Youth-Dew by Joséphine Catapano for Estée Lauder 1953


Post by Anne-Marie


Youth-Dew by Joséphine Catapano for Estée Lauder 1953

Sometimes, a smear of Youth-Dew bath oil is all I need. Classic fragrances like this offer not just grandeur and glamour, but a sense of completeness. Symphonically rich, they unfurl their loveliness hour after hour and complete your day with a contented smile as they fade away.

Youth-Dew by Estée Lauder 1953

Youth-Dew by Joséphine Catapano

Youth-Dew Estée Lauder FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, orange, spices, peach, bergamot, narcissus, lavender
Heart: Cinnamon, cassia, orchid, jasmine, cloves, ylang-ylang, rose, lily-of-the-valley, spicy notes
Base: Tolu balsam, Peru balsam, amber, patchouli, musk, vanilla, oakmoss, vetiver, incense

At the jump you can read a lovely APJ review of Youth-Dew

What always intrigues me is the divided reputation that Youth-Dew has. ‘Putrid!’ some people cry. ‘Offensive!’ say others. ‘Nasty old lady!’.

I don’t mind if people dislike Youth-Dew. We can’t all be the same. But that ‘old lady’ tag that really annoys. It’s not just that some people are apparently unable to imagine a day when they, too, might be old. It also suggests that in western societies we harbour a deep-seated disdain – almost fear – of the elderly woman as a cultural figure. She’s a witch. She’s a harpy. She is a threat. She smells.

It’s ironic for a fragrance called ‘Youth-Dew’. Famously, it was released originally as a bath oil apparently in the hope that women who were tired of waiting for their menfolk to buy them perfume would happily buy a bathroom product for themselves. Within that innocent, bathroom-blue packaging lies a deep, dark scent of considerable allure if you can pull it off.

Youth-Dew Estée Lauder Gerome_baigneuses WikiCommonsPhoto Stolen WikiCommons

An early ad for Youth-Dew features a naked sylph of a woman about to step into a marble-edged bath, and we are encouraged to ‘Know the secret of the bath’. A later ad featured the divine Pauline Porizkova dressed for evening, and it proclaims Youth-Dew as ‘Simply the sexiest fragrance ever’.

Youth-Dew Estée Lauder Fragrantica 1Ads Stolen FragranticaYouth-Dew Estée Lauder Fragrantica 2

Youth-Dew is so good it is not surprising that women have taken it as a signature scent. ‘Women still like to feel beautiful, pampered and loved, and that is what Youth-Dew is all about’, said Estee Lauder. She respected her customers, and for their loyalty gave them fragrances that were great value for money. A few dabs or sprays would last all day.

So, perhaps it’s inevitable after all that we associate Youth-Dew with older women. Although my mother’s signature scent was Yardley’s April Violets, in her late 50s she took up Youth-Dew with a passion. Dear reader, never were there two fragrances more different than April Violets and Youth-Dew, but Mum must have loved Youth-Dew because she went through several bottles of the oil before finally reverting to her old favourite.

Youth-Dew Estée Lauder Knut_Ekwall WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Me, I’ve given away my bottle of the spray perfume because it’s just too opulent for daily use, and the bath oil will do me. A few drops in a hot running bath is the best form of winter stress relief I know, bar none.

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Yesterday’s Perfume
FragranceNet has $41/70ml before Coupon
My Perfume Samples starts at $2/ml

Over to you. Worn any ‘old lady’ fragrances lately??

And keep spraying ‘til next time!

Anne-Marie xx

5 comments on “Youth-Dew by Joséphine Catapano for Estée Lauder 1953

  1. australianperfumejunkies says:

    One of my all time favourites Anne-Marie,
    thank you so much for reviewing it. I needed a reminder to grab it out of the box and spritz it through these chilly winter days.
    Portia xx

  2. einsof says:

    while this may serve to prove some sort of old-lady association, Youth Dew was my grandmother’s signature scent- which went way beyond the bath.

    but it’s not her AGE that it brings to mind, but her singular focus on elegance, manners and so very many secrets hidden in the powder puff and siren song allure of her cosmetics.

    one may be allowed to sit still and watch her apply loose powder, but no one (?) ever saw her without the rest- as if she was born with those ruby lips and perfectly lined eyes. yes, loose powder and a spritz (ignore the candle, the shower and bath products, the body lotion and whatever else Estee was offering that season) can doo all this… and if you spray it on your nightgown and hair cap- it probably made you go to the hairdresser less.

    always love peoples thoughts on Youth Dew. THANK YOU!

    • annemariec says:

      Lovely! What I especially love are the memories that Youth Dew evokes. Those wonderful rituals of applying powder and perfume are so sensual. Your grandmother sounds like a elegant lady indeed!

  3. Sun Mi says:

    Dear Anne-Marie,

    I don’t know what Youth Dew smells like (though there are several bottles on clearance at my local Marshalls), but if it is in fact, an old-fashioned smell then it probably isn’t the best fit for me. 🙂 I really struggle to appreciate a lot of what are considered ‘old lady’ scents (looking at you practically-every-chanel), but not because I have any disdain for older ladies! I just find a lot of them to be so strong, and I succumb to scent induced headaches pretty easily. But perhaps in time I will learn to love them too. Based on what I read on some facebook groups, anyone that can’t appreciate the classics is clearly an imbecile. 🙂

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