When a fragrance has been instrumental to producing a spawn of successors that try to emulate or imitate or at least to bear a passing affinity with, you know you’re in the presence of greatness and innovation, even if said fragrance is such a powerhouse as to produce feelings of either love or hate.
Angel by Thierry Mugler is such a fragrance: polarizing, powerful, combustible, sensual, decadent, even a little bitchy on certain individuals.
Its exclusively synthetic nature exploring facets of airy notes such as hedione and helional coupled with the hay of coumarin, the bitterness of chocolate and patchouli and the deviousness of caspirene was paramount to it becoming an instant sensation that rocked the perfume world when it came out in 1992 in an era of limpid, watery creations of which L’eau d’Issey was the contestant with the greater pull. It took a while, yet Angel prevailed, introducing a whole new category of scents, the gourmands: oriental scents that rely on foody notes to evoke images of childhood and comfort or a playful sensuality a la 9 ½ weeeks that interjects food into sexual play.
It is no accident that it is le numero 1 in sales in France, capital of perfume in the world, even giving a jolt at the ribs to the classic Chanel no.5 with its iconic status.
The new Eau de Star is the latest feminine addition to formidable stable of Mugler, after the latest exploration of tinkering with the original formula in the forms of Garden of Stars, a collection of four exquisite bottles topped with a star with an angular point in various shades exploring the addition of a floral note to the singularly floral-less original Angel. Violet, Lys, Pivoine and Rose were the chosen blossoms and the results ranged from the almost pareil (Violet) to the friendlier and cozier cousin coming to visit for the holidays (Pivoine). Although the bottles were gorgeous as is always the case with the Mugler enterprise, none of the scents moved me enough to buy a new bottle for my collection, especially since I already had invested in the acquisition of the lovely Innocent: a softer take on Angel with the patchouli toned down and sugared almonds and meringues surfacing on an unexpected marriage of true minds lost in an everlasting reverie.
Incidentally, the Star association is not something out of the blue (pun intended) either. Mugler has considered stars his lucky charms ever since his first foray into designing those alien-like women with the sharp shoulder pads in the 1980s which had crimson lips and slashed lined eyes like amazones from Galactica. He wears the star symbol himself as a tattoo and a signature ring. However the lucky charm practice is not unheard of in the greater design world, from Christian Dior who put a lily of the valley blossom on every hem of couture to Coco Chanel who chose the number 5 as the one to signify her foray into perfumed business to coincide with her launching her couture on 5 May(fifth month)upon that fateful year of no.5's introduction.
Eau de Star comes now to make me re-consider whether I should purchase another one of that franchise of which Innocent has captured my heart for cozy and frolicky soirees. I haven't decided yet, as I think it merits more sampling first which I am planning to do in due time.
Not a limited edition, but a firm addition, to be followed by the complimentary Icemen for discerning males, Eau de Star is built around the word eau, aqua, water….The addition of such a word to something like Angel sounds like an oxymoron, as the denseness of the latter does not recall any body of the former in anyone’s mind. Yet the creative mind behind this new fragrance, namely
Louise Turner at Quest, managed to combine the limpidness of watery, aquatic notes -which usually make me shudder- with a floral heart and sensual patchouli base that is not the same as Angel yet retains a passing kindred spirit.
The fragrance begins on a tart and crystalline note of fruit that is intermingled with fresh notes like those used to render cucumber aromas in such scents as En Passant by Olivia Giacobetti for F.Malle. Although this might sound scary to perfume lovers of serious and deep perfumes, especially those who focus on classics, I assure you it is not something to make anyone run for the hills trying to catch their breath; on the contrary it makes for a sparkly, pleasant effect that upon spraying the new scent on my skin in the space of a couple of minutes two different individuals stopped and turned swiftly and asked me with some impatience what was that gorgeous scent I was wearing. (I call this a success. Don’t you?)
The succeeding stages do not disappoint, as the progression is to something vaguely floral coupled with unmistakable orientalised effluviums of patchouli and vanilla that manage not to become overwhelming but linger seductively with a sensuality that is reminiscent of the cuddly dry down phase of Innocent.
However the new scent is like neither, but holds its own ground. A flanker maybe (a term denoting the succeeding perfumes that capitalize on the success of one original scent), yet an individual creation that could be worn in warmer weather when Angel and Innocent do not often make one welcome in mixed company. A lighter, aqueous interpretation of a gourmand theme.
The bottle is a heavy glass affair of three sides with the signature star etched on the front, topped with a silver geometrical cap bearing the logo of the brand.
Eau de Star comes in Eau de toilette concentration in 25 and 50ml and a refillable bottle of 50ml (1.7oz)retailing at 41.8, 61.5 and 71.5 euros respectively.
Available at French Sephora and across Europe with plans to be introduced to the US later on alongside the masculine new scent Icemen (of which I will report later on).
The line is also accompanied by a transparent lipgloss that is called Gloss Lèvres Délicieuses (=delicious lips), perfumed with the notes of Eau de Star and encased in a rectangular tube with wand, retailing at 15.90 for 4.5ml at French Sephora. I haven’t tried this one yet, but if one is truly enamored with the scent I guess having it under one’s nose would provide their fix admirably.
Pic of bottle courtesy of Elle.fr and of gloss courtesy of Sephora.fr