Today is American Independence Day. I live in Australia and while this holiday has no significance here, it struck me as interesting that several new fragrances by American independent perfumers have been released recently and sent to me for review, all in time for Independence Day! So much of what’s interesting and innovative in perfume these days is coming out of the American indie perfume scene, and as the Fourth of July is upon us, I thought I’d devote the next week to reviewing three new releases by American perfumers. Today’s review is of Aftelier Perfumes’ new solid fragrance, Bergamoss. Over the coming week I will also review Anya’s Garden’s Enticing, and the brand new Frida from En Voyage Perfumes.
When opening a parcel from Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes, you are always in for a treat. Not only did I feel like I had won the “golden ticket” when this beautiful golden parcel arrived complete with whimsical sticker, but the tiny little purple-and-orange-patterned box inside, complete with handwritten note, made me feel spoilt, like this was a very special gift just for me. And what a gift Bergamoss is!
As you can see, Aftelier Perfumes’ new solid perfume, a chypre, comes in the most fantastic shade of pale olive green. I’m easily suggestible to such things, but this fragrance really does smell like the colour. Bergamoss smells quite herbaceous and fresh, like plants and grasses, and showcases the fresh lightness of bergamot. But this greenness coexists with a syrupy-sweet orange, a smidge of a very natural peach note, and loads of oak moss.
Bergamoss is slightly bitter-sweet when it goes on. It reminds me a little of chinotto, that refreshing, sweet, yet bitter Italian soft drink, made from the juice of the fruit from the myrtle-leaved orange tree (Citrus myrtifolia). I suspect this bitter-sweet effect is created by the amalgam of sweet orange tempered by the bitter oakmoss. Like chinotto, this perfume also has a subtle effervescence, a fizz and a tang created by the citruses and green notes. Yet it is also rich and solid, grounded and anchored by the oakmoss, a subtle waft of earthy, warm nutmeg, and is rounded out by coumarin.
Bergamoss also includes a couple of very exciting ingredients that I’ve not had the pleasure of smelling before: flouve, a rarely used grass that smells of sweet hay, coumarin and green notes, and antique civet. Unless real civet lurks in one of my antique fragrances (I only own a few), I’m not sure ever I’ve smelt this either: synthetic civet is used much more often in perfumery these days. In any case, I’m not sure I can detect the civet (not as a fecal note, anyway) and to me, the flouve blends in to the general “greenness” of the fragrance, without being particularly distinct. However, as I’ve never smelt flouve in isolation, I’m not quite sure of the exact smell I’m trying to detect.
Bergamoss has a classical character and smells like a vintage fragrance of a bygone era. No doubt the antique civet and the other high-quality ingredients used in this all-natural solid perfume contribute to this impression, as well as Aftel’s adherence to a traditional chypre structure that pairs citruses with oakmoss. Even the name “Bergamoss” is a clever play on words with two of this chypre’s key ingredients: bergamot and moss.
Bergamoss is a solid perfume and as such does not beam and shout its presence to all and sundry. It does however radiate beautifully from my skin, especially when I sit and knit or type while wearing it on my wrists. The movement and the heat from my body gently warms the fragrance, creating a halo that sits 1-2 feet from the skin. It is an intimate fragrance, and if you want it to last longer than about 2 hours, you will need to reapply. Bergamoss is unisex and really does sit right in the middle of the gender spectrum: I genuinely think it would wear very well on either sex.
Bergamoss retails for $240 USD for 8ml of solid perfume in a sterling silver case, and is available direct from Aftelier’s website. You can also request that the perfume be poured into one of several unique, antique cases (including watch cases, snuff boxes and compacts), for a little extra.
You can read more about Bergamoss at the Aftelier website, and I strongly recommend reading Mandy Aftel’s own description of the fragrance at this link, as she describes the ingredients and the role each of them plays in this very elegant composition.
Warmest thanks to Mandy Aftel for providing the sample of Bergamoss for me to review.