Saturday, February 18, 2006

BATH & BODY: Burt's Bees Wild Lettuce Toner

What is it? Lettuce, cucumber and chamomile are used to create a moisturizing and cleansing toner.

Why should I buy it? I use it to help remove excess oil from my skin (and scalp) in the mornings, or when my skin is feeling dry in cooler weather. It smells wonderful (very clean and green) without being too "perfumey" or medicinal. The bottle is very simple and won't look too "fem" for you guys who are worried about bringing beauty products into your bathroom!

Where can I buy it? $10 for 8oz splash at

The Bottom Line: Inexpensive, great-smelling, all-natural toner. Works great after shaving as well.

Rating (out of 10): As far as toners go, and because it smells so good, 10

I love the scent of lettuce - know of any other products that use lettuce as a fragrance note?

REVIEW: Antica Farmacista, Aria

Notes: Citrus fruits, Bergamot, Mimosa, Marine Algae, & White Musk.

Pros: Great, light scent for summer; perfect for mimosa lovers.

Cons: I'm not a mimosa lover...

Longevity, development and sillage: Opens with a somewhat harsh, almost chemical smell, but then quickly settles to dryer sheets. Begins to fade out about 15 minutes later and stays quiet and close to the skin.

Reminds me of: Motu meets Calypso Mimosa; the smell of the men's room at Bergdorf Goodman, and I mean that in a good way...the scent of the soap, cleaning products, etc....not urinal cakes...Could make a good fabric softener.

Bottleworthy? Hmmm, I'll stick with Antica Farmacista Aqua (basically the same composition
but without the powdery mimosa).

Where can I buy it? $58 for a 50ml parfum (edp) spray at

The Bottom Line: Aquatic floral with marine notes, heavy on powdery mimosa in the beginning, though somewhat synthetic smelling. Fades quickly to a very "clean" aroma and really, is that such a bad thing?

Rating (out of 10): 5

Aria is Italian for "air". Any other scents that you feel evoke the feel or smell of air?

*Note: Image is of Nordstrom exclusive "Medina".

REVIEW: Laura Biagiotti, Roma (for Women)

Notes: Pink grapefruit, black currant, mint, Jasmine, Rose, Lily of the Valley, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Amber, Musk, Civet.

Pros: Rich oriental with subtle fruity floral overtones and and incredible long-lasting drydown. Easily wearable by a man.

Cons: Ummmm, I can't think of any! hmmmm.....

Longevity, development and sillage: All are excellent - never really veers too much towards the floral category, instead, the scent really focuses on those great basenotes. Civet, folks!

Reminds me of: It doesn't - this one is truly unique. Similar in tone to the Men's counterpart, Roma Uomo, in that the sweet floral and fruity opening remain, but Roma is more opulent with the rich amber, vanilla and civet notes.

Where can I buy it? $31.99 for a 100ml edt spray at

Bottleworthy? Heck, yeah!

The Bottom Line: A well-blended oriental where none of the notes really take centerstage. The grapefruit and currant blend effortlessly with the florals to accent the lower basenotes. The civet makes a presence, warming and adding a touch of "earthiness" to the composition. The mint never really makes much of a presence, but the choice of the vanilla, amber and sandalwood base create an incredibly rich support for the upper notes. One of my all-time favorite scents, it's always a staple (along with the men's version) in my wardrobe. Great for cooler weather, and completely incomparable! Guys, you gotta try this one - trust me!

Rating (out of 10): 9

What are your favorite Italian scents?

REVIEW: Estee Lauder, Eau de Private Collection

Notes: Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Citrus, Orange Flower, Ylang-Ylang, Coriander, Sandalwood, Patchouli

Pros: Beautiful earthy green floral, that comes off as a classic eau de cologne on my skin.Cons: Might be a bit too soapy smelling as it develops for some peoples' tastes; the honeysuckle is a bit heavy on my skin.

Longevity and sillage: Surprisingly good, with the fragrance developing slowly and mellowing on the skin.

Reminds me of: Honestly? Acqua di Parma... (yes, of course they are totally different, but it REMINDS me of AdP); Agua de Loewe

Where can I buy it? $27.58 for 50ml spray at

Bottleworthy? Yes, a wonderful scent for summer, and not too outrageously priced.

The Bottom Line: Created in 1973 as Ms. Lauder's personal scent, it starts with a fresh floral burst, and then goes soapy (coriander?). Continues to mellow as hints of sandalwood and a VERY subtle green patchouli note make their entrance. The scent settles into a "freshly-washed-skin" accord in a green soapy sorta way. I'm not totally sure about all the other products in the line (see my HELP! below), but I also have a Pure Fragrance spray decant which is sweeter, greener, and even better (richer) than the Eau de Private Collection that I've reviewed above. A surprising discovery from Estee, proving just what an absolute wonder this house once was (and continues to be?)

Rating (out of 10): 6.5

HELP! I am utterly confused by all of the variations on this one. There is a Pure Fragrance Spray, an Eau de Perfume Spray, plain ole' Private Collection Perfume, Perfume Colgone, Eau de Private Collection...Are they all the same?

Friday, February 17, 2006

FOR THE HOME: Mariage Freres, The de Lune Incense

Note: Fall In Love incense, 50 wands, 30 Euros pictured

What is it? Japanese-style wand incense from renowned French tea purveyors.

What does it smell like? Amber and oolong tea with light musky overtones.

Pros: Smells incredible as it burns, and not too smokey! Elicited compliments from everyone who entered the room while it was burning!

Cons: The price.

Where can I buy it? 12 Euros for 20 wands at

The Bottom Line: A non-smoky, Japanese-style incense that smells incredible. It may be pricey, but hey, life's worth a little luxury!

More Information:

The English website is currently under construction to make way for an online ordering system.

Read about Mariage Freres:
A 'Mariage' Made in Heaven
by Karen Burns,

Rating (out of 10): 9

What's your favorite tea-themed incense?

REVIEW: Cacharel Nemo

Notes: Hinoki, Betel Leaf, Incense, Cedarwood, Cardamom.

Pros: Great bottle, wonderful incense drydown!

Cons: Believe it or not, I can't think of any!

Longevity and sillage: Longevity is pretty good - sprayed it on at 2pm and it's still present now at 12:30am! Sillage is better than average, but not too loud!

Where can I buy it? $26.58 for 100ml edt spray at

Reminds me of: Hmmm, first time I smelled it I thought, this could be Theorema for Men (not that poor excuse for a fragrance that actually IS Theorema for Men, but what I envision). Also reminds me of Joop Rococo.

Bottleworthy? Absolutely! And at that price...

The Bottom Line: Wonderful woods and incense fragrance with an almost creamy tonka/vanilla note that echoes throughout, though never gourmand or foody. Longlasting, amazing bottle, and great price. Though not my "favorite" scent, I'm surprised at how often I use it and how much I enjoy it. Another men's scent that I think ladies would enjoy just as much as us guys!

Rating (out of 10): 9

What's your favorite Cacharel?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

WEBSITES AND E-TAILERS: Fragrance Wallpapers for your desktop!

Congratulations to SHANNON for guessing Marlen's wallpaper image correctly!
A gift is on its way!

Thanks to 2 kind Basenotes members for starting a great thread!

Basenotes Wallpaper Thread


Free decant to the first person who can guess which image I personally chose for my laptop (browse the above websites)!

MUST-READS: CK Be and CK One at NowSmellThis

He Says / She Says is back at NowSmellThis!

This month, Robin and I are discussing CK One, click the image below to read the review!

Also, Don't miss my review of CK Be in honor of its 10th Anniversary

REVIEW: Montale Sandalsilver (Skin)

*Sandalsilver was formerly named Skin

Bergamot, Citrus fruits of Sicily, Mysore sandalwood, spices.

Pros: Wonderful "second-skin" scent, very comforting. I took an instant liking to it.

Cons: The sandalwood is powdery and sweet, but doesn't really smell like sandalwood for the first hour or fact I don't really think of it as a sandalwood scent.

Longevity and sillage: Both are moderate.

Where can I buy it? $135 for 100ml edp spray at

Reminds me of? YSL Nu edp minus the iris and incense; the topnotes of Kingdom; Christian Dior Dune (pour femme).

Bottleworthy? Hmmm, it's a little pricey, but this is something I could see myself wearing A LOT!

The Bottom Line: Beautiful and aromatic, a familiar scent. More masculine than Dior Dune, not as rich as YSL Nu, this has found a special place in my heart as an unusual take on Mysore. The scent slowly unfolds with only hints of sandalwood and faint traces of patchouli against a light musk. I just don't know quite how to describe it, but I love it.

Rating (out of 10): 9

Tell us about your experiences with Montale!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

WISHLIST: L'Aromarine Fragrances

With bottles labeled in art-deco images, and scents reviewed with surprising praise, L'Aromarine is calling out to me!

At pricepoints below $20 (!), and a huge variety of products, this line has quickly shot to the top of my lemming list.

Fragrances range from Violette to Cola, from Japanese Rose to Vetiver. With matching bath gels, body lotions and even parfum oils, there's a huge variety of scents and products to choose from.

Sold at such shops as and, you'll find an amazing array of deco-themed bottles. Don't forget to read the reviews at when trying to decide where to start. As for me, I'll be happy to start with any of them! I know I've tried many of them before and even gave out the oils as a Xmas gift one year! I think it's time to bring one of these babies into La Collection...

...Now where do I start?

BATH & BODY: Bee & Flower Sandalwood Soap

What is it? Made in Shanghai, China, and wrapped in colored paper with gold seal, this bar soap has been around for years as a typical Chinese supermarket brand. Sold at a variety of shops at one time or another (think Pier 1 Imports ca. 1988), there's nothing high-priced or gimmicky about these soaps.

Why should I buy it? Has the most wonderful Chinese sandalwood (semi-sweet, woody) aroma, made with natural oils. Scents the entire bathroom and lingers on the skin. Perfectly layers with fragrances and body products. One bar lasts me a good 4-5 weeks.

Where can I buy it? A number of on-line and brick-and-mortar shops sell it, but Goddess Within seems to have the lowest price: $.63 (yes, 63 cents!) per bar (2.85 ozs)

The Bottom Line: With a variety of scents available, in perfectly kitschy packaging, Bee & Flower still ranks high as a gift worth giving. Inexpensive, wonderfully aromatic, this is a bar of soap that not only works great in the shower, but I also use it to scent drawers and closets.

Rating (out of 10): 10

Tell us about other sandalwood soaps you love!

REVIEW: Serge Lutens, Bois de Violette

Notes: Cedar, violet leaves, violet flowers

Pros: Finally, a violet scent that is neither candy-sweet nor ultra-feminine.

Cons: Uh-oh, there's that pesky Lutens cedar note again...comes across as almost camphorous.

Longevity and Sillage: Surprisingly this one stays subtle on my skin. Not quite the sillage I would hope for.

Where can I buy it? Good of now, you'll have to contact Salons de Shiseido in Paris for further exploration. 100 Euros for a 75ml splash in glass bell bottle.

Reminds me of: Feminite du Bois, the discontinued early holy grail of violet scents by you guessed it, Shiseido. Can we say "dead ringer"?

Bottleworthy? Perfect if you're looking for a Feminite du Bois smell-alike, but I'll pass.

The Bottom Line: A simple, straightforward composition. Pricey but sumptuous. Personally, I prefer L'Artisan Verte Violette, softer, greener, and without the odd cedar note. I don't know why, it's that same note in Cedre and Bois Oriental that for some reason just bothers me.

Rating (out of 10): 6

Any other off the beaten path violet scents that you can recommend?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

REVIEW: Molinard, Les Scenteurs Musc

Notes: Musk, Sandalwood, Patchouli

Pros: Sweet and resinous, like incense.

Cons: Doesn't really smell like musk to me - this one is not a deep earthy musk.

Longevity and Sillage: Both are moderate, and frankly, could be better. The scent does linger close to the skin but never projects much.

Where can I buy it? $11.99 for 100ml edt spray at

Reminds me of: Nag Champa incense

The Bottom Line: For a mere $12, why not? If you're looking for a lighter musk, without the earthy animalic undertones, this one may be perfect for you. No urinals, no hairspray, just a sweet resinous incense-like aroma. The patchouli accent makes it perfect for patch lovers.

Rating (out of 10): 6

I know all the usual suspects with regard to musk fragrances. Anything truly unusual and unknown out there that I simply have to try?

Monday, February 13, 2006

ASK MARLEN: Hermes Hiris for a Man?

Hi Marlen,

Tell me your impressions about Hiris and your opinion on a male wearing it. Of course I know one can wear anything one wants but do you think that Hiris would be clocked as a women's fragrance? It's a beautiful scent.


Hey J,

Hiris is one of my personal favorites, but it took me some time to get used to it. Once I fell in love with Bois Farine by L'Artisan, I began hunting for other "doughy" scents and re-visited Hiris. It was instant love. The iris butter, combined with only very subtle floral overtones makes this one quite easy for a man to wear, imho. As the scent progresses it warms on the skin leaving a faint trace of woods and iris root. Magnificent! Moreover, as this scent is not quite the average designer scent in terms of popularity, I would think the chances of someone sniffing you and exclaiming, "Get outta here! You're wearing women's perfume, you nasty Perv!" are quite low.

Offering advice would truly be like preaching to the choir, 'cause you said it best, "I know one can wear anything one wants."


p.s. - there is also a body powder spray in the Hiris scent that is PHENOMENAL! Goes on as a liquid spray and changes to a powder on the skin and layers well with the scent.

IMAGES: Happy Valentines Day!

Male, Female, Gay or Straight, here's a little something for everyone...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Obsession, Calvin Klein

M7, Yves Saint Laurent

FOR THE HOME: Red Flower Candles, Japanese Peony

What is it? This is a 6 oz candle in round glass container. Inlcuded with the candle and packed into the top of the glass container is a small amount of potpourri with the same scent.

What does it smell like? Well, the scent is Japanese, how can I describe this? Imagine a soft peony scent with a hint of Damask rose and a little green tea thrown in for good measure. Light, fresh, soft, with a little zest.

Pros: Good throwing power, moderate price, the potpourri is a nice kitschy touch.

Cons: Would be better if it were soy-based.

Where can I buy it? $34 at

The Bottom Line: Reasonable price, good throwing power, nice scent, and cute extras. This would make a great gift.

Additional Information:
From Red Flower at
  • burns for 35-45 hours
  • pure cotton wick
  • slow, clean burn, made with natural soft wax
  • topped with scented petals to fill a sachet, scent a bath, offer in prayer
  • available in all twelve red flower scents
Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 3.5 inches ; 6.1 ounces

appreciating a japanese peony candle

noble and grand, generous and fragrant, this heavy pale pink flower blooms on small trees in the north of japan every spring. it is prized for its poised beauty and infinitely soft petals. a favorite for use in the centuries old art form of ikebana, it flourishes with careful cultivation, quieet patience, warm rain, lush clouds and shade from the afternoon sun.

Rating (out of 10): 7

Any other products you can think of with the scent of Peony? I'm a sucker for Shiseido Eudermine!

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK: Celine for Men at

Notes: Mandarin Peel, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Agave, Hazel, Geranium, Cedar Wood, Vetiver Root, Musk

3.3 oz EDT Spray: Retail Price $65; Scentiments Price $17.89*

Why should I buy it? This is truly an unusual fragrance that has now been discontinued. A boozey citrus (think tequila) with musky undertones highlighted by vetiver and cedar, this could easily work for either a man or a woman. Lightyears better than the female counterpart, Celine for Men is versatile, unique, and at this price, worth every penny!

LINK: Celine for Men at

*Shipping (air, US only) of $4.99 not included in this price.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

ASK MARLEN: Gobin Daude update

Received this email from Mr. B himself regarding Gobin Daude Nuit au Desert:

Dear Marlen,

It is unfortunately too late. Someone recently bought the last bottles of Nuit au Desert that were still available in Paris.

Yours sincerely,

Christophe Bourgeois