Thursday, May 25, 2006

REVIEW: Le Labo Vetiver 46 (2006)

Notes: Vetiver, olabinum, cedre, labdanum, amber, bergamot, vanilla, black pepper, gaiac wood and clove.

Pros: A scent with the "wow" factor - sprayed it on this morning having never smelled it before and actually exclaimed "wow"...

Cons: Really none...other than the limited distribution and price tag.

Reminds me of: The vetiver has a sweetness to it (perhaps because of the clove and vanilla) that reminds me of CSP Vetyver Haiti.

Development: This one didn't really unfold or develop much.

Longevity: Very good - about 6 hrs.

Sillage: Perfect - enough so that I was offered a compliment, but not so much that it was overwhelming.

Where can I buy it? .5 oz $45; 1.7 oz $115; 3.7 $180 at

Bottleworthy? A must-try for vetiver lovers!

The Bottom Line: Well, Vetiver 46 isn't going to win any awards for originality, but it definitely gets my award for most wearable vetiver fragrance. Though I'm not really a die-hard fan of the grassy vetivers (Guerlain), the dark earthy vetivers (Villoresi), or the lighthearted takes on vetiver (ElizabethW), Le Labo's Vetiver 46 offers a well-rounded composition in which the supporting players are just as interesting, and the vetiver, though ever-present is surprisingly enjoyable. Overall, an easy-to-wear oriental with just enough of the sweet and woody to keep the composition interesting. I'm looking forward to wearing this one again. Well done!

Rating (out of 10): 9 (and that's coming from someone who isn't a vetiver lover).

What's your favorite take on vetiver?
*Bottle in image is Bergamote 22

Stay tuned for a review of Montale's Vetiver des Sables next Thursday!

ASK MARLEN: A rose by any other name

Hi Marlen!

How are you? Say, I thought I'd run this by you...I'm intrigued by male scents with rose in them. I wouldn't say that I'm into heavily floral scents, but I like having floral elements amongst other notes. I ran across Iquitos, which I think I mentioned to you, and now I see that Zino Davidoff has rose notes, too. Both of these sound very interesting and are unavailable in my area. I do realize that they're probably very different, though I notice that they're from the same era. Maybe I could wait on these, as I gather they're more for cool weather. Then again, I may feel free to violate this sort of division! ;)

If you have a moment or two and would like to share your thoughts, that would be great!

Thanks again,

Hi D!

I'm great, thanks, just found a nice apartment in the town where I'll be living so my day is made! As for rose scents...well, neither Zino nor Iquitos is particularly rose-ish, though Iquitos definitely seems to have a more of a rose tinge than Zino. Zino is a big, brash, masculine musk and woods scent, while Iquitos is more of a chypre, focusing on the mossy notes (actually, Iquitos reminds me of an incense a friend brought me from India). If you're really looking for rose, then let me suggest the following 3 fragrances:
  • L'Artisan Voleur de Roses
  • Rosine Rose d'Homme
  • Diptyque Opone
All 3 scents offer a slightly different approach to rose, and samples can be easily obtained online at and! Don't forget Burberry Brit - it has an accent of rose in the middle notes and is a pretty good fragrance that I seem to be coming back to quite often this spring, and finally, many of the Middle Eastern attars are going to offer a pure (and often warm and spicy) punch of rose!

Now, that being said, here are some other rose scents that are not necessarily men's fragrances, but that I really enjoy anyhow:
  • Agent Provocateur
  • Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose
  • Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie
  • Rosine Folie de Roses
  • Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises
  • Montale Aoud Queen Roses
  • Montale Attar
Hope this helps!


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK: Balenciaga, Talisman (1994)

Notes: Lychee, Dried Fruits, Osmanthus, Rum, Rose, Jasmine, Freesia, Cyclamen, Patchouli, Sandal, Beeswax, Vanilla.

50 ml spray: Retail price $52; $14.95

The Bottom Line: Long before Angel was spreading its wings and soaring, Balenciaga was inspired to try its own gourmand, and though not a commercial triumph, I do believe they succeeded. Talisman is a warm, rich gourmand in the style of Frapin and Todd Oldham, a great big boozey fruity floral turned on its head with the addition of notes like beeswax and rum. Though not as cloying as it might sound, it definitely packs a punch. Equally appropriate for a man or woman, pick this one up now for cool autumn evenings and let this Talisman work its magic.

ASK MARLEN: A yen for scents


I'm currently in Tokyo, and will be traveling around Japan the next two months and was wondering if there was any worthwhile fragrances to sniff out here that are only available in Japan (or are just easier to get in Japan).

Any recommendations would be great- and places where I could find them would be even more helpful.

Thanks a lot!


Hi D,

Best to browse the fragrance sites at - check my blog "Where Marlen Shops" for recommended sites. My favorite is:

This way you can see for yourself what's available and pricing. In Tokyo, Aoyama, Shinjuku, and Ginza are all great areas for shopping, but the best prices are at the little discount perfume and cosmetic shops in train stations and on the net.

There are a few Japanese sites which offer traditional perfumery, but the prices are very high and the sites are Japanese only. One of the lesser-priced companies is Je et Mon, about $30 for a 50ml spray. I have #12, a light agarwood. The scents are nice, but ultimately can't compare with other niche lines in longevity and sillage.

As for Japan-only scents, they're hard to find, the quality of many is mediocre at best, and the majority are geared towards young women. I recommend trying some of the typical Shiseido and Kanebo products that can be purchased at most pharmacies and beauty shops. There's more info if you do a search on Basenotes in the Shopping Guides board. The best thing you can probably pick up is the new Shiseido Men eau de toilette - see my review here: Shiseido Men

Let me know if you have any other questions!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

RANT: Chelsea Flowers

For the drag queen in all of us...

Ok. I have to be honest. I really like this scent. You know the one - Bond #9 Chelsea Flowers. With a name that sounds like somewhere between porn kitten and Queen of the Night - though I'm quite aware that it's actually alluding to this...

... - Chelsea Flowers is a surprisingly fresh and green floral and the scent that originally turned me on to Bond.


Coming this June to Scenteur7...

The War of the Roses

...only one will win.

REVIEW: Santa Maria Novella, Citta di Kyoto (2005)

Notes: Iris, lotus, bergamot, orange, jasmine, hyacinth, rose, hawthorn, ylang-ylang, plum, peach, cinnamon, sandalwood, cedar, ebony, ambergris and vanilla.

Pros: A departure from SMN's typical single note scents; a woody incense composition that is light enough to wear in warmer weather without becoming overwhelming.

Cons: Difficult to track down; overall sillage could be better.Reminds me of: Comme des Garcons Avignon; Armani Mania for Women (original); Kisu.

Development: I love the vanilla and woods in the base, balanced by the lighter, sweeter topnotes.

Longevity: Didn't last as long as I had hoped, though slightly longer than some of SMN's single note scents. It remained detectable for about 1.5-2 hours.

Sillage: Minimal - stays close to the skin.

Where can I buy it? $84 for a 100ml edt at

Bottleworthy? Try this one along with the CDG Incense series to get a feel for what works best for you.

The Bottom Line: Slightly less expensive than the CDG scents, with a similar feel and stunning bottle, Santa Maria Novella's Citta di Kyoto, or Kyoto City is the newest multiple note, layered composition (my favorite still being Nostalgia). It has a similar feel to Norma Kamali's Incense and Tan Rokka's Kisu, though remains much lighter than the former, and slightly more complex than the latter. The aroma is very well-crafted with some stunning moments, especially the leafy green nuances that float in and out of the beginning stages of the scent. Overall, Citta di Kyoto delivers a trail of floral-woody incense smoke that is very, very accurate. The aroma brings me back to standing in Higashi Honganji temple in Kyoto, bare feet pressed to woven tatami mats, o bosan is chanting up at front, and trails of incense smoke rise to the heavens. Welcome to the City of Kyoto.

Rating (out of 10): 7

What's your favorite Santa Maria Novella scent?

ASK MARLEN: A Dunhill of Cuiron


First, my compliments on an educative and enjoyable blog. I'm a 32 year old male who's only lately taken an interest in perfumes, and your blog and your reviews on Basenotes have been very helpful; for that, my thanks. I write to know how the following perfumes strike you : Cuiron pour Homme - Helmut Lang and Dunhill Edition - Alfred Dunhill.

I look forward to your reviews.

Best Regards,
KHi K,

Thanks for reading and for the great question. Let's start with Cuiron (2002; $20.99 at - I remember all the buzz around this one and the early reviews on Basenotes (more than a few folks thought they had found their holy grail scents). I got a bottle, sprayed it on, wondered what the fuss was, wondered where the leather was, and then promptly dismissed it. A few months later, I received a second bottle, having swapped the first and wondering if perhaps I had missed something. Nope. Nowhere to be found were the buttery almost saffron-like leather notes I prefer. Rich, smoky, sweet - all missing. Instead I smelled a misch-masch of notes, mostly tobacco and some indistinct olibanum with citrus and pepper added for good measure. Again, I wasn't thrilled. Where was the leather?

As for Dunhill, this is a line that I sniff once just to get to know what the newest scent smells like, out of a sense of duty more than curiosity, and then never return to again. Dunhill Edition (1984; $25.99 at, however, is actually a little different story.

Though not a scent I would choose for myself, there is something very intriguing about it. Considering the time in which it was created, Dunhill Edition is a surprisingly crisp and green aroma, similar in my mind to Cerruti 1881, sharing many of the same notes. The scent embodies a watery lightness that a number of 80's scents had been experimenting with just prior to the marine/ozone/green tea explosion of the late 80's and early 90's. Therefore it's missing the "sweet and fruity" factor that ruin so many of today's launches. The only drawback, to my nose, is that both 1881 and Edition share what I call "the band-aid factor" exhibiting the tendency to smell a bit plastic, a phenomenon that I often experience with lavender aromas. More than 20 years after its original launch, Dunhill Edition is still around, still striking, and still terribly sexy on the right person.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

NEW RELEASE: Guerlain, Aqua Allegoria Grosellina (2006)

click the pic for more info

Top note :
Bergamot, Lemon, Tangerine

Middle note :
Red Currant, White Tea, Raspberry Leaf

Base note :
Cassie, Powdery Note