Spiced jus noire. 15th March 2006
Dew - for a rare bloom in Russe.
Now, forever young.
Name: Youth Dew House: Estee Lauder
Launched: 1953 Family: Spicy (Balsamic) Oriental
Fruity, Floral, Warm, Spicy, and Balsamic, Estée Lauder Youth Dew, is a deep, feminine and undoubtedly sexy fragrance. The scent has a sharp, bright spicy fruit top note of Aldehydes, Bergamot oil, Orange, Peach, Spice Notes, and Geranium, which thicken, growing richer and spicier in the dense, sultry floral heart notes of Cassis, Cinnamon, Clove, Jasmine, Orchid, Rose, Narcissus, Ylang-Ylang, before lingering on the skin with sensual balsamic base notes of Amber, Benzoin, Cedar, Oakmoss, Oilbanum, Patchouli, Peru Balsam, Tolu Balsam, Vanilla, Civet, and Vetiver.
Launched at a time when it was not the ‘done ‘ thing for respectable women to buy (or wear) perfume for themselves and compounded by the fact they had little money to spend on perfume – Estée Lauder’s Youth Dew is unique in that it was originally marketed and sold as a lady’s ‘personal grooming’ bath oil. Coupled with this brilliant marketing was the fact that the oil was an unusual deep brown colour which added to its ‘oriental’, sensual, exoticism.
Another boost to the legend of Youth Dew came from the very famous Hollywood actress Dolores del Rio, who declared that brushing your hair with Youth Dew and then sweeping it all up on top of your head would 'drive men ga-ga'.
Youth Dew is still selling well currently; over 50 years since it was first launched (it was the 4th biggest selling perfume in 1989). Created by Estée Lauder in 1953, Youth Dew is recommended as an evening fragrance.
The Eau de Parfum bottle is reminiscent of the neat, feminine fashions which prevailed at the time of its launch – a softly gathered, pleated hourglass silhouette ‘dress’ with a small cinched waist, sweetly accented by a delicate gold bow. In contrast the pure parfum comes in a compact, heavy glass square bottle filled with the potent black treacle coloured essence, topped by a stopper shaped like a simple daisy - very delicate and feminine but at the same time, somehow sinister – like some ancient precious amphora containing deadly Belladonna.
My mother wore Youth Dew as her only signature (Holy Grail) for the majority of my life, so it is a very special, evocative scent for me but not one that I can personally wear comfortably that often. So I sadly retired it to the ‘much admired but just doesn’t work with my chemistry’ home for (a rare number of) perfumes, even though I have and enjoy many other ‘powerhouse’ classic perfumes. Not one to give up, especially knowing as I do that it can take several attempts before a perfume and person ‘click’ - I sampled this again earlier this year. I wrote:
"This stormy January morning, extra cold and hailing from a grey & sullen sky, Youth Dew revealed its true beauty to me. For a brief time, like a shaft of sunlight breaking through the clouds I was enfolded in a beautiful aromatic cloud of cool musk, rich deep spices with a hint of roses. The whole was warm, womanly, powerful and totally unforgettable. And all this came from the barest kiss of an application - a half 'spritz' upon each wrist and above the heart. Alas, as the sun warmed the sky and the storm cleared, the moment passed. I was left once again wondering why this just didn't work for me even though I love all of the listed notes / ingredients. Sniffing the bottle I immediately think of EL Cinnabar but this is also reminiscent of Donna Karan Black Cashmere and is a sharper, deeper, less softly floral version of YSL Opium EDT to my nose. It is probably quite similar to Opium EDP. I think this shall have to be one of my deep winter scents, when it is frightfully cold and grey, for me to get the full benefits of this truly classic and individual fragrance. Or I might layer it with one of my musk oils to soften the fragrance. For the real woman, not afraid of her own strength, beauty and sexuality - I recommend! "
Although it does not have to be stormy or snowing this is still my cold weather winter scent. Carnation (a major note in this perfume) tends to meld with my skin very closely and 'disappear' which is why on warmer days I don't get the full beauty that others rave about. I think my skin needs to be cool, occasionally warmed by gentle exertion for the carnation and therefore Youth Dew to shine. That amazing balsamic carnation, geranium and rose over raw animalic amber with rich, mellow, oriental spices is totally amazing and incredibly sensual.
To me it is Yves Saint Laurent Opium amplified - but for all the right reasons. Youth Dew has the courage of its convictions - a rich, dense, opiate of a scent. Spicy, rich and totally feminine when wafting up tantalisingly from within thick winter layers.
I think part of my problem with Estée Lauder perfumes is how they ‘blend’ their scents. I find there is something 'coarse,’ 'jagged' and ‘unfinished’ in their structure with a rawness (when sniffed from the bottle and first applied) that can put me off.
UPDATE: Since first posting this review, my love and appreciation of Youth Dew has grown and blossomed. This was aided by the discovery of the beauty that is the original bath oil. For those who find the harsh, raw aldehydic opening of the EDP and parfum too much to endure, the bath oil is the perfect introduction / gateway to this uncompromising scent. Just a few drops in the bath is enough to scent you lightly all over for the entire day. It is this method of application that helps to reveal the oddly pristine, clean linen accords which are usually shrouded by the overt aldehydes and spice. The bath oil is wonderfully smooth and almost vanillic. A tiny drop applied to the wrists and stomach is enough to surround you in a delicate seductive veil of exotica. This is a great way of wearing the scent in warmer weather also. Finally, my genes have come home to roost and I am now happy to have this beauty as a staple in my perfume repetoire.
YSL, Opium (1977)
Estée Lauder, Cinnabar(1978)
Caron, Poivre (1954)
Karl Lagerfeld, KL (1982)
Christian Dior, Dioressence (1970)
Basile, Basile (1987)
Clinique, Aromatics Elixir (1987)
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