August 19, 2009

Thierry Mugler’s Finest Treasure

Posted in Gourmand, Thierry Mugler at 10:56 am by April

Several years ago, but more than a decade after it’s launch, I stumbled across several reviews of Angel. I was, at this point, a lover of perfume, but I was nothing of the perfumista I’ve become. I was drawn to deep, rich scents and had dabbled in some Chanels, fallen in love with Gucci Rush and Amarige, and had flirted with a couple of Calvin Kleins. I knew my tastes fell somewhere between oriental and floral, and I had a deep love of vanilla that not even the most well-blended of fresh scents could shake.

I was astounded at the number of love-it/hate-it reviews of Angel, and I found myself surprisingly eager to try it. It seemed so expensive, and the bottle looked so dated (though I’d fallen for the celestial decor of the nineties so the packaging made me a bit nostalgic for my teenage youth), and I was utterly confused as to how a scent could be described as mouth-watering gingerbread and honey to one person, and as a chemical bug repellant to another. I soon found myself at a perfume counter, holding a star-shaped bottle that felt so heavy and promising in my hand. The first spray hit the tester card and then my nostrils and I was overcome by disappointment. Bug repellant had been an accurate description. The SA was so excited by the perfume that I felt I must be missing something. I had wanted very much to like it, but realized I must belong in the hate-it category.

“It’s…very different,” I tried to hide my disappointment for fear of bursting her excitement bubble. I then asked to try a couple of other scents, but before moving on, she asked if she could spray Angel on my skin. I was horrified at the thought, but rude I am not, so I obliged, all the while dreading the coming hours when I’d be forced to detour my evening’s plans with a trip home for a shower, or to force my friends to suffer through the aroma of this strange beast. I don’t remember the other scents I’d sampled that day; I’m sure I feigned interest until I could make my way to a rack full of more promising purchases in the way of clothing.

But then…oh my. What was I smelling? The SA must have sprayed something wonderful which had accidently gotten on my hand instead of the card. But no, she hadn’t; this was more than an accidental overspray – this was intense. I disbelievingly sniffed at my wrist where she’d sprayed a generous dose of Angel and to my surprise, found it hard to remove my wrist from the vicinity of my nostrils.

The first moment that one smells Angel after the top-notes have dissipated, if this person is to be a fan of the scent, is one of the biggest revelations a perfumista can have. At once, there is confusion, followed by intrigue, an impenetrable feeling of contentment, and then finally, a moment of wonder. Smelling Angel after several minutes is like watching a movie in which an utterly confounding mystery is finally unraveled before one’s eyes.

In the most recent advertisement for Angel, Naomi Watts (a favorite actress of mine) is shown sniffing a feathery…hmm…well, what appears to be a clump of pale blue feathers, and inhaling an aroma. A serene, yet questioning expression appears upon her face, before we see her unlock a beautiful door to a tower housing hundreds of bottles of Angel, where her expression then becomes one of sublime contentment. This process is an accurate one. Smelling Angel, for me, offers a bit of mystery, a bit of serenity, and a bit of adventure.

This is a perfume for a woman who loves to indulge herself in the occasional freedom that is one’s own imagination. Angel whispers of the surprises in life yet to come; of the childhood dreams, unfulfilled, that haven’t left our hearts and tug at our emotions from time to time. Angel created the gourmand fragrance genre in and of itself, while also moving the art of perfumery forward.  When the world is an uncertain place, the imagination becomes a priceless tool for entertainment, and also one of hope and of inspiration, and I believe Angel to be a  remarkable beacon of hope to so many women who are currently seeking a bit of impracticality, and the stability that comes along with the feeling that indulging in the mysterious and impractical is acceptable from time to time.

I find it very difficult to describe the actual scent of Angel; multiple notes offer far too many interpretations and possible associations, so the most I can offer is my impression, which is one of awe and immediate devotion. Angel is haunting – even upon sniffing it at full strength on my wrist, I can’t help but think of the effect it may make as a lingering aroma with a lasting impression. On a whim, I grabbed Angel as my scent of choice in mid-August, several summers ago, to wear on my first date with my current boyfriend, and I often wonder if he fell in love with me or my perfume, as he raved about how he couldn’t get it out of his mind and had to content himself with the mens’ version while I was away.

To me, Angel is a dry scent – though the honey lends an edible effect, and its presence is one of both timidity, and brazen boldness; though unapologetic in all its strength and smoky sweetness, it is an innocent scent – one that seems naive and unaware of its perfection and all the more mysterious in its willingness to change from the chemical monster it is born as upon leaving the bottle, into the heavenly aroma it innately transforms into, upon sinking into the skin and taking refuge in the wearer’s willingness to listen to its unexpected song. It is cocoa and gingerbread, honey and woods; it’s a bit of wearable divinity and a glimpse into what could only be the heaven for those who love sweet and decadent things. It has quite a good run before fading into a calm, dry patchouli that hints of its sweet, former self.