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Essence and Alchemy
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'Everything you ever wanted to know about perfume and more ... a fascinating guide to the history of perfume' IMAGE MAGAZINE '...An intoxicating cultural history of perfume full of anecdotes...set to be a...classic. It's probably the ultimate...present for the modern aesthete - a treasure trove of tales about the magic of scent.' EVENING STANDARD 'In her new book, Essence and Alchemy, expert perfumer Mandy Aftel offers a beginner's guide to making your own blend of essences.' DAILY RECORD

About the Author

Mandy Aftel is the founder of Aftelier, through which she creates one-of-a-kind perfumes for individuals and private labels. She is also a counselor who specializes in working with artists and writers. She is the author of three previous books, most recently THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Reviews

To this most extraordinary treatise on the history and making of perfume, Aftel, a writer and aroma designer, brings sheer delight in the bouquet of aromas in the natural world, as well as a "love for arcana" and an irreverent sensibility that embraces "little-acknowledged" aphrodisiacs like the smell of sweat. Smell is one of the most primal senses: even newborns orient first toward the smell of their mothers' milk. And world history is full of the manipulation of smell, she reveals, starting with the palace perfumers of ancient Egypt; the Israelite women who concocted essences for temple sacrifices; the Romans, who anointed nearly everything; the alchemists, who searched for the Divine Essence; all the way up to modern pheromone researchers who hope, finally, "to snare the sex drive." Aftel traces this history with witty anecdotes (Ben Franklin's plea for a drug to make sweet-smelling farts, Petrus Castellus's advice to rub civet directly on the penis) and well-chosen alchemical and botanical illustrations. After this seductive introduction, she shifts into the how-to mode, discussing the actual making of a scent, a process of selecting certain "base notes," adding "heart notes" and finally the "top chords." Her emphasis is on experimenting, and developing an "olfactory consciousness." Since organically based perfumes interact with the wearer, they must be designed for a particular user, not vice versa, as with commercial, synthetically based products. Aftel provides some sample formulas and concludes with a roundup of romantic, bathing and spiritual uses of perfumes. Agent, Peter Matson. (June) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

'Probably the ultimate Christmas present for the modern aesthete' Evening Standard

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