Angel EDP (Thierry Mugler)

Gourmands are, for lack of a better word, difficult. The "foody" exercise can be taken to such extremes that there are few companies capable of reining things in. It seems there is no limit to how obscenely a scent can mimic fruit, candy, sugar. Step into any Bath and Body Works, and you're immediately assaulted by the full range of gourmandom, with berries, caramels, vanillas, even whole pies (apple is especially popular) splashing you in the face with their cavity-inducing charms. I'm convinced that today's teenage girl would be lost without a wardrobe that makes her smell like a walking See's.

What started it all? I can't be bothered to find out. I do know that Thierry Mugler is largely to blame. Angel was one of the game-changing '90s perfumes that set all the dusty chypres and orientals aside to make room for sweetness, and lots of it. In 1991, just one year before Angel's release, the market was crowded with losing bids for the future of perfumery. Things like Lauder's Spellbound and Cardin's Choc weren't exactly inspiring, or inspired. Dior's Dune was popular, but oddball, its transcendence something only time could qualify. Instant breakthroughs were all but nonexistent.

Then came Mugler and his sugar bomb. Sweetness, quite suddenly, became all the vogue. The rest - Blue Jeans, Le Male, Lolita Lempicka, Allure Homme - is history.

I've smelled Angel on many people, but they've mostly been adult women well beyond their teenage years. I attribute this to the distinct tremor of patchouli that radiates from its saccharine core. In fact, for its first five minutes on skin, the patchouli pushes past the other fuzzier notes and makes its presence very well known. It's an adult note, a throwback to the dirty '70s. There's nothing streamlined about it, but its presence is what reins Angel's sweetness in and keeps it from being overbearing. And its potency is tremendous; one spritz sends you to a head shop.

Eventually the sweet notes claim the day, with a dense bergamot, honey, pink berry, vanilla, and white chocolate accord sweeping all earthiness aside. At the twenty minute mark these edible elements become a nuclear cloud of richness, smelling very plush and European, the olfactory equivalent of the dessert table of a breakfast buffet in a Viennese hotel.

As skin eats the food, Angel becomes minimalistic, leaving only a faint patchouli, vanilla, and berry haze in its wake. The fruit, which I can't help thinking is raspberry, fuels this stage with its piercing sweetness, guiding the softer components to an elegant conclusion. The entire experience is quite sexy, and to be honest, a lot of fun.

I'm not sure how they do it, but the marketing brains at Mugler manage to deceive the masses into adhering to their gender advertising ploys despite the staunchly unisex nature of all their scents. The ladies can wear A*Men and B*Men; men can just as easily sport Womanity, Alien, and Angel. There's absolutely nothing about any of these fragrances that pins them definitively to one gender. The same can't be said about how fashionable they are, however. Alien smells out of time and place with its egregiously synthetic bombast, while Womanity smells like something that would have been better left forgotten in some '70s porn star's trailer.

Angel managed to survive its zeitgeist, and stay relevant in the 21st century, smelling just as new and wearable as it did twenty years ago. If that's not transcendence, then I don't know what is.


  1. Is this review for the EDT? I'm not aware of an Angel Men EDP.

    1. Nope, the EDP. It can be found in department stores in the U.S.


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