Thierry Mugler’s annual reimagining of their flagship masculine fragrance, A*Men (the counterpart to the iconic Angel) is pretty much a tradition at this point. Each and every year the brand treats us to the signature of Angel Men zhuzzed up into something new and exciting. So far, we’ve seen our mate, A*Men; smoke tobacco (Pure Havane), drink whisky (Pure Malt), chase some chilli (A*Men Le Goût du Parfum) and even dabble in the world of lumberjackery (Pure Wood). The A*Men family is made up of a bunch of fraternal twins that all have a different sense of style – and what a great bunch they are.
For 2015, Mugler is doing something a little bit different with A*Men by putting it into a citrus setting. The bottle has been dyed a fabulous shade of neon orange, as has the fragrance for that matter. This new edition (penned by Jacques Huclier and Quentin Bisch) is entitled A*Men Ultra Zest, and as the name would suggest, it focuses on an array of mouthwatering citrus notes to accentuate A*Men’s cosmic cocktail of gourmand treats. Unlike many other citrus fragrances, Ultra Zest is bold and daring. What else could we expect from Mugler?
“A*Men brings you a new twist on the original: Ultra Zest. Shaken, not stirred, this new male fragrance will tantalise the senses as it burst with fresh, citrus, spicy and woody notes. This refreshing cocktail dares you to stand out from the crowd, be bold and go where most won’t dare to go”
– Thierry Mugler
Mandarin, Blood Orange, Ginger, Cinnamon, Coffee, Black Pepper, Vanilla, Patchouli and Tonka Bean
How Does it Smell?
Ultra Zest opens, well, rather zesty. No surprises there, folks. The top notes are awash with tart, sticky and juicy orange, bringing to mind the image of a big dollop of gooey marmalade filled with chunky pieces of orange rind. The impact is striking and surprising – never has A*Men smelled so juicy, zesty and bright. But this isn’t all citrus and no cigar, my friends, and it would be safe to say that all of that juicy orange-ness is underpinned by a big vat of sugar, in the signature style of Mugler’s original olfactory super hero.
The mid-section and base of Ultra Zest is where things start to get a bit more familiar (it feels relatively linear after the initial supernova of the top notes settles). The caramelised aspects of those hyper-present orange and mandarin notes are emphasised by vanilla, patchouli and coffee. The result is a space-age cocktail that is sweet, jammy, bitter and roasted – all of which sounds hellish when written down, but actually creates a nice balance of tones when sprayed. To my nose, Ultra Zest smells like an orange and vanilla swirl with a sprinkling of coffee and patchouli for good measure. It’s vibrant, vivacious and victorious in its uniqueness.
I will admit that I, the devout Thierry Mugler fan boy, felt a little bit sceptical about Ultra Zest before I tried it. I know, I know, I should never lose faith in the Mugler universe because every star has been just as bright and wonderful as the one before it, but the idea of a big fat orange note and A*Men just didn’t seem to sit right, at least not on paper. I was wrong, of course, and the reality of Ultra Zest is not only pleasant to wear, it’s also quite intriguing as an olfactory exercise. The fragrance shows just how versatile A*Men is as a fragrance, a fact which is possibly down to the startling variety of notes the scent displays. Ultra Zest plays on the coffee, patchouli and vanilla aspects, drawing them into new and exciting territory. In short, it’s a great piece of work and one of the more exciting editions of A*Men to date. Well worth a sniff.
A*Men Ultra Zest is available in 100ml Eau de Toilette for £48.
Sample, notes and quotes via Thierry Mugler. Image 1 via fragrantica.com. Image 2 my own.