Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Aftelier Perfumes Shiso

I've had a sample of Shiso for a couple of months now, courtesy of Cymbaline (thanks!). I'm not really sure what to make of it. It's a curious fragrance, to be sure.

Fragrantica describes it as 'an aromatic green fragrance for women and men. Top notes are clove and pepper; middle notes are shiso, pandanus and geranium; basnotes are sandalwood, patchouli and agarwood (oud) Mandy Aftel states that Shiso is based on an old Geisha formula.

To me Shiso smells very herbal, with a definite green and powdery aroma. I wouldn't say it is green as in sappy stems, but evokes powdered herbs. One note that definitely stands out for me, particularly in the first half of development, is geranium. Before I even read the notes, I could identify it. There is something about the use of geranium here that is apothecary in feel. I don't know if anyone has smelled the bath and body products by Neils Yard Remedies, but Shiso smells a lot like them, quite old-fashioned in a way, which seeing as Aftelier is basing this on a turn-of-the-century formula, is perhaps not surprising.

As the fragrance develops, it becomes even more powdery, yet quite woody at the same time. Later on I get the agarwood note, but not the patchouli and sandalwood very much. I had to look up Pandanus, which apparently is a tropical plant used a lot in Southeast Asian cooking, smelling a bit like bread or rice. I can't say I detect such a note in Shiso, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. Shiso leaves are used a lot in Japanese cuisine and apparently taste a bit like a mixture between basil and coriander and a little bit bitter. I can't vouch for that as I have never smelled or tasted Shiso leaves. 

When all is said and done, I can't say that I am blown away by Shiso, but it is very distinctive and unusual. For that I do give it kudos and certainly am glad I've tried it. I could see myself trying it from time to time, but not wearing it as an everyday fragrance.


  1. Michael, thank you for writing and posting your thoughts on this perfume, it was quite educational for me as I've never taken the time to sit down and analyze it myself.

    I bought Shiso from Mandy Aftel a couple of years ago, when she introduced her line of perfumes at a store here in Seattle. Out of all the perfumes I smelled that evening, Shiso was the one I kept coming back to. It attracted and repelled me at the same time and was different from anything else in my collection. I especially loved the way it didn't smell very strongly when I put my nose to my wrist, but then a beautiful smell would appear unexpectedly in the air around me.

    Shiso is challenging and I certainly don't wear it often. I love it best outdoors on warm summer evenings where the occasional breeze will remind me of its uniqueness.

  2. Cym, that's a great description of Shiso. I shall certainly wear it in a few different circumstances and see how it wears. I also found it attractive and repulsive at the same time and I don't mind that at all.



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