I have great difficulty reviewing fragrances. In fact, I've only reviewed one fragrance on this blog, Aftelier's Cepes and Tuberose. The primary reason I don't do fragrance reviews is that I just don't have the technical knowledge to dissect them into specific notes the way the other fragrance blogs do so amazingly well. Every time I feel almost ready to jump into perfume reviews, I revisit one of my favorite fragrance blogs and am totally overwhelmed by the knowledge displayed there.
However, there are times when I feel there isn't such a need for dissection. With certain fragrances, it's not as much about the distinct notes in the perfume as it is about the images and emotions brought forth and about the total sensory experience the perfume provides. So despite my relative ignorance in the world of fragrance, that's what I'm going to do today with Aftelier's Tango perfume.
I've waited to review Tango for quite some time, as I've had a really difficult time putting my experience into words. Mandy Aftel, founder of Aftelier and creator of Tango, describes it as "naughty" and "sexy", and she's right. In my opinion, it's her most complicated fragrance, revealing layer after layer of emotion and imagery.
Tango opens with a bright yet smoky sweet orange infused with ginger. Initially, it arrives as a sexy citrus (which I didn't know existed), evoking images of hot, uninhibited nights. I can almost see the dance floor filled with writhing bodies moving in tempo. The feeling I get from the first sniff of Tango is that of excitement, that feeling one gets when they are about to do something forbidden.
Almost immediately, though, Tango begins its dance on my skin, allowing the sweet and heavy champaca to emerge. As it slowly blends with the brighter top notes of sweet orange and ginger, the scent becomes nearly tropical on me. Adding to this sensation is the choya nakh, or roasted seashells, which bring forth the saltiness of the sea (or, more accurately perhaps, the saltiness of tears and sweat). The deep smokiness of the base begins to show itself, giving the fragrance a depth and dimension that is both rare and intriguing.
As Tango continues to evolve, the sweet, smoky notes begin to emerge, dancing in perfect accord with the choya nakh and the sweet champaca, held together with smooth tonka. I envision a dark, smoky dance club filled with beautiful men and women intent on fulfilling their most base desires. Tango at this point becomes incredibly complex, and it's easy to imagine that hot, sexy dance taking place before my eyes. I can feel the heat and the passion of the Tango, and I want to take part in it. As a hint of leather begins to come forth, the scent becomes animalic, bringing forth images of lust, love and loss.
Finally, it settles down a bit into a spicy, smoky base with the champaca weaving its way through, resulting in an intensely warm, rich fragrance. With the final drydown, the choya nakh reemerges, calling to mind hot summer nights and forbidden acts. It's incredibly sexy and dangerous, and it's also impossible to ignore.
I wear Tango when I long to be transported to another time and place, one in which there are few inhibitions. With Tango, it seems as if anything is possible, and that appeasing my most base instincts and desires is perfectly acceptable...and in fact, encouraged.
In my experience, all of Mandy Aftel's fragrances are similar in their ability to evoke intense emotion and imagery. Unlike most of the synthetic fragrances I'm familiar with, they are truly unique and completely personal. They are constantly evolving, and change slightly with each wearing, almost as if they are responding to my unique needs each time I apply them. I find myself sniffing my wrist all day to discover the newest incarnation, delighting in the subtle changes that take place through the hours. Wearing an Aftelier perfume is truly an extraordinary sensory experience unlike any other I've ever tried.
Aftelier perfumes can be found online at the Aftelier site.
Art work: Night Life by Michael/Vincent, Paragon Fine Art.