Covering fragrance is tricky at best, mainly because the field is so vast and definitely subjective to each wearer’s tastes. That said, I am quite passionate about scent and while I may not have the fancy terminology down, I do know what I like; surprisingly, that usually includes traditionally labelled men’s fragrances … and to that end, I’ve discovered that Mugler makes some of the most wearable unisex offerings there are. Here’s a perk: buy it for him, and you get to wear it too. I call that a win-win.
Mugler’s iconic Angel has gone off to spawn many other iterations, and that includes several for men as well — all with their own unique stamp. Then there’s Les Exceptions, a collection of luxury fragrances that draws inspiration from the brand’s couture heritage, with each telling their story in a creative new way.
Over The Musk Les Exceptions (CAN $200.00/80 ml) | Launched in 2014 and created by Christophe Herault & Olivier Polge, this is best described as a musky/amber/woody accord. Housed in a sturdy outer faux-bois box, the hinged top opens up to reveal the clean lines of the Art Deco-inspired bottle nestled inside a crisp white sueded interior. Both the cap and heavy glass bottle are banded in metal along the sides, echoing the clasp on the exterior box (which is also embossed with the brand’s “star” motif).
When I hear the word “musk”, I’m instantly transported back to the mid 70’s and my high school days where this scent was overpoweringly EVERYWHERE (unfortunately). But that was then, and thankfully the version found in Over The Musk is a far cry from that noxious hippy-dippy mania. A rare ingredient that was originally extracted from the musk deer, today’s musk is now artificially created and definitely nowhere near as “animalistic” in nature. Thanks to botanical Ambrette Seeds (another very expensive ingredient in perfumery), this iteration has been transformed into something more plant-based, softened up & rounded out with Cashmere Wood and hints of Vanilla, but also given a unique little fiery kick with Black Pepper.
What makes Over The Musk so intriguing for me, is how surprisingly wearable it truly is — something I never thought I’d say about any musk fragrance. But here’s the trick: go very, very, lightly. My favourite way to wear this is by spraying it in front of me then walking into the mist; barring that, I spray a bit on my fingers which I then dab onto my pulse point & back of the neck. The reason being, is that this is a scent that displays its true beauty when it’s not screaming in your face, but only caught through fleeting glimpses. The musk note has an initial early presence but then becomes tempered by a floral softness, with a final warm-skin dry down that’s both sexy as hell, and utterly cozy. And yes, while I love smelling this on my husband, I’ve since appropriated it for myself #sorrynotsorry
Angel from Mugler, was my go-to from the day it launched and remained that way for several years. As my tastes evolved, I started investing in other fragrances but every now & then I’ll pull this old favourite out and each spritz brings so many memories rushing back. When I learned that several interesting men’s options in the A*Men range exist, the two I was most drawn to were Pure Malt and Pure Havane; I knew instinctively that not only did each have notes in them that I’d love to smell on my husband, but that I’d want to wear as well. Turns out I was right — no surprise there.
The unique kidney-shaped bottles bear the signature Angel star, standing out beautifully via a cut-out window on their rubberized exterior. Another plus to this shape, is that it fits ergonomically in the palm of the hand while the integrated sprayer means you don’t have to fuss with a cap. Brilliant, no?
A*Men Pure Havane, Eau de Toilette (CAN $99.00/100 ml) | Created by Jacques Huclier in 2011, this is described as a gourmand tobacco fragrance with a wood-earthy accord. Inspired by the lush tobacco aroma of the finest Cuban cigars, the composition includes Fresh Tobacco Leaves (top), Honeyed Tobacco & Vanilla (heart), with a base of Patchouli, Amber, Labdanum, Styrax and Bitter Cocoa to round things out.
Let me get this out of the way first: I freaking LOVE this fragrance and think it just may be the sexiest one I’ve ever worn and/or smelled on a man. More than the sum of its parts, I definitely get tobacco with the first spritz, but it’s diffused in what seems like an almost chocolatey haze (hello, Angel gourmand). The distinct masculinity of this scent may continue throughout its duration, but it also appears to soften & warm up as it goes, finally coming to a creamy honey-like finish with just the barest hints of cedar — as though it absorbed some of the redolence of a well-stocked cigar humidor.
A*Men Pure Malt, Eau de Toilette (CAN $99.00/100 ml) | Created in 2009 in honour of traditional Scottish whiskey, this is described as a smoky/woody/spicy accord. But this composition is also rather surprising in that while it may lean obviously boozy, it does so in a manner that is wearable, sexy, charming, and totally sophisticated. Think: James Bond at a pool party. The fresh pop of citrusy/fruity top notes Bergamot & Orange, give way to a heart of Coffee Bean, Vanilla & Patchouli for a full-bodied creamy character, with a base of Musk, Amber and Peat adding a unique smoky finish.
When I presented both this and Pure Havane to my husband for a sniff test, much to my surprise he chose this one as his new daytime scent. I know, right? Who would have thought boozy fragrance for day? Alcoholic-leaning name aside, this fragrance is actually exceptionally wearable for both day & evening, as the notes seem to perfectly merge along the skin without overpowering the wearer — just go easy with the spritzing. I call this one a lean-in, as I can’t resist getting even closer to my husband when he’s wearing it.
Fragrance is a huge part of who I am, with so many memories and experiences triggered by specific scents. For example, I may not be able to tell you what my husband wore when we first met over 30 years ago, but I can tell you what he was wearing: Kouros by YSL — and for years he stuck to that, but lately he’s been open to exploring new options (grudgingly). In fact, he’s even pickier than I am when it comes to fragrance so I was pleasantly surprised to find that he took to both Pure Malt and Pure Havane so well. He didn’t stand a chance with Over The Musk as my daughter & I appropriated it. So here’s my thought: I know that buying fragrance for Father’s Day may not be groundbreaking, but you may want to consider the options presented here … especially since they could potentially expand your fragrance library too. Like I said, win-win.
Available at Hudson’s Bay stores across Canada
Kindly provided by Mugler Fragrances for my unbiased consideration