A man and woman with macaw wings for forearms resting close together on the bank of a river in a tropical forest
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Source is a keyword to the Mugler fragrance brand. They used to call the fountains where you can refill empty bottles 'the Source'. Their marketing promotes the sustainable sourcing* efforts they use to get their materials. And in 2017 they released Aura, a perfume about the concept of the source. In the commercial, a naked woman follows veins of energy through a dark jungle until she finally emerges with the luminous heart of life itself in her hands. The site says Aura "...invites you to reconnect with your inner nature." We are exhorted to turn inward to rediscover what matters most... in perfume form!

The heart from the commercial is the bottle. Goddamn, Mugler is so good at bottles. Aura comes in a green love heart with facets that are slightly curved. It looks like the husk of an unripened groundcherry. There's a silver M for Mugler on top that keeps the fruit suggestion going, looking more like sepals than a brand logo. The atomizer is a green diamond with a silver button. It's lightweight, but that's a trick. Press down all the way and you're gonna get misted hard.

Aura starts sour and brisk. The sour is allegedly rhubarb. I've never had rhubarb that wasn't cut with strawberry, so I don't know. I've smelled split cactus sections, that's what it makes me think of. Wintergreen, laboratory wood accords, and a beany vanilla all show up at once. They can be picked out individually, or appreciated together as a birch beer accord. This part is unusual but not unheard of. Hypnotic Poison visited the root beer well (what an awesome well! I want to visit that well) before Aura did. Sometime I should compare them directly. Right now I don't have enough Hypnotic Poison handy to make that comparison. I don't need to do it right now to tell you that Aura's take on it is greener. It is very, very green.

Later some flowers come out. It's heavy on orange blossom, but I also smell something like lilies. That may not have been intentional. Aura's sale page mentions animalic notes. This stage is musky and meaty, but in the way that lilies are, not in the way that musk or meat are. Those adjectives make it sound like Aura gets stranger. It doesn't. The sour note becomes zesty, which reads as citrusy. Citrus is less puzzling than that cactusy rhubarb business going on at the start. Between that, the flowers, and increasing exposure for the vanilla, Aura smells a little more compositionally normal. It has incredible tenacity, even of what are often evanescent notes. Wintergreen and rhubcitruswhatever would ordinarily go pretty quickly. Somehow they hang around three hours into the wearing. It takes another hour or two for the vanilla and wood to fade.

It took me a while to work out how to describe Aura's attitude. It's not feral. The key piece of the promotional material is the emergence from the jungle. We're not in the wilderness anymore. We just came back from there with some wisdom and a handful of leaves. There's a contiguous thread between the expression of primal life force as green light and the green lights at an intersection or in your score box or on your laptop. Aura is the integration step that channels the former into the latter. It's also stimulating, grounding, dimensional, and fun to wear. There's a reason I'm a Mugler stan. They're just so good at this.