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Around the Industry: WFFC Presents Natural Perfumery

Posted: May 12, 2008

Women in Flavor and Fragrance Commerce recently held a small evening event at Mane's Manhattan offices featuring a natural raw material and fragrance creation conversation with Mandy Aftel (Aftelier). Aftel is often spoken of in terms that pit her form of simple natural artisanal perfumery against that of mainstream fragrance creation, yet Aftel's presentation de-emphasized any such notion. Rather than being anti-synthetics (she is not), Aftel says she merely prefers naturals. She has culled a range of natural materials from numerous sources, including the old stocks of perfumers' estates (sandalwood) and small African herbivores. This latter source, the hyrax, produces waste matter that can be tinctured to produce the civet-castoreumlike Africa stone (also known as hyraceum).

Aftel's scents are constructed very simply compared to "traditional" contemporary perfumes, using on average just 18 materials. In addition, because she uses naturals, Aftel's scents have low tenacity, largely disappearing after a couple of hours. (She also uses undenatured 200 proof alcohol at about 70%.) Passing around blotters of materials, she demonstrated how she built her scent "Fig." The formula, starting from the base and moving up, includes:

  • fir absolute ("like strawberry jam")
  • tonka
  • (sweet) oakmoss
  • tolu balsam
  • lavender
  • jasmin sambac
  • blue chamomile
  • pink pepper absolute
  • organic grand fir
  • bois de rose
  • pink grapefruit