One of the things we lost along the downwards spiral of the perfume industry is the feeling of true luxury. The vast majority of department store perfumes are generic, forgettable, oversimplified, commercialized and Mickey Mousified. It's the olfactory equivalence of made-in-china wall decor you can buy at Walmart, even if the actual juice was made in France and carries the same logo as your favorite handbag. Sadly, that's what most consumers have come to expect.
Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes is the antithesis and the antidote. She creates natural perfumes, yes, but it's more than that. Mandy Aftel creates art you can wear. Her perfumes start with an artistic vision and come to be through exquisite craftsmanship. The bottle you get, the perfume you wear, are meant to make you see, feel and experience beauty. This is luxury.
Tango, an Aftelier creation from 2006, is as strong a statement as it comes. It stuns and takes over your senses from the very first whiff. It makes me think of an elusive smell from my early childhood, something I can' place but had something to do perhaps with treasures from faraway lands my mom kept in a drawer. Tango is spicy, heady and dark. It's a fantasy, the mystery lives of adults for which I've yearned for without understanding from an early age. It's a stolen glimpse of a TV show you were not supposed to see, a bit of conversation not meant for your ears. Tango is that late night party you don't comprehend as you're woken up from sleep in the middle of the night, hearing the laughter of a stranger and clunking glasses. Or perhaps Tango is the idea of a naughty summer romance, barefoot on the beach at night, sharing a bottle of something way too strong.
It's all of the above. Mandy wrote:
"One of my most complicated perfumes, combining many botanicals to convey the naughty eroticism of a night of drinking, dancing, smoking."I smell a lot more than just the notes from the list below. Tango has a leathery aspect, the warmth of skin and a lot more spice than just ginger. Sometimes I get cinnamon, other times dark chocolate. It changes with the time of day, the temperature and humidity. Tango is the opposite of a meditative perfume. It's distracting, demanding and dramatic. A drop or two are enough for the entire day or night, and the remnants on my clothes and pillows are as delicious and tempting as the night before.
Top: wild sweet orange, fresh ginger.
Heart: coffee CO2, champaca.
Base: choya (roasted seashells), blond tobacco, tonka.
See also Marina's review on Perfume Smellin' Things. That post was what sent me to first try Tango and fall hopelessly in love.
Tango by Aftelier ($150, 1/4 oz) is available at Henri Bendel and directly from aftelier.com. Samples are also available and I highly recommend trying as many as you can and then ordering a mini perfume trio of your choice for $125.
Art: Fabian Perez, Two for Tango.