If A*Men Pure Tonka were a colour, it would be a near-black purple.
If it were a piece of music it would be In Da Club by 50 Cent.
If it were a fashion accessory, it would be a wide, heavy, bronze-coloured bracelet.
If Angel Muse were a texture, it would be the softness of caster sugar.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be a baby pink, backless t-shirt.
If it were a place, it would be a spot a few yards away from the entrance to Charbonnel & Walker on Bond Street.
Mugler's flankers tend to fall into one of two camps: they either add an entirely novel twist to the original perfume or they exaggerate one of its existing facets. Last year's A*Men Ultra Zest was an example of the former, so it's not surprising that this year, for their masculine release, they've opted for the latter. A*Men Pure Tonka (put together by Jacques Huclier) is our familiar, fuzzy-chested demon from 1996 - with his coffee, cocoa and patchouli - except that here, he's grown an equally fuzzy beard. The patchouli, although still present, has been trumped by an oversized coumarin note (the substance being one of the main constituents of both the lavender and tonka beans cited on the official notes list), creating an effect that is literally bittersweet. Even as it tries to win you over with a coating of sugar, it delights in giving you the odd nip. He's playfully cynical, this chap: the kind of guy who parties harder than anyone else because deep down he knows the end of the world is just another Nicolashka away. In other words, he's entertaining company.
Equally worthy of your time is Angel Muse, Mugler's latest addition to their unstoppable bestseller, this time composed by Givaudan's Quentin Bisch. In the 20+ years since the original Angel sugared its way into our bloodstreams, tastes and fashions have changed, so it's fascinating to ponder exactly why Muse works so well as a more modern Angel. My theory's simple: the sweetness has been tempered with a sprinkling of 'healthier' notes. Yes, the syrup is still very much present, but it's now paired with a saltiness (hazelnut), a sharper citrus facet (grapefruit) and a more prominent dose of spices (pepper). This beautiful assortment rests not so much on patchouli - as in the original - but on vetivert, a material which, with its combo of smoke and liqorice aspects, has always balanced the syrupy and the savoury. In other words, Angel has gone all super-food on us. And she smells very attractive for it.
[Reviews based on samples of eau de toilette and eau de parfum provided by Thierry Mugler in 2016]