Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Aftelier- Bergamoss (Solid Perfume)

This one is for oakmoss lovers.

There's no way to mistake Bergamoss for anything other but a well-chiseled chypre. You can almost taste the green velvety magic of yore. Yet, this new perfume in solid form by Mandy Aftel of Aftelier does not smell "vintage" at all. Despite the structure, in spite of the very real ingredients (oakmoss, coumarin, and antique civet, among other things!), Bergamoss smells modern. Related to classic perfumes? Definitely. But it's a different interpretation, even more abstract.

Chypres have an inherent duality. They soar upwards, piercing the air like a bird of pray. But they also pull you into the depth of an enchanted forest where thick moss and damp earth make a dreamy carpet. Of course, this can be reined in and civilized to the nth degree with the help of leather whips, Dior handbags, or layers upon layers of peach chiffon. Bergamoss possesses all of these qualities. The opening is bracing and tart as the bergamot and its family of citrus rinds come alive on skin. At first one thinks this is going to be a crisp and curt perfume, maybe followed by galbanum. But, no. The bitterness is cut short by rounder and warmer notes, and Bergamoss becomes less green and fresh, more yellowish. The texture is soft and inviting, petals over velvet, though it's extremely hard for me to pinpoint the specifics without Mandy Aftel's own description of rose, peach, and tobacco. The warmth is obvious, though, as is the spiciness that goes along with it, and eases the fragrance towards the dry-down.

The solid form of Bergamoss feels perfect for the tactile sensation it creates. While the sillage of a solid perfume is more subdued, especially in the opening, as the waxy material warms up on skin you're engulfed in the beauty of its depth and complexity (it's incredibly long-lasting, though, even in tiny amounts). There's a shadow of sweetness that complements the musky animalic aroma that lurks just under the surface. The oakmoss is at its thickest, making me want to roll in it and never ever stop.

Notes: bergamot, sweet orange, peach, rose, tobacco, nutmeg, oakmoss, flouve absolute (a sweet French grass, according to Mandy Aftel), coumarin, antique civet.

Bergamoss by Aftelier is an all-natural solid perfume. It's in no way vegan, as the base material combines beeswax with jojoba oil, and the perfume itself uses antique but real civet. $240 on aftelier.com for 1/4 oz of perfume in a sterling silver compact. Samples are available for $6. The sample for this review was sent by the perfumer.

Art: Odilon Redon - Trees on a Yellow Background (one of the panels painted for the dining room of the Château de Domecy-sur-le-Vault). 1901


  1. Pardon my French, but real civet comes from the secretion of the civet cat from the gland in their anus. The word 'antique' might make it sound nice, but it is what it is and it is. If you google Chandler Burr Meow Mix it will lead you to his New York Times article about it. I love oakmoss and chypres, but that one ingredient makes it a big pass for me.

  2. As a chypre and vintage perfume lover - I must try this one asap! I've never had solid perfume before. How do you apply it ? I have longer nails so I mostly take cremes out of the jar with the upper part of my nail. I'm curious how this would function with solid perfume...

  3. So glad to see your review of this! Your comment about the quality of the oakmoss cracked me up because I can so relate to it. I'm a serious chypre addict and am loving this to absolute distraction. I've been wearing it so much that I actually think I'm going to need a second compact before too long.
    That Redon painting is such a perfect visual companion for this perfume.

  4. I'm so glad I read this review or I wouldn't have known this fragrance existed. Just got my sample today and I can't take my nose off my wrist. It is marvelous!


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