Beware of Angels
As extreme and avant garde it was when it came out, so was the love or hate for it. I feel is the most polarizing fragrance ever created in its ability to convey utter love or repulse. I've never been on one side, just slightly uncomfortable wearing it, but never repulsed when the mood for it came.
Wearing my 2 year old bottle, and a decade old sample, the first thing I notice is the absence of the hard hitting medicinal patchouli in my recent formulation. Angel of yore was as much patchouli as cotton candy, melon and chocolate. Patchouli so dark it could pass of as chocolate, drizzled with honey, a fruit salad, and cotton candy from the town fair. Extremely strong, most times pungent, and definitely mood driven; just the slightest hint of it on the wrong moment and your day could be ruined. Wearing Angel was a day long compromise. And wearing samples along the years, samples which were easily and freely given, I saw different facets, slight changes, and how that town fair went from night to day.
Buying the current Angel, was mainly because 1) it's a piece of perfumery art, 2) the large rising star bottle is gorgeous and 3) I feel it has lost its extreme personality disorder. While I never enjoy reforms and try to find everything in its most vintage formula, Angel is one I couldn't do back then, nor could I now if it hadn't changed, to me for the better.
Angel is Angel. There's no mistaking it, for better or for worse. It hasn't lost its identity, but it isn't so extreme. The patchouli still feels medicinal and rough, but not in so much volume. The fruits are no longer rotting, they feel like a preserve, and the honey along the candy floss have increased as to cover any unwanted smells. The chocolate facet is still pronounced, but it's now sweeter as well, as opposed to the dark chocolate of the past, and the whole thing feels smoother and less air sucking.
I find that Angel has retained its power and sillage quite well. Where you needed a single spritz or less 20 years ago, now 2 have you covered for the day or night. The lack of extreme opposites that was in the original star bottle makes it far more wearable in all its weirdness and glory. It seems that the 'Carnaval Diabolique' mr. Mugler wanted to convey has finished; it is now morning in that same fair and you smell the remains of last nights performance. There's is also some coffee brewing somewhere in the premises, which you catch glimpses of, along the popcorn smell that was served last night.
So yes, polarizing as it may be, Angel is a landmark of imagination and faith. Mugler along Clarins and Vera Strubi went all the way, believing in, and supporting Angel until it became the hit it is. Or was. And that deserves credit. It started the whole craze for gourmands and sweet edible notes, but Angel was never simple, boring or predictable. It was and still is unique, and the father and mother of the fruitchoulis that flood the market today.
I might never be ready to experience the 1992 Angel again, but what's out there today it is still Angel, and when the mood strikes there's nothing like it.
Edit: Finding a bottle from the first years of release, now I appreciate it more than ever. Vintage Angel is smoother, rounder, better and next to the current, it’s the best of the two. The newer ones now seem shrill, cheap, following trends instead of setting them. Only vintage for me!