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

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

Fidji by Guy Laroche


Post by Azar



Sometimes it is difficult for me to keep an open mind about a new fragrance. I become so attached to my familiar favorites that I tend to create a set of almost moral value judgments regarding what is “good” or “bad” about a perfume. As a result I don’t step out of my fragrance comfort zone long enough to expand my horizons. Whenever this starts to happen I remind myself of the day I discovered Fidji.

Fidji by Josephine Catapano for Guy Laroche 1966

Fidji Guy Laroche FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Iris, galbanum, hyacinth, lemon, bergamot, tuberose
Heart: Carnation, rose, jasmine, violet, ylang-ylang, cloves, aldehydes, spices, orris
Base: Musk, patchouli, sandalwood, amber, vetiver, oakmoss, resins

In 1975 (or so) my ex and I arranged a ski vacation for the two of us and several friends to Cervinia, the resort on the Italian side of the Matterhorn (Monte Cervino). Our “crowd”, a group of skiers from Tehran, was used to the high and powdery slopes of Dezin (3,600 m) and to the steep, icy, difficult runs of nearby Shemshak. Cervinia, with its long, easy and open pistes at altitudes of up to 3,833 m, seemed like great fun and the perfect ski destination. Counter to expectations, we arrived to an unseasonably warm January in Italy. While the snow was abundant, if a bit soggy on the upper slopes, we had to negotiate rocks and even patches of grass as we approached the base. But all was not lost! We headed for the restaurants, discos and shops. It was there in the mountains, in a small boutique on a snow-covered corner of Cervinia that I met and fell madly for the perfume love of my life, Guy Laroche Fidji.

Fidji Guy Laroche Cervina Italy Fidji Guy Laroche Cervina Italy Leosetä FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

My first impression of Fidji was shocking and green. I had been brought up on various Lanvin, as well as on Shalimar and Jungle Gardenia. My Persian perfume oils were all roses, jasmine and musks from the bazaars of Tehran and Mashhad.

Fidji‘s top notes of galbanum and hyacinth, while totally Persian in character and production, combined with what I later learned was bergamot and lemon to create a scent so fresh and sharp that it was almost painful and nearly took my breath away. I was stunned and didn’t like it at all. I purchased a brown cashmere sweater and a ski “suit” and left the shop, compulsively sniffing my wrist.

As the perfume dried down in the cold mountain air I was warmed and seduced by jasmine, rose, ylang ylang and a spicy carnation. Later that afternoon I returned to the shop and purchased my first of many 14 ml Fidji parfums. As we danced the night away at the local clubs I could still detect the initial touch of my new fragrance lingering as musk and oakmoss.

Fidji Guy Laroche French Parfum Ad FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Further reading: Perfume Shrine and Yesterdays Perfume
FragranceNet has EdT $40/50ml before coupon
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $3/ml

My initial reaction to and enjoyment of this scent has never faded. This morning when I opened my parfum, I was once again magically transported to Cervinia in the 1970’s. My romance with Fidji is created entirely from my own experience.

Which vintage fragrance has a story you remember every time you smell it?

Azar X

This is a revised, shorter version of a Fidji review Azar wrote for The Fragrant Man