Several of my friends outside of the perfume world know that I write about scent. What they think about this I do not know. Sometimes in conversation I can hear them tilting their heads quizzically, as if I had told them that I collected and bred newts or was, in my spare time, knitting a symphony orchestra. Most are just happy for the free samples I pass along or on occasion pass one my way.
One of those passed to me very recently was a sample of Angel, the 1992 release from Thierry Mugler. (1992 was 30 years ago? I am no longer admitting I was old enough to vote then..) 1992 was also the year that “Absolutely Fabulous” hit the airwaves, the Cartoon Network debuted and Mall of America opened.
All of which fits Angel perfectly.
Angel was (and likely still is) a love-it-or-hate-it scent. March called it “Choco-vomit” while I attempted to make excuses that it was perhaps over-sprayed, writing “Over-apply and it’s like chocolate patchouli jet fuel contail.”
I will state in it’s defense that I did know someone on whom it smelled divine: it was just sweet enough on her without being overbearing and the patchouli was delightful.
So after all these years (and doubtless reformulations) I have a sample of Angel. Will I like it this time? Love it? Loathe it?
Looking at the notes on Fragrantica I can see why this gave me pause:
Top notes are Cotton Candy, Coconut, Cassis, Melon, Jasmine, Bergamot, Pineapple and Mandarin Orange; middle notes are Honey, Red Berries, Blackberry, Plum, Apricot, Peach, Jasmine, Orchid, Caraway, Nutmeg, Rose and Lily-of-the-Valley; base notes are Patchouli, Chocolate, Caramel, Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Amber, Musk and Sandalwood. This perfume is the winner of award FiFi Award Hall Of Fame 2007
Good Lord! That first line of top notes alone read like something you would be served at the county fair only to have it come back up when riding the Tilt-a-Whirl. My first spritz gives a burst of aldehydes then Froot Froot Fruitiness with a bitter undertone, like cleanser. Then you’re pelted with more fruits and some flowers: over-ripe and coming at you fast: left, right, and below the belt (props to Helen Lawson.) This is stage starts to get stratospheric-ally sweet before the patch and the chocolate come in. Now maybe this is because I am 10 years older than when it debuted 30 years ago, or it’s been reformulated, or my senses were just that much more tender back when Clinton was elected, but it isn’t the dirty hippy handing off pot brownies note that I remember and loathed. It still has a touch of the head shop, but they used some of that Orange-Glo to clean the place up a bit. Unfortunately (perhaps since consumption is now mostly legal and rather corporate) for the brownies the chocolate has gone from Betty Crocker to Bosco.
Oh, and like most things you don’t like, it has the staying power of nuclear waste and is about as easy to wash off.
I never thought in a million years that I would ever like the combo of Patch and Chocolate again, but lo and behold, over a decade later (when I was still 25) Uncle Serge managed to draw me in with Borneo 1834, which may be the devil to Mugler’s Angel. Since I have gone through at least two bottles of Borneo and have never gotten through a full sample of Angel, I guess I will side with the ones not wearing a halo.
Certainly not a halo of this..
Okay, do you love Angel? Loathe it? Like the flankers? Let us know on the comments.
My sample was given to me by a friend, where she got it I have no idea. Image from “Valley of the Dolls” taken from interwebs, other images from Pexels
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