Never mind the six feet… Let’s talk about the seven inches… Youth Dew by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

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.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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17 responses to “Never mind the six feet… Let’s talk about the seven inches… Youth Dew by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. “How tall are you without your horse?” Of course… I LOVE THIS STORY. And, I have to further my education by getting my hands on some Youth Dew. I just read somewhere that synthetic musk is what we associate now with the scent of cleanliness in laundry detergent, etc. I never would have thought!

    • Dearest V
      Myra Breckenridge… possibly the most ill advised set of casting ever committed to celluloid?
      But a bizarre treat nevertheless and so much better than what was to come for Mae.
      They done her wrong!
      Yes, some muskd are used to give that starchy freshness to laundry detergents, but I can assure you they are not the ones to be found in the juicily sugestive Youth Dew.
      Here, when The Dandy says powder, he’s thinking more in the line of powder puff on the dressing table of ailing star in her roccoco boudoir somewhere in the hills!
      Now I am getting all carried away!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Lilybelle

    That was great, Mr. Dandy! I ate it up. So fuuny, “a bare knuckle battle between a prom queen, a spinster and a tramp”, and so true! I wore a couple of dabs of YD today with a tiny spritz of neroli over it. That was a mistake. I don’t think YD is ever to be layered. It’s perfect just as it is, in all its starchy, rosy, musky, orangey, spicy, vanillic (is it benzoin?) Cola Cola-ness.

    • Dearest Lily
      Layering Youth Dew!?! My goodness, that’s not something I’d try without having declared an exclusion zone of 200 miles around the family home!
      Yes there’ benzoin in there, I’m certain of it, though its not mentioned in the notes, it has something of the quaity of the note in vintage tabu and evenBal a Versailles.
      I’m still laughing at the Neroli – if there was a fight I bet it came off worse!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. “When I am good I am very good, but when I am bad I am better.” Mae said that of herself, well Mr. Dandy I say that you are even better than Mae West at her “worst” with this oh so fun, sexy, sin-tilating review. Have you ever heard Raquel Welsh tell the story of when Mae had her up to see her at her all white penthouse at The Ravenswood Apartment building in Hollywood? Remind me to tell you sometime when I am not so rushed….I should listen to Mae… “Take it easy handsome, you’ll last longer.”

    • Dearest Lanier
      Oh I can’t wait to hear the Raquel story, I saw an interview with Ms Welch once on the making of ‘that movie’ and she was hilarious. Not bitter but still bruised but witty after all these years.
      Now you go away and take dear Aunt Mae’s advice!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. P.S. I gotta get me a huge bottle of Youth Dew in a great big atomizer with a gold tassel on the end.

    • Dearest Mr Lanier
      I do believe they did some all gold bottles for the recent anniversary… I hear fate calling.
      By the way, Mae was a fan of the fragrance in her later days, so that all white apartment may well hav smelt of Estee’s proudest creation….
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Dandy, this was a true pleasure! As a fellow fan of Youth Dew (although I’m not sure I’m tall enough to wear it, I very much admire your style! So Mae, bless her over-the-top heart, wore Youth Dew! Whodda thunk? 😉

  6. Dear Mr Dandy,

    I am a fan of Youth Dew although my 66 year old mother dismisses it as “old lady”. I adored your review which made me laugh out loud in places. I cannot imagine Mae West wearing anything smaller or quieter than Youth Dew.

    I am 5ft 2 sans horse and I reckon I am woman enough to bag me a bottle. It’s remarkably good value for such a stunner.

    Your friend

    PS “All in all it’s a bare knuckle battle between a prom queen, a spinster and the local tramp!” You are a literary dream.

    • Dearest Iscent
      What comes around goes around in fragrance as much as in fashion… the current revival of the 1980s in clothing and this summer’s mini-craze for Eau de Cologne prove that fact… so it’s only a matter of time before this incredibly well made scent (the same nose as Norell by the way) is back in Vogue.
      I’m more than sure that your 5 feet 2 of fragrance fiend is more than up to challenge of this towering giant and yes the price is a relative steal.
      On which topic I strongly feel that Estee Lauder are to be commended for producing some of the consistently highest quality and least messed about with (Alliage excepted) scents anywhere on the market. I challenge anyone to find a more faithful interpretation of the leather Chypre genre than the remarkable Azuree at it comes in at such a competitive price!
      Finally, thank you so much, as always for the kind words and encouragement.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Dear Mr Dandy

    A colossal and epic review that had me chuckling away. Your literary skills make a scent jump from the screen.

    Ironically my mother thinks Youth Dew is too old for her (she is 66), whereas I am about to buy a small bottle for a very reasonable price. And small goes a long way. I should know. I am five foot two sans horse.

    Your friend

    PS such is your authentic tone, I read all quotes in Ms West’s voice. At least in my head so as not to frighten the children.

    • Dearest Iscent
      I had to include this comment too, mainly for the revelation of your having read the quotes in Mae’s voice… on that happy note The Dandy will away to bed a very merry gentleman!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  8. moonlightmeadow

    Dearest Dandy,
    What a well rounded review of one of my beloved perfumes. Yes I know it is strong, sometimes overbearing but also unforgettable. Have been exploring this sumptuous beast in it’s many vintage forms and find that each is unique. My favorite is vintage perfume from UK. The bath oil lacks those lovely wacky fumes that make me dizzy at the beginning…the blue rubbery bottles are all incense..Eager to try the powder and lotions next on my journey as I ride down a river of spicy cola delight.
    Yours as always, Cairo Rose
    *I also have dared to layer this with Fancy or Pink Sugar for a gourmand kick….delicious!

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