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November 17, 2005

Fragrance Review: Youth Dew Amber Nude by Estee Lauder

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Youth Dew, introduced in 1953, was renowned for featuring 30% oil concentration, almost triple the usual amount. Its pairing of balsamic richness with a cloud of earthy patchouli renders the composition as dark, heavy and intriguingly languorous. At the same time, its dense and sonorous effect can be an olfactory challenge. Thus, for the winter of 2005, Estée Lauder revealed an Amber Nude collection designed by Tom Ford, with the Youth Dew interpretation joining the Lauder classic. Youth Dew Amber Nude promised to respect the character of the original composition, while unveiling its softer side.

The composition indeed is structured around the spicy floral heart and the balsamic base like the original Youth Dew; however, Amber Nude is sweeter and more luminous. Spices are gently folded into the main accord, in contrast to their liberal layering in the original. Where the sweetness of Youth Dew comes from dark rich notes of tolu balsam and benzoin, Amber Nude relies on gourmand vanilla, powdery chocolate and transparent amber. ...

The initial impression of a vivid spicy burst is akin to biting into a piece of fresh ginger root. Sparkling spice is complemented by a dose of warm peppery dryness. This serves as an interesting counterpoint to the syrupy sweetness that seeps out of the top accord which is reminiscent of black cherry jam.

In the heart, dark, spicy carnations swell over indolic jasmine and heady rose accented by fruity damascones, which lend a luscious plumy note to the classical Youth Dew heart. The floral accord of the original is made fruity and abstract, a cross between a floral bouquet and a Turkish apricot leather. Nevertheless, the composition is not what I would deem as overly sweet at any point in its development.

The indolic facet lacing the flower petals of the heart grows more pronounced over time, lending an animalic quality to the composition. It is both disconcerting and appealing, however in the base, it seems to be veiled over by the winey effervescence of patchouli and the earthy notes of vetiver. Amber is present in the radiant warmth, dispelling the somber character of the patchouli-vetiver pairing. 

The composition seems like an interesting take on the classical darkness of Youth Dew, although it lacks boldness of the original, which not only made Youth Dew memorable (and for some detestable), but also inspired a number of fragrances, from Yves Saint Laurent Opium to Calvin Klein Obsession. Youth Dew Amber Nude is a more subtle version of these fragrances, however one would not be mistaken in including it in the oriental family.

Notes include tea, ginger, magnolia, grapefruit, black rose, carnations, jasmine, ylang-ylang, patchouli, amber, vetiver, chocolate, musk, vanilla. Available from Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, and other select retailers. It is also about to be released in Harrods and Harvey Nichols in the UK.

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