Youth Dew Amber Nude

Half full ribbed hourglass bottle with tall gold cap and brown grosgrain ribbon belt, with cinnamon sticks and an orange carnation.

(There’s something deliciously ghoulish about buying perfume from an estate sale. You know that bottle is haunted, but you take it home anyway.)

Tom Ford’s remix of Estée Lauder’s classic Youth Dew smells exactly the way Swedish Julmust tastes, only sexier.

For those who’ve never been to Sweden in December, Julmust is a sweet spiced cola made with ginger and citrus and other secret ingredients, and is the only non-alcoholic drink you’re allowed at Christmas.

Amber Nude starts with an effervescent pop of candied grapefruit peel, ginger and cinnamon, then mixes in carnation sweetened with jasmine and ylang-ylang, which turns into clove spice-drops that melt in personal space all evening long. Spun sugar amber and warm woods linger on clothes forever afterward.

Brilliant for holiday parties with low cleavage dresses.
(Cheers to you, dead lady with good taste in minimalist furniture and sexy perfume. I bet you were fun.)


Cheryl Wheeler is a brilliant folksinger and songwriter whose tunes have been covered by Bette Midler, Garth Brooks, and many others.


BeautifulA bottle of Bridezilla, with a cathedral length train.

She comes in on full pipe organ, fruity sweet floral honey for the first half hour, then the nectar turns to a cascade of petals: carnations and roses, lilac and mimosa.
Spills blooms through the reception and the dancing, and ends in sweet vanilla sandalwood and musk, trailing Just Married signs–
–and wasn’t her dress just beautiful?

A another good first dance song that came out the same year.


Mini bottle with clear ball cap and yellow eau.

Lovely rosy cranberries, fresh and juicy at first hello.
Then it gets brilliant with an unusual spicy-sweet, warm floral–
Karo-karounde is an African bush related to coffee, with rich blooms said by the Perfume Society to smell like jasmine and chocolate. L’Artisan Parfumeur features it at the heart of Timbuktu.
–I get a lot of pink pepper and curry-plant from it, maybe even nutmeg.

The guy says it smells like cilantro.
I think he’s catching the green edge of the lily-of-the-valley, and maybe some of the sandalwood at the base.

Doesn’t project as much as the other Estee Lauder foghorns I’ve tried. Misty florals stay within personal space, with sweet spicy roses on the skin, for most of the day.

Pleasures came out in 1995, and Joan Osborne released One of Us. Prince covered it best.

Youth Dew

youth dew
Apothecary mortar and pestle with peppercorns and coriander seeds, and a vintage frosted mini bottle with flower stopper.

Peachy aldehydes that morph into peppery spice–cinnamon and clove, balsam and patchouli–then fade to incense over dry powdery rose.

This one was first released in 1953–Joan Crawford wore it.
It’s got a great slinky, film noir, dark-silhouette-framed-in-smoke feel, the woman who talks softly but commands all your attention until she’s done with you.

This one came out the same year.

Private Collection

Private Collection
Private Collection pear shaped frosted mini bottle filled with gold eau, casting pretty amber shadows.

I love the opening, a magician’s big poof of flowers hidden in a sleeve.
They turn green quickly, facefuls of huge leafy citrus blooms with extra greenery, and woodsy patchouli stems by the armload.

Private Collection came out in 1973, but doesn’t bare the civet fangs that were so popular then–the base is cedar and bright spice a few feet from the skin. The dry down on clothes is wildflower sweet for two days.

The top notes are so fun, and the finish is pretty, but the middle feels like I’ve been whumped in the chest by the biggest bridal bouquet ever thrown.

This one first came out then, too.


knowingThis one should come with a warning: a little bit goes a loooong way.

Frothy aldehydic opening, mimosa sweet–the whole blooming tree, not just one flower. Then the cat spray hits–make that three cats, two toms fighting over a queen–though the roses and patchouli do their best to drown them out.
After a few hours, moss creeps in and covers everything under the roses–everything–your skin, your house, your neighborhood–turning them into herbal topiary sculptures that cast weird spicy green rose-shaped shadows until the sun goes down.
Except they’re there the next day. And the next. You can’t outrun this stuff. It laughs at hot showers, goes swimming in the laundry, dances under the garden hose.

Please send help.

Knowing came out in 1988, along with Enya’s Orinoco Flow. A little of that goes a long way, too. Here’s the shortest cover I could find.

White Linen

white linenClassy soap powder.

Aldehydes and lilac with some sweetness, settling into soft floral sandalwood that lasts all day long, just within personal space.

There’s a retro middle-class “cleanliness is next to godliness” vibe to it, laundered and starched and proper.

Sometimes I put a drop on the dryer sheet when I wash bedding.

Dog and Butterfly first came out in 1978, too.