8 dicembre 2011

Magnificent 70: Estèe Lauder

Youth Dew (Josephine Catapano, 1953)

White Linen (Sophia Grojsman, 1978)
Youth Dew is on the list for three reasons: first of all because it’s the first truly American scent, that is created by an American composer for an American company. In fact, composers who worked in the U.S. before World War II were mainly French, and the companies for which they composed were not American, but American subsidiaries of French brands (Coty, Caron, Worth, etc.). The few American cosmetic companies that had tried to offer scents in the '20s and '30s (Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein) had found no success: the audience was attracted by French brands and perfumes the average American wanted, were just French.

But W.W II forced many technicians, chemists and composers back home, raw materials began to run low, and imports underwent a stop: the US had to start making it on their own, at least as far as scents are concerned.
A decade after the end of World War II, some already well-known brands (Revlon as well, as Arden and Rubinstein) ventured again, and with greater success, in the perfume market. In 1952, Estee Lauder (founded 1946), launched her first fragrance: Youth Dew. Second reason to know YD: it was the first fragrance to receive mass-success, entering the homes of millions of Americans. Since perfume was regarded mainly as a gift that men gave them, most American women were uncomfortable with the idea of purchasing fragrances; well, Mrs. Lauder thought her new product as a bath oil. Youth Dew bath oil contained a massive percentage of essence, and this enabled women to feel ok buying a scent that didn’t look like a spray bottle. The success was such that Estèe Lauder was also forced to create the perfume version.

The third reason to know Youth Dew is because it’s considered, along with Cinnabar, one of the greatest inspirations of the most famous spicy oriental in history: Opium (Yves Saint Laurent, 1977).
I appreciate the decision to introduce the new Youth Dew Amber Nude, a modern version, leaving the original as it was. Masterpieces should be something Brands are proud of, and not be afraid of, as often happens.

The family named “Aldehydic” is characterized by the use of synthetic notes -the aldehydes- giving a bright, enamelled coat on flowers, thus defining a clean, intellectual mood, easy looking but extremely sophisticated at the same time. Aldehydes had a heyday from the 20’s up to the 40’s: N.22 and N.5 (Chanel), Arpege (Lanvin), L'Air du Temps (Nina Ricci), Vega and Liu (Guerlain ) are some representatives of this category, which was constantly reshaped by a couple of new scents every ten years: Madame (Rochas) and Calèche (60’s), White Linen (70’s), Eternity (between the 80’s and 90’s). White Linen has a fairly modern feel, and is on the list because it’s being maintained close to my remembrance, it’s a good way to understand what kind of freshness and light aldehydes may provide to flowers. It's also one of the fragrances that paved the way for the trend -not just American, even if started there- of "fresh and clean" scents, which today we identify with white musks, but started with aldehydes.

I think the God of the perfume should be happy that I wrote about White Linen, because in the days I was writing this post I found a 30ml extract bottle straight from the '80 and unopened (in the pic). Purest light, brilliant, multifaceted, like a beautiful and clean crystal.

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