Perfume Directory

Memento Mori (2016)
by Aftelier

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Memento Mori information

Year of Launch2016
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
Not enough ratings.

People and companies

HouseAftelier
PerfumerMandy Aftel

About Memento Mori

Memento Mori is a shared / unisex perfume by Aftelier. The scent was launched in 2016 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Mandy Aftel

Reviews of Memento Mori

Exactly how would you construct a fragrance as a reminder of your mortality? What notes would you portray? With these questions in mind I emptied the vial over the crook of my arm and was promptly greeted by ...butter? Fatty, creamy and salty. Incredulous perhaps yet unmistakably butter. Within minutes however the butter resolved into something close to skin-like, warm sweaty-salty skin redolent of what smelled like baby oil.

A dark undercurrent grew in strength until the half-hour mark when it took over the centrestage. Bitter. Black. Resinous. Like spent coffee grounds, or the insides of an empty coffee cup. No trace of sugar, no sweetness, no cream. The dollop of butter in the opening act seemed to have melted into the backdrop. The juxtaposition of a bitter burnt element with the saltish fat underpinnings struck me as disturbingly familiar. Then it dawned on me. It was a scent I'd much rather forget. There was no cofee grounds. Nor was there butter. This was not a gourmand. It was the horrific scent of destruction, the sizzle of burning capillaries and shriveling adipose tissue at the end of a white-hot diathermy electrode.

Such a morbid imagery is likely to be mine and remains mine alone, having spent a little eternity at surgeries. While appropriate for the mortality concept, it makes me wonder why anyone would pay this much to smell this awful. That it was composed by a naturalist like Mandy made it doubly inexplicable. Even more ironic was that this mortal reminder flirted with immortality as it lingered on my skin beyond 10 hours and even survived a shower.
19th June, 2017
Mandy Aftel produced two new perfumes in 2016. Memento Mori, as the name implies, is a contemplation of mortality and consequence. Amber Tapestry is the salve for a wounded spirit. Given the conflict and vitriolic tenor of American politics in 2016, the two perfumes are poignant bookends to the year.

Did Aftel create Memento Mori and Amber Tapestry as commentary on the state of political strife? Doubtful. But do they suit the times? Do they offer an opportunity to make sense of them? For me they do.

Memento mori are images of death. As reminders of impermanence and mortality they are reassuring to some, terrifying to others. Perfumery is a durational art form and transience is inherent. What better form for a memento mori than a perfume?

Aftel creates a memento mori very different from the either the classical skull symbolism of portraiture/still life or the bizarre staged Victorian postmortem photographs. The former is clichť and the latter is gruesome to the modern eye, but both ask the viewer to consider mortality by looking at death. Aftel's perfume focuses on the nature of relationships and the brevity of life by making us think about skin, the shell that contains us, the handle that we use to hold onto each other. Skin is durable and fragile, beautiful yet commonplace. It is an outward sign to others (and to ourselves in the mirror) of the passage of time, aging and death.

Aftel presents skin in its entirety. Memento Mori ranges from the musky sweetness of a baby's softness to the seductive floral quality of mature, knowing flesh. It has acrid flashes---the skin of effort and struggle---but is grounded in the buttery intimacy of commingled bodies. The sense of skin pervades every bit of Memento Mori but it is still a perfume. It has all the attributes and aesthetics of perfumery and doesn't try to create a false authenticity by overemphasizing realism. I struggle for the right word to capture Memento Mori's representation to skin. Depiction? Portrayal? Tribute? I'll stick with adjectives. It is loving and honest.

Fragrance's language is elusive. It has to do with tone, not facts. Even if you can't put words to the qualities you find in a perfume, you can hear what it has to say. Creating a memento mori through fragrance is an ideal use of the olfactory medium and makes such sense that I catch myself nodding yes as I bring my nose to my wrist. Memento Mori has the distillation that I attribute to an artist's thorough understanding of her process.

The last part of daily yoga practice is an extended savasana, or corpse pose. It's an opportunity to think about your eventual death as you compose yourself and conclude your practice. I had a yoga teacher who used to say without a trace of irony, "OK. Now lie down and die." This is how I experience Aftel's perfume. The concept of the perfume is deep, but the experience is accessible. It's a balance that suits the subject perfectly.

*

Amber Tapestry is a big, cruisy floriental that fits late 2016 to a T. It satisfies my need for beauty as a rational response to the emotional and cognitive dissonance of the American election year. Tapestry is an apt metaphor for the perfume. A jasmine/resin accord is the weft that holds all the other notes woven through it. The putty-like density of heliotropin matches the hum of cinnamon to create a matte finish that allows the gasoline edges of the jasmine to ignite.

A choreographer I used to work with had a wonderful, looping bit of material that we used to dance because it felt so good. It was juicy and lush, with suspension and release that you could manipulate with all sorts of satisfying dynamics. It was called The Feel-Good Phrase. Amber Tapestry has the same sensibility. Engagement, pleasure and satisfaction. No small things these days.

(from scenthurdle.com)
24th January, 2017
If youíve read any of my other reviews, youíre probably aware that I favor the weird and the challenging. While this isnít the place to justify my rationale, I will say that Iím not into weird for weirdís sake; I come at perfume from two angles: the functional and the experiential. While the former is the norm (a scent you wear in a traditional manner), the latter (a scent you study and explore as a discrete aesthetic) is usually where I turn for innovation or drama. Innovation, by nature, should be discomforting in some way as itís about change, but innovation must also be coherent and make sense. Aftelierís recent Memento Mori falls squarely into this category and excels at the effect it produces.

Iíve never had the opportunity to try any of Mandy Aftelís perfumes mainly due to availability and cost, but I was able to get my nose on a fellow perfume writerís sample. A tiny dab to the back of my hand kept me engrossed for hours, and while sniffing other scents throughout the night, I kept returning to the spot where I applied it ó the mark of an intriguing composition. Be warned: this is a difficult scent, but itís also quite heartrending. It opens with visceral ripe cheese note, breaking away about twenty minutes later into a fleshy mix of clean sweat, salty butter, and semi-sweet decomposition. Throughout, thereís a steady cardboard-like impression that sometimes stems from iris as well as an incidental floral note to keep things from going too dark. The scentís as mesmerizing as it is disturbing. Itís not just carnal; itís animalic but in an atavistic, primitive manner. While it pushes the envelope in ways you canít really prepare yourself for, every aspect of it feels calculated, intentional, and curiously comforting. Itís long lasting and hums with low sillage, but scents like this really arenít about traditional metrics. Memento Mori is compulsory for anyone interested in what scents can accomplish beyond the realm of perfume niceties. A great introduction to a line Iíve been curious to check out for some time, and this is one Iíll be seeking out in some capacity or another to smell again as I canít get it out of my mind.
15th January, 2017

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