Angel is turning 20!

Angel is turning 20!
Angel, the iconic yet divisive fragrance from Thiery Mugler is turning 20, and The Bay in downtown Vancouver is throwing a party! This week, you can marvel at 5 haute-couture gowns by the Parisian contemporary fashion designer whose fantasies inspired this peculiar scent that have turned from an obscure cult fragrance into one of the top 10 best sellers world-wide.

Spent my lunch today at The Bay learning about the fascinating world of Theirry Mugler and his obsession with stars, the colour blue, tall angular blondes and cotton candy. There was sushi, popcorn, marshmallows, mimosas, a giant blue cupcake - and blue macarons!

But, the best part for me was smelling the three "facets"* of Angel:
1st being the "celestial facet" - which smelled like pristine, clear, cut citrine stone. To be more specific - it smelled of crisp green apple, calone, helional and a lot of bergamot.
2nd is the "delicious facet" with notes of blueberries, blackberries, coumarin, cotton candy and a slightly mikly fig (which kicks in only hours later on the scent strip).
3rd and last is the "sensual facet" -  voluptuous notes of patchouli paired with musk galore.

In the picture above you can see one of the Limited Edition Angel Parfum flacons - from 2002 (same campaign as the ad featured in my SmellyBlog review). They brought a limited number of them to Canada to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Angel today and I tried some on my wrists - the Parfum is so much nicer and softer than the EDP and dabbing is a much welcome practice for such a powerhouse fragrance. And I could detect the merest hint of vetiver in the mix...

It was a rather enjoyable lunch affair (except that I would need more food to handle a mimosa that early in the day!) and the presentation quite delayed, and much prolonged with multiple sampling of ALL the various body products scented with Angel. According to the sale reps there - all the lotions, harisprays, shimmering powders, shower gels and exfolianting creams are scented with no less than 30-40% (!!!) of perfume. They must be mistaken. This can't possibly be a legal and safe level for use in a body product... But regardless it explains why Angel is always so overwhelming - for those who embalm their entire life with them, it's more than required for scent alone. It becomes more of an environmental-fragrancing that could take care of an entire mall. And I am not exaggerating. You could smell it across a building when someone wears it with the "layering"** method.

I had to dash off to my next meeting before the presentation was completely wrapped up, and will have to come back to snatch photos of the rest of the bottles and dresses. My only regret is, that all along - the nose of Angel - Olivier Cresp - was not mentioned AT ALL. What a shame to pretend as if Thierry Mugler is the nose/perfumer. This is not incidental. The booklet that came along with the presentation sites the same. Supposedly Thierry Mugler is a dancer, choreographer, photographer, fashion designer AND perfumer. I would have not doubted his many talents otherwise; but adding the perfumer title makes everything else look less reliable, somehow...

With that being said, it did not take away from my appreciation of the artistry behind the gowns themselves - each crystal is hand-sewn and arranged in a specific pattern. Each gown is completely impractical and if I had to choose between strutting down the street naked or wrapped in one of these, I would most likely pick the first. They are so impractical to wear that it would have been simply dangerous unless you have invisi-cables lifting your weight away from the ground and ensuring you're not being weighed down by all those rocks! Some of Thierry Mugler's SS13 ready to wear collection (which is actually wearable) has already arrived at The Bay. 

Even the bottle of Angel is a thing of marvel. A new technology had to be invented to carry out Mugler's vision: a device for rotating the mold while it's being filled with the liquid glass to ensure even distribution of the glass to the very uneven and angular shape of the bottle. This was a breakthrough in glass-making technology thanks to Mugler's very particular vision and his evident obsession with the shape of stars and the colour blue...

Thierry Mugler's Angel gowns

*FYI: By "facets" what they really are saying (without knowing it) is that Angel is linear, and this is one of the main accords or themes that are woven into its linear being. And of course it works nicely with the faceted, angular bottle shapes...

** Layering application of scents refers to using the same scent in various stages of one's body care: showering with it, applying it as a moisturizer, and than also adding the scent. 

A Narciso Rodriguez Breakdown...

Red Calla Lily, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I spotted this interesting Narciso Rodriguez display at The Bay downtown Vancouver this Friday. It took me a while to find it, as I was distracted by Sascha Luki's stunning floral arrangement accompanying the display, including calla lilies in both red and white, some of which were drowned in the vase rather the float above it...

The breakdown of three accords present in Narciso Rodriguez pour elle can be seen in the photo below. These three vials were (from left to right) are:

Coeur de Musc (musk heart) which is mostly musk and musk and more musk - the most clear, clean, persistent musk note, just like the one which makes the "her musc oil" in the black bottle.

Bois Tactile (tactile woods), which smelled like a synthesized vetiver, very clean and earthy-musky. This is what makes Narciso Rodriguez be part of the modern imitation Chypre family, AKA "Pink Chypre".

Lumiere d'Ambre & Vanille, which smelled like it sounded, amber and vanilla - though not quite what I would call "luminous". It might explain the slight sweetness of the scent once it dries on the skin, though I must admit the other two accords are far more persistent and are what makes this scent what it is.

There was no representation of the florl aspect of Narciso Rodriguez - consisting mostly of a very abstract, synthetic orange blossom and supposedly also other notes which I can't quite point my finger at (i.e.: osmanthus) or compare to the true flower which I've never smelled (honey flower).

Nevertheless, this was a very interesting experience smelling them all separately. I have to admit I prefer the compete creation, with fake flowers and all.

Narciso Rodriguez Breakdown, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

25th Anniversary to Eau d'Hadrien

Annick Goutal Decor, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

On Tuesday, March 6th I attended a special event held at The Bay in Oakridge Centre to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Eau d'Hadrien, Annick Goutal's second and most successful fragrance. The event was advertised as an opportunity to learn how to create your own custom scent by choosing scent to layer from the line. I must admit my main objective of attending the evening was to finally get a hold of the Songes Moon Bottle. Songes only arrived in Vancouver that week, and I was waiting since the summer for that day to come.

A special room was decorated with golden frames and butterfly bottle posters, golden table-clothes glittered in dim candle light and sparkling water, fruit and other fancy snacks were offered to the guests. There weren’t many guests, so the atmosphere was intimate and quiet, even a bit shy at first. But with a lively hostess such as Marie-Lise Bernie, things warmed up and became more exciting in no time.

With her energetic presence and charming French-Canadian accent, Marie-Lise told us the stories behind the scents of Annick Goutal, accompanied by thorough fragrance sampling and a couple of video clips featuring Camille Goutal (the infamous muse inspiring Eau de Camille and Petite Cherie, who is following her mother’s footsteps and is leading the company after her death).

While many of the stories were not completely new to me (and I don’t believe they will make any news to you, so I will only repeat some details that I think might be interesting and refreshing to my internet-savvy readers).

The entire line carries on with the concept of tying emotions and personal experience to every aspect of the product, from scent to packaging and naming the scents. I must admit that in a market flooded with endless uninspirational and impresonal fragrances, this has a lot of appeal to me, even if most of the Annick Goutal fragrances don't work so well on my skin because of their greenness, floralcy or soapiness (except for Songes and Eau de Sud). It's nice to see a house that is carried on by the founder's daughter and that seems to stay true to the original intent and true spirit of the line despite the fact that the woman who conceived it is no longer with us.

Contrary to what most North American seem to think, the name for Folavril, Annick Goutal’s first fragrance, does not mean April Fool, but rather, refers to the antique shop Ms. Goutal worked in before she started her perfumery. Folavril, composed of unusual and refreshing notes of boronia, mango and tomato leaf, creates a soapy, almost powdery and somewhat old-fashioned impression, yet with a very individualistic twist. The signature packaging of Annick Goutal’s perfumes, AKA “The Butterfly Bottle” is fashioned after an antique bottle that Goutal found in that shop. The butterfly is, in fact, two butterflies kissing, which only intensifies the romanticism of this perfume house.

The Butterfly Bottle is always packaged in cellophane. Although this may seem odd, particularly for such a perfectionist line, there is a meaning behind that as well: Annick Goutal’s father was a chocolatier and to earn her pocket money, Annick would help him wrap the candy in the store. Hence the cellophane wrap of the Butterfly Bottles, which should be opened like a gigantic olfactory candy!

The golden ribbons of the scents from the days Annick Goutal was alive are also a detail that takes it’s inspiration from the golden threads used to tie the chocolate boxes. Now that Camille is leading the company, all the scents that were launched after Annick’s death, are tied with an organza ribbon of a significant colour. The first fragrance that Camille was involved in creating was Le Chèvrefeuille. Designed to evoke a summer memory from the South of France, of Camille playing dress-up with her cousins, and crowning themselves as princesses with tiaras made of honeysuckle. The yellow ribbon for this fragrance represents these honeysuckle-crowns.

Eau d’Hadrien, Annick Goutal’s second and most popular fragrance which is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year, was inspired by the book “Memoirs of Hadrian” and was created as a unisex fragrance that contained no flowers. Years later, Camille re-read the book and created Les Nuits d'Hadrien, a more sensual, with the addition of floral notes (ylang ylang) as well as patchouli and vanilla, alongside the citrusy notes of the original creation.
For the 25th anniversary of Eau d’Hadrien, a few new products will be introduced, probably as a limited edition, including a body tonic water and miniature votive candles.

The evening was calm and enjoyable and the crown was small and sweet, a bit shy at first but as the fragrances started to change hands the reactions did not fail to become vocal and people started opening up and sniffing each other's wrists enthusiastically, as you may e xpect in scent-loving circles. By the way, the only man around was a security guard that let us out because this event took place after hours (he was dressed in casual clothes and I was almost convinced he was a patient boyfriend waiting for his young lady inside, but I was mistaken; perhaps such patient young men only exist on duty!).

Although the evening had the premise of being all about layering, the only significant layering event that took place was Gardenia Passion and Petite Cherie layered together by a young lady. She was a Petite Cherie fan when she entered the room, and after much sniffing could not make up her mind between Gardenia Passion and Songes. When she layered both, the results was quite interestingly similar to Songes, but a little bit more gardenia-focused. It smelled lovely on her. The same creative young lady also won the book “Memoirs of Hadrien” in a draw that was held at the end of the evening.

The Songes Moon Bottle (and in fact most of the “Butterfly Bottles”) have to be special ordered in most of the Annick Goutal counters at The Bay. So I pre-ordered it and also snatched a couple of Eau d’Hadrien votive candles before they disappear. I really enjoyed the Noel candles this winter, so I hope this will be a nice companion on my upcoming trip to the hot Mediterranean spring.

Marie-Lise Bernier, Annickg Goutal's National Training Manager in Canada, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I would like to conclude with an interesting perfume-application tip that Marie-Lise offered in her presentation. She explained in much detail how to use the Butterfly Bottle – or any flacon with a dabber for the matter – without spoiling the juice:
1) Wash your hands
2) Open the flacon
3) Using one finger at a time, seal the mouth of the flacon and dab the perfume to one pulse point at a time.
4) Each time, change the finger, so always a clean finger is touching the juice.
* According to Marie-Lisehen using the dabber, you might add your own skin cells and bacteria to the juice which can cause spoilage. The same thing can happen if you use the same finger over and over again to apply the perfume.

A little trivia question, with an Annick Goutal related prize for the first to answer correctly:
What other name, besides Songes, did Annick Goutal went through a court battle for?

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