B*Men (Thierry Mugler)

B*Men smells like something Annick Ménardo would have thrown together in the nineties, its synthetics playing off each other quite nicely in a Xeryus Rouge-like fashion (it does not smell like XR, though), their harmony sweet enough to make you forget that very few of the scent's many facets are from nature. There's also quite a bit of licorice/anise to be found in this Mugler creation, which for me is a plus and a minus; anisic notes are fine by me in moderation, but balance is key, and B*Men's anise seems a bit heavy-handed and, well, heavy. In other words, I get the licorice elements loud and clear, but I don't smell any contrast in the structure. There are no prominent sweet notes (the caramelized milkiness of A*Men is too subtle here), and that ghastly tarry patchouli accord from A*Men is nowhere to be found. B*Men is simply a blast of anise over a polite, kitchen-spiced cedar/rhubarb/vetiver/patchouli accord, the notes of which wedge tightly, but quietly.

Yes, I do smell a bit of a rhubarb-like note in B*Men, which is a unique feature of this fragrance. You don't find rhubarb in much, and when I smell B*Men, I'm immediately reminded of the strawberry rhubarb pies my friend's mom would make when we were kids. It's a nice association, and I have to wait out the licorice-over-damp-Maxwell House top note to get to it. B*Men's top is nice, very crisp and cool in an unassuming way, and unlike its predecessor, it smells balmy and inviting. This fragrance is nothing if not extremely wearable. Hazelnut makes an appearance about forty-five minutes into the drydown, and from there the usual suspects assemble on my skin - transparent (not dirty) patchouli, and a pleasant woodiness via cedar and rooty vetiver. The overall effect is strangely unorthodox and familiar, the paradoxical interplay of unconventional notes in a painstakingly "Macho" composition that recalls typical powerhouse ferns and chypres of the eighties and early nineties.

Yet B*Men isn't really "Macho" in any way, due to its politeness. The volume here is firmly entrenched five or six stops beneath Spinal Tap eleven. You can apply B*Men with a generous hand and not kill your co-workers. Type "A" personalities gravitate to the aggressive gravitas of A*Men; type "B" personalities, those who consciously underplay their role in life, may prefer the understated B*Men by a wide margin. I have to hand it to Thierry Mugler here - the two are related to each other by having a few of the same notes, but each one was made for the person who actively dislikes its counterpart, and they truly are polar opposites. If you hate A*Men, B*Men stands a good chance with you. I happen to love love A*Men, and guess what? B*Men is not for me. Am I a type "A" personality? Not really, except in regards to perfume. When I wear something, I want you to know it, and the sooner the better. While it is certainly no shrinking violet, B*Men says, "Hold that thought, and smell me later."


  1. Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for the review. I remember that I had mentioned this one in a previous comment that it smells somewhat similar to Bogart One Man Show GOLD edition. Whenever you can, do check that one out as I am curious of your take on that. I like your analysis in the context of A and B personalities; never thought of it in that way comparing A*Men and B*Men. I own both and I love both. Wearing one or the other will depend on many factors - weather/temp, mood, occasion etc. These are both great frags.

    1. I will get some more Bogart reviews on here, thanks for reminding me of OMSGE, I tend to overlook the OMS flankers. I always thought the "A" in A*Men and the "B" in the name of this flanker were direct references to male personality types, but what do I know?

    2. I kinda thought that Mugler was inspired by comic book heroes in his youth. There was a little pamphlet in the box of my B*Men which discusses that. Still, I like your explanation.


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