You all will have heard by now that Manfred Thierry Mugler has died. Most of the younger set would remember him because of Angel, his smash-hit scent that permeated the 90’s in the way Giorgio did the 80’s and Halston the 70’s.
Angel hit like a bomb. While others had done gourmand, nobody had managed to hit quite that sweet spot of sweet ‘n dirrrty in the way Mugler did with his combination of chocolate and patchouli. It was a polarizing scent that was almost inescapable- elevators from Beverly Hills to Bahrain reeked of it for years. If you loved it it was heaven, if not…
I hated it.
Well, let me qualify that. I hated it when I smelled it at the store. I hated it on me. I hated it on pretty much everyone else on the elevator, until I had a coworker who wore it. On her it was bliss: warm and snuggly chocolate with the patchouli lending an air of pure sex and a hint of danger. If I hadn’t had been exposed to it I don’t think I would have later tried, loved, and bought gourmands as diverse as Borneo 1834 and Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille.
The runaway success of Angel kind of put in the shade Mugler as a fashion designer, which is a shame. His work was the antithesis of the Calvin Klein heroin-chic thing that was coming up. He was all bright colors and shiny leather: technicolor voluptuaries as diverse as Naomi Campbell, Jerry Hall, ‘Tippi’ Hedren (in a satin dress adorned with strategically place crow feathers) and Lypsinka walked his catwalk. He directed the video for George Michael’s “Too Funky” as a version of the fashion show from “The Women”, if Adrian had been slipped a hit or three of acid: Emma Wiklund stomps down the runway in a dress with a top inspired by a Harley, complete with handlebars and rear-view mirrors. Linda Evangelista stalks out in a white mink shrug and wig that looks like Cool Whip. Tyra Banks vogueing in sheer turquoise. Julie Newmar acrobatic in latex. Females with hips, who aren’t afraid to sling ’em. The song may be George Michael, but the fashion and the vision is Thierry Mugler. Under his direction and with the mix of supermodels, club kids, drag queens and icons, the whole video reads like if David La Chapelle remade “Eyes of Laura Mars” with humor instead of eye-gouging.
Looking back (or lord, shoot me now) 30 years later it’s tinged for me with nostalgia. Of course it was manufactured, art-directed, and airbrushed to an inch of it’s life, but it seems much more fun than the navel-gazing tic-toc “influencer” era we are in today.
Now get off my lawn you!
What are your thoughts on Angel? Love, Hate? Others of his you’ve tried? Have a top with handlebars? Let us know in the comments.