AURA by MUGLER
AURA by MUGLER

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.

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Let's Catch the Oriental Express to Mugler Town
Let’s Catch the Oriental Express to Mugler Town

In the 1920s, the legendary Spanish painter Pablo Picasso was driven to move away from cubism and paint in the style of the classics, just to prove that he could. Having always been at the forefront of modern perfumery, the equally iconic house of Mugler have decided to make a similar move with their latest collection of fragrances: Les Exceptions. Mugler create bold, extra-terrestrial fragrances that are far removed from the tropes of modern perfumery. They do not follow genres or olfactory families, they create them, having famously crafted the oriental gourmand genre with Angel, the solar woody genre with Alien and the, err, well, whatever genre you could classify that weirdo, Womanity as – bioluminescent fruit, perhaps? In fragrance Mugler are the leaders, not the followers.

Olympēa - Paco Rabanne's new Goddess
Olympēa – Paco Rabanne’s new Goddess

Criticise Paco Rabanne all you want, but you can never say that they don’t have a knack for tapping into the zeitgeist. Their fragrance launches are a perfect example of how marketing drives the success of a modern perfume, with irresistible packaging and expensive advertising campaigns drawing the consumer in. Take 1 Million for instance – a perfectly decent woody amber fragrance that most likely wouldn’t have had the phenomenal success it has if it weren’t packaged inside a faux piece of gold bullion and marketed with a club-culture inspired ad that tapped into the image and money-obsessed nature of modern youth. They are anything, if not clever.

Their latest launch for women, ‘Olympēa‘, which arrives as the feminine counterpart to 2013’s Invictus, comes with all of the trappings of a typical Paco Rabanne launch right from the show-stopping bottle shaped like a laurel crown to the high-budget visuals, but the scent itself appears to have a bit more depth than one would usually expect. Created by perfumers Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong, Olympēa is described as the “fragrance of a modern day goddess” and a “statuesque idol of conquest and victory”. That is quite the description, I must say, and in truth, the fragrance is more intimate and cuddly than the concept would lead one to expect, but that’s not to say that Olympēa is without interest, in fact, it’s really quite intriguing.

“The fragrance of a modern day goddess, Paco Rabanne Olympea Eau de Parfum makes a statement of strength, power and seduction. Between myth and reality is where you’ll find Olympēa, a statuesque idol of conquest and victory. Her fragrance is just as commanding as she is, featuring a legend-inspiring salted vanilla accord that elevates her above the clouds.”

– Paco Rabanne

'Savage Beauty' - A retrospective of Alexander McQueen's Work at the V&A, London
‘Savage Beauty’ – A retrospective of Alexander McQueen’s Work at the V&A, London

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition”.

– Lee ‘Alexander’ McQueen ¹

Whether one is a follower of fashion or not, it cannot be denied that the work of the late, great Alexander McQueen is art. McQueen paired exceptional tailoring (forged after an apprenticeship on Saville Row) with violence, romance and often alien beauty to create pieces that shook, and more importantly, challenged the world of fashion. Whether it be his early collection, ‘Highland Rape’, which had a name as controversial as its clothing, or the 3D printed and H.R. Ginger inspired ‘Alien’ footwear from ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, McQueen demonstrated that he was a fashion renegade – always courting controversy, but never losing sight of beauty.

This weekend I visited the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London. Running until 02 August 2015, the exhibit is a tremendous showcase of McQueen’s work, spanning his illustrious career from his MA Graduate Collection (‘Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims, 1992) to his final, and incomplete collection (Autumn/Winter 2010). The whole thing is impeccably staged, with each room transformed to capturing the theme of each body of work. Perhaps the most captivating part of the exhibit is the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ – a room that spans two storeys and is filled with a dazzling array of pieces, from accessories such as bags, shoes and head pieces (many of which are collaborations with milliner, Philip Treacy), to gowns and metal spines. There’s simply so much to look at and the whole thing serves as a true testament to the talent, nay, the genius of one of the world’s greatest fashion designers.

Leaving the exhibition I felt incredibly inspired. It was fascinating to literally walk through the evolution of McQueen’s aesthetic, encountering the divine and the macabre along the way. There will never be another talent like his and to celebrate this stunning exhibition and body of work, I thought I would pick out some of my favourite McQueen pieces from his greatest collections, and ‘scent them’ with some perfumes that embody the spirit of these remarkable pieces of fashion. Here you’ll find some deeply intriguing clothing and scents, all of which are tailored to perfection and challenge one’s perceptions. They are works of fashion and olfactory art.

Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside
Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

It’s really heating up here in the Kingdom of the United. Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with the mercury making its way up to a rather scorching 27ºC (that’s 80ºF to my American counterparts). I spent the day soaking up the sun at Wireless festival, enjoying the melodic tones of Pharrell Williams and the egotistical rants of Kanye West. Many people however, would have flocked to the coast to top up their Vitamin D levels on one of the countries many beaches.

I do love a good beach, but I must admit that I am not a fan of sunbathing – my short attention span makes sure of that (it’s so short, in fact, that it’s a miracle that I managed to make it to the end of that last sentence). Thankfully for me, Britain offers an array of coastlines ranging from the full-on seaside resorts, complete with candy floss, beach huts and donkey rides to the abandoned sand dunes of almost-forgotten beaches in the farthest corners of the country.

In this piece, I take a look at some of my favourite seaside perfumes. Fragrances that are evocative of the beach, whether that be the hot sands of an exotic getaway or the cold shingle of a British seaside town – there’s even a fragrance that conjures up the image of an alien landscape – a beach on the planet Venus. So pack your sunglasses and your bucket and spade, ’cause we’re going on a short summer holiday and a scented tour of the world’s smelliest beaches.

Perfume Pic of the Week No.5: Le Tentation de Nina Macarons
Perfume Pic of the Week No.5: Le Tentation de Nina Macarons

I love Ladurée, I love macarons and I most certainly love perfume. So it will come as no surprise that I am quite keen on the above picture, which very quickly become my perfume pic of the week when I stumbled across it, whilst preparing for my upcoming review (due to be up next week) of the latest Nina Ricci fragrance – the macaron inspired ‘Le Tentation de Nina‘.

Nina Ricci (the brand, obv), perfumer Olivier Cresp and Vincent Lemains (the Head Pastry Chef at Ladurée) have teamed up to create a macaron “inspired by a perfume” and a perfume “inspired by a macaron”. The macarons, which are winking at you in the above picture, are a devilishly delicious-sounding blend of lemon, raspberry, Bulgarian rose absolute and almond, all of which is topped off with a dash of gold leaf. The perfume is very much in the same spirit and lists similar notes. Does it perfectly capture the spirit of the most darling of pastries? Well, you’ll have to wait until my review for that little nugget of information…

M is for Mugler…

It’s been a little while since I last created an entry for my Escentual A-Z of Fragrance and it felt about the right time to further explore the alphabet of perfume with a look at an iconic perfume house. In the A-Z we’ve taken a look at esteemed perfume brands such as Amouage, Dior and Guerlain, but the one I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into was the house of Thierry Mugler. I was so excited in fact, that I couldn’t even wait until we got to the letter ‘T’!

In my Escentual column this week the letter of the moment is ‘M’ for Mugler. I take a brief look at the history of the house and talk about the house’s five unique, high-fashion and downright weird perfumes; Angel, A*Men, Cologne, Alien and Womanity. So please hop on your Battlestar Muglactica and head over to the Escentual blog (by simply clicking the image above) to explore the world of Mugler. Don’t forget to tell me which Mugler scent floats your boat whilst you’re there!