Rave Reviews for Ayala's New Book

A few days ago, I received this incredibly supportive feedback about my book from my fellow perfumer and renown author Mandy Aftel. I simply had to share! 
"This wonderful new book is a welcome addition to the literature on natural perfumery! Ayala Moriel's techniques are born of her talent, intelligence and long experience, and she gives a solid foundation in the basics, via formulas, detailed instructions, a glossary, and information on suppliers. You will be smitten with both her expertise and her enthusiasm."


Palimpsest is the literary equivalent of a double exposure: the layers of an old scripture overlapping with newer texts (though probably still rather ancient). Old scrolls or parchamanet paper were either rinsed or scraped to remove the old content, likely for economic reasons. Or perhaps the old text had to be concealed? The reason might always remain a mystery. The result is rich, textured and ultimately fascinating - like playing hide and seek with history. The top layer is interrupted by the older layers, which can never be completely erased (and in some cases, over time the ink's pigments intensify after they have been supposedly erased). And the bottom layers obscured both by the purposeful wiping off, and because of the dominance of the newer layers.

The perfume of that name, the newest from Aftelier, opens with a burst of fresh, juicy citrus notes of yuzu and wild orange. They are simply bursting with life. But underneath it you can already feel there is much more going on. A mysterious, woody-floral note makes itself known from the start, the haunting and strange fire tree, reminiscent of lilac, dried ink on a charred-edged paper. Animals notes of indole, leather and woods steadily proceed to the forefront, with a finale that is identical (to my nose) to the surprisingly fecal odour of mammoth bone, almost sickly-sweet and strangely floral.

I love how layered and rich and multi-dimensional this perfume is. And also how Mandy Aftel's creations have become both more conceptual and highly personal over the recent couple of years. You can see it in the names, which no longer refer mostly to the ingredients; but also to the perfumer's own fascination, and her personal experiences.

Top notes: Gamma dodecalactone, phenyl acetic acid, yuzu
Heart notes: Jasmine Grandiflorum, Peach, Ylang Ylang
Base notes: Firetree, Vanilla, Ambergris 

Scent Event: Mandy Aftel at Cacao in PDX

Attention Portlanders: Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes, author of the new book Fragrant will be in PDX tomorrow night, Thursday at Cacao Chocolate Shop from 5-6pm. 
They have divine chocolate from small-batch makers, and it's also the only place that sells her Chocolate Body Oil and Cacao perfume! 

Mandy will be talking about her new book, as well as serve chocolates flavoured with her Chef Essences. More details on Facebook, where you can also RSVP and invite all your chocaholic friends. There will also be a lucky draw to win a Chocolate Saffron body oil and a Cacao perfume mini.

414 SW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97205

Thursday, December 18th, 5-6pm. 

For additional information contact:

 (503) 241-0656

Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent

I've had the pleasure and honour to receive a media copy of Fragrant, the new book by Mandy Aftel. It is no secret that Mandy is a great writer, and diving into her book was quite a treat. Especially after months of hard work on my own book - it was like a retreat from all the editing, polishing and spell-checking...

When Mandy initially told me about the book, its premise sounded like a personality study of five essences, and how they correspond to five different appetites of the human nature. The essences are: Cinnamon, Mint, Frankincense, Ambergris and Jasmine. A companion kit was also sent to me from the publisher (which you can purchase at Aftelier.com), with a beautiful chunk of frankincense in the middle, and little vials of the other four essences. In reality, the book covers way more than just five essences, extending to spices in general in the chapter on cinnamon; other herbs in the chapter on mint (botanically speaking, many of the fragrant plants used in perfumery are in fact from the mint family - including lavender, basil, sage and the like); the chapter on frankincense talks about many other resins, wood essences and incense in general; amebrgris covers all manner of animal extracts and the myths surrounding their phenomenal magic; and the chapter on jasmine talks about the rarity and fleeting beauty of floral extracts, which are at the heart of Aftel's aesthetic philosophy.  

From the outside, the book is exceptionally beautiful, with meticulous attention to detail as would be expected from any other product that comes under Mandy's artistic direction. The dustcover is a shimmering orange-and-purple colour combination that has become the Aftelier trademark, brimming with historical illustrations from the author's personal collection of historic perfume books (as many would have expected to find after reading Essence and Alchemy), and with deckle edged pages (AKA uncut pages), which allude to a period when most things, even printed books, had a handmade component to them, namely the reader had to slice open each page, as they read along.

In Fragrant, Mandy Aftel really opens up about her creative process, aesthetics and philosophy. To me what was most surprising element of the book. I had many expectations from this book, which was greatly anticipated (Mandy told me about it being in the works about two years ago), but this by far was not anything I would have expected to find there. There is more detail than usual about the creative process, and this is also demonstrated in building subsequently more complex perfumes in the formulae provided for each chapter (another pleasant surprise - but I should have known better: all of Mandy Aftel's book include recipes, so why would this book be any exception, right? I still did not expect it, somehow). For each chapter, you'll find a collection of recipes that are themed around this chapter's theme. For each of the essences, there is a simple accord of 2-4 essences for a solid perfume, a perfume oil and a body oil recipe, and then also an alcohol-based perfume formula, which is more complex and builds upon the initial note and its companions in a more intricate, sophisticated way. There are also some intriguing edible recipes from Deana Sydney's blog, Long Past Remembered. For example, frankincense and lavender shortbread.

The book is very similar to Essence and Alchemy in its breadth and attention to detail, presented in an almost fairytale-like style. The beauty of this new book is the perspective of the author some 13 years later, which comes from both experience in teaching her craft, and running an artisan perfume business. It is delightful to see that much passion still infused into one's art after all these years.

The two books - albeit the 13 years that separate between them - beautifully complement each other, and I recommend both for anyone who cares about perfume, and also for those who are beginning to delve into the art of blending. Last but not least, the book truly highlights the value and benefit of artisan perfumery in our day and age, and anything that is handmade. And with now being the season of excessive consumerism, I think this book brings to the fore important food for thought about our relationship to the material world and how it reflects our culture, innermost desires, connections to others, and more.
Fragrant can be purchased via most major book stores and online, or better yet - directly from Aftelier, where you can also get the companion kit. 

Perfumers' Afternoon Tea @ Alembique 23.03.2013

Last Saturday, on March 23rd, we hosted a perfumers' afternoon tea at Alembique - an up and coming perfume boutique in Berkeley (901 Hearst Ave) that will open to the public exactly a month from today, on May 1st.

Alembique's sign - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

It was my dream come true: hosting a tea party for all the wonderful perfumers in the Bay Area who have been most kind to me in my countless visits to San Francisco in the past 2 years. It was my way of expressing my gratitude, and giving back to this very warm, vibrant, supportive and creative community. There was also a hidden agenda - I wanted to try out hosting a tea party with my daughter outside of my own studio space. We both love hosting those parties, and I have a vision of traveling the world with her when she finishes school, connect with new people and cultures through tea, and get to know the world. This was a very successful experiment!

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
Me and Miss T arriving in Alembique, Berkeley

Painting the shop!
Team Alembqieu painting the shop, hanging the signs...
Photo by Babak (Alembique's shop owner)

Elise Setting up the Window Display
Setting up the window display
Photo by Babak (Alembique's shop owner)

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
Put a bird on it!
Love how that big shadow looks like a perfume bottle...

Shopping for breads at ACME Bakery
Lineup outside of ACME bakery in Berkeley

Shopping for breads at ACME Bakery
They do everything at ACME - excpet slice your bread for you... SO Berkeley...!

Shopping for breads at ACME Bakery
There is more bread than a girl!

Tamya making Halva cookies
Miss T making halva cookies (tahini shortbreads)

Email break while preparing for the tea party
Social media break in the Alembqieu courtyard...

Rose Petals & Almond Biscuits
Rose and almond ice box cookies - before and after. These turned out so good that I didn't even have a chance to taste one... Will be making more for my Hanami tea party on Sunday, April 7th.

Rose Petals & Almond Biscuits - Fresh from the oven!

Ras El Hanout Fudgey Brownies - fresh from the oven!
The fudgiest, tastiest, most exotique brownies ever: with ras el hanout, and gluten free.

And here's a little glimpse into tea-party central (photo by Babak Nahid, Alembique's owner):
Behind the Tea
Making the truffles with Miss T, Bruno Fazzolari and his daughter, Lily (Babak took that one too).
Making Ylang Ylang & Cassis Truffles with Bruno, Lily and Tamya

Ragna Rostad-Ruffner & Elise Pearlstine
Ragna Rostad-Ruffner (Divine Life Perfumes) and Elise Pearlstine (Bellyflowers Perfumes) helping me at the kitchen. The preparations were just as fun as the tea itself: A true community effort, and so great to work with everyone. Did I mention yet that it was my dream come true?

Whimsical displays at Alembqiue (photos courtesy of Yosh Han)

Ayala Moriel Parfums display at Alembique - notice the new packaging!
Ayala Moriel Parfums display at Alembique - with and without the perfumer (photographed on my iPhone by the Phil, the generous and gentle Alembique landlord, who kindly let me take over his kitchen for 2 days!
Notice my new packaging...!
Ayala Moriel Parfums display at Alembique

Everyone who came to the salon was invited, but not everyone could come. And then - I did not take photos of everyone either... But there were wonderful perfumers and scent artists from all over North America - even from as far away as Florida (Elise Pearlstine from Bellyflowers Perfume/Tambela), Magie Mahboubian (Parfums Lalun), Dannielle Sergent (COGNOSCENTI), Yosh Han (YOSH Olfactory Sense), Miriam Vareldzis (40notes), Josh Meyer (Imaginary Authors), Ineke Ruhland & Bill O'Such (Ineke Perfumer San Francisco), Bruno Fazzolari, Bill and Lily (Bruno Fazzolari Editions), Mandy Aftel and Foster Curry (Aftelier), Ragna Rostad-Ruffner (Divine Life Perfumes), Mario T. Gomez (Fragrance Ambassador extraordinaire), JK DeLapp, Ross Urrere (Urrere Aromatics), who in the spirit of sharing brought his incredible loose incense blend Ocean of Night (I will have to dedicate a post to that), Jennifer Caine (Smells & Bells), Sherri Sebatian (Sebastian Signs), Lisa Camasi, Laurie Stern (Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery), Lisa Fong (Artemisia Natural Perfume), Sanae Barber (Sanae Intoxicants), Yuko Fukami (Parfum Phyto); and of course team Alembique - Babak Nahid, Erinn, Jasper, Phil, and Dodger.    
Bruno Fazzolari and Magie Mahboubian
Bruno Fazzolari sharing his debut collection that debuted at the show the next day. Everyone enjoyed it so much! In the picture above you can see Bruno proudly watching Magie Mahboubian from Parfums Lalun explore his scents. And below, Miriam Vareldzis from 40notes and having a moment of bliss while inhaling his first fragrance creation, Five. It's a classic citrus scent that was the 5th piece in an art show that included 4 of his paintings. 
Miriam Vareldzis experiencing Bruno's perfume

Bruno Fazzolari Editions pre-reveal at the tea!
Bruno's debut collection of 5 perfumes.

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
Mandy and Foster have served Aftelier's amazing scented teas - GABA Oolong with Frankincense and the Jasmine & Mint oolong.

Mario, Mandy, Foster & Miriam 
Miriam Vareldzis, Foster Curry, Mandy Aftel and Mario T. Gomez having a conversation over a cup of tea. 

 Babak Nahid and Ross Urrere - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Apple Blossom wall at Alembqiue - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Bruno and Bill - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Dodger - the alchemical dog - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 
Erinn Nahid - Alembqiue partner and curator (and the event's ad-hoc decorator and florist) - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Glowing Ineke - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 
 Elise and Yosh - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Jennifer & Sherri - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 
Another stellar portrait courtesy of Yosh Han  this time of the hostess.

Mario, Dannielle and a parallel-universe group photo! - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
The full spread... Was too busy hosting, so did not have time to take photos of each individual plate.

The menu was as follows:
Tea sandwiches:
Spicy Moroccan carrots with roasted pepper hummus.
Minted radishes
Cucumber & watercress
Classic egg salad

Scones: aniseed & malepi (black cherry pit) scones served with creme fresh (Berkeley Bowl did not have fresh Devonshire cream, if you can believe it!) and with raspberry jam and fig preserves.

Raw & vegan coconut macarons
Rose & Almond Shortbreads
Saffron Shortbreads
Fudgey Brownies with Ras el Hanout (my secret recipe, which really has the best spices imaginable!)
Ylang Ylang & Creme de Cassis truffles

Teas served:
Osmanthus flower tea (herbal)
Ayala Moriel's Espionage tea (lapsan suchong with jasmine petals, rosebuds, vanilla and ambrette seeds) - not yet released
Aftelier's Frankincense GABA Oolong
Aftelier's Jasmine & Mint Oolong
Thai tea (courtesy of fragrance ambassador Mario T. Gomez)

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