“O, thou art fairer than the evening air clad in the beauty of a thousand stars.” – Christopher Marlowe
“Fee fie fo flume. I ground up old ladies to make this perfume.” – Not Christopher Marlowe
Tuberose, osmanthus, elemi, myrrh, dried flowers, cashmeran, cedar, vetiver, oak moss, labdanum, tonkin musk, leather.
Jardins d’Ecrivains are one of the lines created by Anaïs Biguine, who also conceived the Gri Gri range. We have reviewed Tara Mantra by Gri Gri and Gigi by Jardins D’Ecrivains. The company is French, having its headquarters in Paris and priding itself on producing fragrances that use ingredients from Grasse.
The Jardins d’Ecrivains fragrances use literature as their inspiration. In this case, the Marlowe they are referring to is Elizabethan playwright and possible spy, Christopher Marlowe.
You couldn’t be a spy if you wore this scent. Not at all. It rushes at you at 100mph as soon as you spritz it and swallows you in its miasma. The start of the scent is very sweet and has this old fashioned vibe about it. You may like it if you’re one of those people who longs for those days when a few drops of perfume could knock a room full of people unconscious. It has that sense of pomp and grandiosity about it, and definitely isn’t one for people who like fresh, citrusy smells or who are put off by things which smell overly sweet or even – dare we say it – sickly.
Loads of osmanthus and tuberose come screaming from the bottle as soon as it is unleashed, and they’re really dry, really powdery. The osmanthus is on the more floral side, but at the same time it has this interesting nuance which is like the sensation of smelling fruit that is so overripe that it has started to ferment. You can feel it right at the back of the tongue when you inhale.
There’s a moment in the top of the scent when this smells like the perfumer has distilled old ladies, resplendent with a urine-like note as well. Whilst there’s not that much in the listed notes that would necessarily make you file it in the ‘challenging’ bracket straight away, in wearing it we found it to definitely be a perfume with a distinct and large personality which won’t appeal to everyone. That said, if you like things on the more indolic side of the florals then it’s definitely worth you having a try of this one too.
Once you have recovered and adjusted from the assault of the top, the perfume settles into a dry, floral rhythm. It’s very soapy, and reminded us distinctly of violets and Imperial Leather soap – probably from all the ground-up old ladies that surely must be one of the key ingredients in this.
We couldn’t exactly discern apricot in the heart, but the perfume smells like the texture of apricot skin. If that even makes sense. It has this furry, dry, velvety quality. That just does not quit. And you get the sense that if you licked it it would make your tongue feel really funny.
Marlowe is much less violent in it’s heart and the flourish with which it entered the stage begin to calm and slow down a little.
The base continues very much in the same vein: sweet, dry, floral. Hints of perfumers leather sneaks in at times, but it’s that kind of high-concept leather that isn’t entirely like the real thing. It’s fizzy and has far too much energy for real leather nuances.
The first few times we tested this scent, we didn’t understand the links to Christopher Marlowe, but by the third or fourth test we sort of did. Marlowe evokes that grand-costume-and-powdered-hair type era. It is theatrical and overblown. It has a definite and distinct personality. It smells of various shades of pink, white and violet and it really does not waiver from that path throughout.
The other stuff
The sillage and longevity of the scent are really weird. Both seem to fade quite quickly, but then seem to come back again stronger. A couple of times testing we wrote in our notes that it quit by lunch, but then after a walk outside it’s there again, as strong as ever. Perhaps it’s a scent that it’s possibly to adjust to and once you’ve adjusted you tend to filter it out more? Who knows. But it doesn’t behave as typically as other scents we have tried – the loss of energy as the perfume evaporates isn’t quite as straight forward.
It’s really hard to pin Marlowe to a specific gender either. We can imagine it appealing to those who like Suede Osmanthe by Parfumerie Generale, but it does have this old-lady, distinctly feminine vibe too. All we can say is try it and let us know what you think.
Marlowe by Jardins d’Ecrivains is priced at £85 for 100ml EdP. It’s available from Bloom Perfumery London who very generously provided us with a sample of this scent to review. You can also buy it directly from the Jardins d’Ecrivains website where it is €85 for the same size bottle.