estee lauder: 24 posts

The Shifting Contexts of Perfume

Could other factors, apart from the aroma itself, influence our perception of perfume? Yes, of course, and this is not limited to fragrance. Elisa explores the topic.

A few years ago, I went to a nearby wine shop to stock up for a weekend in the mountains with some old college friends. A representative from a local winery intercepted me in the red blends aisle and implored me to try a bottle of his family’s wine. Colorado is not known for its vineyards, but I went along in the spirit of adventure, bonhomie, and perhaps a touch of pity.

When we got to the mountains, I warned my friends (occasional wine snobs) that I couldn’t vouch for the quality of the local wine. Since we were all sure it would be bad, we saved it until the end of dinner, a couple of bottles in. When we finally opened and tasted it, we were blown away—it was utterly unusual, with the complexity and creaminess of a good Bordeaux but some additional, unplaceable quirk that made it compulsively drinkable. I was sad when it was gone.

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Elie Roger and Estee Lauder Knowing

Who was the perfumer behind Estée Lauder’s Knowing, a chypre of roses tangled up with dark moss? For many years, Lauder, like many other companies, didn’t put the perfumers into the limelight, and this is why Elie Roger’s name is not often linked with Knowing if you search for the information online. Roger worked for the fragrance house of Firmenich, and he signed both Knowing (1988) and Clinique Wrappings (1990). While his portfolio wasn’t as extensive as that of some other perfumers, he had a distinctive style, and both Knowing and Wrappings remain beloved classics.

estee-lauder-knowing

Roger passed away on Nov. 19, 2010, after a long career, which started in 1946 in Grasse, France, his hometown. He worked for 20 years at Firmenich, both in New York and Paris, and he received the American Society of Perfumers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Since he crafted two American classics as well as some other interesting fragrances, it’s well-deserved recognition.

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Estee Lauder Knowing : Fragrance Review

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Estée Lauder Knowing blends roses and moss, one of Elisa’s favorite perfume pairings. She revisits this glamorous and plush fragrance today.

There’s just nothing like a rose chypre. Though the perfume world has given me no shortage of beautiful options in this moss inflected category, there’s something about it that feels endlessly variable to me, and if I ever had the money and good fortune to commission a bespoke fragrance from a great perfumer, the perfect rose chypre is what I would chase.

knowing

As luck would have it, this category hasn’t yet been ruined by time or perfume regulations (unlike, say, lily of the valley). The classical chypre accord, traditionally a harmony between bergamot, oakmoss, and labdanum, is harder to achieve since oakmoss was identified as an allergen in 2001. But perhaps because rose plays so nicely with earthy materials like patchouli and vetiver, only a touch of the now restricted oakmoss is needed to create a dramatic effect. So, for example, Francis Kurkdjian’s Lumiere Noire Pour Femme (2009) is almost as beautiful as L’Arte di Gucci (1991).

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The Universal Layer : Lalique Amethyst

Today Elisa talks about her most versatile layering perfumes and gives examples on how to create layering combinations. For more tips and information on layering, see How to Layer Perfumes (Part 1 and Part 2) here at Bois de Jasmin or “Adventures in Perfume Layering” at Open Letters Monthly.

Layering is a controversial practice among perfumistas. Some question why you’d disrupt the experience of a presumably complete work of art – isn’t that like hanging a Calder mobile in front of a Pollock painting? But I’ve found that the nose isn’t capable of appreciating every single material present in a perfume at once; we tend to experience it as a whole, a single smell, and that opens up possibilities. Much as you might need to layer two lipsticks to find your perfect red, layering two (or more) perfumes sometimes produces a better – or at least appealingly different – scent experience.

orchids

Lalique Amethyst is one of those perfumes that I like in theory but rarely wear in practice. Like Rosabotanica, it’s mostly a great set of top notes (blackcurrant and rose) without much of a base. Its simplicity is what makes it both a little unsatisfying on its own and one of my favorite layering perfumes. Naturally, it’s nice for bringing out more rose and blackcurrant in perfumes where those notes are already present (as in Moschino Funny!). But I was surprised to discover that it’s truly a shapeshifter in pairings; it layers pleasantly with almost anything and it’s nearly impossible to predict what the combination will smell like!

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Estee Lauder Sensuous, Sensuous Nude, and Sensuous Noir : Fragrance Reviews

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Everyone in the perfume world bristled at Estée Lauder’s recent claims that Modern Muse was its first major launch since Beyond Paradise. They may want us to forget about Sensuous, but we haven’t! Today, Elisa revisits Sensuous and its two flankers.

noir

Sensuous

3 stars

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Sensuous (2008) is one of those rare perfumes that is not (quite) as good as its flankers. It’s almost as though Estée Lauder designed the pillar with the flankers in mind – it’s a stripped down skin scent practically begging to be layered or embellished.

But simple or not, Sensuous is exceedingly comfortable and well done. It doesn’t have a pyramid-style development, just a fairly linear balance between soft white floral notes (jasmine and lily), warm woody notes, and a citrusy white musk. (Note, however, that anything with vanilla smells more vanillic as it dries down.) In classic Estee Lauder style, it radiates good taste – there’s a daytime-appropriate freshness you rarely see in amber fragrances, and the sweetness is restrained, never verging on gourmand.

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