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The Museum of Scent

The Museum of Scent

Exploring the Curious and Wondrous World of Fragrance

By (author) Mandy Aftel


Publishing 3rd Oct 2023
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    • An abundantly illustrated exploration of the natural and cultural history of scent, from Mandy Aftel, bespoke perfumer to the stars 
    • Inspired by the Aftel Archive of Curious Scent, Aftel’s one-room museum in Berkeley, CA, which has been featured in the New York TimesVogueGoopO: The Oprah Magazine, and numerous other media outlets 
    • Explores the raw materials of the natural perfumer — natural botanical essences and precious substances such as oud and frankincense — which make up their own world, rich with lore 
    • Illustrated with antique botanical woodcuts hand-coloured by Aftel herself, and photographs of treasures from her museum: antique essential oil bottles, chunks of ambergris, the handwritten recipes of ancient perfumers
    • Includes a bookmark, subtly scented with a natural essence (in a sealed pouch)
    Full Description

    Breathe in the natural and cultural history of scent with this richly illustrated book inspired by the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.
    Mandy Aftel is one of the world’s leading bespoke perfumers, with a clientele ranging from the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen to Sir Jony Ive, the former chief design officer of Apple. Eschewing the synthetic molecules that dominate commercial perfumes, Aftel creates her complex and subtle fragrances using only natural essences. For her, each of these essences is a gateway to a lost world of scent, stretching back to the beginnings of human civilisation and intertwined with the history of medicine, cuisine, adornment, sexuality, and spirituality. In 2017, Aftel opened a one-room museum — the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents — in her backyard in Berkeley, California, to help a modern audience rediscover the enchantment of this lost world. Her museum has attracted thousands of enthusiastic visitors and has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Goop, O: The Oprah Magazine, and numerous other media outlets. Now Aftel has created this beautiful book, illustrated with treasures from her museum’s collection, so that readers at home can immerse themselves in the world of scent. She guides us through the different families of botanical fragrances (including flowers, woods, leaves and grasses, and resins), depicting each plant with a hand-coloured antique woodcut and revealing its olfactory notes and lore. Special chapters are devoted to the most rare and precious fragrances — such as ambergris, formed of a rare secretion of the sperm whale — and to antique essential oil bottles, handwritten recipe books, and other evocative artefacts. The Museum of Scent, which includes a bookmark subtly scented with a natural essence, invites us on a sensuous, imaginative journey.

    About the Author

    Mandy Aftel, an internationally known artisan perfumer and authority on natural fragrance, is the owner of Aftelier Perfumes and the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in Berkeley, California. Her other books include Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume, which helped sparked the natural perfume renaissance and has been translated into eight languages. Aftel's work has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and numerous other major outlets.

    Abbeville Press
    Publish date
    3rd Oct 2023
    World excluding USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand
    228 mm x 228 mm
    252 Pages
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