Thursday, March 23, 2006

ASK MARLEN: Summer Opiates

Have you by chance tried Opium Summer for men? The reason I ask is that I finally got around to going to order Live Jazz and saw this on the retailer's website ( Its not listed in the directory here and I cant find much information about it anywhere, but before I just tack it on my order I was hoping to be able to find out something about it.
Thanks ,
Dear r17,

I haven't tried Opium Eau d'Oriente yet, as it's not out here in Japan. Robin gave it a nice intro at NowSmellThis and there has been some discussion about it at Basenotes. I hope to try it when at the airport next week or when I'm finally home! This ios the first summer variation on Opium for Men I believe, so I'm quite curious about it. I tried the last two Opium for women variations and found them vastly more wearable, though still not my bag o'poppies...Opium is my Step-mother's scent and always will be!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

FOR THE HOME: Slatkin Black Tea & Berries Candle

What is it? A votive candle scented with black tea, lavender, cassis, and currants. Measures: 2 ½” x 2”; Burning time: Approximately 20 hours; Weight: Approximately 2.3 ounces.

What does it smell like? This is my first experience with Slatkin candles and sadly, I'm not impressed. The aroma reminds me of a cough syrup I used to take as a kid - the dreaded Symophylin. Yuck! There's an odd bitter edge paired with sweet berries, but rather than a tart, gourmand aroma, with a trail of smoked tea, I'm left with an odd misch-masch of cacophonous notes. Granted, I've been fighting allergies and mine is a pretty strong negative association with childhood torture, but...Where can I buy it? $10 for 1 votive at

The Bottom Line: High-priced, not soy, low throw all equal a disappointment. I'll stick with Slatkin's impressive fragrances and try one more candle just to be fair...But this one just wasn't my cup of smoked tea and berries.

Rating (out of 10): 3

Tell us about your favorite votive candles.

REVIEW: Emporio Armani Night for Men

Notes: Tangerine, Grapefruit, Violet, Sage, Cayenne Pepper, Cedarwood, Myrrh, Patchouli

Pros: Wonderful oriental with sweet (yet subtle) floral citrus notes in the top and warmer spice and woods in the bottom. On me, I sense the presence of musk and vanilla...Subtle yet wonderful.

Cons: The bottle looks like a pepper shaker.

Reminds me of: Hmmm, I've been asked if I was wearing Lauder's Intuition for Men while wearing Night...

Development: Not so much...the citrus fades out a bit after an hour and the patchouli never really makes much of a presence...Again, where's the musk?

Longevity: I can't tell, some days it seems to disappear only to re-surface hours later.

Sillage: I catch trails of it now and then, a light musky oriental...Not gonna knock'em dead, but it's pretty good.

Where can I buy it? $41.89 for a 100ml tester edt spray at

Bottleworthy? Yep...easy to wear any time of year and very, very comforting.

The Bottom Line: Another winner from Armani, this time it's the third of the now 4 Emporio scents. I love'em all, but Night is my fave, a darker, deeper version of Emporio White in my opinion. Night can be found at a discount so buy it now before it disappears...I've heard it's been discontinued! I liked the women's counterpart but found it overall too sweet, and not as subtle or sexy as the men's. One of Armani's best creations.

Rating (out of 10): 8

What's your favorite Armani scent?

ASK MARLEN: Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Hi ,

I have a very specific question for you - it did happen to me that I purchase the same scent over and over and suddently a tiny thing in that scent have change too much of something or not enough - something has changed and the whole scent is not worth it anymore. And then another "batch" will be fine.

Did this happen to you and what could be the reason ???

Thank you,
LBonjour L!

This has only happened to me on a few occasions. Calvin Klein Eternity and Benetton Colors for Men seem to have changed from the way I remember them in the early 90's. I still enjoy the aromas, but something is definitely different.

Creed fragrances seem to vary, sometimes, wildly. I bought my bottle of Green Valley based on a sample I had and was very suprised to find that my actual bottle had smelled nothing like the sample (thank goodness it was even better).

So in answer to your question, yes, I have experienced this, and here's my explanation:
1) Changes in chemicals and oils used - due to prices and availability, I believe some scents have been changed to meet the demands of the rising cost of materials. A family friend used to bemoan the change of Halston, having loved it in the 70's and then feeling disappointed in the 90's;
2) Storage and packaging - heat and light affect scent, so how a scent is actually stored by a retailer can have a pretty big impact on aroma;
3) Age - the older it gets, the more fractured the topnotes become as the oils break down over time;
4) Toxicity - as some materials have been deemed toxic to humans, they have been replaced and so current compositions are not necessarily the same as the originals.
It's sad really when you re-discover a forgotten classic only to find that it really doesn't resemble the scented memory that lives on in your mind.

Thanks for the question - hope this helps!

FOR THE HOME: My Favorite Bounce

Ok, I'll admit it, I'm a dryer sheet fanatic. There is nothing better than taking laundry out of a dryer and everything smelling soft and snuggly in addition to feeling soft and snuggly.

My current dryer sheet of choice: Bounce Outdoor Fresh

What is it? At a rating of 3 out of 5 on Bounce's very own scent meter in terms of strength of fragrance (5 is the highest), I think the reason why I most enjoy this product is because it smells so similar to Giorgio Beverly Hills Wings for Men, though another friend says it reminds him of Claiborne Curve for Men...

These are scented sheets that are designed to soften fabrics while in the dryer, prevent static cling, and scent your laundry. Bounce's homepage lists a number of other uses for them, everything from scenting drawers, to shoving into flower vases.

Where can I buy it? Well, standard price seems to be about $6.99 for a 120 pack, but this stuff is everywhere on the net, and in most every supermarket.

The Bottom Line: I can't live without my dryer sheets, and I'm not a big "line dry" guy (my socks get crunchy). Bounce is a brand I grew up with and so it's what I always come back to. I like the range of aromas that are available now and Outdoor Fresh is a fruity-musk aroma that is a pleasure to inhale every time I open up the bathroom cabinet where I keep my stash.

Rating (out of 10): 8

What's your favorite scented laundry product?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ASK MARLEN: Butterflies are free...


Your last article on Basenotes about the difference between male and female fragrances was very enlightening. What are your thoughts about Hanae Mori butterfly? Could a male pull this off? What do you think about this particular fragrance? Do you like it?

jDear j,

I used to sell a lot of Hanae Mori in the days when I worked at Nordstroms. It was a fairly new scent at the time and I really enjoyed the almond-tinged fruity oriental with notes of Strawberries, Bilberries, Blackcurrant, Bulgarian rose, Jasmine, Ylang-ylang, Sandalwood, Almond, and Praline. It strongly reminded me of Chopard's Casmir, another favorite from the early 90's that I definitely DID wear.

As for a man pulling this off, you know what my answer is gonna be, don'tcha? As I always say:
"If you love it, wear it, be happy, and enjoy!"

Do I personally like it? Yes, I love it, and I also think the men's fragrance is a unique and bold composition. Do I wear either of them these days? No, I think overdosed on them back in my Nordies' days.

So bottom line - try it on your skin, see how you feel when wearing it, and if it's something you need to smell on yourself more often, go for it!

Quick note: The scent with the blue butterflies printed on the box, is the EDP, the heaviest and sweetest; the pink butterflies are the EDT, lighter and not as long-lasting; and the yellow butterflies are the EAU FRAICHE, a much lighter version, but still true to the original composition, that works well in warmer weather, and doesn't have the heavy sweetness of some of the fruity basenotes. The box with the sketched figure of a woman is a totally different scent - Haute Couture - although the bottle is exactly the same.


MUST-READ: Shiseido Men Review

Check out my review of the newest men's Shiseido fragrance,
Shiseido Men, at NowSmellThis.