Saturday, February 25, 2006

SALE! Marlen's sale list...

Dear friends,

I move from Japan to the USA in exactly 5 weeks from today!

Check out my Fragrance sale, click the pic!

Please help me make a little cash and lighten my load!


SCENTED MEMORY: #4, Helen and her Mandel Bread

I had a hard time appreciating the scent of almond when I was younger, always associating it with my grandmother's friend, Helen and her kitchen. To me, almond was the scent of a Jewish cookie, baked in an apartment that also smelled of mothballs and brisket. Helen would always manage to find me when I was visiting my Nana's place at Sunrise Lakes, Phase II. "Such a sheyne punim," she would exclaim, "come to my place, bubbeleh, I just made some mandel bread for you!" The cookie was hard and crunchy, and tasted sweet. It was like nothing else I usually ate (Stella d'Oro fudge cookies, oreos, graham crackers...). The aroma was the most interesting aspect - like vanilla, but yet, not vanilla. I would enter Helen's apartment and immediately the aroma would hit me - Whooosh! A Jewish kitchen, an active kitchen, a kitchen with appliances that were actually used (my mother would kill me if she read this...growing up she baked, she the oven is a place to store handbags)!

As a teenager, exploring the world of fragrance, I can remember being unable to wear anything with almond, as the scent was just too striking and memorable...and perhaps painfully nostalgic. My Nana and Helen have long since passed, but recently, I've come to love almond and I think it is precisely because of these associations that it now serves as a comfort note. Maybe it's the actual chemistry of an almond's aroma, or maybe it's just the mandel bread.

And yes, it's basically Biscotti...But isn't it more fun to sound Jewish?

What's your favorite comforting food scent?

ASK MARLEN: Mountain Streams, Sparkling Water, Summer scents

Hi Marlen,

I need fragrance help. My nose is not as developed as my eye and so chosing a fragrance just isn't my forte. I know what I'm looking for generally, but I need some good suggestions to get me on my way. Everyone to whom I talk has a suggestion; everyone wants me to smell like them. Yet those suggestions are not exactly trustworthy because they don't have very much experience.

No matter what, the scent for which I seek must be one that will only be rarely detected on others. For this reason, I've found myself favoring the Creed scents. They seem to have a niche that does not coincide with my own.

The scent should be light and fresh, not at all heavy. It should make one think of clean or bright things: mountain streams, sparkling water, perhaps the wind at the beach. It will be used in the heat of summer, but should be versatile enough to be a day or night time scent. I had considered looking into "green" smelling scents but so many of them seem to strike me as rather resinous, which weights them down.

Any suggestions?

smdDear smd,

Well, I'm always the first person to deny the validity of other people's recommendations, especially when the person recommending the scent doesn't actually know the person requesting the recommendation...

So you're asking about scents that are versatile for day and night and appropriate for warmer weather. You mentioned light and fresh, clean and bright (blossom of snow may you- oh, sorry, started singing 'Edelweiss')...and Creed.

Let's begin with Creed. Himalaya, Royal Water, Original Vetiver, Millesime Imperial, Silver Mountain Water, Green Valley, Neroli Sauvage, Erolfa, Green Irish Tweed, Selection Verte, Bois de Cedrat, Citrus Bigarrade, and Zeste Mandarin Pamplemousse would all seem to foot the bill....For more info, check Creed's webiste at

My personal favorite of the scents above is Millesime Imperial (citrus, bergamot, iris, amber and musk). Why? Because out of all the light, fresh, watermelon-ish, citrusy scents I can think of, this is the one that always comes to mind first, is the most enjoyable for me to wear, and seems the most sophisticated. Next in line would be a tie between Green Valley (violet leaves and mint) and Royal Water (citrus, mint, basil and musk). Erolfa is an interesting take on marine scents with a striking salty accord, and Silver Mountain Water (one of my least favorites) is an interesting variation on the black tea craze with added notes of blackcurrant.

Moving in a different direction, away from the wildly expensive...along with Creed Millesime Imperial, Royal Water and Green Valley, here is a list of some of my favorite summer scents:
  • Emporio Armani White for Men
  • Nino Cerruti Si
  • Gendarme
  • Calvin Klein Eternity for Men, Escape for Men, Truth for Men
  • Comptoir Sud Pacifique Aqua Motu, Ecume de The
  • Chanel #19
  • Nina Ricci Signoricci
  • Chrstian Dior Higher
  • Alain Delon Shogun, Pharos
  • J del Pozo Quasar
  • Sisley Eau de Campagne
  • Annick Goutal Eau de Sud
  • Bvlgari Homme, The Vert
  • Lancome Trophee
  • Givenchy Greenergy, Eau de Givenchy
  • Eau de Lalique
  • L'Artisan Extrait de Songes, Fleur de Carrotte
  • Czech and Speake Neroli
  • Jo Malone White Tie and Tiaras
  • Patricia de Nicolai Cologne Sologne
  • Kenzo pour Homme
  • Jil Sander Pure for Men
  • Joop! Nightflight
  • Christian Celle Calypso Marine
  • Bond #9 Riverside Drive, Central Park
  • Thierry Mugler Cologne
  • Geir by Geir Ness
  • Parfums Rosine, Rose d'Ete
  • Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue
  • Sonia Rykiel pour Homme
The following are also pretty darn good, though not my favorites: Dior 'Dune for Men', The Body Shop 'Oceanus' and 'Of a Man', Bvlgari 'The Blanc' and 'The Rouge', Dolce and Gabbana pour Homme, Celine pour Homme, Molyneux 'Quartz' (both the men's and women's) and Maitre Perfumer et Gantier 'Pour le Jeune Homme'. O Boticario of Brazil has an excellent collection of fresher scents like 'Classic' and 'Galbe', and Banana Republic's 'M' and 'Classic' are also winners. If you haven't yet, I recommend trying the entire range of fragrances from Annick Goutal, Jo Malone, Acqua di Parma, and of course, no experience is complete without a sniff of the Guerlain classics 'Vetiver', 'Habit Rouge' and 'Imperiale'.

I'm sure I've forgotten at least 200 of my other favorites, but this should give you a place to start! Feel free to follow-up with comments! And stay tuned for reviews of many of these scents over the coming months.

Now, start looking for samples and get yourself over to a Sephora and Saks right away so you can start experiencing these on your skin...the only way to truly tell if a scent will work for you!


*Images (from the top): Creed Himalaya, Creed Green Valley, Trophee Lancome, Eau de Lalique, Molyneux Quartz pour Homme

Friday, February 24, 2006

BATH & BODY: Papoutsanis Musk Soap

What is it? 125g musk-scented bar soap, made in Greece.

Why should I buy it? Incredible scent! A gift from my friend Carla in Greece (thanks, Carla! XOXOX) , the scent of the soap layers perfectly with most any fragrance, adding a hint of earthy, warm musk to freshly washed skin.

Where can I buy it? Best price I've found so far is 6 bars for $5.50 at

The Bottom Line: A reasonably-priced and long-lasting bar soap with an incredible aroma that scents not just the bather but the bathroom as well!

Rating (out of 10): 9 (would love an even stronger version!)

More about Papoutsanis:
In 1870, Dimitris Papoutsanis founded the first steam engine powered olive oil pressing factory on the Greek island of Lesvos, situated in the Aegean. In addition to olive oil, a small quantity of pure olive oil soap was also produced. In 1913 the production facilities were transferred to Piraeus and the first, modern bar soap production lines were installed. In 1965 the plant was transferred to the Northern suburb of Athens, Kato Kifisia.

Since February 2001, the new, state of the art factory of PAPOUTSANIS is operational near Athens. The plant is the largest factory of soap production in the Balkans and one of the largest in Europe. The new manufacturing facility covers an area of 8.500 sq.m. and is equipped with the latest machinery and industrial equipment. Since then, PAPOUTSANIS has developed and is now the largest manufacturer of bar soaps and toiletry products in Greece. *

Ingredients: Sodium tallowate, sodium palm kernelate, water, parfum, sodium chloride, titanium dioxide, tetrasodium EDTA, tetrasodium etidronate.

Know of any other great musk-scented soaps?

REVIEW: Eadward, Tranquil

Notes: Sorry folks, the best I can do is this: "Inpsired by the fresh clean smell of cotton."

Pros: Light, fresh, long-lasting, INEXPENSIVE!

Cons: Might smell a little too much like laundry detergent (though this doesn't bother me in the least).

Reminds me of: Bounce dryer sheets, Original Scent; Body Shop Oceanus

Development: Well, starts off a bit aldehydic, but then mellows to a clean marine note.

Longevity: Surprisingly good - at least 12 hours on my skin...

Sillage: I've only ever worn it when by myself, so hard to tell, but I do catch whiffs of it quite often while wearing it.

Where can I buy it? $28 for a 60ml edt spray at

Bottleworthy? If you like to smell like you've just rolled out of a dryer, then yes, and at that price, definitely!

The Bottom Line: Eadward is a gem of a line, with an interesting variety of trend-inspired fragrances (white chocolate, marine, clean...). Oddly, they describe their products as "Fun fragrances for the contemporary woman." I'm insulted. Who they callin' a woman?

An inexpensive, long-lasting fabric softener type of fragrance, Tranquil starts out a bit similar to CLEAN and ends with some echoes of Oceanus. I "liked" it at first but was put off by the opening notes....I've held onto it, always enjoyed sniffing it, and now 6 months later, I think I'm addicted - definitely a staple for spring!

Rating (out of 10): 7

What are your favorite "clean-smelling" scents?

ASK MARLEN: Emulsion VS Lotion

Dear Marlen,

I have to ask this, since I just bought Bvlgari pour Homme After Shave Lotion. Is it the same thing? If you have tested both, how do they differ? I actually went and bought it after reading this review here, thinking it was the same thing. I haven't opened it yet, since I wanted to double check, but I don't think I can keep myself from using this puppy even though it doesn't seem to be the exact same grooming product.


Hi S,

Ok, you've got the alcohol-based clear liquid - this is what is normally referred to as Aftershave Lotion...It's a bit confusing because to me, lotion implies a cream or gel, but alas, it's the standard "burn the crap out of your face" liquid. Emulsions and Balms are generally creams or gels designed to hydrate skin and relieve razor-burn. Much more gentle, and generally without the nasty sting, balms and emulsions can also go on greasy, so many men prefer the straight-up Aftershave...The nice thing about Bvlgari's Emulsions is that they are pretty lightweight, and leave my skin feeling moisturized, but never greasy.

Hope this helps!

Clockwise from top: AfterShave Emulsion, Shampoo and Shower Gel, AfterShave Lotion, Mystery product, Soap.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

IMAGES: Ho Hang!

Ho Hang
...for that Ho Hum kind of day!

Here's to one of the oddest names for a fragrance, not to mention a
bizarre advertising campaign.

Is that Meg Ryan on the left?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

REVIEW: Joop! Le Bain

Notes: Chinese Lychee, Plum, Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Lily of the Valley, Rose, Jasmine, Musk, Amber, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Heliotrope. (courtesy of, but may not be totally accurate)

Pros: Unusual oriental, and although the name and notes might suggest fresh and watery, this is nothing of the sort...On my skin, I get notes of almond, chocolate, cognac and tobacco...

Cons: It's becoming hard-to-find, I wish it would be re-launched...

Development: Though it begins with a darker gourmand note (think chocolate) the fragrance meanders towards toasted almonds and sandalwood. I know there are fruit and floral notes in this one, but like Roma they merely accentuate those basenotes...

Longevity: Lasts a good 6 hrs on my skin.

Sillage: Can you smell me? You can? Ok, then I guess the sillage is pretty good!

Reminds me of: Villoresi Tobacco room spray, Boss #6, MOR Nougat, Art of Shaving Sandalwood

Bottleworthy? Hell, yeah! Get it now before it totally disappears!

Where can I buy it? $39.90 for a 2.5 oz edp spray tester at

The Bottom Line: Rarely do I come across fragrances that so suit me that I feel as if I simply can't live without them. Joop! Le Bain is one of those scents, a fragrance whose image and name couldn't be more dissimilar from the actual composition and effect this fragrance has on the wearer. With lower notes that suggest pipe tobacco, a glass of cognac, toasted almond cookies and sandalwood incense, Joop! Le Bain is nearly gourmand in my humble opinion. The fruit and floral notes (jasmine, neroli, plum) merely accentuate the darker notes and by no means play any major role in the body of this composition. Hands down the best scent to be released from Joop, this is a little-known masterpeice that would equally suit a man or woman.

Rating (out of 10): 10

What other scents' images and bottles just don't match the actual juice, in your opinion?

FOR THE HOME: Fauchon, Les Fruits Rouges Incense

What is it? Wand Incense from legendary luxury foods purveyor, Fauchon of Paris and created by Esteban.

What does it smell like? Ripe, juicy red and black berries, sightly smoky but lingering in the air for hours after the wand has burned.

Pros: Long-wand incense (did I hear the hiss of "size-queen"?) with a wonderful scent that lingers for a good while!Cons: Currently quite difficult to track down...not yet on the webistes for Fauchon.

Where can I buy it? 8 Euros for 20 wands at

The Bottom Line: Wonderful wand incense from the famous Fauchon of Paris and designed by no less than Esteban! Now that both Mariage Freres and Fauchon have jumped on the candle and incense bandwagon, you can mark my word, Starbucks is next! Long-burning, and long-lingering, this incense is amazing. Beautiful aromas and powerful throw, worth every penny (?) of the 8 Euros! Seek it out!

Rating (out of 10): 10

P.S. - thanks to Jindra (dinazad) for giving these to me as a splendid Xmas gift! XOXOX marls

What designer food houses put out a great incense or candle?

TRIVIA: Name That Designer

One of Proust's most memorable characters shares a name with this designer's trademark.

Name the Designer and the early 80's women's scent that can now be purchased for as little as $13.99 for a 3.4 oz edt!

REVIEW: Miller Harris, Tangerine Vert

Notes: Sicilian green tangerines, orange, grapefruit and lemon, with majoram and geranium, cedar, moss and sweet musk.

Pros: Fresh, tangy citrus scent. Very refreshing.

Cons: May be a bit too fleeting for some tastes, and only for lovers of orange scents.

Reminds me of: Moschino Friends Men, though a thousand times nicer; Azzaro Orange Tonic; Hermes Orange Vert.

Development: Never develops much, the lower notes hardly make a presence.

Longevity: Gone from my skin in about 2 hours, but might be better in hot weather.

Sillage: Stays very close to the skin.

Bottleworthy? Mine was a gift, but I don't think I'd pay retail price for this.

Where can I buy it? $85 for a 50ml edt at

The Bottom Line: Developed by London's Miller Harris, Tangerine Vert is a beautiful citrus, focusing on tangerine and lemon, though never really lives up to the "vert" its name implies (ok, ok, so the tangerine is 'green tangerine'). The scent dries to a faint citrus aroma supported by a very light mossy musk. Very little projection suggests this one might work best in warmer weather, with body heat helping to project the fragrance. I'd love something slightly more complex, especially at THAT price, but will definitely enjoy Tangerine Vert this summer as I drive up the East coast of the US!

Rating (out of 10): 6

What other scents do you enjoy that focus on tangerine or mandarin?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

REVIEW: Costes

Notes: lavender, bay-tree, coriander, white pepper, rose, incense, woods and light musc

Pros: Spicy but light, with a wonderful combo of lavender & rose.

Cons: Fades rather quickly, leaving only a faint trail of the initial grandeur

Reminds me of: Well, it's reminiscent of Villoresi's Incensi, but this would be Incensi Ultra-light.

Longevity, development and sillage: After an hour it was all but gone, with the lavender fading out and stronger wood notes taking its place. I put A LOT on, and my roommate couldn't detect it, though I suppose in warmer weather, this one might turn out to be a sultry summer scent.

Bottleworthy? Hmmm.....YES!

Where can I buy it? $65 for a 50ml edt spray; $129 for a 125ml splash at

The Bottom Line: Created for the trendy Paris hotel by none other than Giacobetti, this (masculine) oriental is stunning. I love the pairing of the very soft and straightforward rose (more of a fresh, petal note, not at all heady or strong) and creamy lavender with the background of white pepper and though I feel like there's cinnamon in there somewhere, it's not listed. There's definitely a spicy incense note though I'm beginning to wonder what exactly "incense" means. Costes is great, and I could definitely see myself wearing this quite often - could easily become my summer spice. My eyes are open for decants...

Rating (out of 10): 8

Have you tried Costes?

WEBSITES & E-TAILERS:, a lutens love-site

Serge Lutens

What is it? A free, non-official fansite dedicated to the life and works of artist and perfumer Serge Lutens, as well as info & updates about his fragrances.

Why should I check it out? They have great photos, a swap-board (!), Q&A, e-cards, and a discussion forum!

Link please! Here ya go:

INSIDE THE PYRAMID: What the heck is Oakmoss?

I've used the word "mossy" a thousand times to describe a fragrance, and certainly know the note well enough by this point in my addicition. But I'll admit it, I really have no idea what oakmoss actually is! I mean, I have an inkling, but I wouldn't bet money on it...

What I think it is: I think it actually IS a kind of moss...that grows on Oak trees?

What Wikipedia says: (drumroll please) Oakmoss (Evernia Prunasti) is a lichen (a combination of algae and fungus that work together to create a new distinct organism) that grows on the trunk and branches of oaks and other deciduous trees, and is usually harvested in South-Central Europe. Additionally, oakmoss that grows on pines has a distinctive "turpentine" odor. also adds that Oakmoss is most commonly used as a basenote in perfumery and is valued as a fixative, prolonging the life of other notes used in a composition by equalizing the evaporation rates of ingredients.

But what does it smell like? Most commonly used in fougeres and chypres, oakmoss is an earthy, deep aroma, sometimes slightly bitter, sometimes musty, with an organic woody undertone (imagine: mushrooms meet a wet tree branch).

Some of my favorite fragrances that use Oakmoss include:
  • Miller Harris Terre du Bois
  • Guerlain Mitsouko
  • Chanel pour Monsieur Concentree
  • Hermes Amazone
  • Kenzo pour Homme
  • Miss Dior
  • Romeo Gigli Uomo
What's your favorite oakmoss scent?

Monday, February 20, 2006

RANT!: Ed Shepp's Scent Spectacular

"What's this?" you ask....Another male scent blogger? Could it be?

Well, actually, yes, it is...

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the charming and multi-talented Ed Shepp:

"I'm a deceitful, disingenuous person. I'm cursed to have only a few nauseating friends whom I hate. I'm a bit of a couch potato and keep myself in crappy shape. I'm bloated, codependent, a true hoarder. I'm rude, ignorant, extremely lazy, and like to be told what to think. I'm also conceited, very controlling, uncaring, a fairweather friend, not funny (especially with a few martinis), and a partner in crime who will never fail to rat you out in the end......... My mother always told me my deep-set eyes suggested a sociopath, and she was right."

With 3 blogs on everything from The Body Shop to ideas for bacon and egg flavored coffee, Ed is sure to please your need for amusing blogging about , well, just about everything...

I'm not sure that he's learned the existence of scenteur7, but I'm working on it!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK: Paco Rabanne, La Nuit

Notes: Citrus, Basil, Rose, Oakmoss, Honeyed Woods, Leather, Patchouli.

1oz edt spray, retail price $30.00;'s price $8.25

Why should I buy it? A surprising and sexy leather chypre that is so rich I'm still shocked that it ever could have been released as a women's fragrance. Perhaps Rabanne needs to re-think this one and re-launch it! Incredibly deep with AMAZING longevity and sillage, this begins and ends with leather, and along the way facets of green herbs (basil), roses, honey and patchouli all glimmer in the warmth that is La Nuit! At not even $10 for a 30ml, you NEED this in your wardrobe if you are a leather lover or go for darker, richer chypres!

WISHLIST: Fresh Cannabis Santal

The Lowdown: A new scent from Fresh described as "a sensual, masculine fragrance." Praised by Chandler Burr - "Everybody must get stoned..." - as a winning, green scent, he also adds, "If Thai Buddhist monks smoked ganja in their ancient wooden Bangkok temples on warm tropical nights and you happened to walk by at 2am, this is what you would smell."

  • top notes of bergamot, brazilian orange and black plum
  • a heart of patchouli, rose and cannabis accord
  • base notes of chocolate, vetiver and vanilla musk

Why I want it: Let's just say that the name alone intrigues me, nevermind the pairings of rose and chocolate, patchouli and vanilla, and orange and cannabis!

Where can I buy it?

Scheduled for an April 2006 launch, Cannabis Santal will be available at:

  • select Fresh boutiques within the U.S., Paris, London & Seoul
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Bergdorf Goodman
  • Barneys New York
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Sephora in the U.S., France & U.K.
  • Blue Mercury
  • C.O. Bigelow
Have you tried Fresh Cannabis Santal yet?