MUGLER may only have one masculine fragrance on the market, the astronomically excessive A*Men (or Angel Men as it’s also known), but they’ve certainly made up for a lack of diversity in their male lineup with a prolific number of flankers. Since its launch in 1996, A*Men has been boozed up, sexed up and made to sit down with a hot cup of coffee to recover. It’s a fragrance that lends itself very well to enhancements and MUGLER have been incredibly savvy with their many interpretations of the scent’s chocolate cacophony, always taking its signature and teasing out an entirely new and exciting facet in the way that a good flanker should.
20 years on and the latest olfactory twist in the A*Men lineup is Pure Tonka an “exhilarating fragrance for a man no one can resist” that sees a “searing fusion between the sensuality of tonka beans and the purity of lavender”. The tonka bean is a staple of masculine perfumery due to its high content of coumarin, which is a key part of the fougére accord. It has a vast and complex odour profile that ranges from hay, vanilla and marzipan to sour cherry, liquorice and clove. In the original A*Men, the tonka bean was merely a small cog within a much larger wheel, which also consisted of other moving parts such as; lavender, mint, coffee, patchouli, tar, vanilla and caramel. In A*Men Pure Tonka, the tonka bean is pulled right into the forefront and centre, and the volume is dialled way up to extreme levels to create a MUGLER fragrance that is really quite something to behold, even by their standards.
Rosemary, Lavender, Tonka Beans and Cappuccino Notes
How Does it Smell?
A*Men Pure Tonka opens boldly with a herbaceous and funky lavender note. It’s sharp and pungent, with an oily feel to it that is somewhere between bracing citrus freshness and sugar overload. The tonka bean makes itself known pretty early on. Initially it adds a huge dose of melted sugar that is hot and toasted. This burned nuance is unusual because it doesn’t smell gourmand, instead it is evocative of hot tarmac and overheated car parts, magnifying the tar notes of the original and playing them out as something industrial, masculine and strangely salty-sweet. This facet is fascinating, truly, but it’s also a tricky wear and at times, it can feel entirely overwhelming, making Pure Tonka one of MUGLER’s more challenging essays on the classic A*Men.
In the dry down, the caramelised sugar subdues allowing the tonka bean to soften and display a beautifully complex wave of marzipan that is velvety soft. This facet is unfurled in the same way a peacock showcases the full glory of its plumage: slowly but surely and with a cocky stance. At this point, the tonka melts seamlessly into a bed of warm leather and chocolate-covered woods, making for an entirely smooth finish to what starts as a turbulent and attention-seeking fragrance filled with machismo. A*Men Pure Tonka is quite the ride and at times, one may want to get off the train and run as fast as they can in the opposite direction, but at least this is one journey that most certainly makes an impression!
One half of me finds Pure Tonka to be one of the more abrasive takes on A*Men. At times the toasted sugar notes feel sickly and harsh, making for a heavier wear that strangely verges on the savoury. That said, my other 50% finds it to have a wonderfully retro, 1980s vibe that is masculine in the most brutish of ways. For that, I have the utmost respect and it speaks volume of the quality and artistry of MUGLER when they can take their most futuristic fragrance and make it smell like a relic from an earlier time. Pure Tonka is definitely the least androgynous of the masculine Angels too. Would I wear it? Probably not, but it intrigues me and repels me at the same time, which most certainly makes for an interesting olfactory experience. Love it or hate it, A*Men Pure Tonka is most certainly not boring.
A*Men Pure Tonka is available in 100ml Eau de Toilette for £48.
Samples, notes and quotes via MUGLER. Images are my own.