Some said it was the largest trailer ever seen on location in the first six decades of the movies.
Some said it stipulated in her contract that it had to be the biggest, the best, the most extravagant and admired motor home in the history of American cinema.
No, in the history of America.
No one though could argue that right now it was rocking back and forth rhythmically and that the sounds emanating from within sounded a whole lot like on set love making.
Then. Nothing. Silence.
Suddenly the door of the Winnebago swings open and a spent twenty-something extra, shirtless and dishevelled stumbles on the metal steps before crashing to the floor.
The weary crew turn and watch and wait. Cups of going cold coffee in their hands, eye brows almost raised, bags weighing heavy underneath.
From the inner sanctum a sound like the rumble of distant Prairie thunder indicates a throat being cleared.
Then for a few consecutive seconds a huge hiss, a cross between a wet kiss and a punctured zeppelin, echoes across the set.
A moment later the same strange sound slithers all around again.
“She’s spraying” stage whispers the make up girl.
And all the assembled imagine in unison a dry ice cloud of perfume appearing from the doorway of the most elaborate caravan in creation.
What comes instead is at first one, then another, then a flourish of ostrich feathers.
A four letter word is the next thing to emerge from the palace on wheels, accompanying a very audible crash and the disappearance from sight of what must have been a spectacular headdress.
The vehicle lists dramatically as though a very heavy object has come to rest at an awkward angle, then it rights itself and footsteps can be heard.
The headdress it turns out is in fact a hat, and one of the most spectacular hats that Hollywood has ever seen at that.
Underneath this marvel of millinery is revealed the industrially beautiful demi goddess who has deigned to make ‘their movie’ magic with her mere presence.
As the cumulonimbus of her fragrant concoction forms a very warm front, enveloping fellow cast and crew alike, she, a no less impressive force of nature herself, processes into position.
The air is alight at first with an aldehyde brightness, then a thick viscous almost impenetrable jungle of smell, that near suffocates and yet at once seduces, saturates the atmosphere until it could almost be cut through with a spoon and eaten like syrup.
En masse they swoon.
The star meanwhile is gargling warm Coca Cola to relax her vocal chords.
“What the hell is that smell?” the director yells as after being summoned from his slumber he finally makes it to set.
“Why, mister ‘whatever-your-name-is-I’m-so-sorry-I-forgot’, that smell is me!”
He shrinks and she grows to fill the set as she will fill the screen.
She’s ready for her close up now.
Some say Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew used to be big.
Let me assure you Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew is big.
It’s other perfumes that got small.
This is a monster, but by no means a monstrous, scent.
The biggest perfume in American olfactory history in so many ways, it can still at the age of sixty plus not so much fill a room as engulf The Metropolitan Opera.
So what does the uber-scent smell like?
Without being facetious it smells like Youth Dew!
There are a handful of perfumes, No. 5 chief among them, that have a scent more of themselves than anything else.
They have become the points of comparison: other things smell like them, they do not smell like other things.
People dance like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, we do not talk about those whose technique Fred and Ginger aped.
For the record though this opens all bracing aldehydes and then becomes an explosion in a spice factory, or maybe that should be on the production line of a well known syrupy soft drink.
But there’s more, an accord of oakmoss and patchouli lies underneath giving a slightly darker edge, while a powerful powdery musk introduces a maiden aunt propriety into the proceedings.
All in all it’s a bare knuckle battle between a prom queen, a spinster and the local tramp!
Or perhaps they are just the parts that Youth Dew plays, because being the true star of every scene it never really ever stops being itself.
Perhaps indeed it is that instant recognition factor combined with the towering personality that almost overshadows the wearer, the way stars outshine their characters, that leads some people to dismiss or even detest this perfume.
Is it possible that we just don’t want scent stars to be as big as Youth Dew undeniably is?
For I can find little to fault in the fragrance itself: an intense, engrossing, delicious self-contradiction of an aroma all wrapped up in bow.
And I, for one, am happy to bow before it!
Indeed, I would be scared witless but deliriously excited to take it out on a date.
The Perfumed Dandy.