I am disappointed to see the formulaic, reactive, and immature comments on this fragrance, along the lines of "old granny juice", "stinky and outdated", etc. While we may not find the style of a particular perfume particularly timely, according to fashion, shouldn't we, as perfume "experts", look beyond the style of the time to the craftsmanship, raw materials, and spirit of the scent? I am lucky enough to work in a perfume shop where I champion the personal choice of each customer-the scent that makes him or her feel splendid. Of course, not all of these scents are equally crafted, at least in my mind, but who is one to critique the taste of another in perfume? (ala Underglass' review)
Youth Dew was EL's first perfume, introduced as a perfumed bath oil in 1953. During the war, perfumes were not commonly available, but bath oils were-so EL smartly created something familiar in form-if not in scent-to American women. She also told her audience of post WW2 customers that she had based this scent on a perfume her uncle had created for a Russian princess. This was quite a romantic image for a post-war suburban woman (of course, princesses did not exist in Communist Russia, making this fantasy politically acceptable as well). It was a smash success, and put the name Estee Lauder on American women's lips.
I find Youth Dew beautifully made, and the ingredients of the highest quality, even in the current formulation. Jan Moran provides these detailed fragrance notes in her "Fabulous Fragrances II":
Top Notes: Orange, Bergamot, Peach, spices
Heart notes; Clove, Cinnamon, Cassie, Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Orchid, Jasmine
Base Notes: Franckincense, Amber, Vanilla, Oakmoss, Clove, Musk, Patchouli, Vetiver, spices.
Of course, the Civet and Musk are now synthetic, and the Oakmoss may be too, but still this perfume boasts a preponderance of high quality ingredients, many likely natural in origin, put together in a distinct and timeless manner. Today, I compared the current Pure Fragrance Spray with the current Perfumed Bath Oil. The Bath Oil seems to have changed the least over time, if my memory serves me. It has the linear quailty of an oil, and is dominated primarily by orange, cloves and patchouli. The other notes are there, but in the background...seems like only the strongest survive in the oleo-substrate. The Pure Fragrance Spray has more lift, and goes through the 3 stated stages well. the presence of clove in both the Top and heart Notes makes this the main player in this perfume. The floral heart is beautifully blended, but plays like a background quartet to the smooth tenor of the Clove. Sillage and longevity in the PFS are very good, but no comparison to the Oil, which, if applied on the skin, remains strong and identifiable all day (or rather, night, as YD really is a nighttime fragrance). The Vanilla so discreet in the Oil shows nicely in the Pure Fragrance Spray after about 20 minutes, giving a soft and full quality to the larger than life spices. Both the Oil and the Cologne are soapy in the last stages of the drydown where the vetiver shines through.