Jardins D’Écrivains Marlowe perfume was named for playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe. I know little about Mr. Marlowe, his life or work, but "his" perfume smells like a memorial: it's antique, faded.
When I first read Marlowe's listed ingredients, "opulent" osmanthus, "poisonous" tuberose, "tragic" dried flowers, myrrh, elemi, oak moss, labdanum, "tonkin" musk and leather, I expected a rich, syrupy brew, dense and enveloping. Not so! Marlowe smells like a waxy wooden armoire (stuffed with winter-weight wool, velvet and silk clothing, old leather boots and belts) that's been opened after a hot summer. These clothes and the person who wore them are from a pre-dry-cleaning age; the clothes retain the aromas of dried sweat and tears, powders and pomades and musks. Tossed into the armoire are slivers of stale soap, bundles of dried flowers, and a few clove-studded orange pomanders on the verge of disintegration. Together, these scents produce a strange, almost-spooky smell I associate with death; not flesh-and-blood or mortuary death, but the sensation one gets when opening a trunk full of ancient items that belonged to a dead person (the attic in my childhood home in Virginia was full of such trunks).
I'm not going to discuss fragrance notes or head/heart/base structure here, because the perfume is what it is — from the very start: a blend of notes that reminds me of withered bouquets (turning to powder), salty human scent, musty leathers. Marlowe also reminds me of Jardins d'Écrivains' last offering, Junky, but "cleaner." It also brought to mind, gulp, Etat Libre d'Orange Sécrétions Magnifiques (but with the sécrétions dried and aged). I felt a sense of unease-quease while wearing Marlowe; I was fascinated by it but at the same time I wanted to wash it off. As always, don't dismiss a perfume based on my reaction; I thank the perfumer and Jardins d'Écrivains for making thought-worthy, unconventional fragrances. If I ever dress up in drag for Halloween, I'll be Elvira, Lily Munster or Morticia Addams...and drench myself in Marlowe.
Jardins d'Écrivains Marlowe Eau de Parfum Mixte (unisex) is $110 for 100 ml. For buying information, see the listing for Jardins d'Écrivains under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.