Estee Lauder Modern Muse : Perfume Review

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Elisa questions whether Estée Lauder’s Modern Muse can be her inspiration.

I am a longtime fan of the Estée Lauder lineup. The first perfume to take my breath away was White Linen – my grandmother wore it, and one day (I was 12 or 13) she let me use a dab of the lotion from her purse. The scent rushed up at me like a blast of cold air, snow blowing into a hot room from an open window. I stood there smelling my hands in awe.

modern-muse

Years later, when my interest in perfume turned to full-blown obsession, Estée Lauder was one of the first lines I was drawn to return to. I bought a small bottle of White Linen, and others followed. I now own upwards of ten Lauder perfumes. With this many hits, of course I pay attention when they announce a new release, even if the marketing is suspicious. (Their first “major launch” since Beyond Paradise? What happened to Sensuous?)

From the get-go, Modern Muse smells very Estée Lauder – fresh, feminine, floral, and bright, pretty in a grown-up way, without the over-sugared sweetness of so many recent launches. There’s a crisp, leafy-green top note and a touch of juicy citrus, more like tangerine than dry, tart bergamot. These effects are layered over what the press materials call “dewy petals” – and yes, there is a petal-like feel to the floral accord, a white bouquet of lily, with its distinctive waxy, vanillic notes, plus raspy jasmine and orange blossom.

This is all well and good. But as the clock ticks, the story gets more and more familiar, a woody, amber-y story we’ve heard a hundred times before – the soft white musk, the super-clean patchouli with all its pungency excised. It feels like a Lauder take on the structure of Narciso Rodriguez for Her: more sanitized, therefore not as sexy. Side by side, you can tell that Modern Muse has decent materials – the floral notes are more distinct. But it lacks NR for Her’s smoldering intensity. Modern Muse is also thinner and less radiant, compared to both NR for Her and other Lauders. It wears close to the skin and after three or four hours has lost most of its character.

Modern Muse isn’t terrible. The problem is, it’s not distinctive. Forget the general sea of available perfumes – Modern Muse doesn’t even stand out in Lauder’s own lineup. Someone in the 30-and-up group looking for a safe, attractive floral already has Beyond Paradise or Pleasures and its many flankers. If she wants a lush white floral, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia is the obvious choice. If it’s the almost masculine woody base she’s after, Sensuous Noir is a much more interesting option.

Further, Modern Muse doesn’t feel “modern” in either sense of the word. There’s no reference to modernism-era perfumes, like Chanel No. 5 with its overdose of soapy aldehydes, or the smoky oriental structure of Shalimar. But it’s not strikingly innovative either, as in Ezra Pound’s injunction “Make it new.” The references are recent, obvious, and many. As a standalone perfume, Modern Muse is almost worth three stars, but I docked a star for disappointment – I expect most mainstream houses to phone it in, but not Estée Lauder.

Estée Lauder Modern Muse includes notes of mandarin, tuberose, fresh lily, honeysuckle, dewy petals, jasmine sambac, patchouli, Madagascar vanilla, amber wood and soft musk. It’s available from major department stores like Macy’s in three sizes: $98 for 100 ml, $78 for 50 ml, and $58 for 30 ml.

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100 Comments

  • Cornelia Blimber: I like the bottle, reminds me of Minnie Mouse. November 12, 2013 at 7:17am Reply

    • Anka: Haha, not only the bottle but the alliteration (Modern Muse / Minnie Mouse) is quite similar too… November 12, 2013 at 8:00am Reply

      • E.Lime: I keep having that issue when I see this display! I think “Who would name a perfume Modern MOUSE?” And then I remember. November 12, 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

        • Elisa: Marc Jacobs probably would :) November 12, 2013 at 12:51pm Reply

    • Elisa: Ha, I hadn’t noticed that! I like the bottle too, and the name and ad campaign. Just wish the juice was a little more inspired. November 12, 2013 at 8:20am Reply

    • Jillie: I don’t know about Minnie Mouse – I thought it was a reference to Princess Leia! November 12, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

      • Ann: My first thought as well when I saw the bottle! November 12, 2013 at 1:09pm Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Well spotted, Cornelia! Oh, I wanted to let you know that I tried Joop! Le Bain as part of my exploration of ‘marzipan’ perfumes. I could detect something almondy although I couldn’t find such note when I searched it on Fragantica. This perfume reminded me of YSL Cinema but I don’t know why. November 12, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

      • Elisa: Probably the tonka, Anne! Tonka beans smell like almonds. November 12, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

        • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you, Elisa. You solved my puzzle once again! You’re so good at doing this. :-) Since the Loulou post, I’ve been sampling perfumes with predominant notes of Mimose and Heliotrope. I have hard time distinguishing the two because they smell rather similar. Am I right to think that both of them smell slightly sweet and ‘hazy’ but Heliotrope smells more almondy? November 12, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

          • Elisa: I think they both smell almond-y but to my nose mimosa accords are sweeter (almost approaching jasmine sambac in some perfumes) than straight heliotrope. However, heliotrope is a facet of mimosa so perfumers may use these terms somewhat interchangeably. November 12, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Anne! Thank you for letting me know, glad you found it!
              I presume you know Hypnotic Poison? (almond note). November 12, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

              • Anne of Green Gables: Yup, I tried it as well as Kenzo Amour. And I also got some Lübeck marzipan covered in dark chocolate! ;-) November 13, 2013 at 4:09am Reply

                • Elisa: Another big almond bomb is Carol’s Daughter Almond Cookie. November 13, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for the explanation, Elisa. November 13, 2013 at 4:23am Reply

  • rosarita: I feel exactly the same about Estee Lauder. My mom wore Aliage in the 70s, while my aunt wore Azuree. My grandma always had a bottle of Youth Dew bath oil that I loved to smell, I wore Cinnabar and Knowing (still wear Cinnabar perfume) and actually finished up a whole bottle of Pleasures in the 90s. I’m a fan. They began to lose me with Beyond Paradise, which I just can’t stand; Sensuous is too sweet for me and Sensuous Noir not Noir enough; the Private Collections are too pricey. I rarely get to a department store these days as my perfumed life is lived online but when I do, I will try Modern Muse to try it for myself. I’m pretty sure I’ll be disappointed too. November 12, 2013 at 9:15am Reply

    • Elisa: I didn’t really “get” Beyond Paradise either, though Luca Turin’s rave review always has me thinking I should try it again. Maybe I missed something with my first sample? I do love most of Calice Becker’s work. November 12, 2013 at 10:06am Reply

      • Ann: I tried it again after reading the LC review, and remained mystified… I only have a small bottle of White Linen in my collection these days, but really enjoyed Knowing and Cinnabar back in the day. November 12, 2013 at 1:16pm Reply

        • Ann: I meant LT (sorry!) November 12, 2013 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Susiebelle: I could not have said it better. Very uninspiring. I am a huge Estée Lauder fan. Many perfumes do not smell good on me but EL fragrances are awesome, especially Cinnabar (vintage – wearing it since the 80’s) and Sensous. Modern Muse does nothing for me. Very disappointing. They seem to be skewing younger with the scent and the ad campaign. November 12, 2013 at 9:34am Reply

    • Elisa: I think you’re right that they were trying to target a younger base — one that wouldn’t remember Beyond Paradise! I’m not sure if it will speak to younger customers or not. I’ve seen some positive reviews in magazines or on beauty blogs that aren’t perfume focused. It just seems like too little, too late. November 12, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Apparently, it even won an award – “Best New Fragrance” Best of Beauty Awards 2013
        Allure Magazine. November 12, 2013 at 10:10am Reply

  • Patricia: Lovely article, Elisa. After overdoing Youth Dew in my own youth, the only EL perfume that I wear on a regular basis is Bronze Goddess. I also have a mini of Sensuous Nude and a few samples of PC Tuberose Gardenia that I occasionally wear.

    Next time I’m in a department store I’ll try a spritz of Modern Muse for old time’s sake :) . November 12, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks Patricia! I’ve gone through a couple of decants of Bronze Goddess and this summer took a bottle of the body oil off a friend’s hands. It always hits the spot! November 12, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • ralu: Patricia, how/where did you manage to get the samples of Tubereuse Gardenia, if you don’t mind me asking? Macy’s in Boston is very stingy with samples from my experience. It’s like you’re asking them for their first born! Fro that reason I don’t shop there unless I absolutely have to. November 12, 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

      • Elisa: Nordstrom is generous with samples, if you have one nearby. That’s where I got my sample of Modern Muse. November 12, 2013 at 4:36pm Reply

  • AD: When I tried it, I also thought it was a bit bland but well made. I seem to remember there was something minty in the middle of that transparent floral accord. But I could be wrong. I only tested it once and on a strip. I need to give this another try.

    I did not like the bottle when I saw it on the advert. But the real thing looks better although I’m still not crazy about it. November 12, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

    • Elisa: It’s possible there was a bit of something minty adding to the freshness of the florals. I don’t recall. But some materials have surprising mint facets, like patchouli and geranium. November 12, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hmm… How disappointing! I don’t know if Modern Muse is available in Germany yet (I couldn’t find it on the German Estee Lauder website) but I’m curious to do a side by side comparision with NR for Her.

    I have hard time deciphering the notes included in this perfume. Madagascar Vanilla SFE means that it was extracted through the supercritical fluid extraction, right? But what does ‘FirNat’ in Tuberose Fleur FirNat mean? The EL website says that two different Patchouli essences (Patchouli Coeur and Patchouli Crist) were used. How do these two differ in terms of their odor profiles?

    BTW, ‘magnetic femininity’ in the product description made me laugh! :-) November 12, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Anne, doing the side-by-side comparison gave me a whole new appreciation for NR for Her! I’ve always liked it, but it smelled SO rich and sexy compared to the cleaner, fluffier Lauder.

      I have no idea what those material codes mean. Maybe Victoria can jump in and help out! November 12, 2013 at 10:11am Reply

  • nikki: Very nice article, Elisa! Thank you! I was not familiar with EL perfumes until I smelled Alliage in the early 80s and that was a great perfume. Then I smelled White Linen on somebody and it is a knockout on some….and then I smelled Knowing which is truly outstanding, but not for me, and then….my best friend followed a lady at the airport to ask her for her perfume which he gave me as a present: Spellbound! I still wear Spellbound for perfumed and sentimental reasons and I love Estee Lauder’s older fragrances. However, the newer collection as well as the private collection are just a little too boring for me. November 12, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Elisa: The collection is certainly getting more boring. :) I think White Linen and Knowing are truly beautiful but I’ve heard the bases don’t work on everyone. I also love Youth Dew Amber Nude, which I believe they axed already. November 12, 2013 at 10:12am Reply

  • ralu: I, too, admire Estee Lauder perfumes even if they are not my style. Tuscany was among the first perfumes I owned (now I find it too heavy) and Pleasures was a favorite in college. They are very distinctive perfumes. My mom loves Beautiful.

    I’m also not a big fan of Modern Muse although I can’t quite figure out the reason for that. Something about it doesn’t agree with me. November 12, 2013 at 10:12am Reply

    • Elisa: I have a bottle of Tuscany per Donna and don’t wear it too often, but once I had it on at the grocery store and a man stopped me and told me his first girlfriend wore it, which I thought was very sweet. November 12, 2013 at 10:13am Reply

      • Jillie: Elisa, did you ever wear Laura Biagiotti’s Venezia? I used to think it was a little like Tuscany, and I was wondering if you have smelt the recent reissue of Venezia. November 12, 2013 at 11:17am Reply

        • Elisa: Unfortunately I haven’t smelled either version, or if I did it was long ago and I can’t remember it.

          I believe it was Undina (of Undina’s Looking Glass) who found a similarity in Tuscany and Samsara, and I wore Samsara last night and noticed a similar sweet, powdery thread. November 12, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

  • Dana: I totally agree with you on this. I expect more from Lauder as I am a longtime fan and own several bottles from their collection. If this is what I am going for, I will just turn to my bottle of SJP’s Lovely and save a lot of money. Also, I am disappointed that they seem to have already discontinued Sensuous Noir, a bottle I seriously considered buying. I have Sensuous, but I sampled Sensuous Noir and thought it was more me. Well, it is already gone from their site and, instead, they kept the Sensuous Nude, which I don’t think is anything special. Just my humble opinion. November 12, 2013 at 10:47am Reply

    • Elisa: What! They’ve DC’ed Sensuous Noir?! That is seriously one of the bottles I’ve been going through fastest in the past couple of years … guess I need to find a backup.

      I have a small bottle of Sensuous Nude, which I like, but not sure it’s necessary when they already have Bronze Goddess in that category. November 12, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

    • annemariec: Ouch! I’d be sad to think of SNoir being d/c. I’m certain I saw it the other day at the Lauder counter (I’m in Australia). I’m not a fan of SNoir but I love the original Sensuous and it really annoys me that Lauder has been trying to write it out of the picture by saying that Modern Muse is it’s first major release since Beyond Paradise. That is just so not true. November 13, 2013 at 3:10am Reply

      • Elisa: Yeah, I really don’t understand why they are taking that tack! November 13, 2013 at 9:10am Reply

  • BlinkyTheFish: I also found it not terrible (compared to the sea of mediocre fruitchoulis, ouds and gourmands), but what irritated the heck out of me was its loud ‘floral-clean’ presence. Not a loud proper white floral like Michael Kors (which is ubiquitous but at least has a personality), just a loud sanitized one – like too strong bathroom spray, that kind of loud. No drydown on me to speak of either, which was a shame. Usually EL stuff has decent bases. It’s basically a photoshopped, plastic-surgeried to death floral. So in a twisted way, Modern Muse is about right. Give me Youth Dew, Cinnabar and White Linen any day of the week though. November 12, 2013 at 11:05am Reply

    • Elisa: Amen! I was surprised about the disappearing act — really weak/blah base like a tossed off flanker, not a “Major launch.” November 12, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

  • Jillie: Thanks, Elisa, for reviewing this. You’ve saved me having to have a sniff! I don’t know what is happening in the main-stream perfume world when all the companies seem to want to produce more or less identical, and not very exciting, offerings. Maybe that’s the point – they want to be safe. But I expected better of EL. November 12, 2013 at 11:21am Reply

    • Elisa: Glad I could save you some time! I hate all the sameness on the mainstream counters. When something smells relatively novel in comparison, like Marni, it really stands out. November 12, 2013 at 11:24am Reply

  • Aisha: Totally agree with your review.

    It’s a nice scent, and would actually make a very nice gift for someone new to perfumes. (I agree that the quality is very good.) But for me, personally, it was just “m’eh.” I don’t know if it’s because I expected something different from EL, considering how much I do enjoy the Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Jasmine White Moss — as well as several others like Pleasures Delight for days I want something playful. But Modern Muse really did disappoint. Perhaps I’ve become too spoiled in my perfume selection. ;-)

    By the way, I had the same reaction to the sample of the new Tory Burch perfume I tried. It was nice, but “m’eh.” November 12, 2013 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Elisa: Yes, from a magazine scent strip, I think Tory Burch smells nice but very safe and not striking. November 12, 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

  • Carolina: White Linen was my first perfume, too. I was in high school. At one point, I had the body lotion and the shimmering body powder as well — both amazing. Otherwise I’m not familiar with EL perfumes.

    But! Does anyone know Estee Lauder’s Swiss Performing Extract? It’s a face lotion with a strong, strange, tantalizing smell, very herby and aromatic. I’ve always wondered how to describe it, and wished for a perfume with the same scent. Nice stuff, too, but expensive, and I can’t wear it when my skin is extra-sensitive. November 12, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Rafael: OMG! I LOVE SPE! It’s awesome. Been using it since 1970. It’s also $42 a bottle now but who cares? It’s the best for all over, especially feet! I agree, the smell is amazing. After I apply it and go outside I have gotten compliments. November 12, 2013 at 12:43pm Reply

      • Elisa: Two votes! I’ve never heard of this stuff, wonder if I can get a sample at the counter. November 12, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

        • Rafael: You can’t get a sample of anything (even by offering your first-born) and they usually hide this product like bootleg but they will let you try it at the counter. Prepare, you’re in for a treat! November 12, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

          • Elisa: Ha! Ok, thanks for the great tip! November 12, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

          • Carolina: Glad to meet a fellow fan! I read somewhere that they hide it/don’t promote it because it’s considered old-ladyish (!!). When I bought my bottle the SA wouldn’t let me try it. November 12, 2013 at 2:46pm Reply

      • Aisha: They still make that? I thought it was discontinued. November 15, 2013 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Elisa: I need to wear White Linen more. It’s so magical to me. November 12, 2013 at 12:47pm Reply

      • Rafael: The 2 best Lauder scents I think are Aliage-(which really still doesnt smell like anything else and it’s wonderful) which my Mom wears in Summer. The one I wear, and suits me to the ground, where total strangers are a bit on the bewitched side (which is after all what we’re hoping for, no?) is Azuree. Same perfumer developed Aramis and Cabochard (which i used to nick from my Mom). the great thing about the Lauders was the % of perfume oil they used to use that packed such a whallop. They’ve reduced the amount of juice to alcohol now which has only made the fragrances that much more wearable. The male counterparts, Aramis, Aramis 900 (which is the male Aromatics Elixir) have been de-juiced beyond subtlety. It’s not good if somebody has to sniff at you like a hound I think. Although with the fragrances before and up to White Linen it’s good to remember that in order to enjoy a fire the whole room doesn’t need to be in flames. The last “Grand Parfum” from Lauder I think was White Linen. After that it all became about distribution and has had nothing to do with artistry. November 12, 2013 at 1:13pm Reply

        • Elisa: I have a little bit of Azuree, which I think is quite similar to Aramis (which my husband wears). Both of them remind me of Jolie Madame, but without all the violet. November 12, 2013 at 1:24pm Reply

  • Rickyrebarco: Well, I like this juice, but then I do not like most other Lauders, they are too “in your face” for me. So it stands to reason I would like this one, the one that everyone else finds boring. November 12, 2013 at 1:33pm Reply

    • Elisa: I like “in your face” perfumes! So yes, it stands to reason that we’d disagree. What do you think about some of the softer Lauders, like Pleasures and Sensuous? November 12, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

  • Kerrie: I completely agree with your post Elisa. I recently tried Modern Muse and was very disappointed. EL should have done better. Stop the marketing nonsense and get back to the artistry. November 12, 2013 at 1:46pm Reply

    • Elisa: Glad we agree! November 12, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

  • J: I am not a fan of most Lauders with the exception of Sensuous, which I have used up nearly a bottle of. Modern Muse is another “no” for me. It smells far too clean. November 12, 2013 at 2:37pm Reply

    • Elisa: It’s definitely really clean and fresh.

      Sensuous I like but it wears a little thin on me — Sensuous Noir is the one I always reach for. November 12, 2013 at 2:46pm Reply

  • ann york: Perhaps someone is familiar with the Ann Taylor fragrance from 2007, Possibilities? Harry Fremont was the perfumer for that one.

    I liked it, and I like Modern Muse as well. The two are similar.

    I think two stars for MM is a little harsh, not to mention premature. As a loyal, “Lauder Girl,” I suggest avoiding the “it’s already been done” mindset and just ask yourself one question: Does this perfume smell good?

    Overall, history is on Lauder’s side. November 12, 2013 at 5:08pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Ann,

      It does smell pretty good, but in a crowded marketplace, I’m looking for something a little beyond that, something that stands out. I considered it giving it three stars, but by Victoria’s own guidelines (2 stars signifies “disappointing”) I really felt it was closer to a 2-star perfume. I do, of course, welcome disagreement! November 12, 2013 at 5:44pm Reply

    • Liz: Help! Possibilities has been discontinued and I LOVED it – everything about it – how it smelled when I first put it on, how it smelled later in the day, if I was hot, cold any time. It was so great. Can anybody help me find something similar?? I would appreciate any help I can get. Thank you in advance, so much. I’m a perfume newbie and have been wearing only Possibilities for years. Cannot believe it is gone! September 2, 2014 at 3:46pm Reply

  • Annikky: Same story here – I was underwhelmed by this and partly because I expect better from Lauder. I have a lot respect for EL, although their classics are not really my thing. I do enjoy Private Collection scents, Sensuous family and Bronze Goddess. The old one I’ve always wanted to try is Azuree, but I have never seen it in Europe.

    Modern Muse, for me, seems like a wasted opportunity to rise the bar for big mainstream launches. Estee Lauder is one of the very few brands that could have pulled it off. Such a pity that they chose not to try. November 12, 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

    • Elisa: I couldn’t agree more about the wasted opportunity. It did seem like a chance to introduce a new trend, instead of glomming onto an old one. November 12, 2013 at 5:46pm Reply

    • Rafael: Ebay for Azuree but it’s really Cabochard. November 12, 2013 at 8:00pm Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Annikky, just for your information, I’ve seen Azurée in Germany. November 13, 2013 at 4:12am Reply

      • Annikky: Good to know, Anne! I’ll keep looking. November 15, 2013 at 1:52am Reply

  • annemariec: Hmmm … two stars seems a little harsh. I’d give it three I think, for being a fairly well-done version of what it is. Of there is plenty of ‘what there is’ already, and I do agree that by lunchtime I’ve lost interest. A few years ago I think I may have bought MM without a second thought, but NR for Her and Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere have set the bar very high and I see now that there is no point bothering with MM.

    EL’s idea of ‘modernity’ seems oddly retro: the ads suggest an art deco, 1920s feel. When I think of the perfumes modern young women were actually wearing in the 1920s – Habanita for instance, or Chanel No 5, Shalimar, Jicky – well, I grin to myself. How far have we come? November 12, 2013 at 5:45pm Reply

    • Elisa: As I mentioned in a comment to Ann just above, I wavered between two and three stars, but ultimately settled on two, because by V’s own definitions, two means disappointing, and disappointed is exactly how I felt. I do think the top notes and floral heart are nice, but the perfume didn’t hold my interest through the drydown, even leaving aside the originality question. (If it’s any consolation, my next review is a 5-star perfume!)

      Agree there’s not much “modern” about this. I wish it was a little edgy, even for Lauder! November 12, 2013 at 5:50pm Reply

      • Annikky: Oooh, five stars – intriguing! Is it a new launch? November 12, 2013 at 6:01pm Reply

        • Elisa: No, but not a classic either, somewhere in between. Trying to preserve the surprise :) November 12, 2013 at 6:03pm Reply

      • annemariec: Yes, EL has not done edgy for years. Even when they do things well they do it by putting good raw materials and lots of marketing dollars into current ideas, and styles developed by other houses, rather than innovating themselves. November 12, 2013 at 7:51pm Reply

        • Elisa: True– I think Pleasures may have been considered innovative at the time, in part due to some new materials, but I wasn’t paying so much attention to perfume at the time of its release. November 12, 2013 at 9:28pm Reply

          • annemariec: Oh yes, you are right. Pleasures was new territory. I’m stumped to think of anything innovative after that (much as I like Sensuous). Beyond Paradise? I hate it, so am not tempted to explore its genre at all. YD Amber Nude? Maybe, I’m not that familiar with it. November 13, 2013 at 3:18am Reply

            • Elisa: I do think YD Amber Nude is unusual, but I’m not sure if it’s innovative or just not in the current style. November 13, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

  • Karina: I was disappointed by the lack of distinct character too. I found the light sparkling florals at the beginning pretty but then I kept sniffing my wrist waiting for something interesting to happen and it never did. The longevity was pretty poor on me too. In my opinion it is just another inoffensive mainstream fragrance with no personality unfortunately. I too would expect better from EL but I suppose they are just catering to the market. November 12, 2013 at 7:59pm Reply

    • Elisa: I wonder if catering to the market only goes so far — as in, the reception is positive, but interest dies out pretty quick. People may have been shocked and appalled by Angel at first, but it’s become a classic! November 12, 2013 at 9:29pm Reply

      • Karina: I hope it only goes so far, I would love to see a big new mainstream release again that has real character like Angel does! I do imagine that after a while people will tire of being in a room full of bland fruity florals and when somebody walks in (possibly a Bois de Jasmin reader!) wearing something interesting everyone will think ‘wow what perfume is that?’. November 15, 2013 at 9:01am Reply

        • Elisa: I hope so too! I think the European woman in front of me at Starbucks the other day was wearing Badgley Mischka … she smelled great. November 15, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

  • Alicia: Elise, thank you so much for your review: it will save me a disappointment. I wear Pleasures during the summer, Private Collection very often in the cool seasons, and Tuberose Gardenia when I wish for a rich floral. I am also fond of Knowing and Azuree. For what you say this Modern Muse will not inspire me. I am quite happy with the old Muses, although this summer I fell hard for a new love: Amouage Lyric. True, many Amouages entice me. I am going to try the new Fate, have you? November 12, 2013 at 9:04pm Reply

    • Elisa: I have not tried Fate yet. Lyric is so beautiful, though — I’ve been hoarding my sample! November 12, 2013 at 9:31pm Reply

  • Natalie: Well stated, Elisa. I agree with the two star rating, by Victoria’s definition. And I am looking forward to your next review! (trying to predict what it might be, too) November 13, 2013 at 3:22pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks N! I’d probably give it a 2.5 if that was an option. November 13, 2013 at 3:28pm Reply

  • ann york: As I mentioned yesterday, I think history is on Lauder’s side. I wonder how other Lauder perfumes would have been rated at the time of their launch. Certainly, some of them would have been considered similar to perfumes from competing brands.

    I doubt anyone expects edginess from Lauder. I think they are targeting a “modern woman” of any age with MM. By that I mean a woman who is looking for a perfume to wear pretty much everywhere, any time of the year, and for every occasion. I’d say MM fits that description. Think of all that women do these days:..they fill lots of different roles…Lauder has always produced products that meet the changing needs of women. Not to mention, that Lauder products are high quality and affordable for the market that they are seeking.

    So, I guess I don’t see how they missed a marketing opportunity with MM.

    They also managed to put together a very pretty marketing campaign without using a highly recognizable model or actress, which makes MM more timely and less dated.

    I just hope the newcomers to this site will keep an open mind and not be dismissive of MM due to the rating. Time will tell, I suppose. November 13, 2013 at 5:51pm Reply

    • Elisa: The purpose of the rating system is to offer an informed opinion from someone who’s not a newcomer to the perfume world. But no single critic can speak to or for everyone, and readers new and old are free to try the perfume and form their own opinions. I don’t aim to tell anyone what to like, buy, or wear.

      I agree that some of Lauder’s perfumes from past years and decades were not necessarily singularly unique in the market, but I feel Modern Muse does not compare favorably in terms of longevity. As I note in the review, it’s not a bad scent by any means, I just don’t think it meets the high standards set by the Lauder line. (It also wouldn’t be the first time Lauder has launched a dud; I never hear anyone mention Intuition or Wild Elixir, for example.)

      In any case, I won’t hope you won’t hold my opinion of the perfume against Victoria’s site. Please do keep reading and responding! November 13, 2013 at 7:03pm Reply

    • annemariec: You raise some great points. I think MM is a great fit with Lauder’s market, and I really do admire Lauder’s attention to how women actually live their lives, filling lots of roles, as you say.

      BUT the current trend is for clean, light fragrances which make no demands on a busy woman. She spritzes Modern Muse in the morning and need give no more thought to her perfume: she knows it’s perfect. She may have to refresh it in the afternoon but she’d rather do that than repel the people around her with monster sillage, like her mother used to do with her Youth Dew or her Beautiful. Blech! she thinks.

      The issue, it seems to me, is that in MM that flexibility is bought at the cost of character in the perfume. MM just does not say much and it gives you little to remember it by. It satisfies a relatively low set of expectations (‘smell nice, do not annoy anyone’). Lauder fragrances used to do so much more than this, while still being supremely wearable.

      Just my thoughts. November 13, 2013 at 9:05pm Reply

      • annemariec: Adding: I really like Lauder lipsticks and the last time I bought one I made the Lauder SA chuckle by saying I was choosing a hardworking lipstick for a hardworking woman. :) November 13, 2013 at 9:16pm Reply

      • Annikky: Well said. November 15, 2013 at 1:57am Reply

  • yvashche: Estee Lauder has a few good perfumes that appeal to different tastes. There’s Youth Dew for vintage lovers and the Private Collection for a more niche feel. Modern Muse is better than the regular department store smell but it is not anything special. November 14, 2013 at 1:27pm Reply

  • ann york: Would love to read feedback from a MM fan…it can hold it’s own against many of the department store releases, as well as previous, similar releases ( AT Possibilities, SJP Lovely, Guerlain Idylle, NR for her, and perhaps, others)

    As you can tell, I’m pretty loyal to Lauder…four generations in our family from the 1950’s onward. So, in terms of this rating being premature, who knows in 50 years how my daughter will look back on MM? This perfume has only been on the market a few months.

    Afterall, even though the idea of women buying perfume for themselves was unconventional, Youth Dew didn’t start out as an edp. I would imagine, a lot of ladies from that generation took more baths than showers and so, Youth Dew as a bath oil made sense, not only from a business perspective but from the way women lived. The concept of a scented bath was not new.

    I think Lauder captured a trend in perfume through MM because that type of fragrance, though its been done before, is relevant today. Fifty years from now, “perfumistas” may be nostaglic for it and MM may be one of the few of it’s type that is still standing.

    I do think history will be kinder to MM and someone will rate it higher. The fickleness of the consumer will wane, and people will associate fond memories with it. Just like they do with previous Lauder perfumes. I think we all agree it does smell nice. November 15, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Alicia: Ann: I review books, and although what I write is just my opinion, it is the opinion of a professional, trained in the field for a long time. Perfumerie is an art, the reviewer has a trained nose, and much experience with different fragrances, and thus judges originality, which is fundamental in the evaluation of any art object, such as a perfume. S/he can’t tell the future, of course, no one can, but she knows and repects the House of Lauder, and MM is not up to the standards she expects from it. Those are the standards of a professional, not a fan. The task of a critic is discrimination, not loyalty. November 15, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

      • Elisa: Very well said, Alicia. November 15, 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Astrid in DC: I really like the wearability of this fragrance. I’ve been wearing it all season long (Fall) – and love it. November 22, 2013 at 6:03am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: What a fierce and interesting discussion! Now I am really curious, but unfortunately MM will arrive in Amsterdam in 20014. November 22, 2013 at 7:01am Reply

  • Liz: I have noticed a couple of people mention that MM is like Ann Taylor Possibilities so I will try it. If there are any others that smell like Possibilities and wear in a similar way please let me know – I LOVED Possibilities and cannot fathom why Ann Taylor is no longer selling it. Would really love to find something like it! Thank you. September 2, 2014 at 7:46pm Reply

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