Angelica essence smells of musky flowers and foggy autumnal mornings. It’s a fascinating aroma because, despite its delicate aura, its character can be quite assertive, and although it starts on a bright and shimmering note, the earthy base layers betray its darker leanings. Angelica is used widely by perfumers to give a green touch to an accord or to soften a citrusy cologne, but it rarely stars as a leading note. On the occasions it is given centre stage, however, it reveals its full capacity to surprise.
Angelica essence is obtained from the roots of Angelica archangelica, and it’s one of the few natural sources for musk notes. Its aroma is complex and nuanced, since wrapped up in the soft, musky warmth are accents of woods, spices and green leaves. In Frédéric Malle’s Angéliques Sous la Pluie (£90 for 50ml EDT), perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena explores each of these facets; in his composition, the dryness of woods is contrasted with the bite of black pepper and the velvety base of green musk. Effervescent and luminous, Angéliques Sous la Pluie is like a sip of champagne, with an uplifting sensation that feels especially welcome on cold autumnal days.
In some perfumes, angelica plays the role of a Hitchcockian blonde, with its mélange of cool élan and seductive whispers, and this is the case with Atelier Cologne’s Jasmin Angélique (£110 for 100ml cologne absolue). Like Angéliques Sous la Pluie, Jasmin Angélique relies on citrus and pepper to give a dose of cool shimmer to the top notes, but as the fragrance warms up on the skin, it reveals sensual layers of jasmine petals, amber and sweet balsam. The fragrance is contemporary without being predictable, and for all of its polish and elegance, it feels as comfortable as a second skin.
Angélique Noire (£169 for 75ml EDP), created by perfumer Daniela Andrier for Guerlain, shows another side of angelica. Since it’s the same plant whose stalks are candied and made into desserts, Andrier demonstrates how angelica can be an inspiration for a gourmet delight. Angélique Noire blends bergamot – a Calabrian citrus fruit with spicy, peppery scent – with the creamy voluptuousness of vanilla and roasted almonds. The musk and cedarwood tone down the sweetness and provide a soft foil for the delicious swirls of candied angelica, pear and caraway seeds. A cup of Earl Grey tea served alongside would be ideal.
Victoria Frolova has been writing her perfume blog boisdejasmin.com since 2005. Her explorations of fragrance touch upon all elements that make this subject rich and complex: science, art, literature, history and culture. Frolova is a recipient of three prestigious Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards for Editorial Excellence and, since receiving her professional perfumery training, has also been working as a fragrance consultant and researcher.