Super Scent is here! In case you missed my little teaser on Friday, Super Scent is a new, list-based series run in conjunction with my blogging comrade, Persolaise. In each instalment we will each be giving a run down of what we consider to be the very best scents available from a particular, well-known brand. The idea is to individually rank our top offerings and marvel at how similar or different they are. We also hope that you will chime in with your top fragrances from each brand in these posts too!
We are kicking off the series with one of the biggest players in the perfume world – Estée Lauder. Now, Lauder’s name has been on the lips of a many perfume lover of late, mainly due to the fact that they have famously bought out the venerable houses of Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, but we’re not here to talk about that ¹. No, we’re here to take a look at just a small selection of some of the brand’s very own fragrances. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the Estée Lauder edition of Super Scent – a run down of my five favourite Lauder scents from five to one. Oh and click here, to check out Persolaise’s list too.
Let’s kick off with entry number 5: Knowing. I knew Knowing before I managed to get my nose on it as a fragrance freak. That is to say that, the minute I got a sample and smelled it, I knew that I had known it before. My memory isn’t crystal clear, but for some reason it reminds me of play school, so I can only assume that one of the supervisory adults rocked it with reckless abandon (which makes sense seeing as it came one year after I was born). Kudos to her if she did – Knowing is bold and strapping. Oh and boy, is it powerful!
I see Knowing as a mossy rose chypre, and it possess all three of these elements in huge amounts. It’s as mossy as a graveyard, as rosy as a huge climbing bush of roses and as chypre-esque as a fragrance can be. Together, these three facets make for a luminous fragrance that is fruity and rosy, with dark, mossy undertones. It may take a lot to wear Knowing today (it certainly feels a tad dated in this day and age) but it doesn’t take much to feel a sense of respect for this olfactory legend. They really don’t get bigger and bolder than this.
No Estée Lauder list would be complete without Youth-Dew. Originally created in 1953 as a bath oil, it is rumoured that Ms. Lauder dropped a bottle on the floor of a famous department store to convince them to stock it. People have loved and used Youth-Dew in its many incarnations ever since (remember that Amber Nude version under Tom Ford’s direction? Oh me, oh my, that was good), and it’s easy to see why.
Youth-Dew is a balsamic oriental rich in spice and patchouli. Even in its Eau de Parfum incarnation it feels oily and heady. Everything about it is so complex – there’s the sourness of patchouli, the herbaceous fizz of lavender, the heady hot quality of jonquil and jasmine, and the earthy tones of moss. Youth-Dew is exotic and more than just a little bit erotic. That’s right, you heard me, this is a sexy fragrance and sure, it may trouble you to think that your Grandma bathed in it but remember, this just makes her a classy dame with a great taste in scent. A big thumbs up for her.
Beyond Paradise seems to divide opinion, which, if you ask me, is the mark of a good fragrance. In Perfumes The Guide, Luca Turin bestows it with a full five-stars, remarking that it “hits to perfection the dappled, fresh light of early morning shining on the sort of impossible garden that Swedenborg would have seen in visions and described in detail.” Swedish scientists and Turin-esque hyperbole aside, Beyond Paradise is a masterful example of a tropical floral bouquet that doesn’t really smell of flowers, at least of any that are identifiable in nature. Although, not everybody agrees.
Created by Calice Becker in 2003, Beyond Paradise is a whirlwind of floral facets whipped together to create a new, alien bloom. It picks the best part of a variety of flowers with creamy, honeyed, green, pollen-like and indolic facets all coming together. Beyond Paradise is an enveloping clean air from a field of rainbow flowers. It is lush tropical greenery and hot, humid blooms. More so than any other fragrance, Beyond Paradise is transportive. It takes you to the lush rainforests of the moon Pandora as seen in James Cameron’s Avatar (a reference that I know for a fact will annoy Persolaise…) – all you have to do is lay back and revel in the vibrancy of the bioluminescent scenery.
Seeing as I’m a sucker for a white floral (tuberose and gardenia in particular), it’s no surprise that Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia sits near the top of this list. This is, hands down, one of the very best renditions of gardenia on the market (more on the note of gardenia in the coming weeks…). Few fragrances truly capture in entirety, the mushroomy and blue cheese-esque goodness of the elusive flower, but PCTG has it in spades.
This is a fully fleshed out floral with the green, ripe quality of tuberose contrasted by the overripe and decaying feel of gardenia – all with a touch of jasmine thrown in to link it together. As it dries down, PCTG’s creamy tones become more plush thanks to the gorgeous, velvety texture of vanilla. The whole thing feels classy, timeless and entirely in tune with the Lauder brand. In short, PCTG is a highly commendable piece of work that should be a little bit more well known, and well loved. I wouldn’t be without it.
I will freely admit that I am entirely biased when it comes to Beautiful, it is after all, the scent of my mother and as a true perfume lover (and gay son) cliché (of which I am a walking example) I simply cannot have a soft spot for it. All bias aside though, Beautiful is a euphorically glorious creation that gushes forth with an abstract floral bouquet that is, well, simply beautiful. Created by Sophia Grojsman in 1985, Beautiful boasts of heady whirlwind of flowers with lily, tuberose, marigold, orange flower, ylang ylang, muguet and jasmine coming together to create a new, golden flower with an aldehydic sheen.
So yes, Beautiful is indeed, beautiful, but what makes it top my list, I hear you ask. Well, the answer is simple: Beautiful is a perfectly constructed fragrance that, from top to bottom, displays expert precision. It has everything a good fragrance needs; orchard crisp citrus and gleaming aldehydes up top, an abstract bouquet with sweetness, richness and depth in the heart, and finally, a mossy, woody base that softly whispers in the manner of a classic chypre. Beautiful is as close to perfection as fragrance gets. Plus, it ticks that most important of perfume boxes – it smells amazing.
Join the Discussion!
So, there you have it! The first instalment in the Super Scent series and a rundown of my favourite fragrances from the legendary house of Estée Lauder. Don’t forget to head on over to Persolaise to see his list, and definitely don’t forget to leave your personal top 5 Lauder perfumes in the comments box below!
¹ For what it’s worth, I don’t see Lauder’s purchase of Malle and Le Labo as negative. They’ve done great things with Jo Malone London and they’ve built a very successful brand with Tom Ford. Not to mention the fact that they themselves have a very good back catalogue of fragrances, of which they have been very respectful. So yes, I’m staying optimistic.