As anyone who knows me will be very aware, I walk around in a permanent cloud of my first, and favourite, perfume, Thierry Mugler’s 2005 eau de parfum, Alien. A heady combination of jasmine, amber and woody notes make this a potent potion which is not for the faint-hearted.
The deep purple, jewel-like bottle conjures images of a precious elixir which has just been discovered in a treasure trove. This is a powerful scent, but not in the obvious, pungent manner often associated with jasmine. It’s a complex, deep, mysterious scent – feminine, but not girly; strong, but not overwhelming.
Although its depth and intensity mean it’s more of an after-dark perfume for strange goings-on and night-time adventures, I wear this all day, every day. If it’s a little too strong for daily wear for you, there is a more delicate eau de toilette available, along with lighter summer editions released each year, with slight twists on the base scent, such as a zesty orange and mandarin to make it more fitting for hot July days.
One thing that must be said about Alien (moreso the EDP) is its staying power. This stuff sticks. I can have an hour-long bath and still come out smelling of the Alien I applied at the start of the day. Dresses can go through the wash and still end up with traces of jasmine. My room now smells permanently of Alien after years of spritzing leaving its mark on everything I touch.
I also own two even stronger mutations of Alien: the Taste of Fragrance edition, with its deep caramel top notes, and Essence Absolue, with intense vanilla combining with the jasmine and a new myrrh basenote for a strange blend of warm sweetness.
Angel is Mugler’s most iconic scent, and arguably one of the most famous perfumes in the world. Generally considered an olfactory classic, this 1992 offering is often attributed as being reminiscent of chocolate, vanilla and a whole host of other sweet treats, placing it at the centre of the gourmand genre of food-inspired fragrances. Mugler wanted to create a mouth-watering scent, and the complex range of notes range from candyfloss to red berries.
The bottle is exquisite. Pale blue and star shaped, the Angel bottle is easily one of the most iconic on the market. Mugler is well-known for his creative fragrance bottle designs, and Angel epitomises this. It’s a welcome addition to any dressing table, and makes for an elegant, intriguing piece of design.
Angel is exceptionally rich. A single spray of this punchy fragrance will easily see you through the day. This is, of course, not for everyone. Just because it is a classic, it doesn’t mean it will suit everyone, much like Chanel No.5 or Dior’s Poison. For many, it is simply too much. Too sweet, too strong, too warm. As with other gourmand scents, it splits opinion right down the middle: for some, it’s nauseatingly warm and ‘foodie’; for others, a stroke of genius.
The thing about Angel is that it manages to turn what appears to be a list of ingredients from a patisserie into something bizarrely sophisticated. Mugler’s perfumes are never overtly girly, and there is always a twist which steps them up a level. In Angel, it’s a set of fruity, floral middle notes such as rose, orchid and lily-of-the-valley. Hidden under the layers of sweet topnotes, they take on a whole new dimension which toughens them up and gives them some edge.
Unbelievably, Mugler also released a Taste of Fragrance edition of Angel. Somehow, the cocoa notes crank up the gourmand aspect even further, for an even more intense taste-scent experience.
The newest member of the Mugler family is Womanity. Launched in 2010, Womanity is, ironically, by far the most masculine of Mugler’s three main scents. This seems somehow appropriate, though: even under the strong fig and caviar notes, more typically found in men’s aftershaves and colognes, your femininity still pushes through. This is a perfume for the strong, confident woman who wants to make a statement.
The baby pink bottle is strangely juxtaposed with the savoury scent inside. It is topped with a silver frieze of a face and a series of metal chains, representing the links between women and womanity as a whole.
This is a clean, relatively simple offering compared to Mugler’s previous offerings, but is none the worse for it. It is typically strong, but with an unexpected powderiness when it starts to wear off a little. The topnotes are striking and strange, but it’s a perfume you’ll keep thinking about. It might not appeal at first, but it’s a grower.
Womanity is definitely a lighter scent than the others, not that this says a great deal. It’s also more summer-friendly than its heavier, headier sisters. It’s earthy and salty and woody, almost like emerging from a forest into a stretch of coastline.
I’ll say this: Thierry Mugler doesn’t have a fragrance for everyone. It’s likely that at most, one of these will suit you (mine is Alien, but I also own Angel and my mother wears Womanity. This is a very Mugler house). If you opt for delicate eau de toilettes or subtle splashes (like those by Marc Jacobs), these will blow your face off. But if you want something to leave a question mark in the mind of everyone you walk past, you want a bottle of Mugler in your boudoir.