Friday, June 2, 2023

Thierry Mugler Angel Muse Eau de Toilette: fragrance review

In 2016, the house of Thierry Mugler opened a new chapter in the story of the famous gourmand galaxy of Angel fragrances - the "futuristic-gourmand" Angel Muse. The Muse Eau de Toilette version of this scent came out at the end of 2017. 


The sweetness of hazelnut cream at its heart, a repeat from the original Eau de Parfum version, is not overly foody, and it keeps the dignity that a sophisticated gourmand like the original Angel brings along (or I should say, used to bring along, before all the reformulations), with the Akigalawood™ base (a clear patchouli note) made dirtier with vetiver "borrowed from masculine perfumery." It is signed by perfumer Quentin Bisch of Givaudan.

 The great thing with Angel Muse Eau de Toilette is that it seems to have brought back that inexplicable playfulness that the original Angel version from the 1990s possessed and seemed to have lost during a sequence of reformulations in the intervening years. Becoming ever hollower, like cheekbones sucked in too hard and a fake pout posing for an Instagram selfie, the iconoclastic bestseller has slowly become a ghost of itself. An entire generation will never know what we have been talking about regarding its artistic value.

I remember the original formula quite well because what attracts me now in Angel Muse Eau de Toilette is what appalled me when I first smelled the original Angel in the 1990s (and I have written about my mysterious and troubled relationship with Angel before): the blackcurrant juiciness, which was so intense, so sour -and sweet too-  atop the maltol. To be honest, it instantly reminded me of The Body Shop Dewberry. Is this even possible? I wondered at the time, perplexed by the incongruity of a French designer borrowing this rather "cheap" effect for an innovative fragrance that would be his first on the market. I don't wonder anymore; I take things at face value.

In the words of Mugler officials, "Angel Eau de Parfum is the star, while Angel MUSE orbits around the star." (Christophe de Lataillade, Creative Director for MUGLER fragrances).

 The base of patchouli and vetiver, although advertised to sound masculine, as polar opposites to the femininity of the sweet heart notes, is not entirely rugged. It brings a counterpoint, like in a fugue, a motif that returns to underscore and chase the sweet gourmand and the sour-sweet top notes of citruses, and therefore renders it a love/hate for modern audiences who missed the great clashing compositions of the golden age of perfumery. Back then, vetiver violently clashed with vanilla in Habanita, or waxy-citrusy aldehydes were smeared with civet (but not quite!) in Chanel No.5 Eau de Cologne. Ah, what do we know, these scents have been lost on the younger generation. But there's still hope as long as small gems of unexpected pairings such as Angel Muse continue to get launched. If only they weren't chopped off the block so soon...


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