Thierry Mugler Alien Oud Majestueux - From Spiritual to Fun - Perfumers as Brick Artists {Perfume Review & Musings}


Alien oud Majestueux on the background of a Southeast Asian Buddhist Manuscript - Agarwood bark would be used to write manuscripts on.

In Alien Oud Majestueux (Majestic Alien Oud), the signature of Alien is instantly recognizable. But now emerge new woody nuances, modern ones, graphite-like. It's also become much sweeter and liqueur-like. Very soon, the woody facet becomes intense enough to turn into an unmistakable animalistic presence smelling like a sugary black panther whose paws smell of rum and liqueur and whose pearly sweat on its short-haired, lustrous flanks is tempered by an invisible, cool powder...

Of note, is the new refashioning of indoles and sweetness. The black panther smells both dirty and clean, sweet and harsh.

Perfumer Dominique Ropion offers this new interpretation of an originally cool yet heaving woody white floral, Alien, which gets the kiss of passion from the intensely aromatic and popular oud. In 2015, we've felt for the first time that the top-down approach had become popularized for good. You can smell oud in locker rooms this year. It's no more quirky nor luxurious - it's become part of the ambient culture.

The material in its natural state is the result of a process of transfiguration thanks to a form of noble rot. Native evergreen trees of the Aquilaria and Gyrinops species get infected by the ascomycetous mould, which transforms the bark of the trees into a black, resinous and highly fragrant paste. But oud or agarwood is here reproduced as an artful olfactory accord rather than pretending to be harvested from a forest in Southeast Asia. We can applaud the transparency.

Like lipstick on the lips, oud has become the indispensable touch which makes up a perfume instead of a face. Oud is the new red lipstick of the fragrance world.

Ropion has been tempted to create an impactful, fire-engine red-lipstick oud, as we can smell it, by drawing some substance from his 80s white floral bomb, Amarige. In particular, this can be felt in the more accentuated honey notes of Alien Oud Majestueux. This new sweetness makes it be a closer cousin to Amarige than Alien eau de parfum is.

What distinguishes the new fragrance from Amarige however is the cooler, typically air-conditioned, cold white floral notes of Alien, which overtime re-establish their presence over this more recent twist. The indoles therefore smell more like the indoles of a take-no-prisoner 80s white floral bouquet, as visibly, Ropion has been looking towards the big shoulder-pad era to muse about the impact of this oud.

But Alien Oud remains essentially of its time, inhaling the Zeitgeist of this decade and century. Soon enough, the white petals steeped in honey turn into more of an impression of Oriental semolina pastry drenched in honey syrup and orange blossom water. This gourmand facet makes the fragrance be in reality a post-80s composition.

As the star fragrance of the brand Angel by Thierry Mugler has played a pivotal role in popularizing confectionary and pastry notes and it contains a note of honey too. The design of Alien Oud Majestueux coheres both with the logic of Dominique Ropion's personal palette and with that of the house olfactory heritage.

The oud in Alien started out in flamboyant style. It even went overboard to the point of suggesting potential social embarrassment, weather permitting. But while the throw of its flame burns red and vivid for a brief yet intense amount of time, it also switches to a more smoldering mode of combustion; the oud in Alien is both theatrical and domesticated. Oud imanisfests itself - it lashes out. Now, it is more of a warm, soft-to-the touch cashmere sweater like presence, another descriptor which coheres well with the original fragrance since Alien composition uses an overdose of Cashmeran called that way for a reason.

The ulterior nuance which surfaces is the medicinal facet of oud. Some people interprets this nuance as smelling of Bandaid. We would point out that it smells of leather Bandaids or "new car." On an olfactory level, this once again coheres with the camphoraceous indoles of the original Alien, extending it a bit more in the direction of the medicine cabinet.


Perfumers as Brick Artists

We think it is fair to say that Alien Oud Majestueux is not exactly what you would call an "inspired perfume." It is a coherent fragrance. The brief was too professional. Spying on the street a poster for the work "Yellow" by artist Nathan Sawaya, also dubbed The Brick Artist because he uses lego plastic bricks to create his sculptures, it occurred to us that the perfumer of modern day is very much like a brick artist.

He or she is called upon to re-use immensely popular bricks which were first used in childhood. Some olfactory accords are even more like Lego bricks, with a great emotional quotient linked to experiencing them in the early stages of life. There is pre-fabricated aspect to perfumery-making. But there is also a playful one.

When Alien Oud Majestueux was first announced on The Scented Salamander, it elicited a range of reactions from amusement to bewilderment. This is because oud has become too much of a plastic-lego accord, infinitely permutable and buildable.

What we can retain from this experience is that if Alien Oud Majestueux is not exactly a moment of free, untrammelled inspiration, it is certainly one which can be perceived as a playful one. In a way, this new fragrance is like a toy. It is more than a gadget, which implies more shallowness, but it is made to please, amuse, while away the time and entertain. It is not meant to rip at your soul. The mysticism of oud is alluded to but it is absent, in truth.

The most interesting part of this new composition, and perhaps its most authentic aspect, we find, is the way in which the original coldness of Alien has been made to mesh with the cold aspects of oud. There is there an idea about developing cold yet sensual fragrances as a genuine genre.

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