In 1992 Thierry Mugler Angel invented the gourmand fragrance category. Composed by young perfumer Olivier Cresp it was almost a creation that could only come from a precocious talent still discovering his own boundaries. Since the massive success of Angel the gourmand sector has grown every year. If there is a quarrel I have with it, and it is a small one, there is a tendency for new releases to tilt towards bombastic sweetness. That is probably as much a nod to the concept that they are trying to woo Angel lovers to something similarly as intense as anything else. Now in 2016 we see the original innovator return to the gourmand scene with an equally precocious talent with Thierry Mugler Angel Muse.
That talent is Quentin Bisch who, like M. Cresp was in 1992 at Quest, is in the early days of his career with Givaudan. He is one of that coterie of creatives I think of as Young Guns. Incredibly talented, honing his talents by working in all sectors from bargain to high-end niche. M. Bisch has already created a portfolio of memorable perfumes. With Angel Muse he has perhaps provided a path to a modern gourmand aka gourmand 2.0.
Angel is a powerhouse. Most of the flankers of Angel have worked less to attenuate the presence; instead looking to explore facets hidden deep beneath all of the chocolate and patchouli. Angel Muse is something much less powerful. It definitely has presence. It also has a comfortable geniality to it that I would never describe Angel as having. Angel asks you to take it or leave it on its own terms. Angel Muse sidles up next to you asking you, politely, to pull it closer. M. Bisch completely transforms the pyramid of Angel while still reminding me that this is a blood relative.
Angel Muse starts with a sly wink to the original as a flare of ethyl maltol imparts the cotton candy smell it is known for. It goes away as M. Bisch begins a savorier exploration of sweet. The first two notes are called “raspberry jam” and “strawberry jam”. What this means is M. Bisch takes raspberry ketone and the strawberry aromachemical aldehyde c14 and ensnares them in a matrix which contains their natural exuberance. These notes fill up rooms when used in high concentration. I am guessing in Angel Muse M. Bisch is using a smaller percentage, just enough to know they are there but not so much to be cantankerous. This is what makes them jammy instead of just raspberry and strawberry. It is also the initial indication Angel Muse is all about affability instead of confrontation. Then Angel Muse makes its biggest change as M. Bisch jettisons the chocolate and patchouli for creamy hazelnut and vetiver. In many of the niche gourmand perfumes that have followed Angel, vetiver has been found to be a good partner to sweeter accords. M. Bisch has used that information to create the new gourmand power duo. The hazelnut is softer. The nutty quality is just right embedded in a creamy cocktail of lactones. Vetiver provides the green woody contrast which makes the cream and the nuttiness stand out. Later the hazelnut transforms to something similar to a praline as the nutty and the woody predominate over the final hours.
Angel Muse has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage but not the nuclear sillage of Angel.
There seems to be a thought out there that millennials are looking for a gourmand fragrance to call their own. Much like Angel did in the 1990’s Angel Muse could become the perfume for this new generation of perfume lovers. If that is the case, you can count me as one for whom that would make happy. Gourmand is a perfume style which seems ripe for innovation. I can hope the other Young Guns might also take a shot at the same style. I know that M. Bisch has defined gourmand 2.0 in Angel Muse. It is hopefully the beginning of a new era for gourmands.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Macy’s.