Leather is one part of a sartorial triptych that all Jerseyans aspire to. The first part is leopard (shoes, handbags, tights, thongs, Kleenex – if it’s leopard, we’ll buy it), the second grommets (we use the Bedazzler, big time) and third leather (pronounced lea-thuh, and anything we really, really want is made of it.)
Mugler seems to have read our collective mind and produced something that all of us can get with: leather, or A*Men Pure Leather, if you want to get specific here. You have to be a true enthusiast and experienced Mugler watcher to know all about all the A*Men flankers the house has released in the last decade or so. Besides A*Men itself, there is Pure Coffee, and there is Pure Havane, and there was the wonderful Pure Malt, which smelled of peat and whiskey, and made me think of Cumming the Fragrance. But this does not exhaust the list.
A*Men Pure Leather is one of the more controversial ones. A disclaimer here, since as far as anyone can gather, all Muglers are controversial. You either love them or detest them, but you do notice them, and as fragrances they meet most of the tests of quality that some of the better old fragrance houses used to uphold. Lift, diffusion, lasting power, innovation, and wearability are all attributes of the Muglers.
I spent yesterday wearing A*Men Pure Leather on one arm and nothing less than Chanel’s Coromandel on the other, and although the Chanel clearly contained more naturals, it did not outlast the Mugler, nor was it any more distinctive. Indeed, I’d make a case for the Mugler being the better perfume. Not because of its component parts, but because of the formula. How it was put together. A*Men lasted just as long, and made its point which was leather, in an insistent symphonic way from the headnotes right down to the basenotes.
You get leather with fruit, lavender, and mint, elegant leather, then leather with caramel, jasmine, milk, cypress, and lily of the valley, leather as Mama’s boy, and finally leather with sandalwood, amber, tonka, patchouli, vanilla, benzoin, or in other words leather as sexpot. But at no time during this performance (and it went on for twelve hours or more on me) does the leather leave the stage. This is leather in thigh highs, a one man show for sure, and this protagonist could be either Ru Paul on one end of the masculinity spectrum, or on the other and just as fittingly, Jack Palance.
Is this Off Broadway or Broadway? I’m not sure, this particular A*Men sticks closer to the original formula than many of the flankers, more so than Pure Havane for instance. But Pure Leather is more of a provocative act than Pure Havane. Sometimes a cigar may not be a just a cigar, though sometimes (to drag Freud into this drag act) that’s all it is. Similarly a perfume pretending to be a cigar is just that, while a perfume pretending to be a kinky boot, might turn out to fit quite a kinky booty.
And if the booty fits….