Thierry Mugler A*Men (Angel Men) ~ fragrance review

Thierry Mugler AngelMen fragrance

Smelling the combined fragrance notes of A*Men (bergamot, lavender, mint, coriander, patchouli, Atlas cedar, roasted coffee, chocolate, caramel, “tar”/styrax, tonka, musk and aldehydes) is akin (I imagine) to drinking a purée composed of all the foods and beverages you plan on consuming in one day — both are unsavory experiences.

Introduced in Europe in September 1996, Thierry Mugler’s A*Men was created by perfumer Jacques Huclier and was a follow-up to Mugler’s best-selling 1992 women’s scent: Angel. The chocolate-caramel-infused Angel is credited with starting the trend towards foody notes in perfume (Women's Wear Daily, 6/21/96) and when A*Men came to the U.S. in the spring of 1997, it was stocked not only in the men’s fragrance department at Saks Fifth Avenue, but in the women’s perfume section as well. (It was hoped that Angel-loving women would buy A*Men for the men in their lives — or for themselves.)

Since I knew I’d be reviewing the soon-to-be-released A*Men Pure Coffee fragrance, I thought I should try A*Men first. I shunned A*Men for a decade because its ingredients sounded awful; boy, were my instincts correct. A*Men starts harshly with a jumble of sour herbal notes sprinkled with a chemical-smelling “chocolate powder”; ten minutes after the initial assault on my nasal passages, comes a strident, metallic vanilla note that is coupled with rancid cocoa. At this point I stopped bracing myself since, surely, the base notes of A*Men would mellow?

No! The final stage of A*Men is perhaps the worst: a seepage of burnt coffee, scorched (and stale) coffee grounds, and sickening tar. The final gasp of A*Men smells of coffee-induced halitosis; there is also the scent of the dregs of a cup of day-old coffee-cocoa (with a twist of moldy patchouli). After scouring my brain (and skin) I thought: “This might be the ugliest-smelling scent I’ve ever worn.”

To illustrate this review, I carefully chose an A*Men ad; the robot-man in the ad bears as much resemblance to a real man as the notes of A*Men resemble anything “natural” smelling. I would rename all the fragrance notes in the A*Men line-up: ballistic bergamot, Laser lavender, instant coffee à la microwave, freezer-burned cocoa, petromint, sun-burned tar…. (I didn’t find any fragrance note in A*Men appealing.)

Fans of A*Men, please write and defend its honor or at least tell me what you like about it — but I warn you: if you write to say “On me, A*Men smells like a creamy, vanilla ice cream sundae topped with luscious melted chocolate, warm caramel and a shot of espresso!” I will not believe you.

Tomorrow: A review of the new Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Coffee. Update: look for that on Monday!


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60 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, I don't believe *you*, so there! ;) I love A*Men, it smells great on me, my mom (or the Great Vanilla-Amplifier, as I call her) and my bro (who also wears B*Men). I suppose I generally prefer something subtler – the first Yohji Homme, also with coffee, for example – or, on the other end of the scale, something more like the women's Angel. But I think there is an oversupply of mellow fragrances on the market – I'm very bored of carmel and vanilla sundaes, personally – and I *like* the synthetic edge Thierry Mugler puts on many of his fragrances. He's kind of like the mainstream equivalent of CdG. I love the “Nuclear-Irish-Spring-soap” effect in TM Cologne and B*Men smells wonderfully of a hot glue gun. En garde!

  2. Anonymous says:

    ET: Slap! Slap! (with soft silk glove) Though I love me some CdG fragrances, the synthetic line does nothing for me… If you're still around, how does B*Men compare to A*Men?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wrote about A*Men and B*Men last year (you can read it at http://1000scents.blogspot.com/2007/06/fraternal-twins-thierry-mugler-amen-and.html if you like), and I don't think A*Men is a bad scent. (I used words like “clangy”, “synthetic”, and “jarring”, which I'm sure you would agree with, but I also called it “well-made and fascinating”. Really.) I loved it when it first came out, but now it strikes me as noxiously sweet and, frankly, a bit primitive: gourmand scents, as strange as it seems to say this, have come a long way in the last ten years.
    B*Men is structured identically to A*Men, but with different ingredients, if that makes any sense, like making a pot pie with carrots and beef instead of peas and chicken. I like it somewhat more than A*Men, but I wouldn't buy a whole bottle of it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    R: thanks, I'll read your reviews…I guess you are saying I'd probably run just as fast from B*Men as from A*Men. Good to know!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Slap me! Slap me! On me, it smells like most everything you said, but I actually *like* that synthy feel (waves to Erin), except for the 'coffee-induced halitosis', (which cracked me up ,btw :) ). In fact, the far drydown smells like delicious freshly roasted (ok, the guy got a little carried away) coffee beans, without much creamy vanilla. It's the top notes that I have a hard time 'swallowing.

    Abomination to many, A*Men can be many things: jarring, overwhelming, cloying etc. but it undoubtedly remains forever etched in your olfactive DNA.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I know what I'm going to add is asking for another slap, but I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't mention how utterly deep my love is for the women's Angel, too.

    Please, be gentle :)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sounds to me that your bottle of A Men passed its expiration date..

    The way you describe it sounds truly digusting eeuwgh.. my stomach is turning.

    My compliments for the way you describe the disgusting to your nose experience of A Men.

    Just had dinner and feel nauseas now…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dusan: it DID poison my bloodstream but did NOT infiltrate my DNA!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dusan: if Lucifer sentenced me to wear either A*Men or Angel in PerfumeHELL…I'd wear Angel…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Marianne: do try it some day…just don't breathe in TOO deeply!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Kevin I go for the challenge !

  12. Anonymous says:

    Love your review, K., and boy, am I GLAD that I didn't give in and buy a sampler pack of A*Men on eBay on a whim yesterday at the same time I bought some Fleur du Mâle samplers (which I'm looking forward to). Sounds awful. I also haven't really tried scents with a coffee note, but the idea disgusts me. On the other hand, I sometimes enjoy instant coffee – ha! (nostalgia for a year spent in West Africa, where Nescafé was a treat).

    I'll sniff this someday, but I'll do it by stealing a SMALL spritz from a retail counter and won't bother buying any samples.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Joe: as a child I used to sprinkle (liberally) Nescafe on ice cream and in my morning rice krispies so feel no shame!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Haha. Need to go smell this one now. I hate Angel. To me it smells like moldy chocolate. And yet it is the one fragrance that my husband picks out for me and buys for me in quite a large bottle. He did a sniff test of all of Sephora, and THIS is the one he liked? Ahh! Thought about taking it back, but then I thought his feelings would be hurt.

  15. Anonymous says:

    You know, I have never tried the synthetic line. CdGs are hard to find in the Frozen North. I think I actually prefer B*Men, but if you don't like A*men, the sequel isn't likely to float your boat. It's less agressive, creamy almost – there *is* something a bit crude about A*Men now – but it's still jarring somehow and perhaps even weirder than its predecessor. You can see why it was discontinued. There are some spicy forest notes there (piney, woody) and famously the rhubarb opening, but it's a very URBAN scent to me, rather like Bvlgari Black. Mr. Burr said it smells like concrete, and far me it from me to argue, but the “city” part for me is the competing smells, like getting a backdraft from a truck that mixes fresh air, exhaust, bakery or eatery smells and whiffs of microfiber coats or something. I find it kind of hilarious actually, and it cheers me up. Interested to see what you think of the Pure Coffee – just tried it and will comment when you post.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I cannot abide the women's Angel (rotting melon anyone?) but I do like the A*Men version. I get a pleasant sweet chocolatey coffee smell, kind of like a cafe mocha. Prudence is recommended when applying however – it is very potent and a lethal dose is easy to apply.

  17. Anonymous says:

    ET: OK, from your description it would KILL me…that B*MEN!

  18. Anonymous says:

    WOAH!

    I've been wearing A*Men for years and it is one of my favorite. Granted if can only be worn in very small doses and not for every occasion, but reading your review, I had the impression that you were talking about another frag altogether…

    To me it smells like cottoncandy.

    It feels like a day at the county fair on a brisk sunny fall day with candied apples, chocolate, cotton candy and coffee in the air.

    I am still shocked by your description of it!!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    megank4: you are a saintly wife to wear something you hate! HA!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Cazaubon: I was on the verge of an overdose with A*Men with only three meagre spritzes.

  21. Anonymous says:

    platinum 15: and I'm equally shocked by your description! HA! If only ONE of those notes you describe were noticeable to me, but … NOPE.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I've worn A*Men before and, it didn't smell too badly on me. I think it just wasn't suited to your body chemistry.

    I equate it with Joop Pour Homme. It either suits you or not; yet it's the ones that shouldn't wear it that do, and think they smell wonderful.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I think Angel Men is one of those scents that smells wildly different on different people. At its worst, one gets that sickly sweet concoction that bothers you. But on the right person, the lavender and patchouli really comes out and takes center stage.

    On my skin, it falls somewhere in between. I haven't been able to bring myself to wear it since the beginning of January. I was at a holiday party, all dressed up and scented with Angel Men…and I was starting to get sick from what eventually turned out to be pneumonia. So, it's been sort of like what happens when one eats something and gets sick: you tend not to eat that food for a period of time. I haven't worn Angel Men since.

    Have you tried Ice*Men? Maybe you'd find that more to your liking.

  24. Anonymous says:

    desmond: the world can sleep easy…I know this smells ghastly on me. As for JPH: the only people I've liked that on (Hi Marie!) are women…TALL, dark women with deep voices and half a ton of make up on and jewelry from head to toe …THEY carried it off.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Tim: I've never even heard of Ice*Men, what's it like?

  26. Anonymous says:

    i dont know about A*men, but with angel, 3 spritzes would be enough to fell an elephant. even one very very conservative spritz (more of a dribble really) is pushing it…. they say angel is a love it or hate it, and i do both. it all depends.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Oh,no–poor Kevin! I imagine the sniffing experience was like having your head washboarded in a toilet bowl, until promising to tell them ANYTHING they wanted to hear, just to make it stop. For me, “A*Men” is that disturbing hospital smell; you know…sanitized-sweet air freshener, pumped through halls in an effort to mask odors of adult diapers, sweat and bedsores(i.e., rotting flesh and general illness). Coffee notes done right can be charmingly comforting; done wrong, conjure up images of garbage-decay and poor personal hygiene.

  28. Anonymous says:

    First of all I have to say that you are all great I am learning a lot reading you.

    My take on the A Men is all mixed up. I hate to love it, if you know what I mean. I like it but not on me, it is a cosmic fra, excessive and provocative. It is good for a change, we are living some boring times in regards perfumes…. most of them smell the same, very few surprises. I hate the trend of summer versions, sport versions, limited editions and blablabla , it reminds me to the music industry where the is nothing new under the sun.

    We need brands such a Mugler shaking the market a little so that other wake up!

    Have a nice weekend.

    shark

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hurrah'! A review of A*Men which says what I've been thinking ever since I smelled this vile, putrid, necrotising muck for the first time. A*Men has no redeeming features. It's like a chemical bath given to torture victims.

    You put it on your skin and are violently assaulted by the thugs that live in the top notes. What makes things worse is that they don't give you a kicking and go and find another victim, they hang around to smash you in the solar plexus from time to time to remind you that the heart notes are just as vicious.

    And then behind them all is the brains of the operation, the basenotes. This is a Bond villain stroking a cat and viewing you with contempt.

    “Ah perfumista, you thought you could escape did you?” it growls softly, “No, there is no escape, we go on and on and on and on and never improve…”

    I think this scent is one of the best con jobs ever perpetrated on the fragrance loving community. I honestly think this is one of those kid in the Emperor's New Clothes story moments. Everyone is too afraid to admit that actually it's horrible. Innovative? Forget it. Give me bland and boring if it means I don't end up having to smell like an industrial accident.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kevin, just had to say that sometimes its better not to know the notes. Ignorance can be bliss. I find this rule helps me be more objective when considering a fragrance for what it is, and not for what the creators say it should be. If I don't care for it, it's that simple. If I love it (or hate it), I become more curious about why, and then go digging for more information.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed your review greatly. I detest the original Angel and all its evil progeny. Besides, the image in their advertisement is enough to turn anyone's stomach – menacing and nausea-inducing at the same time. Ugh, ugh and again ugh!

  32. Anonymous says:

    nlb: EW!!!!!!! Your hospital scene is so, uh, EVOCATIVE. And thank you for the pity…I accept it gladly!

  33. Anonymous says:

    sharky: thanks … and variety is bliss. I've never met a perfume that SOMEone doesn't like.

  34. Anonymous says:

    HDS1963: you and I are in agreement… I couldn't find anything to like about this one…it just made me yearn for a simple spray of classic Eau de Cologne…something CLEANSING.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Marlo734: certainly the list of notes RARELY tells me much…but sometimes a SIXTH SENSE tells me what I'll dislike.

  36. Anonymous says:

    elinoraddict: I had a terrible flu when I discovered that ad and it made me feel cold and “vulnerable!” I've never been a fan of the Mugler style: in clothes, design.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Ice*Men is apparently a repackaging of the previously-issued summer version of Angel Men called Summer Flash. Think of it as Angel Men with almost all of the gourmand notes removed. It retains an “iced coffee” accord, though. The bottles are also virtually identical (and very cool-looking).

    It was supposed to be released in the States sometime this spring, but I haven't seen it anywhere yet. I still see Summer Flash at some stores. FragranceX.com has Ice*Men, and there is also an accompanying shower gel.

  38. Anonymous says:

    the ads are truly deplorable , fine for a video game or some electronic gadget but not for a perfume….

  39. Anonymous says:

    It would make the strongest among us feel vulnerable! It is a deeply unattractive ad. So for once, an ad is appropriate for the juice, eh?

  40. Anonymous says:

    elinoraddict: YES!

  41. Anonymous says:

    My BF smells divine in Joop… of course, you don't want to approach until about 30 minutes after application, to allow the cloud of killer sillage to dissipate. But after that it's swoon-worthy.

  42. Anonymous says:

    See, I'd always prefer awful to bland and boring. At least awful makes a statement – and I'm willing to risk making the statement “I'm a wackadoo for wearing this”. IMO it's better to be polarizing, than for everyone to agree that there's not much to talk about here.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I agree with robbin.

    It is far from the classic scents.

    I live in the tropics, and the heat is present the whole year.

    I bought in Paris ” A Man ” and I think I should be bringing to Brasil ” A French Woman ” instead of A Man.

    It is too mellow, chocolate ? vanila ? some ethilene ? methane ? smell…too sweat for our country.

    I am choosing alwways, Eau Sauvage, Vetiver Guerlain, The Hèrmes collection for man and unisex, Acqua di Parma Lavender, Eau par Kenzo, Yatagan, Ho Hang, Bulgary the Ordinary, Amouage Man, Monsieur de Givenchy, Yatagan…and…and…so…on…

    BUT

    THE ONE I LOVED WAS DISCONTINUED=

    EAU THE SPORT FROM JEAN PATOU MADE TO LACOSTE..

    IT WAS THE PARADISE.

    and I am asking you a favour if you have found something equal or near by its wonderful smell.

    I will be in Provence , next May and will follow your suggestions.

    Many thanks to u all.

    My opinion is my opinion.

    a man…………..was not A MAN..!!!!!! sorry again

    God Bless you all.

    milani

  44. Anonymous says:

    I guess the thing is though Erin, is that first off I don't wear bland and boring fragrances to begin with, I was making a point. There are many fragrances which are diverting or interesting, but this is one where some fashionistas have gone “Oh wow this is soooo amaaaazing!” and actually it's not. It's just not very nice. Most fragrances we wear are smelled by ordinary folks whose olfactory palette is based on two factors: do you smell a) good or b) bad.

    A*Men to the vast majority of people is repellent. I don't want to scare the hell out of people when I walk into a room. I'll wear M7 but only because I wear it so sparingly the best of it comes out. A*Men has no middle ground, it's either kicking the hell out of you or it's in the bottle.

    I've never understood the fawning that goes on with regard to this scent. It just doesn't merit the attention.

    I respect the fact that some people are going to like it. I find it frankly odd that they do, but hey it takes all sorts to make a world.

    I am frankly very impressed that Kevin had the courage to be very honest about what to some has become an iconic fragance. And full credit to Now Smell This for giving him the space to do that!

  45. Anonymous says:

    Milani: I like lots of the scents you wear but I hope someone else can steer you to a Patou/Sport replacement; I never smelled that one, K

  46. Anonymous says:

    Many thanks for your answer; you are a gentleman,;the point si that I am on my 60 y.o.and the scent was released on for the first tim in 1975.REALLY GREAT,UNFORGETABLE.

    If there are other scents, fragances ,hugh flyers ,you can suggest I am open to listen you.

    I will be in Provence in May, South of France, and Tuscany.

    Let me know if there is any italian perfum realiable.

    A hug to you all.

    milani

  47. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, it obviously wasn't Kevin's thing! Personally, I think he was braver to trash the iconic Vol De Nuit – he looks like he's got plenty of company with this one (you included). This might have made a good He said/She said: I think Robin likes this one…

  48. Anonymous says:

    Milani: while in France DO sample some Parfums de Nicolaï scents and in Italy I can recommend: Carthusia perfumes, especially Mediterraneo, Etro fragrances, the Profumum line (check their website to see where their shops are sold) and if you are in Florence, try the i Profumi di Firenze line. Have fun! K

  49. Anonymous says:

    Funny how polarising this fragrance turned out to be – now I feel that I must try this on skin. Have only smelled it on paper, and that I found rather repulsive – there was something in it that smelled like sour sweat or urine, and not the way cumin can bear a resemblance to sweat in fragrances. I usually like that. I'm also an old fan of Angel, and I really like TM Cologne, so I was prepared to like A*Men too.
    Perhaps it turns bad easily, if it's exposed to a lot of air?

  50. Anonymous says:

    A*Men is a migraine in a bottle. Sickly sweet and vomit inducing.

    • jamesbarbett says:

      Agreed 100%

  51. Anonymous says:

    At the first time I have smelled this one I thought: AW what is that? It is terrible.

    But now I love it. It smells like dark chocolate, patchouli and caramell. And the lasting power is amazing!

    One of the best perfumes for men I have ever smelled.

  52. Anonymous says:

    I seriously have amnesia. The lady at Macy*s asked me if I had ever tried A*Men before, and I told her yes. But she gave me couple sample vials anyway. WELL, I just now haphazardly sprayed some on, and realized, never in my life have I smelled this. It makes my head spin. I'm barely 10 minutes in, and it reminds me of the place where I get my oil changed. Cheap, burnt coffee, paper and ink, cheap soap, OIL, metal, and heaven knows what else.
    Dear god.
    God.
    As much as I hated B*Men (I know I smelled that one), I am surprised I dislike this one that much more.

  53. Anonymous says:

    OMG when I smelled this on paper I thought I might like it better than regular Angel, which I like okay (more than I thought I would).
    I got a sample the other day and put just a dab on and thought I would die. It was like some sort of exotic animal or alien dung or something. I gave it a very long 10 minutes. Scrub, with a BRUSH. Holy Christ.

  54. I simply love this fragrance. I find it suitable for a woman to wear as well. I also like it a tad better than Angel for women :)

  55. Owen says:

    I was in Debenhams today. and after reading this review I thought I’d give A*Men a try, just to see what it’s like.

    I don’t think it’s ugly really at all. but it’s not exactly a creamy caramel sundae with sweets and sparklers.

    but what I could smell in this that I couldn’t detect in Angel, is chocolate. I could only smell two things in Angel, the sparkly tingling top note that gave me a headache, and the creamy flowing body that was every note in Angel mixed together to make me indicate just one smell.

    but with A*Men there is all kinds of things going on, it intrigued me. I didn’t like it at first but after it developed properly on the skin, it grew on me. and like Angel this stuff is STRONG, it’s the strongest mens fragrance I’ve smelled.

    but yeah it does smell like day old mocha. it’s quite pleasant though :/ there are uglier fragrances out there like Diore Homme (I love Dior homme sport, but original Dior homme disgusts me).

    I think this is a love it or hate it scent, and I think I love it :/

    I was suprised at how I like this stuff, and if I ever wanted to smell like Angel, I’d go and buy A*Men :) the only thing I don’t like about it is the bottle :/

    • Owen says:

      ooh it’s starting to make me feel a little bit sicky now :( shame

  56. Subhuman says:

    Wow, if only A*Men inspired such strong reactions in me! I find it the less interesting of the Angel sibs – slightly drier, more powdery, more caffeinated, but less intense and ballsy. It’s like Angel sobered up and on her third macchiato while she tries to keep down last night’s Berry Cosmos. It’s not a bad scent, but given Angel’s unisexiness (to my nose) it seems a bit pointless. I do prefer it to its more cloying “gourmale” spawn like Black XS (melted Startburst candies in lemonade) or 1 Million (Death by Nuclear Berries). Compared to those, A*Men seems almost sophisticated.

  57. Owen says:

    my brother loves A*Men. I’ve always wanted an excuse to buy this so I’m getting him it for Christmas :) A*Men intrigues me.

  58. jamesbarbett says:

    After hearing the truly massive amount of mixed reviews on the topic from those who would argue it is the greatest ever to those who hate it with a passion I decided I would try it today, sadly on my skin the scent was truly horrible although if I did like it longevity and projection were good. To me all the elements were coarse, harsh and frankly gave me a headache as the incredibly overpowering combination of burnt coffee and chocolate burned into my nostrils. For me the smell did not develop beyond this until now seven hours later I can only smell a synthetic vanilla with a hint of the burnt coffee. This I find greatly disappointing as I thought the idea was interesting although smelling like food was something that I was not completely sold on.

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