The vocabulary of luxury emphasizes its value as an indicator over its significance as an experience. Handbags, wristwatches, cars and the like. Lavishness as social weaponry. This dogmatic perspective on luxury is nothing new. In fact, I only bring it up because Aftel's ambergris-based Parfum Privé brings the focus of luxury back to experience, to pleasure.
Underlining the most extravagant floral essences, indolic orange blossom and the delicate peach-tea of osmanthus, ambergris gives the perfume a sumptuousness, an easy opulence. Ambergris is the Beluga caviar of perfume. Exotic, lush, rare, legendary. Like Beluga, ambergris's scarcity makes it costly. Both are symbols of affluence, but unlike Beluga, Ambergris isn't an acquired taste. At least not in Mandy Aftel's hands.
I understand the subjectivity of beauty but Parfum Privé feels universally sultry and lush. I cannot imagine someone finding it anything but appealing. Ambergris and Aftel are a perfect match. She presents perfume as modern alchemy and ambergris is one of the mystical fragrant materials. It famously stops the clock on more volatile materials. Aftel uses it to extends the life of the florals and give the perfume a lankiness, a drawl that seems to slow time. The perfume is hypersaturated, the theoretical 110%.
Today is the first day of Daylight Saving Time, a trick of the clock that grants a 25th hour to this special day. I have time and I'm in no rush. Parfum Privé is a perfect fit to the day.
I desperately wanted to love this perfume. It is quite expensive, with some of the rarest notes in perfume history. Ambergris! Osmanthus! I 'd read all about it, imagined it, anticipated the package. I eagerly opened the bottle, brought it to my nose, and- dried apricots! With a big slosh of Helichrysum. Not my favorite things, then again not the worst things in the world either. But wait- am I just having an off day- isn't this really a gilded palace in the tropics, full of exquisite rarities? Perhaps for some cultured noses, but for me, nothing except a rusty bowl of dried apricots soaked in brandy and beach flotsam, mixing with my tears.