There is a historic factoid that might be a piquant reference: A black slave by the apt name Marie Joseph Angélique was a personage in the history of Montreal, accused of being the incendiary of the 1734 episodes; someone suited to the scent of Angelique Noire? Far from such upheaval and restlessness or the promise of fallen angels, here we are dealing with a pre-Raphaelite Madonna with curly hair and silky robes that is lost in mystical reverie over the impending Nativity or a post-romantic painting by Waterhouse; carte-postale style in both cases: somehow too pretty for a truly striking effect!
Created by nose Daniela Roche-Andrier in 2005 for the renovation of the flagship store at 68, Avenue Champs Elysées, the Guerlain brief for Angélique Noire went something like this: "A composition based on angelica, weed known to be an elixir promoting longetivity. The bergamot and angelica notes are fresh, vibrant and slightly bitter. They contrast with the sophisticated fullness of the vanilla”.
The core of the perfume is undoubtedly the pairing of bergamot and vanilla which in Guerlain terms would translate as musky, troubling Shalimar, surely. Or Shalimar Eau Légère/Shalimar Light, modern-style, even! But this is a Guerlain through non-Guerlain eyes, ergo the treatment is completely different. Angélique Noire is a sweet oeuvre of pleasant and cherubic notes, full of the tart juice of bergamot and toiling harvesters eager to gather crops as it opens with the tangy and difficult to obtain angelica, garlanded with a spicy touch enough to intrigue; this phase is quite suited to both sexes in fact. Later it cedes to a soft heart of milky-almondy haziness and drying down to ever persistent, creamy vanilla.
Angélique Noire is not especially reminiscent of any of the Loukhoum scents (Serge Lutens, Keiko Mecheri) that feature some of the same notes nevertheless, nor is it laced with aromatic nuances as one would except from a fragrance named and inspired by angelica. Guerlain has based its reputation on the quality of its vanilla and it always features in one way or another in their perfumes, usually along with tonka bean. This is no exception. I don’t know if angelica is supposed to prolong life in humans really, and how that could be a good thing in a world that despises old age, but the fragrance lasts very well (which is a blessing or a curse depending on what you think of it).
Notes for Angélique Noire by Guerlain:
Angelica, bergamot, vanilla
Angélique Noire forms part of the L'Art et la Matière line sold exclusively at boutiques Guerlain and the Guerlain espace at Begdrof Goodman, in tall architectural bottles with the name on the side in a wide golden "band" and an optional bulb atomiser included (My advice on those is not to leave them attached on the bottle as they allow evaporation of the juice).
Related reading on Perfumeshrine: the Guerlain series, Fragrances with angelica.
Pic of fallen angel sent to me by mail unaccredited. Pic of bottles via Guerlain.