Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aftelier- Cacao

I knew months ago what image I was going to use for the review of Aftelier Cacao perfume. This photo of fifteen year old Olivia Hussey from the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet, photographed by Norman Parkinson, has that feeling of sweet innocence and an a barely aware raw sensuality I find in Cacao.

Natural perfumer Mandy Aftel created a tempting blend that translates on my skin to a foody experience and then morphs into heady florals. As I apply Cacao it smells like orange-flavored chocolate, rich and dark. It's scrumptious and sumptuous. I'd love a box of chocolate truffles that smell and taste like Mandy Aftel's creation (now that I think of it, Mandy offers a range of Chef's Essential Oils and Absolutes. It gives me some ideas).

The transition from chocolate petit fours to the sensuality of a summer night of one's younger days happens almost suddenly. One minute you're all cozy and dreamy and the next the citrus notes are more prominent, almost like orange blossom--- no! it's jasmine, and a very fine one. The luscious air of the night caresses the skin, but upon closer inspection you smell warm vanilla mixed with all of the above. It's as beautiful as it's sexy and stays this way for about four hours on my skin before I rush to reapply another drop (that's all you need initially).

Notes (from Aftelier website):
Top - blood orange, pink grapefruit
Heart - jasmine sambac & grandiflorum
Base - chocolate, vanilla

Cacao by Aftelier ($150, 1/4oz parfum extrait) is available from The site also offers samples, and best of all, a trio of 2ml mini extraits for $125. It sounds like a teeny tiny amount, but the intensity and high concentration keep me entertained and perfumed for a very long time.

Olivia Hussey photographed by Norman Parkinson, 1967, via


  1. Oh please don't forget the wonderful Leonard Whiting! He's in the picture too!

    He was my biggest crush for years after we watched Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet in grade 8 English. I saw it at least a dozen times, catching it whenever it came to the local art house cinema (dvds have kinda ruined the fun of anticipation...). I followed his career through The True Story of Dr. Frankenstein, and Say Hello to Yesterday with Jean Simmons...

    Youth is so fleeting, and his film career only lasted until 1973.

    You inspired me to find a film clip of him this morning --

    (and yes, he and Olivia were an item at the time)

    Can't wait to try Cacao now!


  2. Thank you Gaia – what a wonderful review! I love the photograph you chose – such a striking, romantic image. And your beautiful writing captures so well the range of experience I wanted to impart – sensual gourmand to luscious floral to warm, mellow base.
    - Mandy Aftel

  3. It (the fragrance) sounds wonderful.

    I also developed a huge crush on Leonard Whiting when I saw the movie, although he was no longer so famous by the time I saw it (late 1970s in English class). I loved the very young Michael York in that movie, too.

  4. I'm with Ms. M - the young Michael York is gorgeous in R&J. That voice! Those cheekbones!

    Hardly anyone could be more beautiful than Olivia Hussey. Saw a recent (2008) photo of her, and her bone structure is still perfect.


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