Youth-Dew by Josephine Catapano for Estée Lauder 1955


Post by Trésor


I usually like to begin my reviews with an abstract impression of the fragrance I going to be speaking of, but for a couple of weeks now I have sat in front of my computer and found myself completely unable to articulate my feelings for this fragrance in any way that made a lick of sense. So now, as I sit here at the eleventh hour, I am going to give this another go and see if I can somehow put into words the inimitable mesmerism contained within the omnipotent fumes captured in this murky amber fluid. Youth Dew, the fragrance I consider to be the matriarch of American perfume royalty, here you are again leaving me breathless and without the words to express how I feel about you once more.

Youth-Dew by Josephine Catapano for Estée Lauder 1955

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

The way Youth Dew opens detonates on the skin is simply extraordinary, I can guarantee it is one of the most forcefully dense clouds of fragrance you may ever encounter in your perfume-smelling career. Once the utter onslaught (and I truly mean this in the most complimentary way) of aroma begins to disperse you are greeted with a visceral symphony of resins which seem to swallow the light like some phantasmic quasar. The resins have this incredible sequence of olfactory motion that to my nose resembles the collapse of a star in a continuous loop, imploding and exploding in brilliant succession. As the composition progresses rich and sensuous spices begin to unfold like a blanket of scintillating stars splashed across a mahogany sky, meteor showers of cinnamon and clove raining down from above and setting the atmosphere alight with their luminous eruptions. Though not listed in notes I detect the obvious presence of leather, perhaps it’s just my imagination running wild but I swear I can smell it. The fragrance lives in this state for quite some time until it begins to morph once more into a luxuriant accord of liquid amber infused with vanilla that’s been drizzled atop the smouldering remains of the resins which preceded. It is in this stage where Youth Dew finally begins its lengthy (and I so mean lengthy) decent into a redolent hum of amorphous warmth hovering just above the skin.

YouthDewInstaPhoto Donated Trésor

Now, onto longevity and sillage. Oh, boy. The sillage on Youth Dew is….enormous, incredibly so. You will be noticed and people will be able to smell you a continent over if you are the slightest bit overzealous with application. A wonderful tip for calming the monster that is Youth Dew’s gargantuan aura is to take a tiny bit, mix it with a fragrance free oil (I find a bit of fractionated coconut does the trick nicely) and apply as you would any other body oil.

Youth-Dew Ad Estée Lauder FragranticaPhoto stolen Fragrantica

As for longevity, I am almost certain that this fragrance just fuses with your DNA and will never truly disappear. In my attempts to review I have worn Youth Dew a number of times over the past couple of weeks and it’s lasted upwards of 18 hours on my skin and strangely enough even though a shower when I chose to be a bit heavy handed. If you are a density junkie like me or simply want to experience what I consider to be one of the very best compositions in American perfumery I urge you to give Youth Dew a try. Even if you don’t like it you will up your fumehead street cred just by having tried it.

Further reading: The Non Blonde and Yesterday’s Perfume
Youth Dew is available in department stores and vintage on Ebay
My Perfume Samples start at $2/ml

What do you feel when you wear Youth Dew? Do you have memories of it on others?
Trésor xxox

18 thoughts on “Youth-Dew by Josephine Catapano for Estée Lauder 1955

  1. Hey there Trésor,
    I love Youth dew in all its forms, even the newer reformulation is good for me though different.
    I love to triple spritz and sit in the for of fume while listening to music. Heaven.
    Portia xx


    • I get on best with the bath oil myself, I’ve never been able to abide by the perfume spray least yet.

      Something in the opening doesn’t work on my skin but the bath oil/extrait de parfum is straight up magic for me all the way through. ❤


  2. Hi Tresor,
    Youth Dew is an old fav of mine too. I use it as you do. This scent is such a monster that I can only apply it as bath oil. It’s not that I don’t love the perfume spray but it seems to permeate everything for many days after even the smallest spritz. I love the majority of Josephine Catapano’s creations, especially vintage Fidji, my first perfume “true love”. Thank you for another fabulous review!
    Azar xx


    • I find I have at least a minuscule degree of control with the bath oil where I just have absolutely none with the EDP. That’s not to say it’s not a masterpiece either but I have just not gotten to a point where I can employ it properly myself. I’ve never had the pleasure of trying Fidji! I will seek some out and give it a go.

      My pleasure! I am so happy that you enjoyed it. ❤


  3. This is was my grandmother’s signature scent… so i guess that says everything. It doesn’t matter what i actually think of how it smells- i cannot separate it from her. i have moments of irrational possessiveness when encountered in the street or restaurant (“HOW DARE she wear that!)… which eased considerably with reformulation and reappears when a perfumista has found some of the vintage.

    btw, my grandmother also used the bath oil to downplay the perfume when going to bingo or the grocery store.

    thank you for calling in those memories. ❤


    • I have similar feelings with people wearing Tresor! I think to myself, “that is not YOUR perfume, that is my MOM’S”, luckily it’s one one I run into frequently aside from her of course.

      Your grandmother sounds like she was an amazing woman with exquisite tastes.


  4. My mum and mum-in-law wore this so I don’t.
    I found myself recently following in the footsteps of someone who was wearing Youth Dew. Out on a windy street, looking up the hill and trying to gauge who up ahead had left this scent trail downhill, I could pretty much taste it as I breathed it in – it wasn’t unpleasant, it was instantly recognisable, and it certainly packs a punch!


    • It really does have some OOMPH! Certainly not one to choose if you’re looking for a delicate and airy delight. Youth Dew is a proper perfume and everyone around you will smell it.


  5. Well. You captured Youth Dew spot on. The only thing missing was a photo of an atom bomb or nuclear explosion to illustrate the power of this unctuous mega-juice! (((BOOM)))) and that’s just two drops!


    • Thank you so much, Robert! Hahaha! That really is the perfect visual metaphor for her sillage. I will go nuts and slather it on from time to time only to be radiant with the fumes for the next two days.


  6. Youth-Dew is endlessly fascinating isn’t it? Not just the scent, but the advertising, the reputation … The stuff is addictive and therein lies the problem – overuse.

    I only use the bath oil and I only use it AS bath oil. In the winter, it makes such a great stress buster. The explosion of scent as you add a few drops to running water is just extraordinary.


  7. I am really fond of the Youth Dew body cream too! It’s an ideal wear to get the effect of Youth Dew without having the neighbours needing move to a hotel until the sillage dies down.


  8. This was my first perfume! My mother gave it to me when I was 14. Perhaps she had the name a little confused! I can’t say that I wore it very often, but I certainly treasured it. I wish I had kept the bottle. I can’t wait to give my daughter her first bottle of perfume.


    • That’s so beautiful, Hannah! Thank you for sharing. I have wondered that if I ever have children what fragrance I would love to give to them as their first and the one that always comes to mind is Guerlain’s Apres l’Ondee.


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