Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thierry Mugler's Angel

I distinctly remember the first time I smelled a woman's perfume that I loved so much, I wanted a bottle for myself. One of my female coworkers, a restaurant hostess, routinely overdosed on her perfume before each shift - you could smell her minutes before she entered the room. One night, while I was sitting at the restaurant's bar after a hellish eight-hour stretch in the kitchen, she breezed by, directed a couple to their assigned table in the lounge, and came back to the bar to chat with one of her friends who was sitting there with us. From the moment she entered the vicinity, I was transfixed by her perfume; sweet, gently musky, powdery, elegant, rock-solid, and just plain gorgeous. In my (slightly alcohol-tinted) state, I couldn't help exclaiming my love for the fabulous scent wafting from her body in practically visible waves, and demanded to know what she was wearing. It was Coco Mademoiselle, by Chanel. I made a mental note of the name, sought it out some time in the weeks thereafter to freshly sniff (and try on my own skin), and it remains in my mind one of the most well-constructed, purely enjoyable fragrances geared toward young women today.

What I didn't know at the time was that Coco Mademoiselle is, in essence, a drier, more floral, and slightly more elegant variation on the theme of Thierry Mugler's Angel, released nine years previous. Where Mademoiselle highlights girly florals sitting neatly atop a woody, clean patchouli base, Angel is a nearly sickly concoction of caramel, vanilla, candied fruit, and chocolate, undercut with a patchouli/incense streak so sharp and smoky that it borders on medicinal. If Mademoiselle is a watercolor, Angel is a Van Gogh. What a delightful shock it must have been to smell Angel upon its release in 1992, not only for its groundbreaking use of "gourmand" notes and sweet aromachemicals, but for its gleeful, mischievious mix of feminine and masculine, dry and diabetic. It's a tug-of-war from the first spray until well into the (endless) drydown, when the soothing vanilla eventually overwhelms the patchouli's bite and the two sail off into the sunset, content at last...until the next spray, when the tension ramps up all over again. It's a domestic dispute stuck on replay...replay...

Due to its parade of imitators and benefactors of its "inspirational" qualities (Mademoiselle being arguably the classiest), Angel no longer smells as bizarre as it undoubtedly did in the early '90s, but it's still a hoot, and that's all that matters. Quite unlike the slightly stiff Mademoiselle, Angel is all good times and belly laughs. Its cotton-candy goofiness is impossible to take seriously, but its musky anchor refuses to be dismissed offhand. It's the kind of fragrance that makes me think of my best female friends, earthy types with wicked senses of humor, dressed to the nines for a wild night on the town, good vibes flowing, not a self-righteous bone in their bodies, but always ready to dole out a cutting one-liner or smack a gropey jerk upside his head if need be. Angel makes a statement and leaves an indelible impression on all who come into contact with it; it's loud, heady, bawdy, and simply not for all tastes. But if you're one of the chosen few who feel Angel's mammoth groove, it's catnip - comforting and addictive all at once. Wearing it makes me smile, and I can't ask for much more from a fragrance.

No comments:

Post a Comment