The Perfumed Dandy’s American Scents: the nineteen50s… Youth Dew by Estee Lauder Ain’t there anyone here for love? 

Jaynes Russell and Mansfield, Diana Dors and Doris Day, Joan Collins to Marylin Monroe and even the young Brigitte Bardot..

“Sex” as Mae West once exploded “Sells!!”

Mrs Estee Lauder new this only too well too…

From the hourglass figure flacon, tied tight at the waist with a bow, to the dirty bourbon colour of the liquid within Youth Dew is silver screen sex appeal made scent 1950s style.

Now in its sixties, some today sniff that this smells like a retirement home, if so those folks are the residents of what must be the happiest sunshine establishment on Earth.

This is not so much a fragrance as a full frontal attack on the olfactory faculties.

‘Oriental’ seems the only appropriate term for a perfume that has a hemisphere’s worth of notes in its all conquering harmony.

Oh yes it’s spicy, but search deeper into its endless depths of draped velvet, damask silks and satin petitcoats and you will find a crinoline like structure of oakmoss, aldehyde, patchouli and gunpowdery powerful musk keeping the whole pavlova like creation on the road.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is some bright falling star, this is one heavenly body that has the staying power to remain a celestial fixture for generations to come.

Quite apart from all aromatic pyrotechnics on show and the oh-so-not-so-subtle double entendre of the name, this immaculate liquor would earn its place at the top of the perfume tree for another reason alone.

Before Youth Dew, American women did not, as a rule, buy perfume.

A lucky few had fragrance bought for them and the rest did without.

Mrs Estee Lauder was not satisfied with this state of affairs and so set about to change it.

Releasing her 1953 fragrance, she executed a coup de parfum that would change the way that scent was sold forever.

By launching Youth Dew both as a perfume and an eminently affordable perfumed bath oil she liberated women by allowing them buy scent by stealth for themselves en masse for the first time.

Once the American woman was hooked on the intoxicating juice there could be, as Estee foretold, no turning back and the the rest as they say is the perfumed past.

So phenomenally important is this famous and infamous fragrance that The Dandy feels a full scented letter is needed to do justice to its incredible life…

A missive has, therefore, been penned and is in the post with a view to being with you shortly.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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30 responses to “The Perfumed Dandy’s American Scents: the nineteen50s… Youth Dew by Estee Lauder Ain’t there anyone here for love? 

  1. Dear Mr Dandy,

    I am fond of Youth Dew, We need more people to wear it. You are quite right of course, it is a collossus that merits its very own missive.

    Your friend

    • Dearest Iscent
      A colossus… the classical allusion is most apt. It they were ever to make a fragrance version of ‘The Clash of The Titans’ this would surely be there battling it out with the other big beasts!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Dear Mr Dandy

    I am very fond of Youth Dew and think more people should wear it (my Mum thinks it’s too old for her at 66!). It is indeed a colossus that merits its own missive.

    Your friend

    • Dearest Iscent
      And yes you are so write about the missive… so happy I at least tried to do the right thing by this old warhorse.
      Oh and tell your mum one is never too old or too young for any perfume!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Lilybelle

    You can’t talk about American fragrance without kudos going to Estee Lauder and Youth Dew. I adore Youth Dew. It doesn’t always love me, but I will always love it. I may go have a dab right now.

    • Dearest Lily
      Youth Dew is a star. I mean and enduring Hollywood legend sort of a star, the kind that last a lifetime… I won;t go on too much as that will give the game away regarding the review.
      In the meatime though… go on… dab a little on!!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        I think I’ll dab it now. I have greet the movers for arrival of stuff. I will meet them in a cloud of Youth Dew. Maybe it will make it all go more quickly! πŸ˜€

      • Dearest Lily
        I imagine that Youth Dew is the kind of scent that makes any event, even the potentially mundane, pas more quickly and with a subtle hint of star quality!!
        Yours ever
        The Pefumed Dandy

  4. A past fixture on my mother’s dressing table … =)

  5. That very clever estee…….

    • Dearest G
      Oh yes. Sage that Mrs Lauder.
      Sneaking perfume into households across America under the guise of humble bathfoam and then once the nation was hooked reeling them in to buy the bona fide fragrance.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  6. beautycalyptique

    I adore Youth Dew! Don’t throw bottles of Britney Spears scents at me, sir, but my first and staying notion as I smelled this for the very first time at the age 16 was “coca cola”. Not in a derogatory sense, no, not at all as it might sound to a refined Nez – I though it was a delicious, sweet juice; and youthful, while we’re at it. Most probably the spices are to blame – the cola drinks smell of spices.)

    (A great marketing/business lesson it is, too, undoubtedly.)

    • Dearest Calyptique
      Welcome to The Dandy’s, so nice to see you, do make yourself at home.
      Now that you mention it, I do know what you mean about Youth Dew and cola!
      In fact, I know an American recipe for ham boiled in cola and the sweet stuff does give off quite a pleasant spicy caramelised scent when it reaches the simmer!
      I wonder if that was Estee’s brief… “I want a scent as successful as Coca Cola!!.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. beautycalyptique

    clove and cinnamon, aren’t they to women what vanilla is to men?

    basically youth dew containes everything (except sandalwood) that I want in a perfume.

    • Dearest Calyptique
      That is an interesting idea, I am rather a big fan of clove I must say. It’s used in a lot of Caron’s older compositions and for a while in the 90s seemed to have something of a low key renaissance that I rather enjoyed.
      On the sandalwood side, I note that a few people pick it up in Youth Dew though offiially it’s not there and I personaly can’t identify it…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • beautycalyptique

        Maybe it will get its renaissance 2.o now with a lot of independent perfumers emerging? and clove is such a versatile note.
        most probably, what people think is sandalwood in YD is the blend of woody and flowery notes that are often in the sandalwood presence, but I hear you, it’s not listed and I can’t smell it either.

  8. beautycalyptique

    containS :/

  9. Cairo Rose

    My Dearest Dandy….As you know this is a beloved of mine. No wall flower here. This is the scent for the belle of the ball who stands up and grabs the man she wishes to dance with because she waltzes to her own tune. While my daughter wrinkles her nose I lavishly spritz this on with a knowing smile.

    • Dearest Rose
      Yes indeed, this is no perfume for the feint of heart, but there again, to paraphrase ‘feint heart never won fair man’…. I wonder why Estee never thought to use that as a catch phrase!?!
      As to the younger generation, I’m always amazed that bathed in sugar and chocolate scents as they so often are, that they don’t take to these spicy acents from th past.
      Lovely, as it always is, to here from you.
      Do take care.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  10. Nena

    My mum has a bottle of this from the 70s sitting in the bathroom cabinet. If it’s still good, I might have to swipe it from her, since she’s not a fan of it.

  11. A couple of years ago I bought a sealed, vintage, parfum of Youth Dew at a Kamakura antiques shop (bottle like a flower, dark liquid within, encased in something like barbed wire; divine Estee Lauder egg shell blue box…ah…) I was walking home, the long way, and simply couldn’t resist seeing what it smelled like, even though there was a danger of it spilling as I walked down twisty streets past temples and so on.

    I managed to de-hymen the waxen, papery seal at its mouth, pulled gently, and


    : : :

    literally the strongest perfume I have EVER smelled in my whole life. Incredible! There was a pongy, pungent natural jasmine, there was carnation, there were spices – in fact a whole coca cola factory struggling to get out of that prison and into the air around me. It was UNBELIEVABLE.

    I gave my bottle to Nina. I hope she writes about it at some point.

    (great scent: my mother wore it too…..I once did something very naughty at a friend’s house in Brighton. They had, for some inexplicable reason, being the kind of women that would never wear perfume, especially this, an old bottle of the bath oil, which I swooned over while taking a shower, and I couldn’t resist smearing some on the back of the radiator……you should have smelled the air in that house…..)

    Can’t wait for the full scented letter!!!

    • Dearest Ginza
      Oh yes, this is the A-Bomb of the olfactory world. The fall out from Youth Dew spreads further than that from a mushroom cloud and for some people is about as pleasant judging from their over-reactions.
      And yes, Coca-cola, the more people mention it the more I am forced to agree.
      As to your naughtiness at a friends house: bravo, the world is a far better place for a little mischief!!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  12. ojaddicte

    I adore this perfume. It is my go-to during the colder months, when it’s spicy warmth is perfect. I may have to try it in the ridiculously hot, steamy weather we’re experiencing!

    Ginzaintherain, you are naughty! What great stories you have regarding this scent!

    • Dearest Addicte
      Isn’t Ginza the bad boy… though must say I exect no better from him!
      Do try this in the heat… it’s somethng of a revelation, like a Eastern temple being boiled in Coca Cola!!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  13. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried this perfume but now I feel like I should πŸ™‚

  14. Lilybelle

    Yes, it IS potent and lasts forever. Trust me and NEVER do this with Youth Dew bath oil (unless you like living dangerously): pour a little into the palms of your hands and smooth over shower or bath damp skin (rather than pouring into the bath). Then buff off with a towel. That is how I often use bath oil (something like Neutrogena Rain Bath oil for example). Youth Dew bath oil is waaaaay too strong to be used that way. The scent took forever to leave the towel even after several washings, and it suffused the rest of the laundry with the ineradicable scent. I liked it, but I can see how that is not to everybody’s taste, especially today when people are so afraid to smell of anything at all.

    • Dearest Lily
      I think if you were to try that with Youth Dew I shoul probably be able to smell you from here!
      As to it not being to everyone’s taste…. that would seem to be an understatement. The Dandy has a friend who claimed to physically retch at the merest whiff of Youth Dew.
      It really does tak al sorts!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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