Momento Mori - by Mandy Aftel for Aftelier

I'm obsessed with The Day of the Dead because it celebrates life rather than focusing on loss. Similarly, momento mori jewelry and art are meant to remind the wearers/viewers of their mortality while often also using relics (hair is a common one) of departed loved ones as a way to remember their lives fondly. 

Honestly, I'm always drawn to ornate and beautiful momento mori jewelry when I see it in antique stores, but am also repelled. This perfume captures the beauty and earthiness of these precious rings, lockets, and brooches well, and I'm at once entranced and put off by it. At least, I was the first time I wore it.

Mandy Aftel's tribute to these unique pieces of mourning jewelry is simply called Momento Mori

A natural perfume, as all of the Aftelier scents are, based on "the musklike smell of skin," is a tricky one. And it was a labor of love for the perfumer.

In Mandy's words:
"This was a deeply personal perfume for me to create. Memento Mori is about the tender memories of the skin and body of someone with whom you have been intimate, and the ways that you treasure and long for that which you remember when they are lost to you. We want to hold the vanished beauty close even as we experience the piercing quality of memory."

Momento Mori opened with a fiercely animalic pulse on my skin. It's buttery, intimate flesh, and there's no getting away from it. 

After a half an hour or so, the scent settles on my skin and becomes more translucent and diaphonous. 

Don't be mistaken! It's still animalic and raw, but to my mind Mandy's showing us how grief morphs and becomes a little easier to stomach.  

The heart of the perfume is softly floral, more gentle yet. You're leaning in to catch the intimate smell of a loved one's skin. Your memories are fond, if still slightly unsettling. 

I find myself pressing my nose into my skin at this stage, really enjoying the unusual interplay of notes: rose, often used in funerals, dances with more skinlike notes as the scent morphs again towards its drydown. 

Hours of drydown ensue, leaving us with more skin, more intimacy, more memories. 

While patchouli and civet are present, neither dominates the scent, which keeps it still in the more intimate, personal realm rather than veering toward the barnyard. This stage of the scent is almost transluscent, like the veil of a memory. 
Momento Mori is a masterful show of perfumery. Intricate and yet blunt, much like the jewelry it's meant to represent.

The journey taken from top to bottom of Momento Mori is delightful, though this scent isn't going to be for everyone. The daring perfumista/o (this scent is not gendered) may enjoy this fleshly ride through love and loss, just as only certain people are going to enjoy momento mori art and jewelry.

I, personally, love the journey. 

Top: butter, orris, phenylacetic acid.
Middle: Turkish rose absolute, phenylethyl alcohol.
Base: beta ionone, ambreine, ambergris, antique civet, patchoulyl acetate.

Now available at 
Sample provided by the perfumer. 

Gardenia Absoluta by Juan Perez of Exotic Island Perfumes

Today I'm wafting a tropical scent in the best of fashions. Straight from Puerto Rico from Exotic Island Perfumer, Juan Perez, I've got Gardenia Absoluta. It's exactly what it sounds like: a gardenia-centric scent. 

Here are the notes:
Clementine, bergamot, red fruits, gardenia, white flowers, white pepper, ambergris, mahogany, teak wood, sandalwood and white musk. 

It smells of gardenias in a wooden box, sprinkled with pepper. A little heady, feminine-leaning, and long-wearing, this perfume is glorious and typical of Juan's deft work with florals. Very tropical. Very much "yes." 

Get it on Etsy at ExoticIslandAromas. 

Disclaimer: sample provided by the perfumer

Magnolia de Verano by The Exotic Island Perfumer

I got the opportunity to try a sample of Magnolio de Verano, by The Exotic Island Perfumer, recently. This is a reworked version of the previously released 2012 scent. 

A fresh lemony sparkle opens this perfume beautifully. It's a gorgeous blend of Italian lemon, citron, and bergamot. 

The scent quickly settles into what must be a pretty magnolia. Yes, I live in Virginia and don't know exactly what magnolia smells like. Eventually this folds into a creaminess that I can't get enough of. According to the perfumer, Juan Perez, this is likely the jasmine he's included, alongside the magnolia running along this whole scent, and it's lovely. 

All of this beauty culminates in more creamy goodness: a beautiful sandalwood meets cedar meets Haitian Vetiver.

New to this version: according to Juan Perez, this time it's "more about the flower and less about the tree." The citrus top notes are now a better quality, the magnolia flower runs throughout the length of the scent, as previously mentioned, and the woods "are more relaxed." 

Magnolia de Verano wears thickly for several hours with a softly wafting creamy base lasting far longer. It's, for me, full bottle worthy. Yet another slam dunk for this underrated perfumer. Look for it on Etsy soon! (ExoticIslandAromas)

Rose Praline, Les Parfums de Rosine- No pralines here

I'm back with a fairly simple little review. 
Let's get one thing straight first: "praline" here, in Rose Praline, means "chocolate bonbon" not "sugared almond." Ok? It's French. I Googled. Anyway, that info will change your expectations of this scent dramatically. 

This offering by Les Parfums de Rosine, who does all rose perfumes, starts strong and fast with a heady, sharp rose that has a bright and juicy citrus twist. Sadly, I'm missing the cardamom, one of my favorite things, but other reviewers find it notable. 

After a short time, tea unfolds like blossoms. For me, it's dry and soft. Other reviewers find it prominent and dominant. I swear my nose is working again - I just don't pick up what other people are putting down.

Shortly, a deeper rose emerges, softer than the opening, paired with a nice dry chocolate. This is the part I snuffle my nose into on my wrist.

The drydown is a natural progression to amber, cocoa, musk and sandalwood.

This perfume is powdered cocoa-dusted rose and a cup of tea. 

Rose Praline is linear, maybe. But full. Not cloying (once that first hit dies back). Not overly rich. A gentle intro into roses but not fully gourmand in my opinion. 
"Oriental Vanilla" per Fragrantica; projection is moderate with a dabber sample, perhaps I could imagine it more dramatic, sprayed; longevity is good, I get hours and hours. This scent is  feminine-to-unisex.  
Top notes are cardamom, bergamot and rose oil; middle notes are geranium, dark chocolate, rose and tea; base notes are amber, musk, sandalwood and cacao. (Fragrantica)
Disclosure: sample provided by reviewer


This blog has been out of commission due to seasonal allergies. 

I have never had Spring allergies before! I also caught a helluva cold that turned into bronchitis. Joy. 

Between those situations the schnoz hasn't been registering scents. I put on a perfume and minutes later it's dead air. 

Hey, do you get that nasty pollen covering everything like we do here in the Mid Atlantic? That stuff's almost gone and I'm hoping my nose starts working again once it is.

So tell me: do you have allergies? Have you ever developed one outta nowhere?