One Thousand Scents

Friday, July 11, 2008

Strange: Thierry Mugler Alien

When I first smelled Thierry Mugler's Alien at its launch in Canada, I thought, "I could definitely wear this." When I saw it in London last year, I thought, "I have to buy this." And when I tried it on after getting back home, I thought, "I have made a mistake."

This was at the time of my dysosmia, when some scents--quite a few of them--smelled strange to me; all of those that did, I surmised, contained a particular scent element (or one of a family of such elements) that simply took over and left me smelling little but a strong, sharp, plastic-greenery aroma, not only at the time but for hours afterwards. That still happens from time to time, but it's not as frequent as it was; it no longer happens with Alien, for one.

Alien is based on jasmine sambac, otherwise known as pikake, a very dense, heady tropical floral. This is the same jasmine that's used in Dior's Hypnotic Poison, which a great many people love but which is, for some reason, unspeakable on me; thick, heavy, suffocating. Alien suggests Hypnotic Poison with the horror-show elements removed.

It opens with a little jab of sugar-frosted greenery which is immediately, and I mean immediately, joined by a huge plume of jasmine sambac. It's so big that it has a kind of authority which it can confer on the wearer; despite that wispy woman in the ad above, it's easy to imagine someone wearing Alien stomping around with a don't-mess-with-me scowl. (You can't do that in Anais Anais or Allure Homme and be taken seriously.) Sweetened and vanillified a bit, but not enough to make it gloppy or pretty, it closes with soft woods and more vanilla. It lasts, as you can well imagine, for hours and hours. And hours.
The list of notes for Alien includes "solar accord", which is very silly (the sun doesn't smell like anything!), but, though I hate to admit it, the scent really does have a glow about it. It seems to radiate from your skin; the diffusiveness is enormous. In fact, like Angel, this is the sort of scent that demands to be applied with great discretion, lest you choke everybody within a three-yard radius. Luckily, discretion is easily managed, because the bottle lets you tap the sprayer and get just a tiny dose. (My bottle does, anyway; not wanting to spring for anything more expensive--this is pricey stuff for a department-store scent--I bought the smallest available bottle, a half ounce. It isn't wrapped in the golden claws of the bigger bottles, but it is a beautiful object all the same, a little amethyst block called the Secret Stone composed of odd angles and etched with the Alien logo. Front view up there; back view down below. The liquid is as purple as the bottle, too.)
If you're going to wear Alien, or even just try it out in the store, please, take it from me: do not overdo it. It's potent stuff. Even in a marketplace full of potent things, even next to its older sibling Angel, it's very strong. But in moderation, it's amazingly beautiful.



  • I can completely relate when ou say that sometimes scents seem very strange.

    Your mileage may vary, but I find that just before my period, my sense of smell if far more acute and my perception of even familiar scents can be radically changed. The Voshall lab at Rockefeller University is currently studying how women perceive androstenone differently at different points in their cycle. And at different points in my cycle, the marine accord calone can smell like wet rats.

    By Blogger the oblitterati, at 10:39 PM  

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