Perfume Directory

A*Men / Angel Men (1996)
by Thierry Mugler

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A*Men / Angel Men information

Year of Launch1996
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 1911 votes)

People and companies

HouseThierry Mugler
PerfumerJacques Huclier
PackagingThierry Mugler
Parent CompanyGroupe Clarins

About A*Men / Angel Men

This very distinct sweet fragrance is one of those you either love or hate. Based strongly on the ladies Angel; A*Men (Angel Men in the US) contains unusual notes of Chocolate, Coffee and Caramel. Most of the notes are "edible", so this would appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. Funky bottle too, which is also available encased in black rubber, that is not only looks stylish but is ideal for travelling.

A*Men / Angel Men fragrance notes

Reviews of A*Men / Angel Men

The original gourmand for men this is often called, and Thierry Mugler was quite the rebel for releasing it at the time. The scent of A*Men (1996) is a love/hate sort of thing, as was the original Angel (1992) perfume for women, and an acquired taste for those who eventually love it, much like beer or liverwurst. The "Beige Age" of the 1990's was in direct reaction to the almost hedonistic excess of the 1980's. Credit lines were spent and maxed by the beginning of the decade, the middle class in many Western countries (particularly America) were beginning to be divided up into the entry-level upper classes or the working poor, plus art reflected the mood with baggy dressed-down androgynous looks, simple chord-focused music expressing angst or street life, and apologetic fragrances meant to "blend in" rather than stand out. Life sucked unless you were one of the emerging private-sector oligarchs vacuuming up profits from a decade of "trickle-down" Reaganomics, showing off your newest platinum-coated hypercar or personal 747 jumbo jet, but you had some counter-culture elements in arts or entertainment to give us a little bit of excitement, joy, and hope. Independence Day was returning the concept of the large-scale blockbuster to cinemas, bands like Hootie and the Blowfish were obstinately optimistic when nobody else was, and A*Men was a complex contrarian of a scent using edible notes and aromatics at a time when everyone wanted to smell like dryer sheets to avoid interaction. The gourmand wave that ran counter to all the aquatics and freshies of the decade began courtesy of this little number. Remember folks, A*Men released in 1996, not 1986, and concurrently with epitomes of 90's fresh pleasantness like Acqua di Giò pour Homme (1996) and Curve for Men by Liz Claiborne (1996). The smell of A*Men is so lauded because it blends the ordinary with the strange, offering something that pushes you outside of your comfort zone long enough to almost pull away, then brings you back with something to make you think about it and stick around for what's in store for you next. Patience is needed to appreciate A*Men, and I can't blame anyone for bailing out on it, because it is rather unsettling at times, but the dry down is where the legend of this one lives.

The extremely bizarre opening of A*Men by Thierry Mugler is caused by a huge whiff of a synthetic called helonial, an aldehyde derivative of heliotrope and something rarely found in perfumes made for people, but typically seen in commercial fragrances for laundry and dish soap. It's metallic accord is more common in your favorite variety of Palmolive than in any of your personal fragrance choices, and it's paired with peppermint to make it even scarier. Lavender and bergamot bring you back into the comfort zone just long enough for the sticky accord of coffee and tar-like styrax to emerge, offering both the desiccating dryness of fresh ground coffee beans and animalic stiffness styrax affords, before a smooth patchouli note comes to the rescue. This patchouli remains for the rest of the wear, but is joined by chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, offering further culinary association which earned A*Men it's pioneering gourmand label, providing a scrumptious skin finish that is sexier than it has any right to be by the end of the wear. Tonka bean and musk bring in a late-stage fougère accord which is the final pull back out of the strange and back into the familiar, with the wild see-saw ride of notes ending in green patchouli-lead aromatic fougère territory with hints of cocoa and coffee remaining. I don't know if perfumer Jacques Huclier is a genius or a psychopath, but Mugler has retained him for many more releases, including several A*Men flankers, so he must be doing something right. A*Men might be that tall dark kid wearing the trench coat everyone feared in high school during the 90's, but like most who dressed that way, he's really just misunderstood, soft-spoken, and not the least bit violent. Guilty of bad taste in music maybe (usually death metal or goth rock), but once you get him to sit down and talk, you realize that he likes smiling and laughing just as much as the rest of us. There's the initial shock, then reassurance, more shock as things develop, then more reassurance, and finally, you've made peace with the experience and share the joy. A*Men is not huge on sillage, but it is a challenge to strangers, does last quite a while and can cloy in hot weather, so keep it to colder months and casual settings where folks won't look askew at you.

Future gourmands inspired by A*Men would turn up the food-derived richness, become more approachable, closer to an oriental in my opinion, and ditch the confrontational notes like helonial or coffee beans. Yeah, niche houses have since come to play with stuff like that, especially if you fancy Lush or Etat Libre d'Orange, but remember that Thierry Mugler isn't some high-end expensive niche perfume brand that expects to move bottles only to the converted few willing to take the plunge, but a mainstream perfume house found in every Macy's, Nordstrom, JCPenny, and even some Walmarts or Targets across the globe. With that in mind, releasing this scent must have seemed like career suicide, but it was a risky gambit that gave birth to many gourmand favorites in years since. Givenchy Pi (1999), Yohji Homme (1999) Rochas Man (2000), Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin (2000), Spark for Men by Liz Claiborne (2003), Avon Tomorrow for Men (2005), Burberry London (2006), Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men (2008) and more all owe their existence to A*Men by Thierry Mugler. It honestly took me more than a few tests to really come around to this. The first time I wore this I was like "ack this is horrible", then the second time I was like "okay, this is more interesting than I thought", then the final time I was like "oh, okay.. I get it now". Granted, there are many people that will justifiably never get acquainted to this scent, and that's okay. Just as some folks will never get over the gasoline opening of Fahrenheit, or if we go further back, the urine-like opening of Moustache by Rochas (1949) or even the animal-bomb of Guerlain Jicky (1889). The point of challenging fragrances is to dare the observer to open their horizons, to perceive beauty where traditionally it might not be, although there is a very fine line to walk between challenging and just plain stinky. Thumbs up, but with the caveat that a rebel like A*Men is not for everyone, especially not the meek or mild.
25th November, 2018 (last edited: 26th November, 2018)
This is a famous fragrance by Mugler originally created in 1999 which is one of the best designer gourmand fragrances out there. And it does live up to its hype, as it smells basically of dark coffee and caramel to my nose, with a background of patchouli leaves. That 'tar' accord that many people seem to get only displays itself if you sniff your skin directly, and sort of smells like a burnt chocolate cake (although it smells pleasant). In the air though, it smells like coffee and caramel and is very warm. However, projection is not beastmode as I expected it to be on my skin but rather very subtle, though it does produce a scent cloud (you have to sniff my arm to really smell it though), while longevity is quite good. It leans masculine. And of course the bottle although very interestingly designed, has one of the worst sprayers ever (which is normal for the A*Men line). Overall, I would say the sillage on my skin was more subtle than I thought it would be, but the scent itself is beautiful, as is the longevity.

4/5
30th June, 2018 (last edited: 01st July, 2018)
Sometimes when a fragrance is incredibly polarizing, I inexplicably find myself drawn to it. Reviewers say that it smells like a combination of cat urine and rotting pumpkin? "THIS I've gotta try", says I. And maybe it's human nature to want to go against the grain, to find that hidden virtue overlooked by others in their haste to flee the scene of whatever olfactory nightmare is assaulting their nostrils.

It is exactly for people like me--the "I'll show THEM" samplers--that A*Men Angel Men proves to be such a humbling experience. It is awful. It is headache-inducing. It is a loathsome concoction of ammonia, dusty chocolate chocolate, and cloying lavender. Not only is it strong enough to serve in lieu of ammonia tablets in Rocky Balboa's ring corner--it is likely potent enough to wake both Mickey and Apollo Creed from their respective eternal slumbers as well.

The drydown is, I guess, "tolerable". Not "great" or "inspiring" by any stretch of the imagination, but at least the remaining whisper of perfumed chocolate morphs into a faint resemblance of something you might actually consider eating (or serving to a casual acquaintance whom you don't actively dislike). But the initial blast of lavender wretchedness--followed by the hours long wait until you finally arrive at the mediocre conclusion-- is by no means an even trade-off. Putting up with Angel Men for the payoff at the end is like crawling on your hands and knees over broken glass for 40 miles so that you can collect a 15% off coupon for a McDonald's Happy Meal. At that rate, you're better off sticking with a can of Chef Boyardee and using the savings to pick up a less assaultive $10 fragrance behind the counter at CVS.
29th May, 2018
I don’t get the gourmand notes in it. Very bitter, quite masculine indeed. Peculiar. Spicy. Difficult to describe. Old rum in the opening. Oh. And tar, yes, tar. Acidity. Great projection and longevity.
20th May, 2018
Very distinctive, you know exactly what the scent is when you smell it. Doesn't smell cheap but it's not refined at the same time. I get plenty of tar and the chocolate/coffee. Reminds me of when you take your t-shirt off at the end of the day after wearing a very masculine scent and then happen to smell the shirt later or even the next day. It never smells bad but just has a worn, masculine smell which is not fresh and clean like most modern scents. This could be very appealing or intoxicating for others.

Impressive performance both in projection and longevity.
06th April, 2018 (last edited: 03rd May, 2018)
I've always taken against Mugler for their ridiculous bottles and poor (in my experience) customer service. A* Men, although as subtle as a brick through a window, does the job that is evidently sets out to do. After a day's wear, which largely consisted of me catching wafts of A* Men and thinking it was someone else's scent, my conclusion is that it has a 20+ year shelf career for a reason. It will create the exclusionary zone around you in that nightclub, and it will cut a swathe should others around you dislike it. For all that, it doesn't smell bad as such. An odd lavender to begin with, quickly moving into tar, and drying down to coffee and cocoa. The drydown isn't that bad at all, and reviewing it on its own terms means that it gets a thumbs up from these quarters.
03rd December, 2017

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