I love the range from funky stinky to drop-dead gorgeous and everything in between. They intrigue, inspire, fascinate and thrill me. I love holding in my hand the essences that have been used since the beginning of time in every culture across the world.
2. What is your philosophy regarding the use of natural ingredients as opposed to synthetics? I don’t really have a philosophy about using natural ingredients. I, myself, am more interested in the talent of the perfumer rather than the palette that they use. Personally, I am deeply inspired by the natural essences, and synthetics hold no magic for me. There is a texture and shape to the naturals aromas that’s extremely beautiful to me, and I feel as though I’m able to enter them and see them from the inside. I also must confess that their history intertwined with the history of man around the planet is something that’s quite thrilling to me.
5. Did you have a formal education in perfume or are you self-taught and tell us about your school please? I am a self-taught perfumer — I have a collection of 200 turn-of-the-century perfume books which I have studied over the years but my biggest teacher was the essences themselves. My Level 1 Workbook gives you the necessary perfumery vocabulary, the basics of relative intensity, the very important aspects of construction, and a deep understanding of what makes a top note, a middle note, or a base note. You will learn about the textures, smells, and intensities that differentiate these notes. The exercises in this workbook introduce various families of scents, familiarize you with the blending capacities of similar essences, and refine your ability to distinguish between essences within each family.
After completing the Level 1 Workbook, you can come to work with me in person at the in-studio class. This level of instruction can’t be done remotely – I need to see how you interact with the materials, and spend some time one-on-one (the class size is very small). This is a key step in learning how to critique your perfume formulas. It is very important to understand what contributes to the essences burying or locking with each other; both effects can have either a positive or negative outcome in a perfume blend.
Essence & Alchemy $15.50 @ BookDepository delivered worldwide
6. Your book, Essence & Alchemy, A Natural History of Perfume is a go-to tome often the first that new perfumistas pick up, how did that come about? When I wrote essence and alchemy I felt I had discovered this useful lost world of natural aromatics and want to share. I could not believe all the treasures I found in the antique perfume books and in the essences themselves…. I had no idea that the book would go on to have such a life and be treasured by so many people. I am now working on a new book, which I see as the successor to essence and alchemy. That feels slightly intimidating and I’m hoping that this will pick up where essence and alchemy left off.
Photo Stolen perfumepharmer
7. Can you tell us a little about your new perfume release Wild Roses? Each of my perfumes is created around solving a design challenge and capturing emotional memory. I usually start with a pair of essences that I am interested in working with and from there I build the perfume. The foundation of Wild Roses was the relationship between apricot and rose, and I anchored it with a foundation of tarragon absolute. It was a difficult design challenge to have the rose aromas evolving all the way through the perfume from beginning to end, revealing the various facets and shades of roses.
Having grown roses in my garden for years, I was smitten with the unique beauty and great variety of rose aromas. I wanted to capture in perfume the experience of walking around my garden and smelling each rose, as their perfumes blended in my nose. This is the rose that exists in your mind after you have smelled so many garden roses — blush, ruby, canary, purple, crimson edged with brown, pure white, candy-cane striped — that you feel intoxicated.
I feel like we have been able to look a little into Mandy Aftel’s soul and now when I smell her fragrances I will understand them a bit more too. Very seriously considering doing the Perfume Course right now also.
This week we are dedicating to Mandy Aftel and Aftelier Perfumes. Wednesday we will look at some of the range and Thursday there will be a GIVEAWAY!! Don’t forget.
Till we see you tomorrow,
Take care of you and those in your orbit,