There are many mysteries hanging over Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe: Why exactly was he murdered? Why wasn't Rupert Everett credited for playing him in 'Shakespeare In Love'? Why did author Deborah Harkness choose to portray him as a 'daemon', and an evil one at that, in her novel 'Shadow of Night'? And why did perfumer Anaïs Biguine of Jardins d’Ecrivains dedicated an ultra powdery tuberose fragrance to his memory?
I'll start at the end and tell you that I really really enjoy Marlowe. Sometimes despite myself and in spite of a very chaotic development of the perfume. It's messy, for sure, and the note list doesn't make any more sense than the nickname Kit as a shortened version of Christopher. But it comes down to this: give me some narcotic tuberose and I'm yours.
The opening of Jardins d’Ecrivains' Marlowe smells incredibly familiar to me. Not the notes themselves but the effect. I still haven't pinpointed it to one single fragrance, so perhaps it's the soapy aldehydic effect itself (aldehydes aren't listed, but I swear I can smell that fun nose tingle). It's also sweeter than I expected from the initial description. But before long there's the double whammy of brightness and vintage-like animalic heft that grounds the tuberose and makes it a lot more interesting than just as a soliflore. Not that there aren't other effects at play here: osmanthus and myrrh also add their heft and a tactile feel of an antique damask. I want to my palm along the weave and feel the intricate work, trace the pattern and dream of the places it's been and the room it had adorned.
Marlowe is also very powdery. My skin and nose can deal with it, but on the Husband the composition is shockingly flat and sweet. Smelling the fragrance on him made me understand Kafkaesque's scathing review in a way that otherwise would have alluded me. Marlowe works on me (the Blond agrees), but apparently it can also be rather unpleasant. I adore the musky dry-down and the way it seeps into the tuberose syrup making it carnal, slightly decayed, and a touch vampiric. Obviously, I'm projecting, but Marlowe can be terrifically sexy, and that's all I care for. That, and the fact that I let the husband drain the last drop of the sample to confirm how much he dislikes it.
Notes: Tuberose, Osmanthus, Elemi, Myrrh, Dried Flowers, Oakmoss, Labdanum,Tonkin Musk, Leather.
Jardins d’Ecrivains- Marlowe ($110, 100ml eau de parfum) is available from Twisted Lily, Beauty Habit, and Indigo Perfumery. The sample for this review was supplied by Twisted Lily.
Photo of Rupert Everett as Christopher Marlowe in Shakespeare In Love via IMDB.