Tag Archives: Mandy Aftel

Ancient Resins by Aftelier Perfumes

Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
One of the things I fondly remember about my youth was going to church on Sundays. I missed a lot of Sunday football games but mom was happy her boys received their blessing. One thing that stuck with me was the church’s scent, which was a mix of body heat and old wood. With no air condition, we tried to stay cool with paper fans. They kept us cool and hot at the same time. That collective heat and that old church made for a scent that will forever be ingrained in my head. I used to wear my father’s Grey Flannel, but not enough to drown out that old church smell. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad, but I often wondered what it was like going to a Catholic church where they burned incense. That was the first thing I thought about when Mandy Aftel introduced me to one of her latest releases, Ancient Resins.
Ancient Resins
Incense has long been a part of religious ceremonies. It’s referenced in the bible and there are myriad historical references. Its perfume is meditative and it’s also said that the smoke symbolizes our prayers being taken up to God. History also tells us that people used it to perfume their bodies. I imagine Mandy drew upon this knowledge when she created Ancient Resins for the legendary Leonard Cohen.

Ancient Resins had me hooked from its opening notes; I wore it for a few days straight while testing it. It’s a body oil so it can be used to moisturize your skin. I chose to wear it as a fragrance and applied it to my pulse points as I would any other cologne. It opens subtly with a smoky, resinous presence and quickly quiets to a beautiful perfumed whisper. Don’t expect a bloom of perfume surrounding you. Ancient Resins wears close to the skin and in an intimate moment, it just might answer your prayers. If you’re familiar with frankincense, you’ll pick it up immediately as it contains a generous amount. The scent stays pretty consistent throughout its wearing and it lasts a long time.

A 50 ml. bottle of Ancient Resins is $40. It’s a steal gents.

Agent Provocateur

Madonna Sealed

A few months ago while I was in Philadelphia for another #phillyweekend getaway, I bumped into an unassuming record store that caught my attention with it’s boxes of $1 vinyl. #ILoveVinyl and I couldn’t help myself. Digging in the crates is fun and what ensued was an hour and a half of searching for gems. I blew a nice wad that day but I scored an unopened copy of Madonna’s first album, Madonna. While I’m not the biggest fan, I recognize her brilliance and there were moments in her career that caught my undivided attention. For a #FunFriday post, my scented partners in crime, Carrie, Dariush and Thomas have agreed to post about the material girl and tie it to fragrance.

The year was 1992 and America was a completely different place but that wouldn’t stop this agent provocateur from exploring her sexual fantasizes. In conjunction with the release of the Erotica album, Madonna dropped Sex. Just a year prior to its release, Magic Johnson revealed he was retiring from the NBA because he became infected with the virus that causes AIDS. This obviously propelled the disease into the mainstream and surely exacerbated the controversy surrounding the book. Consider the following when thinking about where we were then:

Bill Clinton was elected President
Riots broke out in Los Angeles following the Rodney King decision
Home Improvement was a popular television show
Boyz II Men was on the radio
Reservoir Dogs, Lethal Weapon 3, The Bodyguard and Basic Instinct were in theatres
The average monthly rent was $519

Madonna Sex

The book was raw. The leather, the acts she depicted, and the nudity pushed all the right buttons. If you had to pair a scent to the book today, what would it be? What scent could one wear to push another persons buttons and temp them to touch? What could give the night more legs when it seemed like there were none? What’s raw and brings the heat? What’s good and bad all rolled into one? If we had that magic potion, I’m sure we’d all be wearing it daily. The following scents, however, are sensual, a little dirty and pack some serious heat:

Comme Des Garcons by Comme des Garcons
Tobacco & Tulle by Liz Zorn
Secret Garden by Mandy Aftel
Absolue Por le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Anima Dulcis by Arquiste
Epic Man by Amouage

In the song Human Nature Madonna says, “express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” It’s clear she listened to these words and for that she’s loved around the world. By the same token, each of the fragrance I’ve selected was created by perfumers whose work is loved by many for its point of difference. They bring artistry to the craft that can be likened to musicians, especially those that aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers with their work. Sound familiar?

Secret Garden by Mandy Aftel

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a conversation on Twitter discussing the making of mixtapes. They were discussing the ones we made at home ourselves on cassette tapes filled with slow jams. The ones we toiled over for that girl that made us pay attention to the way we smelled, the girl who for some reason took the words right out of our mouth, our first, second, third and fourth crushes. We made them to communicate our feelings in a way we couldn’t at that time. For some reason, Bobby Brown’s, “I Wanna Rock With You” said it so much cooler than I ever could. Besides, making the mixtape was like writing a letter, albeit imperfect with its abrupt endings and sudden beginnings (those pause and record buttons were never as precise as we wanted them to be). In the end, however, she got the point, and if she blushed, you were the man. Continue reading

Meet Anne McClain – MCMC Fragrances

“I’m painting a story with smells.”

 

I first became aware of Anne McClain because of her workshops, which take place the first Monday of every month at Le Labo. Subsequently after that, I would receive e-mails periodically about her brand MCMC Fragrances. One particular e-mail mentioned she was launching a new fragrance called Maui and that she would be at the Brooklyn Flea. Maui was the place I got married, so it holds special meaning to me. I’ve heard a lot about the Brooklyn Flea but never been. These two facts posed an opportunity to meet Ann and I’m glad I seized the moment. On this hot summer day, after looking around for her booth, I finally stumbled upon it and it was an oasis in the middle of stuff. There she was, a Brooklynite that produced and sold her products in Brooklyn. I was brimming with pride when I met her. As a born and raised Brooklynite myself, stories like hers makes you puff out your chest just a tad bit more. As we began talking, she told me a story about being in fragrance school in Grasse and how her classmates looked at her oddly when she mentioned she wanted to take what she learned back to Brooklyn and start a business. It recalled a line from the rap song Crooklyn Dodgers that seems so apropos, “Straight from crooklyn better known as Brooklyn never taking shorts cause Brooklyn’s the borough.”

Where did you learn the art of creating fragrances?

I originally began by studying on my own. I took evening and weekend workshops on any topic related to perfumery (which in New York City actually tended to be aromatherapy classes), read lots of books, and even did a correspondence course with natural perfumer Mandy Aftel. At a certain point, I felt that I had exhausted all the learning I could do in America and I applied to the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in southern France.

I spent one year in Grasse in an intensive training program with just twelve students. It was very hands on and classes ranged from raw materials to chemistry to genealogy and creation. We also visited farms and production facilities. In the small village of Grasse, there were really no distractions for me (I didn’t have a phone, TV, or even internet in my apartment!) so I was really able to focus on my studies, and concepting for my line, MCMC Fragrances.

Share the story about people frowning in Grasse when you mentioned wanting to create your own line in Brooklyn.

The one thing that was difficult about studying in rural, southern France (as opposed to New York City) is that no one could really relate to me wanting to start my own line. Independent perfumery is not very common (although I see more and more niche lines all the time) and it’s still a male-dominated and family-owned trade. For a newbie like me to come from Brooklyn and say I wanted to start my own line right away was very shocking to my classmates and teachers. But like so many other creative people, I just wanted to do my thing and had no fear!

What is the concept behind MCMC Fragrances?

Before studying perfumery, I was a photographer. I love to travel and the feeling of those fleeting, ethereal moments that we are so lucky to have in life. My photographs were an attempt to flatten these experiences and preserve them. However, after my very first perfume class, I realized that this was the medium for me to work in.

So all of the fragrances from MCMC Fragrances are based on an actual experience from my life. Maine is based on a day in Maine falling in love; Noble is about four months I spent living in Nepal with a Tibetan family and the jasmine and incense that permeated the house, and Hunter is about an old friend who lived in the woods and harvested maple syrup. I’m painting a story with smells.

What sparked your desire to create your own collection?

I have so many stories I want to tell in scent, and so much inspiration, that I knew I had to create my own collection. Working for a corporate perfume house as a perfumer, you are receiving briefs from clients to create their dreams, and their visions. I just couldn’t wait to put my own creations out into the world.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?

Well, I know that the first perfume I ever wanted was Angel by Thierry Mugler. My sister gave it to me when I was 15 for Christmas. This baffles me now because it’s so strong and I’m surprised my 15-year old self was attracted to that, but I’ve always loved woody, oriental scents.

As for my first meaningful recollection of fragrance, while I was in Nepal (I was 21), I bought a jasmine candle at a place called Mike’s Breakfast. At the time I didn’t know that the scent was jasmine – I didn’t know the name of any scents then, really – but I was so in love with this candle. To the point where even after it had burned, I brought home the little wax stump and kept it in my closet for months. To this day, jasmine absolute is one of my favorite ingredients.

How would you finish this statement. “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?

…smelling a beach plum rose on the coast of Maine while falling in love, mingling with the scents of cool air and dried seaweed.

Thanks Anne.

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