1/1/14

A*Men (Thierry Mugler)

Somewhere inside every man is an imprisoned and carefully stifled woman. She's stronger in some more than others, but she's there, tucked behind everything else, waiting for the darkness of night to peek out, and see what's hers. She's quiet; for most of us she's a silent passenger, and many a poor boy lives his entire life not even realizing she's there. For those of us who suspect we're not alone, her song is gentle, but ever-present, its lilting words bearing a warning, a message, a desperate plea for release, or a threat to be silenced, lest consciousness be touched by its verse and pushed into the seas of confusion. Life has meaning with and without her, but without her there is no true life for a man.

Some smart-ass working for Thierry Mugler in the nineties knew all that, and then some. It was the same smart-ass who came to Mugler himself with a fully fleshed-out draft of A*Men, with curled lips twitching in a barely-there smirk of pride as his boss smelled the stuff, and exhaled in some kind of olfactory Nirvana. The fragrance has the ability to teleport its wearer to a place where rules, and straight lines in general, are all bent gleefully out of shape. For a heterosexual man to wear A*Men and not feel a twinge from his inner lady friend would mean his denial and fear runs deeper than his worst nightmare could ever reach, for this fragrance does a weird primitive dance along every cerebral nerve, and summons various emotions from the depths (bisexual men may take to it with greater ease). There's a bit of gluttony that rises up, thanks to the seriously edible minty-chocolately coffee accord, which features decadent edgings of caramel and spice. I find a few evil impulses wash over me whenever I wear A*Men, the sort of evil Vlad the Impaler might have known, as if I want someone to approach me, attempt to have their way with me, and then realize their action has somehow sealed their doom. The devil is ostentatious after all.

The far drydown arrives about two hours in, its smooth warmth full of sweetness, patchouli, rich amber, and edible notes that toast the air. It becomes a feminine perfume that straddles two territories: the fizzy smell of sugary-sweet gourmandite tartiness, and the earthy, bitter snarl of a mature woman with a seductively rough side. Spliced down the center is an ungodly tar note, which marries the two perfectly and nudges A*Men's credibility as a masculine just barely back onto the page. But the notes aren't really important. A*Men smells a bit disturbing at first, an incredibly potent and heady burst of peppermint and lavender mixed with a concentrated semblance of the edible notes to disperse later, but when all of that settles down, the magnet is switched on, and everyone within a twelve foot radius of your body is, for better or worse, in significant danger. Ultimately though, wearing A*Men is an invitation to the wearer, to acknowledge that smelling edible in a feminine way is holistic and honest, even for a man. Whether or not he chooses to embrace this expression of feminine masculinity is entirely up to him.





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