Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Shiso by Aftelier Perfumes

"You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."  -Morpheus

That was what come to my mind when I thing about Aftelier Perfumes Shiso - my little red pill. It's really that different, that unique and interesting. A whole new universe of how a scent can be opened up for me. And luckily, I ended up in a truly beautyful rabbit hole indeed.

But, it's not just the scent of Shiso that is unique, it also seems to wear differently on me than other scents. As far as I'm aware of perfumes wear in 2 ways; there is the classic top->heart->base note thing and there is the simpler linear wear, also called WYSIWYG, the way a perfume smells at first sniff is how it will continue to smell, it will only grow weaker over time.

In Shiso I found one single note standing out the whole time, from beginning to end while the supporting notes changed over time. If I was to compare it to Tango, Tango wears like an orchestra playing a symphony. The notes work like the different instruments, sometimes you can discern them one and one, sometimes they all support a bigger theme. Shiso wears like there is one soloist note, playing a concerto with a symphonic orchestra as  support. I'm very interested in hearing if this is just on me or if others are having the same experience.

And what is that note? Well, here I have a dilemma. I don't know. I suspect it might be shiso, the Japanese herb bearing the same name as the perfume, paired with clove and cassia. But I don't know what shiso smells like so I can't say for sure.

One think I know though, and that is that I have ań active mind that happily makes up for whatever gaps there seems to be in my knowledge, Shiso is no exception. Now, my scent markers tend to go into 2 categories, one for wine related scents and the other is for scents of stuff I felt passionate about as a child - which seems to be mostly candy. That note I feel so strongly in Shiso is very similar to a Swedish candy named "Sura Cola Nappar" (Sour Coca-Cola Pacifiers), I'll call them SCNs hereafter. SCNs are made of gelatine, flavoured by something slightly resembling the taste of Coca Cola and dredged in citric acid, making them extremely sour on the outside with a sweet core.

Sura colanappar

And the supporting notes, what are they? Well, that's the cool thing. It seems like everything goes with SCNs. A first I make out exquisite sandalwood. At times I get resin. There is leather and notes similar of the stable notes found in mature red wines. Toward the end Shiso goes a little sweeter and lighter, I get tart green citrus and I also get a little mellower yuzu. According to the official notes there are green peppers and geranium in there. I wouldn't ave thought of them if I hadn't read up, but they are there, adding structure and a hint of sharpness.

Now, SCNs aren't the most exclusive of foodstuffs (even calling them foodstuff is stretching things), but don't let that scare you off. If they are not available where you live, your mind will probably latch onto something else. Trying Shiso was a grand perfume experience for me. It made me realise that all the perfumes I've previously known just take up a small fraction of the infinite universe of smell. Thank God there are perfumers ready to explore what more is out there, and that there are fumeheads, like me, who just love to get to go on those trips!


  1. Thank you Sigrun! It’s a real treat for me to see where perfumes take you, and I’m so glad you liked the way Shiso expanded your perfume universe. Interesting how it evolved on your skin – it has the most essences in it of all my perfumes, and *really* smells differently depending on each person’s body chemistry (like you found in Tango too). I never would have guessed about the overlap between Shiso and "Sura Cola Nappar", and now I’m intrigued... Mandy Aftel

  2. Mandy, I'm so relieved that you don't seem offended about me saying that Shiso smells like SCNs :)

    If you like to, I'd love to send you a baggie of SCNs. Just mail me your address at solafsdottir (at) gmail (dot) com or on twitter and I'll put them in the mail right away!

  3. Again, enjoyed your review Sigrun! That is true- in Shiso-there is one dominate notes that plays throughout with different intensities..Shiso is one of my favorites (if not, the favorite) of Mandy's perfumes.
    It is interesting that you compare Shiso to SCNs. I am wearing Shiso today (because of your review) and I find Shiso has a comforting aspect and a slightly uncomfortable aspect. I am trying to imagine the smell/taste of a coca-cola and citric flavored candy and I can see how these two flavors might capture both the comfort and discomfort of Shiso. My food association for Shiso is that of 'Paan' - which is a green betel leaf filled with areca nut and slaked lime. Smelling Shiso reminds me of chewing paan. (I really must finish and post my review of Shiso..:))

    If you haven't already - you must try Fig and Shiso (perfumes) together. Here the sweet and spicy really sings (and I think the combo might be even closer to the SCNs- which sound delish, btw)

  4. Lavanya, I'm glad to hear that I inspired you to wear Shiso :)

    I did try paan in India once and there was a lot of spitting involved. That was a long time ago so I don't remember the taste too clearly, but when I think about it, there might be a similarity to Shiso.

    I can also imagine that a fig scent is awesome layered w Shiso. I don't own Afteliers Fig, but I tried peeling an orange with my hands while wearing it and those two scents blended very nicely a well :)

  5. Hi! I wore this scent years ago and like it very much but unfortunately I cant find it anywhere. I don't know where to buy it cause It was just a gift to me.Do u have an idea on where I can purchase this? :)) Btw I'm from Philippines :)