The first time I smelled the raw material of benzoin, I was flush with bliss. The earthy vanillic scent wafting from the glass jar that housed pieces of the resin was pure heaven to me. I was smitten. Even though that evening was over eight years ago, I can still recall the interplay between soft vanilla and dark soil and I wanted a perfume of only benzoin. Labdanum is another cherished aroma for me, and I was able to smell its raw material that same evening. Labdanum is also a sweet resin, but it’s richer with a leathery smokiness that begs to be worn on a cold night. It probably comes as no surprise that both of these resins are frequently used together in perfumery and make up the the backbone of amber perfumes, and Amber Tapestry is no exception.
Amber Tapestry is the newest release from Mandy Aftel, and it is a lustrous brocade of both benzoin and labdanum woven together with jasmine sambac and jasmine grandiflorum. I love that Mandy combined these two jasmines in order to create a full floral experience in Amber Tapestry. Yet, for all of the floral beauty that is present, for me, Amber Tapestry always comes back to the benzoin. And this is the part of writing a review that really excites me, trying to figure out why. What in particular about this fragrance is drawing out the benzoin? Is it the inclusion of heliotropin which has a vanilla aspect? Is Mandy’s subtle use of cinnamon luring out the facet that resides within benzoin? Whatever it is, I am thoroughly enjoying this amber perfume that heightens the benzoin, at least on my skin.
If you’re not familiar with Mandy Aftel’s perfumes, they are free from synthetics, parabens, glycols, and petrochemicals. She hand blends and bottles all of her products in small batches in her lovely Berkeley, California studio which I have had the pleasure of visiting. Mandy and I shared tea and great conversation and like the evening I first smelled benzoin and labdanum, I was able to smell glorious essences in their raw state.
Speaking of tea, my package from Mandy included samples of her Organic Aged Pu-erh Tea in Tangerine in addition to Amber Tapestry, a perfect pairing as both provide warmth and comfort for the soul during these cold, short days. Soft and enveloping fragrances are always welcome during these chilly months of course, but Amber Tapestry is more than that. Its overall effect is that of golden adornment which has swirls of earthy vanilla and sensuous jasmine to catch the light and rich suede to add texture and richness within its fabric.
If Amber Tapestry sounds enticing but you aren’t quite ready to make the investment, samples are available on Mandy’s website. And please note that castoreum is included in this perfume, so this is not vegan or even vegetarian, however Mandy does use a vintage source.
Top: heliotropin, yellow mandarin.
Heart: jasmine grandiflorum, jasmine sambac, pear, cinnamon.
Base: ambreine, labdanum, maltol, benzoin, castoreum, ambergris, coumarin.
Amber Tapestry available at Aftelier.com: $180 for 8ml. Samples are $6