Behind Thierry Mugler's new Angel scent

Behind Thierry Mugler's new Angel scent

Angel's wings

Text: Renée Batchelor

The olfactive artistic director of Thierry Mugler's newest scent Angel Muse, Pierre Aulas, lets us in on the difficulties of reinventing a fragrance classic

When Thierry Mugler's Angel first came out in 1992 it broke boundaries with its oriental vanilla notes that created a new olfactory family: the gourmand scent. This was a fragrance that you either loved or hated, but its very distinctiveness proved to be the seeds of its longevity and success. This year, the brand reinvents Angel with a new gourmand offering, Angel Muse Eau de Parfum. Designed by perfumer Quentin Bisch, this scent is driven by the sweet accord of hazlenut cream, but like the original Angel, is balanced — this time with the elegant and woody notes of vetiver. Buro speaks to Pierre Aulas, the olfactive artistic director of Angel Muse to find out what went on behind the scenes.

The original Thierry Mugler Angel is an iconic, gourmand scent. Was it daunting taking on this reinvention of this classic olfactory sensation?
It is always daunting to work on an iconic fragrance. Especially an iconic fragrance which created a whole new olfactive family! The challenge was high because Angel is such an incredible and renowned creation. 25 years after its birth it remains surprising and inspiring. Can you imagine: without Angel, the huge gourmand trend wouldn't exist?

What did you want to achieve with the new Angel Muse? What aspects of the original did you want to keep, and what did you want to reinvent or update for 2016?
With Angel Muse, we wanted to come back to the current gourmand family and prove that it is always possible to create something innovative. We were also aiming at creating something gourmand but elegant. Which is, according to me, not always the case... 

Describe the new scent and how the new notes for Muse were decided? Was it a long and difficult process, or did you already envisage what you wanted to create?
It was a difficult process because we smelled a lot of good things but [it was] never creative enough. There are so many launches in the gourmand family that it was hard to find a new addiction. Then the young perfumer Quentin Bisch came to us with this incredible hazelnut cream we all fell in love with. But we still needed to find something to balance the gustative aspect, like the patchouli does with praline in Angel. Vetiver has been the second good idea of the accord because it is less dark than patchouli, more elegant and modern. So with Angel Muse we created the first gourmand vetiver for women!

Angel can be described as a love it or hate it scent. Is Muse similar in that regard?
In a way Angel Muse is also a love and hate perfume as with all the Mugler fragrances, but it is a little bit lighter and less 'dramatic' than Angel, so it is easier to adopt.

Why is it important for Mugler to create distinct olfactory experiences in a market filled with smell-a-like scents?
We cannot spend millions in advertising like some of our competitors. So our only way to survive is to create perfumes that people will fall in love with and buy again and again. And this is possible only with fragrances with high character.

How have fragrance trends changed over the past 20 years?
Nowadays people are afraid of launching innovative fragrances because it is so expensive to launch a new perfume that they prefer to be reassured by launching something 'in trend'. At Mugler we don't follow trends, we create them, as we did with Angel, Alien and Mugler Cologne. At the moment there are two big trends within the feminine field: gourmand (because of the success of Angel and later La Vie est Nelle) and floral fruity (because of the success of J'Adore).

Theirry Mugler Angel Muse
What makes Angel Muse a standout scent in today's over-crowded fragrance market?
On the one hand, we created an elegant gourmand note by adding a lot of vetiver. And on the other hand, our gourmand note is nothing like the others. It is a hazlenut cream which mixes praline and red berries.

Tell us about the new flaçon. How involved were you in the process of designing it and how do you think it reinvents the famous Angel bottle?
We were ready to completely reinvent the codes of Angel with Angel Muse and this is what we strove to do with the bottle: we left behind the angular facets to design a cosmic pebble, as if polished, sensual, ergonomic, with perfectly smooth curves. The new star in the Angel cosmos!

Georgia May Jagger was chosen as the face of the scent, more than 20 years after her mother Jerry Hall. What to you, is the significance of this appointment?
For us, the appointment of Georgia May Jagger as the new face of Angel in 2014 and now of Angel Muse was quite obvious. She was born the same year as Angel, and saw her mother embody the fragrance before her so it was a very symbolic choice both for her and the brand. She also brings a real modern twist to Angel with her rock n' roll attitude.

Who do you think is the modern Mugler woman, and what is she looking for in her fragrances?
The modern Mugler woman is multi-faceted, sensual, strong and powerful. She wears her Mugler fragrance like a Mugler dress, an armour that helps her build her self-confidence and aura.

What or who inspires your fragrance creations?
The first thing and the most important one is to respect the DNA of the brand. At Mugler we are lucky to have a brand with a clear positioning focused on creativity, power, boldness and the magic of metamorphosis. We are also lucky to have a creator who is alive, who is involved and has a lot of ideas and input. He is always pushing us to find new accords, new technologies, to underline our difference. We can say that he is our very first point of inspiration. On top of that, I am personally very influenced by music — I also am an opera singer. Both the fields of fragrance and music have so much in common. And especially the final aim for both... which is emotion.

From $115-$164. Available at the Mugler Angel Muse pop-up store at Manifesto, #02-19 Capitol Piazza, until 31 December and at selected department stores