Elisa on the Angel tribe and Angel Muse.
To my mind, the original Thierry Mugler Angel is pretty much unimproveable. Nevertheless, I enjoy almost all of its many flankers and spin-offs too. It’s like one of those great songs whose greatness is preserved in multiple cover versions. (“Wild Horses” and “Landslide” spring to mind.)
The latest version of Angel, Angel Muse, was billed in the ad campaign as “the new fragrance you will hate to love.” I’m pleased that the folks at Mugler have embraced Angel’s inherent divisiveness and want to nurture, rather than overwrite, that reputation. After all, is there any perfume from the past 30 years that inspires such strong love-it-or-hate-it reactions? I do, in a sense, hate to love it, since it’s so unpopular and so recognizable I wouldn’t really feel comfortable wearing it, say, to work or on an airplane, and I wear it most often at home.
Like its predecessor, Angel Muse is a gourmand fruitchouli – that is to say, a dessert-like oriental based around patchouli sweetened with burnt-sugar and fruit notes. Here we’re not getting a totally different structure, but another variation on the theme. Sprayed on paper, the first impression is of a much brighter and more citrusy Angel, with an almost sparkling burst of lemon in place of the original’s blackcurrant and berry notes. On skin, however, the top notes come off as chocolate and orange. It smells luscious and creamy, like an orange-flavored ganache. This opening stage, where the citrus is most intense, is my favorite part of the life of the fragrance.
As it wears I notice a nutty note of gianduja (a mixture of chocolate and hazelnut paste) and a bitter-fresh aspect to the citrus, like grapefruit peel. In addition, it becomes more and more vanillic, whereas Angel proper tends to show its patchouli more and more over time. At this point, it reminds me very much of Maurice Roucel’s L de Lolita Lempicka – itself a flanker of another perfume clearly influenced by Angel – but without the spicy cinnamon angle. Overall, I find it reminds me strongly of the holidays, especially that week around Christmas when there seem to be plates of homemade candy and cookies piled everywhere. (Like the Ghost of Christmas Present’s cornucopia-torch and feast, doesn’t Angel represent abundance?) As with pretty much all Angel derivatives, longevity is excellent.
I’m not planning to buy Angel Muse, since it would be a bit redundant in my collection that houses both L and enough Angel for a family of four. But it makes me happy that Mugler is keeping the magic of Angel alive through high-quality, interesting flankers, and if you haven’t found your Angel yet, Muse is worth a try.
Angel Muse is $70 for a 1 ounce refillable bottle and includes notes of grapefruit, pink peppercorn, hazelnut cream, vetiver, and patchouli.