Varanis Ridari's Review of Estée by Estée Lauder

Estée by Estée Lauder (1968) is the second fragrance for women created by the house, following Youth Dew by Estée Lauder (1953), and the third overall release following Aramis by Estée Lauder (1965), which was a men's launch eventually moved to its own division. Also being the second fragrance created by Bernard Chant for the brand, his first women's fragrance for Lauder, and the first fragrance marketed as a "super fragrance", Estée is pretty special in many ways; although it was never as big of a statement maker compared to the previous perfume nor the things to come from the house, like Azurée by Estée Lauder (1969) the following year. I think a lot of this has to do with the way it was handled, the way Estée smells, and just a combination of little things that add up quickly to make a fragrance that decidedly doesn't want to say anything about its wearer, just itself. Estée Lauder herself didn't even consider this her signature fragrance even though it bore her name, and famously just asked for a scent that captured the "light between two crystal chandeliers shimmering through a glass of champagne", which speaks volumes of the thematic opposition this has to almost everything else in her early lines from the 1950's to the late 1980's. I like Estée and it is very much a classic exercise in chypre craft, being a lush bed of flowers and fruits over a soft and chewy bed of oakmoss, it just lacks the aggressive bite that her 70's output in this same style would have.

Estée opens with coridander and jasmine with a massive blast of aldehydes, I mean enough aldehydes to make Coco Chanel herself take pause, and then some. This big aldehyde blast is responsible for the many complaint of Estée smelling of bug spray, especially if over-applied and especially if you're using an older vintage of the "super cologne" before it became something else later on. The aldehydes really make this a fragrance for aldehyde lovers and they last hours into the dry down, unlike others where there is a puff then gone. However, the key players beyond these remain the coriander, soft floral jasmine followed by a nice full rose. Estée Lauder Knowing (1988) twenty years later would revisit this rose and make it stronger, with patchouli and some civet. while he it sits more quietly, surrounded by muguet, iris, and carnation for a much soapier feel, albeit not as soapy as the sharp savon of Estée Lauder Private Collection (1973). I probably make it seem like many themes were pulled from Estée and later extrapolated into their own dedicated perfumes for Lauder, and knowing how Bernard Chant self-references in his work, I'm probably right. In any case, this soapy rose and carnation end up on a lovely ambery chypre base of oakmoss, orris, sandalwood, and musk from ylang-ylang. Assuming you survive the aldehydes, the payoff here is a nice rich and smooth floral chypre experience with the right balance of clean and dirty, although more the former than latter. Expect 10+ hours or more from most incarnations of this old girl, including the newest much-tamed version out there.

Lots of drugstore and other value-oriented brands like Revlon, Avon, and Elizabeth Arden would spend the better part of the next decade trying to strike the same level of sedate balance in their feminine-market work; so despite Estée's inability to strike passers-by with its charm, it did seem to render the competition smitten, and sold very well. Coriandre by Jean Couturier (1973) is probably the more-risque version of this scent, although I wouldn't say that makes it better. Avon would also try an oddly more animalic and pissy version of this with Avon Charisma (1970), then would go into a far soapier direction with Avon Unspoken (1975), that the brand labelled cheekily as an "ultra-cologne". Revlon hit with Moon Drops (1970) while truth be told, Estée might have been a reaction to Climat by Lancôme (1967), released a year prior. There's also a bit of confusion concerning the difference between "Estée" and "Estée Super" but the reality is they are actually the same if we're talking about "super cologne/super fragrance" permutations of the Estée release dating from the 1960's through until the product nomenclature switched to "Super Eau de Parfum" in more-recent bottles. It's the "super perfume/pure fragrance spray" that's actually a different animal from the standard Estée which got its start in a pineapple-shaped bottle, and itself was never known as "Estée Super" anyway. A great classic floral chypre of exquisite quality for all lovers of these vintage styles, but more of a demure kitten in the catalog once you get past the reverberating aldehyde roar. Thumbs up

  1. Varanis Ridari

    The Scented Devil From Seattle/Bellevue WA
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Recent Reviews of Estée by Estée Lauder

“There is a sublime effervescence to Estée EDP.  The aldehydes open in a shimmer, opal glow, almost a…” Read More
“Estée by Estée Lauder (1968) is the second fragrance for women created by the house, following Youth…” Read More
Varanis Ridari
“An innocuous drugstore floral chore, of no real value to the world of scents, but not really bad on …” Read More
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