To say that the launch of a new pillar fragrance from MUGLER is an event is quite the understatement. Since 1992 the brand has only launched a handful of fragrances (excluding their fabulous flankers, of course) and unlike many other fragrance houses, MUGLER takes their time to develop and nurture their pillars. So with so few big launches a new one from MUGLER is hotly anticipated and easily makes for the perfume event of the year! MUGLER’S last pillar fragrance was Womanity, which launched way back in 2010 and whilst it wasn’t a commercial success, it was a daring fragrance who’s sweet/savoury-marine/biscuity signature trickled down through mainstream perfumery into the likes of Calvin Klein’s Reveal and Paco Rabanne’s Olympēa.
Seven years later and MUGLER are just about to launch their fourth pillar: AURA. Like ANGEL and ALIEN, and A*MEN before it, AURA plays on Mr Mugler’s supersition, bearing the letter ‘A’ to carry the brand’s theme of addiction into the next phase. AURA was created by a dream team of perfumers; Daphné Bugey, Marie Salamagne, Amandine Marie and Jean-Christophe Hérault, and it presents an oriental twist on the green genre, reinventing it and creating an olfactory shock.
The concept behind AURA is “botanical meets animal”. It celebrates the intuitive instinct that MUGLER describes as being innately feminine in nature. The composition consists of three hearts which showcase overdoses of rhubarb leaf and a new Firmenich material called ‘Tiger Liana’. With AURA, MUGLER has sought to innovate, working closely with Firmenich to exclusively use Tiger Liana along with another material called Wolfwood – all of which comes together to create a magic aura and the next chapter in MUGLER’S extra-terrestrial odyssey.
The theme of magic extends to AURA’s presentation and most specifically its flacon. MUGLER are renowned for their beautiful bottles, which are all sculptural masterpieces rather than simple vessels for MUGLER’S scents. AURA uses an emerald heart as its symbol, envisaged by Mr Mugler and created by an artist. It’s diamond cut with reptilian scales and wears a silver crown in the shape of the letter ‘M’ (for ‘MUGLER’, if you hadn’t guessed) It is refillable, of course, allowing one to hold on to their beloved bottle of AURA forever. To me it has a touch of the Emerald City to it which, I hope we can all agree, is NEVER a bad thing.
Oriental Heart: Tiger Liana
Botanical Heart: Rhubarb Leaf and Orange Blossom
Carnal Heart: Bourbon Vanilla and Wolfwood
How Does it Smell?
AURA opens sweet and green. On the green spectrum it sits firmly on the tropical, jungle-esque category with a sappy, leaf-like quality that brings to mind giant palm leaves filled with rainwater. There’s a strangeness to this botanical feel – a radiance that makes one think of bioluminescent flora. It’s a bit ‘MUGLER meets Avatar’ and it paints the image of an alien rainforest with monalithic trees and exotic plants that may, or may not be deadly.
There’s a zesty, refreshing quality to AURA that is best described as juicy. This is the clash of the rhubarb leaf and orange blossom and it plays contrast to the Tiger Liana which is used in overdose within AURA’s core. MUGLER are shrouding the nifty Tiger Liana material in an air of mystery (they’ve bestowed it with the name ‘Tiger Liana’ to keep it secret), but they say it is derived from a root and took ten years to develop for exclusive use in AURA. The Tiger Liana has a fascinating odour profile. It has a buttery smokiness to it, but it boasts a sweetness too with a fascinating sugared almond facet that adds shimmer as well as a nutty warmth.
In the base AURA pairs wood with vanilla. The vanilla bourbon brings a whole hosts of facets, creating a bed that is powdery, leathery, spicy and balsamic, whilst the Wolfwood enhances the smoky aspects of the Tiger Liana, creating a warmth that is resinous and fur-like. As it dries down, AURA carries with it a hint of leafy, sappy greenery and folds it neatly into the softly smoky base of vanilla and woods. It’s a beautiful transition that twists the green genre into something more oriental and modern.
AURA does not follow ANGEL, ALIEN and WOMANITY in terms of shock value. It’s not a fragrance that knocks one’s socks off with the first spray. I’d even say that it is much softer and quieter than any MUGLER I’ve smelled to date. So can this fragrance really be worthy of the MUGLER name if it doesn’t carry a bold signature? Well, what AURA lacks in olfactory confrontation it makes up for in complexity. It is a perfume of nuance – a multi-faceted experience that leads the wearer’s nose on a fascinating journey of contrasts and unique materials.
So what do I think of AURA? What’s the verdict? What does the ultimate MUGLER fan boy make of this latest chapter in the MUGLER epic? I love it. Do I think that it’s much safer than MUGLER’S other pillars? Most definitely and it would be fair to say that AURA is tamer, quieter and more paired-back than anything else the brand has done to date. Is it my favourite MUGLER? No, not by any means, but I find it to be a fascinating fragrance to wear – one that presents interesting olfactory experiences at every turn. I can’t think of anything that smells quite like it and it sits within the MUGLER collection as a more intimate, botanical fragrance that does what every single one of MUGLER’s perfumes do so well: it creates an addiction. So I guess you can consider me addicted then!
AURA launches in the UK and France on 30 June 2017. It will be available in 30ml (£49), 50ml (£70) and 90ml (£88.50) refillable Eau de Parfum.
Sample, notes and quotes via MUGLER. Images are my own.