Angel is probably one of the biggest perfumes out there besides Chanel No. 5 and anything released by a daughter of OJ Simpson’s defense attorney. Its distinctive otherworldly periwinkle star bottle (followed in spirit by Alien) is pretty much everywhere, as is the deceptively simple patchouli-chocolate miasma that comes out of it.
I didn’t like it the first time. The second time was when I walked past Times Square’s Sephora at about 11:00 at night and sprayed the travel-size bottle just because it was so ubiquitous I had to try it again. That same effect keeps people going to McDonald’s to get fries. McDonald’s fries aren’t anywhere near as good as Wendy’s, but you see the ads so much that they become a permanent part of your subconscious and it’s like you haven’t fully achieved self-actualization until you get it with a side of Mickey D’s extra salted fries and a Quarter Pounder.
Angel opens with the heady, throaty-voiced patchouli-chocolate blast and some ambiguous fruits (I’m getting orange rinds). It does have a distinctly androgynous character, like Tania Sanchez says in The Book. It’s such a powerful effect that I’m reminded of a falsetto choir singing at full blast in an echoing room.
(New York Polyphony, closest thing I could find)
The funny thing is, Angel isn’t loud. (Keep in mind, almost every other reviewer disagrees with me about this.) Its sillage isn’t much bigger than the average perfume, but its unmistakable effect makes you feel like it’s radiating to Mars. It was made in 1992, which was right before perfume houses transitioned from big distinctive beasts to osteoporotic clean fragrances. Also, Thierry Mugler designed things like this:
so he obviously wasn’t afraid to make a statement.
Angel also manages to be powdery on top of everything else. It’s a musty effect that keeps it from being too raw. I think that an undiluted chocolate/patchouli/fruit mashup would smell like the apartment of a hippie with the munchies. It also keeps it from being too edible. Angel is referred to as a gourmand. It almost smells edible, but not quite.
In the heart notes it smells more vanillic and a little more appetizing. The grand slam is over. The caramel comes in and the sharp citrus notes go out. The drydown is a warm, delicious caramel vanillic treat. It’s cool, but I think the untouchable top notes are way more interesting.
Here’s the note list, from Victoria at Bois de Jasmin’s detailed review: bergamot, mandarin, dewberry, honey, red berries, patchouli, Australian sandalwood, coumarin, vanilla, caramel, chocolate.
There’s two reasons Angel isn’t going to be one of my top ten favorite perfumes. Most importantly, it’s aloof. I definitely get the effect that a distinct personality is sitting on my skin when I spray it, but that personality isn’t going to be my friend. There’s nothing natural-smelling about it, it doesn’t meld into a skin scent, and it doesn’t tell any kind of emotional story except that this pretty and possibly hermaphroditic character is high-concept, high-art, and totally uninterested in me.
Basically, it’s a famous fashion designer.
Second, it has so many flankers that I feel like I’ve grown up with it, even though I’ve probably only smelled it a total of ten times. I like it. I might buy that travel-size bottle at Sephora for 25 bucks. But I can’t imagine myself connecting with it.
Perfumers: Olivier Cresp and Yves de Chirin
Price Range: Moderate
Recommended Occasion: Any
Release Year: 1992
My Rating: 8
Jen at ThisBlogReallyStinks is so-so about it.
The Candy Perfume Boy, like me, finds it brilliant but not relatable enough to wear all the time.
The Perfumed Dandy thinks it just smells too much like a chocolate shop.