2005 A Space Odyssey – Ten Years of Thierry Mugler’s Alien

Happy Birthday, Alien!
Happy Birthday, Alien!

“Alien is the very essence of femininity, it’s femininity incarnate. And femininity is a gift from heaven, a generosity, an instinctive intelligence.”

– Thierry Mugler

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a silence overtook the stars. Thirteen years had passed since the Empress Angel ascended her galactic throne, and loneliness had taken hold in her couture heart. All around her she saw nothing but copycats, pale imitations and weaklings that couldn’t live up to her fierceness, her avant-garde angles nor the sheer power of her olfactory force. She was a supernova of edible treats over a dark nebula of patchouli and the others couldn’t compete. Angel longed for a sister, an extract of her fearless DNA that danced along the same double helix. Little did she know that she would get more than she bargained for, and she imagined into being a friendly rival who shone brightly over the galaxy and threatened her reign. Or something like that, anyway….

Back on Earth in 2005, 13 whole years after launching his debut fragrance, Angel, fashion designer, Thierry Mugler launched Alien, his sophomore perfume. Few designers and brands are so patient however, the Mugler model is one of perseverance where fragrances are allowed the time to find their target market, and to grow fondly in the hearts of their fans. Take Angel for instance, a perfume that was as divisive as Marmite when it was launched, and in fact, still is to this day. Mugler and Clarins (who hold the Mugler license) started with a small launch and invested both time, and care in slowly building a fan base, and a name for their product until it became one of the best selling fragrances in the world – an accolade that it still holds today.

Both Alien and Womanity (2010) have followed this blueprint, receiving long-term success rather than being quickly canned if they weren’t immediately successful in their first few months on the market. That said, Alien seems to have been fairly popular right from the outset, due perhaps in part to the fact that, whilst it is utterly distinct (there really is nothing quite like it still to this day), Alien isn’t quite as hard to get along with as the others. Don’t get me wrong, Alien is still a complete weirdo of a woody jasmine, but somehow it manages to bridge the divide between fantasy and reality, making for an accessible olfactory experience, enjoyed in full 3D and iMax.

A Precious Gem
A Precious Gem

Birthing a Sun: A Solar Floral with an Unusual Name and a Jewel-Like Flacon

“When creating Alien, I dreamed of a fragrance that would reveal the radiance and splendor of every woman. Rather than a fragrance of seduction, Alien is designed as a sacred talisman charged with positive energy. This perfume stirs strong emotions and creates a true olfactory addiction…”

– Thierry Mugler

Thierry Mugler as a designer, has always celebrated the power of women. The Mugler Woman is not a sex object, nor is she a victim, she is a warrioress – an Amazonian centurion wearing a couture breast plate. Mugler says that he “always wanted to elevate women to the top of the world” and to achieve this aim, he fashioned an army of goddesses with waspish waists and powerful shoulders. His fragrances are no different, with each one celebrating the diverse power of women. For example, Angel plays on the duality of the masculine and feminine sides of power, whilst Womanity pays homage to the fertile power of humanity.

But what about Alien’s power? What force does she hold? According to Mugler, Alien “embodies the power of a Solar Goddess who radiates, fascinates and captivates with her benevolence, in a society questing for spirituality and new values”. She is “femininity incarnate”, he says, and this can be seen through the sheer volume and radiance of her sillage, which really is a force to be reckoned with. Alien is a statuesque fragrance and a golden beacon of light that celebrates the very essence of the Mugler brand, and the designer’s obsession with strong women.

Alien was created by perfumers Dominique Ropion and Laurent Bruyere. These honourable noses were tasked with the job of executing Mugler’s inspiration of; “the sun’s rays conveyed in the form of a raw block of intense ingredients”. To achieve this, two polar opposite accords were chosen, namely the luminous, heady and intense note of Sambac Jasmine, opposed directly against an animalic woody amber. It is the clash and the collision of these two materials that makes Alien’s signature of shrill, syrupy white flowers and smooth blonde woods. Cashmeran (described as an “extraordinary, almost surrealistic, woody ingredient” by Ropion) is used as the link between the magnetic poles, due to its blanket-like odour profile that crosses the vast ocean of woody and amber nuances. Genetically, Alien is a series of contrasts, complexities and clear beauty.

“Without a doubt, the strength of these two poles and their magnetism are what gives rise to the attractiveness of Alien. Although we refined each initial temperament, they continue to express themselves in a harmonious reconciliation. Their accord contributes to giving this fragrance a recognizable and singular identity. After all, that’s what a great perfume is: a distinct personality that you note and memorize from the beginning and will subsequently identify in an instant. Ultimately, it must have generosity and breadth, which most certainly characterizes Alien.”

– Dominique Ropion

Alien is not just a fragrance though, it’s so much more. Alien is a work of art, right from its challenging name to the deep purple glass of its stone-like bottle. The name, starting with ‘A’ and consisting of five letters is an homage to Angel, but its also a demarkation of how the fragrance is not like the others on the market. Alien is exactly that: an extra-terrestrial being, and when it launched, it was a unique entity that had not been experienced before. But this Alien came in peace with one mission: to glamourise and celebrate the power of women.

Where Angel comes packaged in a star plucked straight from the night sky, and Womanity is served within a strange totem from the planet Venus, Alien is carved like a jewel from previous stones. The Eau de Parfum channels the serene vibrations of amethyst in a talisman that is made in 11 steps and can be infinitely refillable, should one choose. The other scents in the colony each take the form of another precious stone, ranging from golden topaz (Alien Essence Absolue) to rock crystal (Alien Eau Extraordinaire). Each however, is clasped by golden claws evoking the colour and force of solar rays, and hinting at ancient rituals and expensive jewellery.

The Alien Colony
The Alien Colony; Alien Eau de Parfum (2005), Alien Essence Absolue (2012), Alien Eau Extraordinaire (2014), Alien Oud Majestueux (2015) & Alien Eau de Toilette (2009)

The Many Faces of Alien

Everybody knows that Mugler loves a good flanker or two, or ten… As we’ve established already, the Mugler model leaves room for many reinterpretations of a familiar theme, and Alien is certainly no stranger to the Mugler shake up. Our beloved solar jasmine has been watered down (see the floral Alien Aqua Chic), leathered up (see the feisty Alien Les Parfums de Cuir), and even slathered in salted caramel (see the sinfully delectable Alien Le Goût du Parfum). Despite its distinct and unique nature, Alien is a surprisingly versatile composition that lends itself well to a healthy remix, resulting in a veritable colony of extra terrestrial fragrances, each with an unusual signature.

The current Alien line up consists of five fragrances. There is the original Eau de Parfum of course, as well as an Eau de Toilette, which serves simply as a lighter, more citrus-centric version of the original that maintains the spirit and identity of the Eau de Parfum. Speaking of ‘lighter’, the Eau Extraordinaire edition of Alien takes one, ethereal step away from the heady jasmine blooms of the 2005 classic, diluting it with crisp and dewy citrus notes, and smoothing them out with delicate green tea.

For those who like something a little bit more intense, Mugler offers up Alien Essence Absolue, a rich, honeyed interpretation of the fragrance that is thickened up with vanilla and iris to create a luxurious perfume fit for a queen (an Alien Queen of course), or alternatively as an ideal fragrance to wear with shoulder pads. Finally, Mugler have just launched Alien Oud Majestueux as a limited edition, pairing the intense floral notes of the original with a whole tannery full of funky animalic notes (swing by for a review of that later in the week). Whatever one you choose, each Alien is as unique as the other however, the signature of the original is never lost.

The Alien Talisman Limited Edition
The Alien Talisman Limited Edition

A 10th Anniversary Gift

To celebrate Alien’s 10th year of being, Mugler have launched a limited edition bottle that pays homage to the flacon’s original inspiration as an ancient talisman. This special commemorative edition of the amethyst bottle of Alien sees the jewel-like facets cut to a sharp point and placed on a pedestal of golden claws.

The Alien Talisman Limited Edition is available in 40ml refillable Eau de Parfum for £62.

Images and quotes via Thierry Mugler.