Bees for beginners… Sensuous by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter 


She woke slumped upon the floor in her spare room, surrounded by leaves and lengths of paper, some floral scented some still smelling of wood pulp and printer ink.

It was Saturday and she at once sensed that the weather was much colder.

Outside, the early Summer had evaporated and though the sunshine persisted, the warmth that she had in such a short time become accustomed to had deserted her.

She could, of course, as was her custom, seek solace from loneliness in work.

Make the journey back to her wood panelled rooms overlooking the magnolia grandiflora at the gates to Gray’s Inn and find company in legal cases filled with people and their problematic lives.

Practicing family law part time and at weekends, she found she need never truly be alone.

Walking past the bowler hatted beadle at the entrance to the Inn a doubt like a tick twisted at the corner of her right eye: was this the right thing to do? To run away from her woes at home and seek shelter in lives on paper more troubled than her own?

She pushed against the heavy door to chambers, it gave its usual resistance and then gave way begrudgingly, as if it admitted her against its better judgment.

She was met with an overpowering almost sickly smell of lilies.

The vast flower arrangement in reception had turned slightly stale after week of greeting unhappy clients cheerily.

The smell, though not entirely unpleasant, at this moment literally repulsed her, pushed her from the room with a force that felt physical.

She closed the door quickly, putting herself on the outside and lent breathing deeply, as though from a struggle, against the oak aperture to prevent it so she thought from opening of its own accord or the aroma escaping.

She looked around, there was no one.

Regaining a degree of composure, she drifted across the courtyard to the gardens they all knew as ‘The Walks’.

She fully expected the great wrought iron gates to be closed against her as they always were, excepting weekday lunchtimes when they were opened to allow solicitors and their sandwiches to litter the vast lawns.

Yet when she touched the turned metal to get a feel for its cold resistance, she found that they were, in fact, unlocked and for a reason she could not place felt a surge of exhilaration, liberation even run through her.

Without hesitation she squeezed open a small gap and snuck herself through.

To avoid discovery she veered away from the avenue of plane trees and limes that made up the ceremonial centrepiece of the park.

As she did she noted the soft arboreal smell that the day, now warming, was bringing forth.

At first she thought the buzz was in her head.

She had suffered migraines lately and fretted for a moment that this might be their latest manifestation.

Soon she realised that the sound was real and came from without herself.

It was coming from the side of Verulam Buildings, the vast block of Georgian domestic architecture that closed off this little world from the busy streets beyond.

She walked towards the noise, not really knowing why, a lawyer’s inquisitiveness, perhaps.

She was startled, when a tall figure dressed entirely in white with what appeared to be a black hood on stepped out from the shade.

Her earlier excitement morphed quickly into mild panic. She turned and was about to run.

“Watch out!” it was a man’s voice, well spoken, sonorous, resonant.

“They’re pretty mad and might sting. I’ve been interfering with them you see.”

He laughed, and backing off hastily she joined him in his chuckle: he was a bee keeper.

Through his guffaws he held aloft a honeycomb with gleeful gusto as if to prove the point.

This boy like pride and the intoxicating sweet animal smell of the nectar had her in paroxysms.

So much so that she barely noticed him replace the slide into the hive and walk over to her.

Close up, with the netting removed to reveal a tanned, asymmetrical but not unattractive face, he smelt not only of the bees and their secretions but of his own sweat.

To go with the sweetness there was a salty, not entirely clean scent about him.

It was, she thought, an honest smell, bought with physical labour and passion.

“Are you the volunteer?” he asked with a smile.

She knew much depended on her answer, and the mistakes that she had made before came instantly to mind.

“Yes. Yes, I am…. I’m the volunteer.”

“What brings you to bees?”

She thought briefly but deeply and then settled with a profound certainty on her answer.

“I admire their industriousness.”

Estee Lauder’s Sensuous is a fragrance of great but delayed gratification.

At first this aroma can seem like a sugary floral synthetic aimed cynically at a sweet toothed teen market.

There is much more and of worth to be found here.

At its core this is a decidedly, deliciously unwholesome honey more sexual than simply sensuous in its animal intensity.

Things, though, do not start off so well.

The opening is a rather obvious concoction of magnolia, jasmine and mainly lily into a sad generic floral accord, which with the first clean notes of natural sugar can be cloying.

This effect, however, passes quickly with the introduction of ylang ylang and an off-beat sandalwood and amber that sees the composition gain both complexity and depth.

There is an exotic almost hothouse feel to this element of the fragrance, reminiscent of botanical gardens and indoor palms.

This too develops as the rich honeycomb core, tempered not only with the salt of the amber but also a little black pepper, comes very much to the fore.

It is an intense and prolonged note, persisting well into drydown that succeeds magnificently in conveying a sense of bees the beast as well as their sweet secretions.

Sensuous is ultimately a heady, sweaty, swept of one’s feet sort of a perfume, that admirably escapes the realms of cheap romantic fiction by means of its visceral, animal honesty.

Men and women both make wonderful apiarists.

Now, far be it for The Dandy to direct your reading, dear friends, but today’s reflections may make a little more sense in the context of this week’s reviews of Tresor by Lancome and Stella by Stella McCartney… just a thought.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy



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16 responses to “Bees for beginners… Sensuous by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter 

  1. How I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED this story!!!!

    Funny, but I have been inadvertently boycotting EL (last bottle bought in 96 of Pleasures) as I was perturbed they disturbed my Aliage…..but after this review my next trip to the local mall I will surely give this one a whirl !

    thank you, Mr. Dandy for this wonderful story!

    • Dear Brie
      Thank you so much. The Dandy is blushing.
      Just a quick word of warning, if you thought they’d tampered with Aliage before, don’t go near the new ‘Alliage’… it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just an entirely different perfume.
      Do try Sensuous, I’d be fascinated to know your thoughts, as just like the heroine of our tale, I haven’t made my mind up about the beekeeper yet!!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Lilybelle

    Wonderful! Bravo!! Mr. Dandy, I am well and truly hooked. I’m not a TV person, but I cannot miss an installment HERE. I tried Sensuous several years ago when it was released and it was a bit too much for me at that time, but I will sample it again soon to see whether I get the bees and the honey. Back then I thought “sugar dusted woods”. I did buy Sensuous Nude, but it’s hit or miss with me, and I never know which it’s going to be so it has been pushed to the back. Back to those bees: I’ve always had a fantasy about keeping bees. I think that it is a calling, though. I think one has to have a gift for it, like dowsing for water with a willow branch, or horse whispering. Anyway, I think those two ^^^ might become friends…if the bees accept her. Great installment! 🙂

    • Dearest Lily
      To be honest, Sensuous is a bit too much… but that’s rather what The Dandy likes about it!
      I find that instead of getting overly sweet the honey becomes at first slightly animalic, which I suppose is as it should be, and then woody.
      All in all it’s quite an unusual perfume to my nose: it obviously has commercial intentions to cash in on the sugar floristry that has been so successful in recent years and then something seems to go magically awry, which is all the better for us.
      I would give it another go, but equally I can imagine that this is one that will divide.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Love is in the air. Or at least something akin to it for our hierone. And a few sings too perhaps. I am spellbound by the telling of this tale and intrigued by the perfume as well. Bravo dear friend.

  4. rosestrang

    I love these short imaginative stories, I’d choose them any day over Turin’s lukewarm reviews! I’ve never been much of an Estee Lauder fan, but I love the idea of lily, sandalwood and honey, sounds delicious but now I’ll know to wait for the drydown. I’m off to look at Tresor now, which I missed,,

    • Dear Rose
      Thank you!
      Sensuous is not a typical Estee, insofar as my experience goes. I’m not sure if it has been a hit for them and either way (star or siinking without trace) it would not surprise me.
      It’s certainly worth sampling as I sensed something a little out of the ordinary going on, whether it would stand up to repeat wearing I’m not so sure…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. She’s back! And, very welcome. I wonder… from barrister to beekeeper to… Who wouldn’t be captivated by “visceral, animal honesty.” Love this ongoing series!

    • Dearest V
      The Dandy has reached a stage where he too is quite curious as to what will happen to our heroine… but leave her, for the timebeing at least, we must, for things take a different turn next week.
      I hope you get a chance to sample this one and when doing so try to think not only of honey but of the little beasts who made it.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  6. Cairo Rose

    I have been meaning to try this perfume for ages and the sister fragrance Noir as well. But sadly EL is not widely available here in Cairo so I am patiently reading your intriguing reviews until summer comes to sweep me home. Sensuous sounds rather ravishing indeed! Earnestly awaiting the next adventure of this lovely heroine.

    • Dearest Cairo
      I have a feeling that you will like this, in fact The Dandy thought off you when he sampled it!!
      Though it’s not listed, there is something here that makes me think of lotus flower and thence of course your trips to the Khan al Khalili bazaar to by the perfumed oil of the same.
      I trust all is well with you and that it will not be too long before you can try your beloved Estees again.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. I have to go to the mall today, which I hate doing, so I’ll console myself with a mission to try Sensuous. Dearest Dandy, I have a request.I want you to try the old Agent Provocateur Maitresse. I just got a sample and was very surprised how much I liked it, but there is little love for it in the blogs. To me it seems pleasant, none too complex, but highly wearable. I would love to get your input one way or the other, not that I will change my wearing habits (!) but I would like to know if this is just an anomaly of my own nose and skin.

    • Dear Feral

      I say!! A musky floral aldehyde with suede on the side… that does sound delicious.
      I have added to The Dandy’s ever expanding list, and hopefully others will support this one too as it is something I’d be very interested to wear.
      Discontinued I presume?
      If so, I shall put the feelers out right away…
      By the way I don’t think I properly welcomed you to The Dandy’s… do make yourself at home won’t you!?!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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