Thierry Mugler AngelMen Pure Coffee is a new interpretation of Angel Men launched in 1996, four years after the original women's Angel which revolutionized our perception of the seductive oriental fragrance by pulling all the stops on extreme edible sensations such as chocolate, honey, and caramel but darkened and turned into a dusky-voiced femme fatale thanks to indomitable notes of patchouli. Shalimar had met its match in gourmand and alluring shock-value nearly seventy years later. One can well imagine that smelling the overdose of vanilla in Shalimar in the 1920s when Vanillin was but an unfamiliar sensation in the world of fragrances must have been the equivalent of inhaling Angel in the 1992 and finding it curiously voluptuous, intense, and almost edible.....
The 1996 men's version of Angel by Jacques Huclier added a coffee accord which continued to explore the vein of the sweet edible vanillic notes prevented from evoking right out a nursery thanks to counterpart-notes that are a bit chtonic: dark, smoky, and earthy.
The new 2008 version, also created by Jacques Huclier, re-visits the cologne more than a decade later by benefiting from a new CO2-extraction technology that enables the aroma of Columbian coffee beans, in this case, to be more purely reproduced. The new Pure Coffee is more refined than Angel Men - also known as A Men - and lighter while keeping a certain easy, comforting vanillic facet rather than going full force in the direction of a very black and dry coffee perfume. The coffee accord has also become more realistically defined, closer to the literal sensation of freshly brewed coffee, while still offering a Mokha-cake facet, only this time it has been baked with carb-less flour.
In an era when a company originally from Seattle has covered half the planet with its logo, Starbucks, one would think that either the perfume will be a miss because there is coffee plethora or a hit because people simply cannot get enough of this stuff and associate positive thoughts with a popular drink (next time, Mugler need to make a Coca-Cola Angel).
Thierry Mugler has also gone a step further this time by designing a packaging that distillates the scent of Angel Men Pure Coffee from its outer surface. It is an efficacious technique because the box, which represents a coffee bag, smells very good a foot away and lures you in, making you want to lean in (to a box mind you) to appraise it better. It seems that the scent on the packaging is slightly different from the one in the bottle which is earthier, a little bit as if there were an insistence on the top notes, which makes sense.
Next to AngelMen Pure Coffee, the previous-generation A Men offers fruitier tart berry nuances, with a soapy facet, and the base is more heavily built around patchouli. The vanilla has lightened up as well. It feels a bit crude in comparison now.The new perfume is more complex although its effect is rather linear and simple at times. It is therefore more of a structural type of complexity serving the purpose of refining a simple, dominant sensation. But smelling both perfumes, it becomes obvious that the new cologne has been improved upon, to the point where one wonders how it is not going to "cannibalize" the older version, as they say in marketing. Perhaps, A Men will be seen as a heavier, winter version. Pure Coffee is a limited-edition, but it sometimes happens that these are tested as such before being made part of the permanent collection.
The scent, described as a "woody-coffee-oriental fragrance", opens on fresh aromatic notes of mandarin or orange or both and sweet lavender before quickly deepening into a pool of extremely dark and dry Arabica coffee (no milk here) chiseled out even more thanks to a black licorice facet that evokes the famous bitter sweet, Cachou La Jaunie. Then the perfume becomes more powdery and less dark while keeping a pungent, intense character supported by dry herbal nuances such as Immortelle or Everlasting (which has a coffee facet) and an animalistic effect based on what could be synthetic ambergris, and musk. The animalistic accord seems to be covered after that with flowers, roasted coffee beans, and sugar cubes. After a while, the sensations fade into each others to successfully create, for a time, the illusion of a dark coffee brew that would have spilled onto your hand as you rushed out of Starbucks with a to-go cup that was clumsily closed, or again, suggesting coffee-breath, in a good way. It is probably safe to assume that you need to like coffee and its common associations to appreciate Angel Men Pure Coffee to the maximum and on a regular basis because the scent is to be taken quite literally for a good while.
Later, the scent leaves the realistic realm to become more of an amber-y coffee perfume, close to the skin with an accord reminiscent of L by Lolita Lempicka created by Maurice Roucel. The evolution into more of a perfume-y impression is also underlined by a very discreet powdery accord, like a touch of violets and orris, later seemingly accented by the smell of green banana leaves and yellow hay (it makes you think of a straw sun-hat or mat). Thinking along these lines makes one realizes that there is a hidden solar quality in the perfume like a yellow-gold hue shining from beneath the black oil-like composition, which is distinct from the understated exotic feel evoked by coffee-advertising visions of Columbian coffee bean bags in a storehouse kept cool with creaking ventilating fans on the ceiling and coffee planters wiping bullets of sweat from their foreheads. The packaging with its brushed-metal gold star takes on then a different meaning as possibly alluding to this masked solar quality. The effect is perhaps meant to be a ray of starlight in the dark sky night of Pure Coffee as we know that Thierry Mugler, the person, is very much fascinated by luminosity and shininess.
The dry-down is vanillic, woodsy (patchouli and vetiver) amber-y and long-lasting. The patchouli in it is less unidimensional than in A Men, offering delicate nuances of smoky Lapsang Souchong tea and blond hay. This appears to be a way of making the patchouli feel less brutal, more sophisticated and subtle, while still respecting its forceful personality. The finish of the scent while interesting is rather classic musky-and-ambery, but well-done, with a coffee theme added. The perfume offers a unisex bent as the masculine fresh-fougere accord in it is discreet.
If you like coffee with a twist, give it a try. Contrary to drinking habits, you will not have the options of sweetening it more or less or adding milk or cream. It is all pre-mixed for you, unless you decide to layer it with other fragrances.
Notes: coffee, creamy musk, vanilla, patchouli, cedar wood, vetiver.
The limited-edition cologne is available in a single 3.4 oz size for $65 at Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue.