Aura opens on my skin with an intensely sweet-tart fruity accord, along with a tropical green note. The vanilla also starts to manifest from the very beginning, providing an opaque, creamy texture to the fruity accord.
Because of this creamy texture and intense sweetness, I don't recognise it as rhubarb like in Hermès Rhubarbe Ecarlate, which is much more juicy, more sparkling and natural-smelling. In fact, the creamy fruitiness combined with the tropical, ripe greenness briefly evokes green banana in my head.
The volume of vanilla soon escalates to the max, and pushes the interesting tropical greenery aside. Combined to the potent fruity sweetness, Aura actually smells very much like typical commercial fruity tonka-vanilla gourmand fragrances on today's market. There's also an artificial, peppery smoky note mixed within, screechy like nails on the chalkboard. Meanwhile, the orange blossom seems to only bring its grape-y sweetness to the table, further enhancing the fruity vanilla gourmand impression. I can hardly notice any floral aspect.
If I concentrate my attention, there is indeed an almond-like nuttiness embedded within, maybe stemming from the Tiger Liana which is described by Daphne Bugey as having vanilla, almond and smoky facets. Occasionally, a fatty, slightly sour animalic nuance can also be perceived. But they are not daring enough to provide a meaningful contrast like patchouli in Angel or aquatic spiciness in Womanity.
After about 8 hours, the vanilla finally stops screaming, and surprisingly, the tropical green note survives it. Now, Aura is mainly a soft, ripe tropical fruitiness mixed with a delicate green camphor nuance and merest earthy, dust-like astringency, like a humid tropical jungle in a fairy tale, without any deadly, hostile creatures. This far dry down reminds me of Zoologist Bat, but Aura at this stage feels much gentler and easier to appreciate, whimsical yet adorable as well.
Aura has a heavy to modest sillage, and the longevity is almost 12 hours.
I adore Aura's mild, tropical-jungle-esque far dry down, which matches the campaign perfectly. How I wish Aura would smell like this part all along! Unfortunately, the first two thirds of Aura's development on my skin is dominated by the commercial fruity vanilla, and fails to leave a strong impression like how Angel, Alien and Womanity did to me.
Moreover, I usually find Mugler's fragrances rather artificial-smelling, which is oddly appealing in the case of the first three pillar fragrances, providing an unexpected futuristic spin to the shocking contrasts. But with the rather generic treatment of fruity vanilla in Aura, this artificial quality sadly becomes a shortcoming to my taste.
When compared to other currently available gourmand new releases, Aura is indeed decent enough. Without the purple, plum-molasses-like fruitchouli jam accord, the tropical green facet of Aura does retain a certain refreshing quality. However, I still can't help feeling disappointed. Maybe I just set the bar too high for this beloved perfume house, and it's unrealistic to expect them to deliver wildly innovative olfactory experience every single time.