Many people seem not to like Creed. So many that I find myself hesitating slightly to claim that a Creed actually was a masterpiece. Creed has been around longer than Guerlain, though they did begin as a tailoring concern in London, offering one cologne with the suits, rather than as purveyors of pomade.
The story of Angelique Encens confuses me slightly. The formula is supposed to have been composed in 1933 for the Bishop of Paris. So says the sometimes unreliable Wikipedia, but many people claim that, Angelique was made for Marlene Dietrich. Hm. There is even one poster on Fragrantica who says it was the preferred perfume of Pope John Paul II. I wonder about that since he was rather austere and who can imagine him spritzing or dabbing vestments or anything remotely similar?Still the idea that this fragrance began life for a cleric (the bishop presumably) and not an actress, makes some sense because there is something rather ecclesiastic about this perfume. Angelique Encens is not a standard amber fragrance, in fact it’s more of a frankincense one, and is quite unusual in my experience because it has what you might call an inverted progression.
Normally a perfume moves from lighter ingredients to a darker heavier ones. Angelique
does the opposite, and succeeds because it relies on ambergris- probably tinctured ambergris- as a fixative. Now ambergris is seemingly light and weightless, but so expensive ( so often impersonated by Ambrox these days) that most of us don’t know what it smells like. I find that you get the best idea by either huffing vintage scents, or something of Afteliers’ because Mandy will often put ambergris at the tail end of her perfumes. You notice it mainly the next morning when you wake up. You smell this slightly high pitched sparkling dust in the air around you and wonder what that is? That effervescent air, slightly musty, slightly cool, abstractly floral, is ambergris.
There’s no point in trying to smell this from the synthetic versions, you have to smell the real ambergris. So, to return to Angelique Encens. The perfume is like a beautiful person, it gets handsomer by taking things off, rather than by putting things on. That’s an illusion of
course, but the effect is that the vanilla, rose, jasmine, amber, frankincense, ambergris and angelica all create a rich elegant first impression, which wears thinner and thinner until you are left with tuberose and ambergris in the nude.
Wow, you say to yourself at first whiff, this is how the upper crust smell, this is the .09 %! This is Shalimar on steroids! But wait… A half hour later you begin to catch the marginally animalic angelica with faint traces of aniseed. The clever part here is that angelica foreshadows that wonderful ambergris of the very end . At this juncture you’re saying well, I have had this sort of impression before from 40’s scents and while this is good… But wait, because the rose, jasmine, and vanilla begin, and they last a very long time. On me that dinner party of rose, jasmine, vanilla and amber went on so late into the night, that I figured that was the end of Angelique Encens…but no…
Hours later the tuberose emerged. The flower lasted, a faint tuberose trumpet, nearly overnight on me. Then finally you get the effect of the ambergris which is cloudy and pervasive here, because tincturing makes a component blend from the top to the bottom of a scent. Ambergris is why you are left with what seems like a tuberose soliflore, with something sparkly and dusty about the petals. That lightness is the ambergris trademark.
One by one all the other ingredients, the angelica, the jasmine, the rose, the vanilla, the amber, and the frankincense have tiptoed out and only tuberose and ambergris are left. This process has gone on for hours by the way.
So do they make anything like this anymore? Sonoma Scent Studio’s original Encens Tranquille was somewhat similar but had to be refo’d to meet IFRA standards and I don’t think ever contained ambergris. So- short answer- not anymore. Moreover Creed seems to have deep-sixed this perfume. AE was not even in the vaulted category on the website when I checked the other day.
Angelique is angelic, and incense-y, and very strange, and I suppose you could wear it at the Vatican alright, but then, what would the pope wear?
To all my readers- a Happy Easter and Passover!