Aftelier Perfumes – Cuir de Gardenia – Mandy Aftel – Book Update

Mandy Aftel is currently writing a book of which we have yet to hear even a whisper of the title. The book will be finished by the end of this year. I know Mandy has been enjoying researching the deep human connection to natural aromatics in fragrance and flavor but that is such a grand scale of a topic I can only look forward to hearing more soon. As I am a careful listener I have just heard a whisper that sounds like a working title of Fragrant: Five Aromas that make us Human. (Edit: that was the working title. The updated book title and content overview is near the end of this post).

Mandy has also been working with a natural ingredient that until now has always been synthesized in perfumery: Gardenia. She has discovered a source for real gardenia absolute and to hold this natural scent in a perfume she has concocted an oil, a solid perfume and a mini-extrait.

Tiare, the Tahitian Gardenia.

Tiare, the Tahitian Gardenia.

This is a breakthrough moment for gardenia ‘fume lovers. The issue with gardenia oil is that when it leaves its heated homeland the scent changes to ‘off’ or more precisely, indolic at the unpleasant end of the spectrum. It is unstable when taken out of its natural tropical environment. We are talking about Tiare here, the gardenia that is native to Polynesia so my guess is that Tahiti or New Caledonia is probably the source. In these islands the local people make manoi oils. Tourists are often charmed by the scent of these oils until they arrive back home. This has happened to me. Locally these oils are used for tanning, moisturising skin and hair as well as for bath and massage oil. Manoi oil is coconut oil usually blended with the Tahitian gardenia known as Tiare but also with frangipani, ylang ylang and vanilla, in an enfleurage type process. Coconut oil is the carrier fat for the scent.



I like perfume oil; it is usually strong, potent and a sensory pleasure to apply. Solid perfume? Not so much unless this is the only way to waft a certain scent like…

Cuir de Gardenia, the name of this new release. Wow! I have not tried this yet but here are the details from the Press Release which includes Mandy’s reaction to working with this ingredient. Let’s go straight to the heart…

Cuir de Gardenia retains the unique beauty of the tiare flower, not allowing it to morph into the hundreds of petals of a floral bouquet.

One trembles in awe, metaphorically, when blending with the incomparably sumptuous tiare (gardenia) absolute. I had been incredibly fortunate to find an artisanal grower and distiller of the ultra-rare, costly, precious gardenia.

In Cuir de Gardenia, I wanted to retain the pure loveliness of the creamy sweet and singular gardenia fragrance, and knew that the rounded warmth of an oil-based perfume (solid and extrait) would be the perfect format.

There was no doubt that the sexy, rich aroma of castoreum was the perfect counterpoint for the gardenia; a yang for its yin. The ideal leather aroma is a marriage between some antique castoreum absolute I had gotten from an old perfumer’s estate with a tincture that I made from sustainably sourced castor pods. These two scents are quite distinct — the antique aroma is more leather & intense, while the freshly made is sweet, powdery & musky.

Cuir de Gardenia is unusual in that it has no top notes; I created it in such a way that the gardenia appears immediately, unimpeded from the opening of the perfume onward, merging seamlessly with the leather. The natural isolates ethyl phenyl acetate (reminiscent of a bunch of sweet peas) and the candy-like maltol contribute sweet and floral notes to the animalic base of the perfume.

Mandy Aftel
Aftelier Perfumes

(Edit: I have since reviewed this ‘fume. This and also other reviews are listed here.)

Cuir de Gardenia
Aftelier Perfumers
Perfumer: Mandy Aftel
Release Date: November 2013
Straight to the Heart: tiare (gardenia) absolute, jasmine grandiflorum absolute, benzyl acetate.
Dry Down: castoreum, ethyl phenyl acetate, malto
Solid perfume – 1/4 ounce sterling silver compact $US240

For more information on the scent of a solid wax perfume please see Cuir de Gardenia Part 3 – The Wax Solid Perfume Option.

Perfume Oil – 1/4 ml sample $US6


For the Holiday 2013 season, a limited-edition extrait version of Cuir de Gardenia is available in a mini 2 ml bottle $US55

Aftelier Perfumes – website

Further Reading
Perfume Shrine – review
Riktig Parfym – Cuir de Gardenia – review
The Non-Blonde – Cuir de Gardenia – review
The Fragrant Man – review – Olfactory Orgasm
The Black Narcissus – Cuir de Gardenia – reaction
Aftelier Perfume – The Secret Accord – Ancient Resins
Olfactoria’s Travels – Tea Time with Mandy Aftel
Té de Violetas – Mandy Aftel interviewed by Virginia Blanco / Ylang Organic Face Elixir . (The English version is below the Spanish version.)
Smelly Thoughts – a boatload of natural narcotics
Kafkaesque – review
Fragrantica – Elena Vosnaki interviews Mandy Aftel The Viewpoint of the Artisan Businesswoman and Perfumer.

For more information on the scent of a solid wax perfume please see Cuir de Gardenia Part 3 – The Wax Solid Perfume Option.

12 responses to “Aftelier Perfumes – Cuir de Gardenia – Mandy Aftel – Book Update

    • And I am intrigued by a leather gardenia. Back to your book now Mandy, but thank you for taking the time out to comment. Always a delight to have a comment from Fragrance Royalty.

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