I don't have the slightest idea why and how a woody gourmand men's cologne centered around chocolate and coffee has become one of the most controversial scents of modern times (just search the database of basenotes.net if you're unfamiliar with the issue). Then again, the decision to label this sweet and warm concoction a masculine is a bit questionable, though not more than Guerlain's Habit Rouge.
Mugler launched A*Men in 1996 as the male version of Angel, which might explain a thing or two. Personally, I can't deal with Angel. The rotting fruit note turns my stomach and makes me want to tell whoever is wearing it that she doesn't smell nearly as good as she thinks. I've heard Angel can actually be quite nice if applied very (very!) sparingly. Unfortunately, I have yet to meet an Angel fan that can restrict herself from bathing in its alleged yumminess.
A*Men is free of fruit, so it's all chocolate, caramel and coffee. To my nose it's closer to Innocent (which I love) than to the monstrosity of the original Angel. There's smokiness here, as a concession to masculine notes, and a cheerful herbal thread of bergamot-lavender-mint, though it took me ages of exploring to recognize the latter. It wears beautifully by itself and can be layered with orange scents. It's thicker than Hermes Elixir de Marveilles and lacks its luxurious feel, so this is more of a guilty pleasure. Then again, chocolate is always like that. A*Men is easy and fun to wear as long as one likes velvety gourmands and has a sense of humor about some of the more colorful expressions on Basenotes.
In our home, I'm the one who wears this Thierry Mugler creation. The husband is not a fan of sweet or foody scents on his skin but enjoys them on me. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I ever told him specifically that this is supposed to be a masculine fragrance. I doubt he'd believe me, anyway.
A*Men by Thierry Mugler ($57, 1.7 oz) is available from Sephora and most department stores.