Love it or hate it, one can never remain indifferent to Angel (Thierry Mugler, 1992). Its unprecedented accord of patchouli versus crème caramel coupled with a monstrous sillage and tenacity makes it impossible to forget. This ground-breaking spirit was henceforth associated with the house of Thierry Mugler. To achieve the status of a commercial blockbuster whilst remaining edgy is exceedingly difficult a feat, but they did it with Angel. Even their later releases such as Alien (2005) and Womanity (2010) are just as interesting. So, when the newest launch Aura (2017), signed by Daphné Bugey, Marie Salamagne, Amandine Clerc-Marie, and Christophe Raynaud, hit the shelf, I jumped at the chance to try it, only to be somewhat underwhelmed by its mishmash of green and musky vanilla.
To be fair, its idea of faceted green and musk, which represents the exotic forest and ‘feline sensuality’, is promising. Both the green and the musk accord are complex. Plenty of violet leaf is embellished by some sweet minty and herbal accents; the impression they give is just as eccentric as the emerald green bottle. These are equally matched by an enveloping musky accord. It has the dense powdery character of cedarwood punctuated by sharp woody hints and tempered by sweet vanilla. I liked the idea of its green-musky interplay at first because of the mélange of off-beat accents that make it fun. It has the right performance, too, in terms of presence and tenacity.
Nevertheless, after only a few months, I quite forgot what Aura is about. It feels nice, but it never quite captures and holds my attention. On the face of it, the peculiar contrast and technicolour accents should render it memorable, but Aura ultimately boils down to a safe sweet musky vanilla. It is a well-crafted perfume with an eclectic green and musky character that lasts like an armour, but ultimately where is the drama? The more I try Aura, the more I find myself wishing for more excitement and punches.
If you are indeed looking for a combination of green, musk, and wood, there are plenty of other exciting offers in the market. For a verdant yet silky take, the galbanum-musk-wood interplay of Untitled (Maison Martin Margiela, 2010) is just as well-executed, but perhaps far more enthralling with its counterpoint and harmony at once. If you want a dramatic and an almost chypre take, the green olive, leathery woods, and musky balsams of Vert de Bois (Tom Ford, 2016) make for a worthy tribute to its classical predecessors. Or, better yet, look no further than the old-school green chypres: Chanel N°19 (1970), Aramis (1965), and Cabochard (Grès, 1959) offer their opulent sets and dramas full on.
Source: Clarins Press Release.