20 years of Thierry Mugler Angel-inspired theatre

20 years of Thierry Mugler Angel-inspired theatre

Thierry Mugler’s now-legendary Angel perfume is the stuff of fantasy. And on the occasion of the scent’s 20th anniversary, The Bay is offering a mini-retrospective of the fantastical, crystal-encrusted couture creations of the Angel ad campaigns as worn by Mugler’s superlatively glamorous muses, from Jerry Hall to Eva Mendes.

Christophe De Lataillade, Creative Director at Parfums Thierry Mugler, was on hand at last week’s opening at The Room in The Bay’s flagship store in Toronto.

He reminisces about the beginnings of Angel: “I remember the excitement at the studio, in the corridors of the couture house,” he says. “And it smelled of patchouli all over the place, on men and women, everyone was wearing it. And lots of shouting too.” Shouting because Mugler was single-minded about his vision and would not rest until it was achieved.

We are reminded that when the unorthodox Angel launched with its gourmand notes inspired by childhood sweets and the complete absence of floral notes, many dismissed it, claiming it nonsense: “It was completely unorthodox in the world of perfumery,” says De Lataillade, “a blue fragrance that smells of sweets, cotton candy and caramel, in a star-shaped bottle.” Crazy.
“But says De Lataillade, “these are the kinds of contrasts, the tensions that are essential. These paradoxes are really the foundation of the brand in whatever we do. Love or hate, a bold statement is not something widely commercial.

Naomi Watts in 2009 ad campaign for Thierry Mugler Angel

“In the process of creating—whether an image, a perfume, a fashion or film—there are two ways of doing things,” the creative director says. “Either you can try to please the largest number of people so you cut all the edges, or you say, ‘we love this vision; we want to go in this direction. We’re going to leave a lot of people at the side of the road.’

“Whenever we’ve tried to please the largest amount of people, we haven’t achieved success.”

De Lataillade says there were 609 versions of Angel developed before the winning formula was struck.

To match Angel’s over-the-top olfactory recipe: over-the-top fantastical dresses were realized for the advertising campaigns. And these theatrical creations can now be seen up close. The glittering display opens in Montreal tomorrow after its run in Vancouver and Toronto and is a fantastical trip into one of our generation’s most creative and risk-taking fashion and fragrance brains.

1995: Jerry Hall wore a Rita Hayworth gown from the 1992-1993 Thierry Mugler Haute Couture collection in the campaign. It required 80 hours of work to embroider it with silver pink cast iridescent white sequins.

1998: Model Amy Wesson was dressed in a flesh-coloured stretch tulle gown of pearls, crystals and translucent spikes over a corset from the legendary Mister Pearl of Paris for her turn as a Mugler Angel.

2003: Hungarian model Anna Maria Cseh was clad in a velvet gown encrusted with an excess of sequins, Swarovski crystals and custom-crafted spike-like crystals. A dangerous beauty: The Mugler custom design weighed in at 110 lbs. and could only be worn lying down. The ad featured Cseh reclining on what appeared the edge of a skyscraper rooftop.

2008: Naomi Watts epitomized the Angel metaphor in a fit-for-a-fairytale gown  (shown above) with corset of pale blue tulle, embroidered fantastically with sequins and Swarovski crystals.

2010: Mugler chose Eva Mendes (left) to embody the seductive side of Angel in an embroidered strapless gown of skin-coloured silk muslin and crystals.

—Deborah Fulsang

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.