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.

Candies 2012
The Candies 2012

I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?

Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!

Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.

So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…

Group Shot
The Other Half of the Collection

The Postcards From My Collection Series takes you on a voyage through the big pile of clutter that is my perfume collection. The aim is to familiarise you with the fragrances that are special and/or weird enough to take pride of place on my perfume shelf. Some have great sentimental value, others simply just smell awesome and whatever the reason for their residency in my collection, rest assured that they will satiate your need for some shameless perfume porn.

In the first instalment we took a look at those fragrances, both big and small, that were most precious to me. They were a varied bunch including über expensive extraits, paris exclusives and vintage finds that take ultimate pride of place in my collection, which is really an extensive rogues gallery of perfume.

This week we are taking a trip to Planet Mugler and before we take off I have a few safety announcements to get out of the way; 1) please ensure that your hands, feet and noses remain safely in the spacecraft at all times; 2) when we have safely landed on Planet Mugler please do not remove your helmets, the smell of the planet is so strong your head will explode with in seconds without the proper protection; and 3) if you are of a sensitive disposition you will either have to disembark the spaceship immediately or grow a pair because we’re about to take off…

Alien Essence Absolue
“At the height of her radiance, the statuesque solar goddess embodies sensuality more than ever before. In her magnetic aura, intense emotions burst forth and open the door to new imaginary worlds.”

Thierry Mugler’s second major feminine Alien has managed to become almost as popular and iconic as its sister fragrance Angel, which is no mean feat when you consider exactly how popular the latter is. Since its release in 2005 Mugler has released a plethora of Alien Editions, each of which has seemed better than the last, and it would be fair to say that the very latest edition ‘Alien Essence Absolue’ is the best yet, and they know it too hailing Essence Absolue as “The Supreme Perfume”.

What I love about the Thierry Mugler brand is that they are not afraid to experiment, not only with their flagship launches but also with their flankers. They may not always work (see Ice*Men) but they are always interesting and it’s great to see a brand really give a damn about the quality and artistry of all their fragrances. Personally, I didn’t think that Mugler could top the salted-caramel-goodness of Alien Le Goût de Parfum (released last year), but by jove they’ve gone and proved me wrong.

Alien Essence Absolue is the latest interpretation of Alien and serves as an oriental twist on the original. Created by Dominique Ropion (one of favourite perfumers FYI), who worked on the original as well as creating the Eau de Toilette, Eau Luminescente and Sunessence versions, Essence Absolue is a more intense interpretation that focuses on warm, resinous notes and intense flowers. Mugler describes it as “an intense amber, floral, vanilla perfume […] a magnetic fragrance that illuminates the skin in a halo of light” – well if “magnetic” partly explains why my nose is currently stuck to my wrist then I’m all for it.