Guy Laroche : Fidji

Created by : Josephine Catapano

Date : 1966

Genre : Green floral gorgeous (was)

Concentration : eau de toilette

I went looking for something to wear for the spring today.  Can you imagine that here we are in late March in Montreal and winter dumped another 10 cms. of snow?  And… it’s chilly, humid and windy!  I needed something to remind me of the summer.  So when I saw the Fidji bottle in the discount perfumer’s showcase, I asked to try it out.  When I think of perfumes my mother wore, I think of Crêpe de Chine, L’Air du Temps and Fidji, in that order.  And I’m happy to say that I was the one who introduced her to Fidji.  A girl I liked who lived across the street from our house wore it and I thought this girl was beautiful and classy and so I bought Fidji for my mother for Christmas and it became her signature scent for a long time.  I wanted to see if Fidji had held up or not.

The sales associate sprayed some on a scent strip and then on my skin.  I got a blast of “old school” gorgeous!  All the elements were there as I remembered them… green galbanum, a symphony of white florals, banana-tinged ylang ylang for that tropical edge and civet… but done so expertly, I thought… this is it!  What luck!  At my very first outing, I found what I’ve been looking for.  But… before pulling out my credit card, a little voice in my head spoke… “step away from the counter”… and I did… long enough to check out the notes on the Internet.  All the French classic ingredients were there… jasmine, rose, violet, carnation and a base of musk, patchouli, amber, vetiver and moss!  It was incredible… but still I waited and I’m glad I did because within 15 minutes Fidji had morphed  on my skin to be a soapy, floral, powdery concoction… the fresh green note had disappeared as had the ylang ylang. It wasn’t what it started out to be… but still I thought it wasn’t half bad.  But then, an hour into the fragrance… meh!  Beautiful Fidji had become a sweet, powdery nondescript scent that, although not unpleasant, wasn’t enough to make it into my magic closet.

And so… in the middle of the mall, a little ditty from about the same time that Fidji hit the market came to mind.

Estée Lauder : Youth Dew

Created by : Josephine Catapano (?)

Date : 1953

Genre : Cola amber

Concentration : Eau de parfum

My friend Roland knows wine.  He elbowed me at the cinema while watching Midnight in Paris to signal out a very prestigious bottle of wine that was at Salvador Dali’s table.  I hadn’t noticed… I was too busy enjoying the Youth Dew that was wafting through the air.  At first I thought I was surrounded by several coke fiends.  The smell of cola was dizzying, as was the heavy butter scent, no doubt from the popcorn.  But it was Youth Dew that was mystical.  It brought me to another time.

When Estée Lauder realized that American women didn’t buy their own perfumes, she tricked them.  She came out with a bath oil which she named Youth Dew.  Apparently, she asked the perfumer to make it gentle enough that it could be put directly on the skin as perfume, if desired.  When the ladies were seduced by its scent, she came out with the eau de parfum.  No one can accuse Estée Lauder of not being a smart businesswoman.  I wish I had one-tenth of her savvy.

I don’t like to list notes that most people won’t get.  Most perfumes can be reduced to 3 or 4 notes and it’s the same with Youth Dew.  It’s a herbal amber (think balsam wood, not vanilla)… but it has a distinctive and predominant cola facet.  When I hold the scent strip up to my nose, I also get a frankincense note.  I like to use Youth Dew in my perfume workshops because it is so distinctive and fun… a little goes a long way and, true to Estée Lauder’s mission to provide women with a little luxury for little cost, this one is extremely reasonable.

Youth Dew is classic top-down architecture.  It starts with a slightly citrus top… moves to a herbal cola centre and ends with a sultry, sexy frankincense finish.  I know of very few perfumes where I look forward to the basenotes… this is one of them.  I had a great time wearing it today.  I was never bored.

In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen used Parlez-Moi d’Amour as the leitmotif for the past in his movie and although it doesn’t hark back all the way to La Belle Époque as the movie might suggest (it was written in 1930), it’s a lovely song.  Enjoy!

Top image : Photo of Estée Lauder

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