Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Aftelier Tango: a Scentimental Journey

As I sit here contemplating Aftelier's Tango and all the things it has brought to mind, I keep returning to something Mandy Aftel said to me about Tango recently in an email. Much like parts of the same person, or perhaps a group of people being thrown into a room together, she refers to the components of Tango as "'difficult' essences, and worked for a long time to create that smoothness with so many 'difficult' personalities." So, let's attempt to dissect this Sybil scent, shall we?

Tango is a rich, potent perfume that opens with a brilliantly warm punch of wild sweet orange interlaced with ginger. We meet Wild Sweet Orange and Ginger at the same time, and they can each be called upon at different times separately, and they also play nicely together. Let's call them The Twins. A damp, fresh tobacco absolute makes itself known quickly, and Tobacco is the man who has it all together. Tobacco reads good books in his classic leather armchair and wants to tell you all about them, he is entertaining to children and is the kind of man that women adore and men aspire to be like. He is here to stay (thank goodness). The Twins are helping Champaca (Mom's nickname) in the kitchen, and Coffee's knocking at the front door. This is where everything gets kind of strange. The Twins rush to the door to answer it, but they don't recognize Coffee, so they don't let him in the house. Coffee goes around to the back and tries again. No answer. So he goes to a side window, smashes it in, and climbs through the broken glass and tumbles down the hallway. The Twins are screaming, and where did Champaca go anyway? Never mind, here comes Tobacco! It turns out Coffee is Tobacco's old college friend, and everyone laughs in a slightly uncomfortable way at the mix-up. Coffee wouldn't take no for an answer, and it turns out that's a good thing, because the depth that he offers to the conversation is startlingly good, but he begs off early claiming he has somewhere else to be. Nobody believes him. Grandpa Tonka arrives just in time for dessert, and afterward, he and Tobacco go out into the backyard for a pipe. Ginger sneaks out the back door and is spying on them, trying to imagine what it's like to smoke a pipe. What she doesn't realize is that she exists inside the pipe

All analogies aside, Tango is indeed an unusual scent, and a beautiful one. From the pleasantly acidic opening to the leathery, woody aspect, and on to the almost incense-like soft drydown, it is a sentimental journey to be remembered fondly. It's just "off" enough, and just comforting enough that I have put it on my short list of favorite perfumes. It's one of the most elegant and warm tobacco scents I've had the chance to experience, and I will treasure my little screw-cap vial until it's empty, and then sell all of my (and my husband's) possessions to fill my bathtub with the amber-toned juice.

Why does Tango resonate so deeply with me? Is it because it's only human to have dissenting voices inside, fears, hopes, small comforts and big dreams? Maybe. What is simple, unassailable truth is that I'd waited too long to try Mandy Aftel's creations, and now I have some catching up to do.

Tango is available at Aftelier.com: 1/4 ounce perfume for $150, 30 ml edp spray for $150, 3.5 ml perfume pendant for $80, 2ml perfume mini  bottle for $45 and 1/4 ml samples for $6.

For a nice review of Aftelier's Memento, visit Scent Hive.

[sample provided for review by the perfumer]


  1. I loved your story! Now I'm wondering if I'm imagining the scent correctly - your story was really evocative in how it smells. :)

  2. A very enjoyable read, thank you!
    I am glad I can soon experience this odd family gathering myself, it shouldn't be to unfamiliar, I am used to weird families after all ;) (but who isn't?!)

  3. Hi Carrie,
    I've recenlty become intrigued by Tango and even more so after reading your great review.
    Many thanks

  4. It is beautiful! I am reading her book now, so illustrative and well documented.

    by the way, it is very important if you could reply to this comment and tell me the times where the fumechat take place so I can add them to my calendar and be alerted by cell phone. That would really help me so much.


  5. Beautiful non-fiction vinette!! Loved it! Best review I have read in a long time...! And now I am Totally snagged.

  6. Thank you everyone for your kind words! I had a lot of fun writing this one.

    Thanks Ines!! So you've tried Tango, and you don't remember it smelling quite like how I've described? I purposely tried not to read any other reviews of Tango so I wouldn't be influenced, but it's such a complex scent that I fear I may have left something out.

    Olfactoria- thank you! I am glad you'll be able to try Tango soon too, I hope you experience even a fraction of the joy I have with it.

    Hi Tara, it is an extremely intriguing scent, you're right! Sometimes, the choya (ground seashells) responsible in part for the faux-tabac captures my imagination and I think I can hear the sea roaring when I hold my wrist up to my ear.

    Hi Vintage Lady: As far as I know, Fumechat will be this Friday at 10pm Eastern US time. If it changes at all, I will personally let you know, but tou can plan on it being at that time.

    Dabney- thank you! I hope you have the chance to try Tango. I want the whole world to try just a little dab, then the juice will take it from there. (can you tell I'm just a little obsessed?)

  7. So nice to see a review of Tango! This is one of my holiest holy grail perfumes :)

  8. What a fun review! I love how you personified each ingredient and put them all in a domestic situation, with a twist! More perfume stories, please.

  9. Thank you Marina and Joanne! I hope to do more reviews like this in the future.

    I had to correct an error of mine that Mandy pointed out- there is actually tobacco absolute in Tango, not a faux-tabac concoction.

    I'm still unable to put anything other than Tango on my skin, so new reviews may have to wait a little while until I recover from this frenzy (if I ever do).