Smoking vanilla with Mandy Aftel


This blog only temporarily seems like an ode to Mandy Aftel. She simply is one of the first to pick up on the fact that I am blogging again, and I also like to imagine that we're friends, so she has submitted quite a bit of recent work for me to review. Also, she's just so good I have no reluctance to write because there are none of those not-so-glowing reviews that are always waiting around the corner for a perfume reviewer. Don't worry, I have other reviews coming (DSH (!) among others). 

Today I'm wafting quite literally. I'm smoking! I have an edp on the left hand and a parfum concentration of the same scent on the right. I am so dang lucky I can't stand it. I've got on Vanilla Smoke, and it's so stunning I had to ponder on this review a while before I could get my mind together to write it. (It didn't stop me from buying mini.)

Vanilla Smoke 0.25oz Parfum

Vanilla Smoke edp 1ml
in organic alcohol
Vanilla Smoke 1/4 oz Parfum
 in organic alcohol

So, as is clear from the above, Aftelier Perfumes' Vanilla Smoke comes in two concentrations: an edp/eau de parfum and a parfum/perfume strength. I'll do ye olde compare/contrast here. Remember those papers we had to do in school, comparing and contrasting things? It's going to be like that, but a little more interesting. Well, I hope so. I mean, you're here because you want to be, not because someone forced you to read this review, right? If they did, let me know who did so I can slip them a fiver. That's awesome. 

The general rundown of what this scent smells like is going to sound the same. It's a smokey vanilla, folks. Try not to fall over in shock. 

This is a fairly straight-forward, "simplistic" scent, but don't let that statement fool you. This is not to say the scent is basic or not dynamic. 

According to the perfumer, top notes are yellow mandarin, Siam wood, saffron absolute, and vanillin. There are no "heart" notes listed.  Base notes are listed as vanilla absolute, lapsang souchong (tea), ambergris, and coumarin. 

My vision of Vanilla Smoke edp
Vanilla Smoke - THE EDP

I'm sort of "over" breaking down scents into notes. I'm finding it tedious, trite, and insulting to the perfumes themselves, but due to the fact that I'm comparing/contrasting two versions of the same scent, I'll do it this one last time.

When I wear the edp version of this scent, I find it more transcluscent and bright than the other.

This scent opens with a bit more of the sparkle brightness of the mandarin and the Siam wood.

I get a distinct rootbeer note (or more distinctly, birchbeer - have you had it before?).  I spoke with Mandy and we decided this little trick was most likely the saffron. It made me giggle the first time I smelled it, but now I do find it annoying. It passes quickly, to my relief.

I find the edp airy, bright, sheer, open. It's got more space in it than the perfume.

The edp version of Vanilla Smoke stays lighter and more flirtatious, in my opinion, than the parfum strength, though she does pick up a bit of depth from the ambergris, tea, and coumarin later in her development.

This is a lovely version of the scent and I do adore it.

Vanilla Smoke - THE PERFUME

My vision of Vanilla Smoke perfume
When it came time to order one of these, because I totally "needed" this in my life, I ordered the perfume mini. I'm addicted to these minis, by the way. They are petite little bon bons that should be available by every perfumer - price-wise, right in the zone, size-wise, so portable (I always have at least two in my wallet (my wallet!).

I am totally off topic now, aren't I?

Let's do this. When it came time to order one of these, because I totally "needed" this in my life, I ordered the perfume mini. The perfume strength speaks to me more.

While the notes list seems identical, the way they play out on the skin is subtly, but markedly, different.

The "birchbeer accord" is present, but fleeting. The perfume strength Vanilla Smoke dives more directly into vanilla, spending less time flirting with the mandarin and Siam wood. I smell them. They peek out and then they're gone. This is all about the vanilla and the tea and the coumarin, though.

We're all basenotes, all the time, in this version. And once those deepen, we get that ambergris, and the musky husky depth happens and we get sexy vibes all over the place. This is flirty vanilla all over. And yet it still remains breathy and open, never cloying and heavy.

It's brilliant, really, as any other vanilla-centric scent I've smelled with darker notes like this has always taken that heavy-breathing into a smothering place that isn't terribly unpleasant but certainly gets cloying in hot weather. This, Vanilla Smoke, would never! I can see wearing this in any temperature whatsoever.

And so that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I had to have a bottle. And I may go back and get some of that edp, as well, because it is also beautiful. Speaking of gentlemen: YES, you can wear this. PLEASE DO. I encourage it. Either strength.

Unisex. Projection: skin scent; Length-of-wear: edp- 4-6 hours+, perfume 6-8 hours+. The premise of the scent, as set out by Mandy, is that Vanilla Smoke is meant to be sexy, exotic, mysterious. I accept that premise, however I find the edp's version of sexy to be a more innocent, flirtatious type of sexy and exotic, like a young woman in a foreign bar you'd meet on a vacation, while the perfume is more like meeting the Mata Hari.  The pricepoint is reasonable for niche perfume, and the packaging is always a beautiful experience. Samples are available for $6 each. Aftelier Perfumes: Vanilla Smoke.

Disclosure: samples submitted by the perfumer

Photo Credits
Vanilla Smoke perfume photo representation: Esmerelda Seay-Reynolds, Vogue Germany; Photo: Mario Testino

Vanilla Smoke perfume photo representation: Emma Karlsson,Vogue Australia; Photographer: unknown


  1. Wow Jen, my amazing good fortune to get another review from you so soon, I can't thank you enough for my glorious moment in the sun! I had missed your incredible spark and savvy writing so much - we are all the richer for having you share it with us again! xo Mandy

    1. You are so sweet - sweeter than this perfume, Ms Aftel. Mwah! <3

  2. Thank goodness you're writing again. I've donned a little EdP in your honour.
    Welcome back.
    Portia xx

    1. Portia, my dear, that's so wonderful to hear. Thank you!


I am so glad you chose to comment! I appreciate it. :)

Sorry for the stupid verification things I had to add to the Comment Section, but I am being bombarded with spam.