As promised a while ago I’m returning with a few more impressions about a couple of Aftelier perfumes I tested. I know, it has taken me a long time. Perfume writing tends to be a slow and laborious process for me lately. I rarely seem to be able to get a peaceful hour just to sniff and think happy, beautiful thoughts. Today is about roses and vanilla and the third part will be about sex and decay. And if you want to read the first part (about meditation and elegance) you can find it here.
“Wild thing, you make my heart sing
You make everything groovy, wild thing
Wild thing, I think I love you”
Most people know this song. Most people have danced on it, belted it out, perhaps drunk with booze and desire. And we have all loved a wild thing or two in our lifetime. It’s impossible not to, in spite of the danger they trail behind. Because they know how to make one feel alive and that’s one feeling we all chase, the ultimate high. I’ve long stopped searching for it in dangerous places. Books, movies and perfumes are enough for me these days. And Aftelier’s Wild Roses sure has plenty of lively passion. It’s like a fauvist Nahema, all dishevelled, cerise silk robes wide open, running breathlessly through the dark forest, soft white skin beading with sweat, bare feet kicking up small mounds of black soil, sensual mouth panting, gasping for air, while delicate arms and ankles fight their way through the unforgiving thicket. A beautiful woman come undone with no points of reference apart that what she’s running from or towards. There is always madness before serenity, storm before clear skies, tears before the smiles and this crazed Nahema, rest assured, is finding her happy spot in a light filled clearing where roses are finally unfurling their petals and hiding their thorns and where sweet, ripe apricots are tumbling down on earth with a soft thud.
Why am I mentioning Guerlain’s Nahema in conjunction with Wild Roses? Because in both fragrances the rose is not immediately apparent. Instead, it seems to be forming in front of our very own eyes, out of disparate pieces being pulled together by an irresistible force. And both fragrances have an incredibly radiant personality, gleaming like a cold crystal slowly warming up beneath the sunshine. Wild Roses is more bohemian than Nahema, looser and more tender, but both are strong and passionate.
I first tried Wild Roses in Dublin’s only niche parfumery. I like to go in sometimes and share my new finds with my friend who works there. That day she wasn’t feeling too well and deemed everything too strong but her colleague took one sniff and his lips stretched out wide into a blissful smile: ” This is so romantic! It feels like falling in love..” And so it does really, from the thumping beginning, almost mentholated in its dark, patchoulied, herbal vehemence which a customer considered absinthe-like, until the honeyed, fruity ending with its rounded, rosy sensuality. On a side note, for people who are interested in projection and longevity, Wild Roses has remarkable presence and is also longer lasting than for example Parfum Privé.
The writing is on the tin: there is smoke and there is vanilla. And together they’re a force to be reckoned with. We all know that vanilla is deemed to be a strong aphrodisiac, but in the run-of-the-mill interpretations of the note I always thought of it more as a cuddly toy to actually fall asleep with rather than something to put me in the mood for carnal pleasures. Well in Vanilla Smoke things are a bit different. Again, like with all Aftelier perfumes I tested so far, there’s a rivulet of wildness, something untamed, something which I could only liken to the presence of soul. Maybe it’s the inherent quality of natural materials, their subtle complexity and the way they play with one another. What Vanilla Smoke makes me think of is the texture of the vanilla pod itself, the way it feels when you rub it between the fingers and the smell left behind. It’s leathery, warm and soft with a boozy sweetness and the sensual smokiness of skin that stayed close to a campfire for a very long time. It is languorous and exotic. It does make you realise vanilla isn’t in fact growing in the tins of Birds custard powder lining the supermarket shelves. That’s not even real vanilla. Real vanilla is a jungle creature, a little bit feral and a little bit scary. Like all things and people truly beautiful. When I see big bunches of vanilla pods waiting to be shipped around the world, I see tobacco leaves curing in the sun, I taste smooth skin soaked in sweet rum and lick cream off the hot, hard parts of a male body, I smell the fires burning in the sultry summer night and hear the distant roar of a motorcycle going very fast and very far. In Vanilla Smoke, Mandy turns the vanilla idea upside down and around its axis. She created a sex and rock’n’roll vanilla. And better than any drugs.
TO BE CONTINUED
*Image used belongs to Aftelier