This is one of those scents that instantly assaults your nose. It's putrid and offensive.
It evoked my body's fight or flight response. I nearly threw the tester bottle in a fit of rage after I smelled this. Luckily I had a loved one with me that helped me calm down.
It smells like what would happen if I mixed every perfume I've ever owned into a bottle and topped it off with some rotten roadkill liver.
I guess if I had to describe this "perfume" in more specific terms, I would have to call it a sweaty, moth ball, oriental.
I've owned many a bottle and powder-box of this stuff over the years, drawn (I think) to its unmistakable, bold signature and formidable history. It's something I remember my grandmother bathing in and my mom applying sparingly from time to time. It's unique and deserving of its cult status. Yet, in all honesty: how many times did I open that box of powder, trying to like it, and instead thinking, "Who crapped in this box?" How many times did I twist off the cap of that bath oil and decide, "Uh... maybe tomorrow"?
Fact is, the fecal indoles in Youth-Dew just ruin it for me every time. It smells like adult diapers, with a few roses and cinnamon sticks trying to compete for airspace. I can't get past that. I'm done trying. But I will concede some people smell like an amazing hippie headshop in this stuff. Most, though, smell like poop. (Including a lovely, elegantly-dressed coworker who wears YD every day because she thinks she's being a retro femme fatale, and instead smells like poop. I stand my distance respectfully.)
If you don't like big, foxy orientals, stop reading now.
But if you do...this is a lady of a certain age who has left a loveless marriage and is ecstatic to find that she is as sensually alive now as she was when she was twenty. You'll want to kiss the wearer on both cheeks and take her out for a night on the town to celebrate her good luck.
Possibly one of the worst stenches around! On a par with aromatics elixir yuck yuck yuck. Always reminds me of a client who's hair I used to blowdry once a week, she was a lovely lady but I used to take 2 paracetamol before she entered the salon as that wretched stench took my breath away and used to give me a migraine. Not nice at all!
Naysayers know nothing of great perfume, or of its history. YOUTH-DEW is an amazing spicy balsamic, with rich, powerful Oriental basenotes.
Warm and sensual and captivating. It does smell mature, but that's its strength, as it contains classic essences used much more in Midcentury than today: myrrh, frankincense, civet, balsam tolu, rose, oakmoss, jonquil, orchid, indoles, maybe even a soupcon of cigarette smoke. All the EO's in YOUTH-DEW smell authentic, not synthetic at all, and today, that's saying something.
Patchouly, oakmoss and lime-peel add a dusky-sharpness to the cinnamon/clove/allspice/tolu/black pepper mix. Intelligent, stately, bold, sexy. What is made shiny-linear, metallic in OPIUM is here presented full-force, in a round, low-pitched, concentrated boldness that means business. The heady, bulb-flower floralcy peers above the spicy, sappy-balsam-incense conglomerate, adding a chic radiance. Benzoin and vanilla confer a subtle sweetness to YOUTH-DEW's sultry statement; musks add their jungley purr.
Wallflowers need not apply: There are many women today who, wishing to eschew modern fruity/cutesy/faux numbers, could rawk YOUTH-DEW. It has a glam, yet 1950's pussycat-sexy quality to it, teetering upon camp (Hey, whoever gave camp a bad name? Women, you know that in life you have to pull out all the stops sometimes to make an impression!) that modern lovers of things-retro will adore. Picture Ginger from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, Pat Neal in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, Suzy Parker in THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, Phyllis McGuire in cheetah-skin at Miami's FONTAINEBLEAU, or a back-combed Ann-Margret shaking her moneymaker. It's a SHAG painting come to life.
It may be the greatest spicy of the 20thc, at least there in the Top Five, along with L'ORIGAN, OLD SPICE, OPIUM, MITSOUKO. When a fragrance endures THIS long, you bet it has something.
You younger women out there, and men, try it and make it new again as a va-va-voom bombshell, nightclub number. It's probably more at home between-the-sheets than in the office. Sometimes MORE is more. You sex goddesses out there: YOUTH-DEW was the preferred fragrance of Mrs. Wallis "Chinese methods" Simpson; it nailed her a Prince. Wink, wink, say no more.
My grandmother used to wear this sometimes and I liked it. On the other hand when I tried it years ago I gagged. I tried it again a few more times since and was overcome with the urge to wash it off. I tried it again for the last time last night and never again. It is so strong and so potent.
I sprayed one time and the entire area smelled of it for an hour. It smells on me only of incense and cloves. I do not get the other notes much at all. I smell the other scents but they are so jumbled together I can't make them out. I can still smell it tonight on my purse, over 24 hours later which to me is a crazy amount of time, lol. I had a massive headache with it and am wondering how this scent is so popular this many years later.
I love Youth Dew for its uncompromising presence. The strongest of spicy orientals, it's not tempered by tons of fruit or vanilla. Rather, it's all clovey heat and medicinal balsams. Launched in 1953, it's still around because it's good. Not another "me too" fragrance, it's not for everyone, but that's why I like it.
So here I am, at the Estee Lauder counter, snooping around the fragrances. I spot the Youth Dew, which is one of the perfumes I had wanted to test, and along comes the SA. "Ah....Youth Dew", she says. "Ms. Lauder created this decades ago, and it is one of the most popular." Yes, yes, I know this, but I have to be polite. I smile and know I'm in for the sales pitch now. She asks me to walk around to where the perfumes are stocked where she goes on to deliver her sales pitch. I spray Youth Dew on.
Years ago, as a young woman, one of my aunts used Youth Dew, and would give me her bottles when I would visit her. So I had a growing collection of perfume of semi-used bottles of high-end fragrances from my wonderful Aunt Marie. She would give me them just because she was generous and liked to share. Because the next week I would see her, she'd have new bottles of the same stuff. She just liked to give me her perfumes. Aunt Marie was a wonderful, caring, sharing and strong person with everyone. She taught me many things in life and that included humor, too.
I remember finding Youth Dew a very heavy perfume, that I would only use at night, and very sparingly on pulse points. It was a mysterious scent, and back then I didn't know a note from a name. All I did know was that I loved this rubber-coated bottle, I thought it was kitschy and Youth Dew was unlike any other I had every smelled.
Thick, rich, spicy, cloying in its presentation, the aldehydes kick at the beginning, vanilla, musk, amber, the mosses with the woods and the patchouli (I'm a patchouli junkie)...what more could I ask for? Oh this baby was special, no doubt about it. I would wear it only on special occasions, too, because I would think it was too grown-up for me at that time. Once I was married with children, it became a frag I could wear, but not necessarily around the little ones, it's too strong.
So I listen to her sales pitch about the gift sets for Christmas, some time goes by, and I re-smell my arm. Oh no! Where did the Youth Dew go? Where is my beloved memory scent? This Youth Dew is too light, and I'm trying to really get a handle on its notes but I can't smell much at all.
I don't know if it's the reformulation or if the tester bottle was off, but on that particular day Youth Dew did not deliver its promise of a spicy Oriental. I will go to another Lauder counter and re-test this potion, because I really want to see if the perfume standards have changed this beauty that much.
I miss my original Youth Dew.
Top Notes: Aldehydes, Orange, Spices, Peach, Bergamot, Narcissus, Lavender.
Middle Notes: Cinnamon, Cassia, Orchid, Jasmine, Cloves, Ylang-Ylang, Rose, Lily-Of-The-Valley, Spicy Notes.
Base Notes: Tolu Balsam, Peru Balsam, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Vanilla, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Incense.
This is what immediately comes to mind when I think of those horribly strong, dated fragrances. My mum had this fragrance when I was growing up, and she had the mentality that because it was Estee Lauder "it must be the very best perfume if it is made by Estee Lauder" despite how bad it smelled (just like how some people think that any Louis Vuitton bag is amazing, even if it is the most hideously ugly bag ever, just because it is made by LV.) Later on in life she admitted to me that she tried to like it, believing that EL couldn't go wrong, but secretly she thought it was as bad as I did!
The description of this fragrance sounds interesting, and I might have purchased this based on a written description. However, the strength of this fragrance is overpowering to the extreme. It is very spicy, and it is this lingering spiciness which makes it unwearable. It develops into such a strange combination of notes that I can't even identify one of them, but a reviewer below was pretty spot on with the curry description. It is a complex scent and doesn't suit everyone, and only a small amount is needed. Wearing too much can be sickening not only for the wearer (if it turns like it did for me) but also for those around you.
There is something about these fragrances created years ago (like Youth Dew and Shalimar) which have immense staying power but have such a dramatic reaction in people. This is not something I would buy again. I am glad I tried a sample (and it brought back happy memories of growing up) but this is not for me. From the Estee Lauder website: "Top Notes: Rose, Jonquil, Lavender. Middle Notes: Jasmine, Muguet, Spices. Base Notes: Moss, Vetiver, Patchouli"
I'm in the camp that finds this one of the most retched smells imaginable. But I too take issue with the comments equating "old lady" and "awful." People say a perfume smells like old lady, obviously implying that is a strong negative. It is ageist, and it makes me wonder what these ladies think they are going to be if they are fortunate enough not to die young??? We are all future old ladies. BUT STILL...I admit that the image YD has always brought to mind for me is that of a very old woman with a walker and swollen ankles. I'm just being honest and readily accept any flames that may provoke. The age association is possibly due to the fact that this perfume has been around forever and is, in fact, favored by lots of elderly women. But let me be clear: That is not what makes this retched! There are a number of so-called "old lady" scents that I adore. But this is a special kind of hideous. So, thumbs down to this stinker, and thumbs down to mean ageist remarks.