Created in 1992, Angel was the first in what became a series of very successful, frequently divisive perfumes under the Thierry Mugler label. From what I've read, Angel was not an instant success but eventually became a massive blockbuster of a fragrance, thanks to the company's dedication to the scent over the space of several years. Many industry experts say that such a narrative would be unlikely in this era, when a perfume must do well in the first 6-9 months or risk discontinuation. Bois de Jasmin has--as she often does--a really thorough discussion of the original Angel over at her blog.
But, the thing to know about Angel, if you've never smelled it, is that (while not the first) it was the gourmand that defined all gourmands to come. Recently I was speaking to a perfume sales associate at Saks, a woman who had been selling perfume for something like 30 years. She said that the first time the Thierry Mugler people presented Angel--at the perfume's launch party--they presented the guests with servings of cotton candy, caramel, chocolate, sweets upon sweet. There wasn't a flower in sight, she said. When the marketers revealed to the audience that these sugary treats were the notes that made up Angel, the guests gasped.
The first time I smelled Angel, spritzing too big a puff on my wrist in the middle of Macy's or Lord and Taylor or any other department store in America, I almost threw up on wrist. Blech. I like sweet, but this was beyond sweet. This was oh dear god the teeth have just rotted from my mouth--that kind of sweet. Plus, Angel stays. Although its name seems to imply lightness, airy wings, the perfume is heavy. It sticks to the skin. It is an Angel with claws and a poor sense of decorum. It is the guest who does not understand when the party is over and it's time to go home.
But, then I kept reading about the many iterations of Angel and eventually became interested in Angel Liqueur de Parfum, no doubt tempted by the descriptions of this limited edition: Like fine cognac, this Parfum is matured in a cherry wood barrel to become a sensual elixir – truly a liqueur de parfum. Uh oh. I'm not much of a drinker, but I do have a thing for boozy scents. And cherry is one of the flavors that I love most in this world.
Because most of the Angel variations have lethal degrees of longevity and a tsunami-like sillage, you have to be very careful "on the trigger," as perfumistas like to say. That is, spritz cautiously. When I use Angel Liqueur, I often spray the air--just a single spray--then walk through the mist. For the rest of the day, I can smell little breaths of cherry brandy, sweetness, and patchouli. I treat Angel Liqueur carefully, as though it were an unstable substance that must be approached with little noise and must be stored within a containment glove box.
Until I went actively searching for a poem to pair with Angel Liqueur de Parfum, I didn't know what I would find. But then--LO!--in the vaults of Poetry Magazine, I found this terrific poem by W.S. di Piero, which captures not only the very scent of the perfume but also its loud, audacious chutzpah. My god! There's even an angel in the poem:
A Lowrider Loudly Brings Us
by W.S. di Piero
a thing that's called radar love,
the whole hog calling,
and here's unhoused Ginger,
distracted wind-beaten beauty
separating from park bench
and Frigidaire carton,
flying Halloween colors,
tie-dye skirt, Orangesicle socks,
where will she sleep tonight,
where lay those tulle angel wings
slashed through her overcoat,
who pulses anarchist patchouli
and minty hair draughts
and cigarette spirits that scuff
our fragile air while we hope for
some pick-me-up before we pass.