Reviews of Knowing 
Estée Lauder (1988)

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Knowing by Estée Lauder

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Reviews of Knowing by Estée Lauder

There are 53 reviews of Knowing by Estée Lauder.

Knowing envelops and stuns me. It's really difficult to articulate, like a cipher that can't be decoded. I just know that this is the culmination of decades of chypre evolution, composed by Jean Kerleo of Jean Patou fame, dialing back the stewed fruits a bit and ramping up the animalic growl. A salty, erogenous civet exalts all else here: synergizing with the aldehydes, transmogrifying the cottony mimosa sweetness into something neon and potent. The sillage is stratospheric: Knowing, at least my older version, is not one to be over-sprayed, or else others will be knowing you're on your way long before you enter the room.

Then there's the glowing rose and the patchouli: wow. A half hour in, and it's a blissful stage in the development where a rose garden is in the middle of a pine forest still damp from rain. It's a vernal mossy hallucination of a fragrance, fleshy florals, earthy, damp and rich, loamy. Suggestions of vetiver even come through in its dry down, giving an impression of raw vegetation cavorting with a slight skank under all the hypnotic blooms. Knowing is startlingly assertive, and that is part of its beauty and genius, just handle with care and enjoy the ride!

Knowing is an extraordinary fragrance; very much like a Guerlain or Gres creation. I'm surprised it's not one the Lauder best sellers. One reason might be it's name: hardly captivating or original. Sort of like they ran out of ideas. And the bottle looks like it was thrown together by someone with poor motor skills. That said, I believe it's one of the finest fragances for the 80s: Unisex; rich, deep and lasting; the very best rose chypre I know and, surprisingly, at its best in warm weather. A dab here and dab there goes a long way and the heat summons a low decibel explosion of rose and moss that has great longevity. The drydown remains true to the top notes. There are other olfactory elements lurking, but rose/moss predominates and each bring out the best in one another---like a good marriage. This beast is a beauty. 10/10

Sometimes the heavens part in the long trudge of trying out perfumes that are kinda ok but not worth pursuing further than the test-a-few-times stage and a ray of golden light beams down and hallelujahs sound. Knowing is, for me, one of those moments: a fully orchestrated perfume that I have only recently had the pleasure of, ahem, getting to know and which I am already clasping to my moobs in ecstasy.
The internet is awash with accounts of how this is only for mature, confident, yada-yada people, as if something that is as full-spectrum and unabashed with its goodies requires life experience on top of enthusiastic appreciation. Pay no heed and just depress that sprayer.
What awaits is a tapestry in boudoir shades. A gorgeous complex base of musky, mossy and woody tones, so rich and luxuriant that it rips the pants off much that passes for pricey niche. Set on it are burnished floral notes, proper fatty jasmine and sweet, almost peachy rose among them, that glint like gemstones but are also perfectly integrated by the gradations of cardamom, coriander, sandal, all of which shade by degree the space between the variegated flowers and the darker depths of that base. This is a perfume of all sorts united in perfect song. It’s bold, it feels like a thousand bucks and one need not go hunting down vintages to experience its armoury of temptations.

NOTE: This is my impression of the current formulation. I've never smelled an older version and honestly have little interest in doing so with such easy access to this stuff

Knowing opens like a bullet through your soft palate. It makes your blood rush–a full symphonic blast of radiated aldehydes and thorny roots, both framing a singeing knot of civet, mimosa, and rose that grips you by the sphenoid, lifting you up to get a better look at its prey. The impression of a living thing nearby you stays throughout the first hour or so, and from the time I first smelled this stuff the top has vividly called to mind some kind of huge slick-black beast with piss-matted fur grinning down at me from high in the rafters of an abandoned wood cathedral, the floor an overrun and mossy tangle of roses and mulch in all directions. It's as engrossing and rewarding as an opening can possibly be, the monster-funk lifted into perfect balance by the floral and the sweet.

From there, it relaxes and the light dims as the astringency seems to change hands from the animalic to the familiar, recalling a wooden spoon bobbing in a simmering pot of vinegar or cider, which lets the feminine contours of the shape come into clearer view. It's a steady flow of sweet flowers and sour fruits occluding and one-upping each other as you sit with it. By the end you're left with a sensual/skin-like smell with a pleasantly coherent chord I see I first described in my notes as “fermented genital lichen swallowing a faint plum.” That doesn't quite capture the calming delicacy of the scent but I'm failing to write anything much better.

This whole description might not get it across but this is a seriously alluring scent on anyone with the confidence for it. Even (especially) at its most unhinged it is completely intoxicating to smell on someone else, and is overwhelming in the way that could intimidate as easily as it could disarm. My girlfriend and I will likely break into punches over who can spend the day smelling it on the other at least once before quarantine is over. This is a masterpiece of a chypre that you can buy relatively cheap and it should be on your shelf, no questions asked. If you don't like it, keeping smelling it until you aren't incorrect anymore

A rose chypre that nicked the cheesewood from Aromatics and sprinkled it with powder.

Sample vial

Knowing is your usual vintage floral fragrance, with a bit of bitterness that I dislike. Very potent, as most Lauder fragrances. Average in this style.

I don't recall getting that memo, but apparently there was something of a powerhouse "last stand" in the feminine-marketed segment of the designer fragrance world, just not on the same level as the male-oriented one, because the prevalence of animalic scents for guys in the 80's was much greater. However, they weren't the sole recipients of soon-to-be rare, undervalued, and virile moss bombs as some vintage colognoisseurs might have you believe with their blog posts. In fact, Estée Lauder Knowing (1988) follows a formula many of the more dandy masculine powerhouses borrowed from the women's sector in its representation of the oriental rose chypre. Boss/Boss Number One by Hugo Boss (1985), Ho Hang Club/Le Club de Balenciaga (1987), Bogart Furyo (1988), Azzaro Acteur (1989), and more would all play with rose, patchouli and civet, but sometimes also with leather, or incense in some form, and all were quite gender bending with their appeal and voluminous strength, just marketed as unmistakably manly when some of them really weren't. Knowing revisits this murky style for women, a style once wildly popular in the postwar years when Estée Lauder's first perfume (Youth Dew from 1953) hit the market, but here in Knowing we get a kitchen sink construction with greater focus than past entries in this league thanks to the starring note of pittosporum. The flower in question can be considered a weed in some countries like Australia, where it grows rampantly on vines to the detriment of other flora, but in continental European countries like France, it often covers trestles mades just for the purpose of decoratively holding vines.

Estée Lauder's daughter-in-law Evelyn was on a vacation in France when she discovered the pittosporum aroma crossed with rose, tracing its source to such a trestle, and returning home to request basing a perfume around it. Knowing was composed by Elie Rodger, whose only other composition with Lauder was the now-discontinued Clinique Wrappings (1990). Jean Kerleo is purported to have spoken to Evelyn Lauder while she was in France, giving her the genesis of the idea, but he had no hand in the composition as he never wandered outside Jean Patou or its then-subsidiaries like Lacoste perfumes, regardless of what other perfume sites tell you. Bernard Chant was also no longer on deck at Lauder by 1988, so Elie Rodger had to go it alone outside of input from Evelyn. Knowing opens with a huge push of Turkish rose and pittosporum on a cloud of bergamot, with tiny puffs of galbanum and tuberose, but right off the bat we also get a sweet plum and manadarin orange married to wiffs of patchouli from the middle, giving oriental inflections. The patchouli merges with rose and an accord very close to the eponymous Hugo Boss masculine emerges, especially when the civet comes into play, making Knowing feel almost like a Boss/Boss Number One Pour Femme, but only slightly. Cardamom and jasmine indole come on strong in the heart, and Knowing cruises very close to the faux Middle-Eastern vibe of modern Western ouds. The base is pure oakmoss, honeyed civet, musk, and amber bliss with some shades of cedar, sandal, and vetiver to keep it from being sweet. Folks who like their green chypres big and stinky will absolutely adore the finish of Knowing. Longevity is amazing and sillage is appropriately "80's loud" so be discreet with application. Most animalic rose chypres or orientals don't come across very relevant or appropriate for modern Western contexts in the 21st century, since everyone loves being clean and sweet these days, so wear this one where you will. Knowing will never come across friendly or inviting, but it will feel bold, showy, and like a peacock fanning its feathers, which was a very masculine trait that women looking for the "don't mess with me" aesthetic made popular by the squared-shouldered clothing and teased hair of the day were after.

Modern formulas of Knowing reduce the oakmoss to IFRA-friendly levels and also tone down the now-synthetic civet note to more polite modern tastes, but the stuff is still good. You'll need to look for darker juice, a "Made in Switzerland" label for the full monty, and can even shoot for a gold label if you want deep vintage, but in reality, the difference between pre and post-restriction formulas is the juice color, not the label. Older, darker batches of knowing will hit you full on in the face with dark rose, an indolic and basalmic middle, patchouli, oakmoss, ambery musk, and honeyed civet growl, so that's what to look for if that's what you're after. Otherwise, any bottle will do if you're looking for the basic point of the perfumer. Knowing is also very masculine-friendly much like Cabochard de Grés (1959) or Chanel No. 19 (1971), and dare I say almost feels more masculine than feminine in a 21st century scene full of rose-powered oud orientals for men, with civet and amber here standing in the more-fashionable oud's place. Knowing is more Moulin Rouge than Meryl Streep to my nose, so ladies loving the 80's but looking to avoid the sweet tuberose bombs or hairspray scents might want to start here, plus fans of old stinkers like Guerlain Jicky (1889) should take note too. Ladies, men, or anyone appreciating mossy roses like the original Rive Gauche (1971) will also find favor with Knowing. Palomo Picasso (1989) continues this style just a bit further (for those of you who like some homework), but Knowing is in my mind the best of the "skank pack" from this period on the women's side of the fragrance fence, and wears pretty vividly on anyone all year round! Huge thumbs up here! Love it love it love it!!!

This is the second "female" fragrance in my collection. Marketed as a woman's scent, I think it's very unisex, probably because of the strong oakmoss. It's primarily an oakmoss and aldehyde combination, which I love (reminds me of Gre cabochard in that respect), married with fantastic complex floral, fruity and woody notes, too numerous and complex for me to discern individually. Maybe I get the rose, which again I think goes great with oakmoss, making it fresh and soapy.
I love the way you get this beautiful, unmistakable floral note shining through the moss now and again, it's addictive. Hard to describe the effect it has: me it's like two different scents, one not quite hidden behind the other, and yet the two are inseparable. Or imagine someone in classic, quite severe clothes who suddenly lights up with a beautiful and infectious smile.
I've had loads of compliments in the office with this over the last three days.
Sillage and longevity are great too.
Well worth the money (I bought a bottle) and guys need not be afraid of it either.
March 2016

The opening notes combine a fruity-floral combination with an aldehydic undertone. The fruits are plum and a touch of orange; the floral component is mainly jasmine with a fairly bright rose with orange blossom and hints of tuberose; there is a white floral contribution that fits in perfectly well with the rest.

Over times a zesty but not-too-harsh patchouli develops, which in the base is paired with a nice oakmoss. The later is well composed and finely balanced, and towards the end sees a light woodsy-ambery note added in. The overall impression is delightful, although in newer samples he mossy contribution has been scaled back to a practically negligible degree.

The perfomance is splendid: moderate sillage, excellent projection and a tremendous thirteen hours of longevity.

This a fine tradional floral chypre, great in autumn and composed of good quality ingredients. 3.25/5.

This is a review for the current EDP, and I'm sorry to say that Knowing can no longer be included in the chypre category. Gone is the bite of moss to round out its floral notes - not only is oakmoss not among the listed ingredients, even tree moss is absent. Today's Knowing is a pleasant rose concoction, pretty and refined and not much else. It's not bad, so I can't give it a thumbs-down; but it isn't Knowing anymore, either, so a neutral rating is the best I can do.

Lauder's website now describes Knowing as a floral/woody fragrance, but in its past incarnations this was a gorgeous rose chypre. I don't know why Lauder still lists oakmoss among the basenotes, since the ingredients tabulation on the box makes no mention of oakmoss (or even tree moss) - maybe moss is present in such a small amount that they're not required to list it.

Knowing is one of the few fragrances I wear where straight men stop and ask what wonderful "cologne" I'm wearing. It is highly unusual for heterosexual men to stop a 6'4" male stranger and tell him he smells good, so it must really pique their curiosity. The current formula is more streamlined, bitter, and dry than before--fine with me--which causes it to edge more toward Bandit and perhaps more suitable for masculine wear. It's an intelligent scent that conveys a degree of sexiness while remaining nicely aloof. Additionally, it's one of the few remaining real French (though parodoxically American in origin) chypres still on department store shelves. Like Aromatics, it seems to have a devoted cult following and still sells well, as evidenced by the fact that Lauder didn't relegate it to the "House of Lauder" collection recently as it did all its other older scents. The original ad with Paulina Porizkova, arms crossed in a tuxedo, is one of my favorites. The fact that it's a ripoff of the Deneuve No. 5 ads from the 70s doesn't detract one bit. There aren't smart ads for smart perfumes for smart women in tuxedos anymore.

A perfume of conquest.KNOWING draws its strenght from powerful expresses the warmth and sensuality of female body.a dark chypre oriental, become the source of addiction.this is by far one of my favorite scents for blends into the skin to create a Infinitely warm,irresistibly sophisticated, dangerously voluptuous,highly classic, mysteriously complex and clearly Sexy scent.

The top notes burst to reveal aldehydes, green notes and coriander. the middle notes develop to include patchouli, cedar,jasmine,lily of the valley accord. finlly the base casts an addictive spell with an intoxicating overdose of wood, oakmoss and civet making the scent a sensual reserved for cold weather.definitely for a femme fatale not for the faint of heart.

If I wear Knowing to church, men follow me through the Coffee Hour following the service.

Knowing is a good - great, perhaps - floral chypre of the late '80s which bears a distinctive fruity-citrus breeze together with a floral feel tending more towards the delicate-soapy-sweet side, all together wrapped around a great, juicy, refined rose accord. All the "dark side" is there too - benzoin, civet, oak moss, aldehydes - but overall, at least for the first couple of hours, Knowing is as much carnal as lively, carrying a subtle sort of fizzy, invigorating and graceful spring feel. Which is enough to make it stand out of the crowd of chypres; not a gourmand but lightly fruity and sweet, not a "femme fatale chypre" but with all it needs to smell feminine, sensual and sophisticated enough. And not just a floral scent centered on rose. Plus, the evolution is subtle but really well engineered; after a while, the oak moss note starts to emerge over the sweeter–brighter notes, dirtening the overall liveliness with its woody-mossy sour dryness–thus enhancing the gloomier side of rose. A nice twist for sure. A perfect candidate for any "high-quality-chypres" rotation and a must try for rose fans.


Genre: Floral

Knowing is a rose so big that a family of four could take up residence inside it and still have room to entertain. You know it comes from the 1980s: never before or since have floral scents been as loud. Knowing is to rose what Giorgio, Amarige and Poison are to tuberose. A scent like Joy is feeble next to Knowing, and of the older florals only Fracas comes to mind as matching its flamboyance.

For all its heft, Knowing is still a great rose. It may be big, but it's highly articulated, filled with interesting detail, and surprisingly well proportioned. Smelling Knowing navigate its way around being too sweet, too heady, too soapy, or too fruity is like watching a circus elephant pluck a daisy by the stem. How can anything so huge be so poised and dexterous? Knowing will appeal to those who love Pierre Montale's grand rose scents, and I might even go so far as suggest it as a less exotic, though much more affordable, rosy alternative to Amouage Lyric. In case my description leaves any doubt, Knowing fills the room and lasts forever. There's no turning back once you press that sprayer!

This is a wonderfully old-fashioned scent, smelling like the latest it could possibly have been created would have been in the 1950s. It is a fragrant green floral chypre that is extremely well balanced. There is a big rose at the center, but it never screams at you, it only insinuates itself to support the other florals.

Top notes: Coriander, Neroli
Middle notes: Rose, Jasmine, Lily, Cardamom, Cedarwood, Vetiver
Base notes: Patchouli, Oak Moss, Honey, Musk, Amer, Civet

One of Lauder's finest and highly recommended.

I couldn't buy a bottle fast enough. The infatuation was wild and delicious. Just released, yes I knew everything. Half way through the bottle we encountered irrevocable differences, I began to smell apples during the 'everything scented apple' phase. And that was it, I gave it away. Sometimes, at the perfume counter, I give it a whirl, but it doesn't rock my world. Now it's somebody that I used to know.
It's not you, you're wonderful, it's me.

An amalgam of all the best chypres, and more than the sum of its parts, Knowing is among Kerleo's best creations and Lauder's finest releases. Only the most minute dab of the vintage parfum or edp is ever needed to bask in this glorious scent all day long complete with alluring sillage; oh Lauder's glorious economy of scent, as Knowing could be a great Patou with ease or could pass for Caron or vintage Dior at four times the price.

The rose chypre par excellence, this rose is dry and evil, seductive but menacing and grim. The odd fruits are Dionysian offerings, nothing ripe or sweet about them. Knowing is crypto-pagan but overtly 90s working woman austere. The Paulina Porizkova commercial from the early 90s portrays a time much like today's: full of upheaval, solemnity, uncertainty, goofy as the ultimate fall into solipsism in the ad is. Knowing is just another perfume, but when I wear it, its strength, boldness, seeming olfactive translation of staring difficulty right in the face and prevailing, gives me a kind of solidity and feeling of steely grace. Knowing is somewhat industrial, sky scrapers and platform heels, but the oakmoss and civet keep on whispering about witchy secrets and sex. There is a divinity and untouchable simplicity to how absolutely right Knowing is when used very sparingly: hours of style and mystery.

Not bad. However, I believe Knowing is a cheaper version of Coriandre by Couturier launched 15 years earlier. These fragrances share almost the exact same base notes:

Knowing: Sandalwood, patchouli, civet, oakmoss, vetiver

Coriandre: Sandalwood, patchouli, civet, oakmoss, vetiver, musk

Of course, the top and middle notes are quite different (with the exception of the rose which is common to both fragrances) but to the untrained nose these two perfumes are oddly similar. Knowing is not as crisp and clean as Coriandre. It is a little heavier and most certainly not as chic and refined as Coriandre. Since Coriandre is not easy to find in some parts of the world, maybe Knowing could be a reasonable second-best but still...

I know I'm in the minority here, but my only experience with Knowing is a quick spray on the wrist at a department store while on lunch break. Despite a thorough scrubbing, when I got back to work I made two of my patients ill, one even asked what was that horrible smell. Its perserverance after washing with industrial soap has convinced me this is not a fragrance for medical care workers.

I'm crazy for Estee Lauder and Knowing is another wonderful fragrance from this brand. This is a great chypre, barely honeyed, magistrally classy, clerkly, woodsy, animal and detergent at once in all its vintage opacity and subtle fruity-floral  sophistication.  Floral notes (rose-mimose in particular), oakmoss and a touch of animal and honeyed represent the key elements. Old school and classy for sure in the sliding land populated by complex fragrances joined by an invisible common edge as well as First, Eau de Soir, Diva, Magot, 24 Faubourg, Sweet Redemption, Aromatics Elixir, Cinnabar, Aromatic Lime, Cabotine, krizia, l'Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Youth Dew and others. There is a green, sharply floral (iris?), waxy (?), animalic and mossy background, that reminds me something neutral and laundry (and the note of rose and mimosa give their contribute in order to cast this olfactory feel), together with a powerful bunch of mellow fruits, spices, hesperides, aromatic herbs, ylang-ylang, patchouli and rose-tuberose and woods. Some vetiver, spices and patchouli impress a well calibrated earthy-dusty vibe. Elegant, shadowy, slightly powdery, highly refined (slightly retro but in a silky and never cloying way). Great longevity and good quality of smell.

My first department store purchase of a good perfume back in the 90s. Really only wore Avon scents or drug store scents before finding this. My mom had given me a bottle of Youth Dew, but I didn't care for it and gave it to a friend. That made me look at Estee Lauder's other offerings. Have loved this fragrance ever since and it's my go to scent for special occasions, but wear it to work as well. Very strong, one little spray will go a long way. I can't describe it as well as some others have, but I find it makes me feel strong and sexy and desirable. Has a rosy and woodsy smell. Not a shrinking violet! I wonder if I will ever find another perfume I love as much as this one.

My face is often the look of utter disgust when it comes to sampling Estee Lauder fragrances, with a few exceptions, one being Knowing.

I didn't think I would like this fragrances. Chypres are often too dry or too dusty for me, however Knowing is extremely pleasant. I get mostly powdered roses, earthy patchouli and spices. Together they make a rather sensual blend.

The scent in itself is quite potent, so it is best approached with a light hand. In small doses this fragrance is breath-taking in a womanly, confident and grandiose way.

Towards the drydown, this fragrance loses some of its powderiness, becoming woodsier and drier which gives it further definition. The lasting strength is very good, lasting in terms of days even after a few showers. Miss Dior is a little similar if I had to compare Knowing to anything.

There is something about the rose in this fragrance which becomes quite captivating. I'm not usually a rose person, even though I tend to own many rose-based samples these days. But if I were to suggest an interesting dry and powdery rose, somewhat like pot-pourri, I would definitely recommend Knowing.

I started wearing Knowing in the 90's, and fell in love with the reaction it got. Men would come up to me, say I smelled great, then give me their number and walk away as if it were already too embarrassing of an encounter to bear any further risk of embarrassment.

To the comment of allergies or sensitivities: I have chronic sinusitis, with few allergies, but TONS of sensitivities. I can not be in the same room with Easter lilies or wild phlox, but I can still wear Knowing. However, my mother is extremely sensitive to the scent, and if there is even the remote possibility I will be around her, I will not wear Knowing.

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