Who: Mandy Aftel, perfumer, writer and teacher. Mandy is an award winning author and perfumer who has built a reputation for creating some of the most delicious natural scents available from her workshop in Berkeley California. She makes small batches of scent from the very best – often hard to get hold of – ingredients and claims to have an ‘odd’ business model, in that she works to make just enough profit to keep her ‘feeding her habit’ of making more perfumes. She works with top level chefs to supply natural food essences and works with many restaurants to create bespoke and unusual aromas, we caught up with her at a Perfume Society supper with That Hungry Chef.
Today I’m wearing Sepia, which is made by me. It’s my favourite from my perfume line but it’s odd, it’s not most people’s favourite!
I like the whole idea of time and ageing and how there’s so much beauty in being able to see the lightness underneath something that’s old. I’ve made the Sepia scent to try and capture the feeling of the gold rush towns in California, including the old buildings and the old life that was there, which I’m fascinated by. So it smells of rich, old wood and the open air, I feel connected to that atmosphere and the feeling it creates.
Fragrance plays an enormous part in my life, I smell everything, all the time. I feel like smells are a conduit to life itself, so I’m very interested in how things smell, how people smell.
Smell is connected to memory but not necessarily in a direct way – as in ‘this reminds me of my mother’. I’ve thought about this a lot and It’s more the feeling of memory, the air and the atmosphere of say, winter or spring or night. It takes me somewhere.
That’s perfume to me, creating a state of mind through scent, trying to create a feeling about life, the joy and experience of living. When I arrived in London recently with my husband, we were really tired and we went and walked around Bloomsbury. It was getting dark and you could see into the book shops where the lights were still on. The air was changing, it had started to rain so the air was damp, the light was changing… How it all smelled, that’s what I try and capture in my perfume…
I don’t do much scenting of myself, but I always do my hands over everywhere else because I talk through my hands and I like to smell my hands, I put it on for me. I’ve never done the pulse points.