My Process of Creating Perfume
I started making natural perfumes almost 30 years ago. I create each of my perfumes from the comprehensive collection of strikingly beautiful natural essences that I have assembled over the years from hidden corners of the world. Finding these essences is a quest that I enjoy as much as the act of creating with them. Often I smell a dozen versions of the same oil, searching for one that surpasses all the rest. Some of the essences in my palette are antiques that have aged for many decades, like fine wines.
Everything I make is free from synthetics, parabens, glycols, and petrochemicals. I hand-blend and bottle all my products in small batches in my Berkeley, California studio, and personally attend to every detail of the process in creating every product. I love adding a sense of luxury and well-being to people’s lives.
As the founder of Aftelier Perfumes, I have been hailed as one of the fragrance industry’s “most prolific talents” by Vogue and an “angel of alchemy” by Vanity Fair, and listed as one of the top seven bespoke perfumers in the world by Forbes. I am an advisor at The Institute for Art and Olfaction, which has created the annual Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume in my honor, and in 2022 honored me with the Septimus Piesse Visionary Award for my lifetime achievements.
Collaboration with Chefs and Flavor Work
Since 2003, I have been supplying my Chef’s Essences® to the finest chefs and mixologists, along with many artisanal producers of fine chocolate, ice cream, candies, and baked goods. I pioneered the use of essential oils in home cooking, with James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Patterson in our book
Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance.
I have taught about flavor at the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, California; the American Museum of Natural History; the James Beard Foundation; the French Laundry in Yountville, CA; the London Design Festival; and in conjunction with the Slow Food movement. I have made food-related media appearances on CNN, the National Geographic channel, and PBS's “Diary of a Foodie.”
I have written 5 books on natural essences & perfume:
- The Art of Flavor, a cookbook written with Michelin-star chef Daniel Patterson, helps you learn the simple rules for cooking without recipes.
- Fragrant, winner of the Perfumed Plume Award, explores the profound connection between our sense of smell and the appetites that move us, give us pleasure, make us fully alive.
- Essence and Alchemy has been translated into eight languages and was the winner of The Sense of Smell Institute’s Richard B. Solomon Award.
- Aroma, also with chef Daniel Patterson, focuses on the essential link between food & fragrance and includes recipes for both.
- Scents & Sensibilities guides the reader through the history and creation of solid perfumes.
I am also the author of
The Story of Your Life: Becoming the Author of Your Experience; When Talk Is Not Cheap; and Death of a Rolling Stone: The Brian Jones Story.
Selected Interviews and Profiles:
Salon.com: "A perfumer's obsessive quest to recreate the fragrance of lost love"
Jesse Dylan Wondros video: "Follow Your Nose | Mandy Aftel"
I Am Heretic podcast: "The Queen of Natural Perfume, Mandy Aftel"
Perfume On the Radio podcast (@21 min): "A Perfumer's Nature"
Los Angeles Public Library video podcast: "Conversations With a Natural Perfumer"
Institute for Art and Olfaction video: "Meet a Nose: Mandy Aftel"
Sir Taliafero video: "Diary of a Perfumer: Mandy Aftel"
Realize Magazine video: "Chat with Mandy Aftel"
Airmid Institute: "Mandy Aftel Sustainability Interview"
Fragrantica: "Rich and Tangled History: Perfumer and Author Mandy Aftel"
NYT Style-Singapore: "Person to Know: A Historian and Archivist of Scent"
Allure: "Women in Fragrance Are Finally Getting the Recognition They Deserve"
Perfumer & Flavorist: "The Juice: Mandy Aftel – Changing the Perfume Game"
NY Times: "The World's Most Dedicated Natural Perfumer"
Forbes: "Startup Stories - Why Doing Something You Love Is A Great Business Plan"
ELLE: "All Your Perfume Questions Answered"
The Autumn Salon: "The Alchemy of Perfume"
The Institute for Art and Olfaction 2022 SEPTIMUS PIESSE VISONARY AWARD
HALL OF FAME
BEST NATURAL PERFUMER
My mentor, my teacher and my beautiful friend Mandy Aftel, you paved the way for so many of us to practice this extraordinary art of natural perfumery.
— Douglas Little, Heretic Parfum
Mandy Aftel is a recognized authority in Natural Perfume and a true pioneer in the modern field of Naturals
— Rochelle Bloom, President, Fragrance Foundation
Mandy Aftel is one of the fragrance industry's most creative thinkers, not to mention one of its most prolific talents.
Mandy Aftel is an indisputable icon in the world of perfumery, and quite arguably, the Mother of Natural Perfumery.
Mandy Aftel is the perfumery guru and pioneer who managed to alight an all naturals aromatics Renaissance with her body of work and especially her seminal book, Essence & Alchemy, the cornerstone on which the naturals movement has flourished.
— Perfume Shrine
Aftelier is for me and many others the gold standard of natural perfumes.
The trend toward using natural ingredients was pioneered by perfumer and author Mandy Aftel.
Mandy Aftel is like the Alice Waters of American natural perfume
Mandy Aftel has spearheaded the artisanal natural perfumery movement in the United States
— Now Smell This
Natural fragrance guru
— San Francisco magazine
Mandy Aftel is truly a fragrance genius
— Beauty View
Angel of Alchemy
— Vanity Fair
A natural perfume maker with a media dossier that rivals any A-list celebrity
— Body and Soul
Highly sophisticated blends
— Town and Country
Couture fragrance...one of Hollywood's chicest secrets
Aftelier Perfumes: most wanted...perfectly chic
— Harper's Bazaar