Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Estée Lauder Intuition

So many perfumes I try evoke images for me of serious starlets: Katherine or Audrey Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe. But I can't think of one that has made me think of a man in uniform, much less, um...Gomer Pyle. Why?

Because when I tried Intuition, the first thing I thought was, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

The notes in Intuition are:

Top: mandarin, bergamot, grapefruit, fresh green garden
Heart: gardenia petal, freesia, Chinese rhododendron
Base: amber

For me, Intuition is very close to two perfumes I much admire: Dior's Dune and Sonia Rykiel's Woman. The top notes read like my worst nightmare, all green citrus, but the amber permeates every note, every moment of this scent from beginning to end. The green citrus opening makes the amber bubble and jump like champagne, and it's the opening that reminds me most of Dune, for which I forsook (for which I sook?) Opium and wore for several years as my “winter” perfume. As the notes settle into the warm, slightly peppery floral heart and the scent moves closer to the skin, it reminds me more of Rykiel Woman, although it is less powdery, less complex than that scent. To me, this belongs in the family also with Organza Indecence and Theorema, although it's more girl-next-door than Organza Indecence and less spunky than the now defunct Theorema.

Listen to me: it's not quite as good as this, not quite as important as that. Let me put it another way instead. I find this scent rather charming. It makes me think of Cher's character in Moonstruck, seemingly spinsterish and down on her luck, living at home with her parents, forgotten, in no way a star. But look what happened! Sometimes a fragrance, like a woman, only needs a little attention, and suddenly, it becomes something that can take its place in line, hold its own, shine a little.

I literally knew nothing about this perfume, and after poking around a bit, I haven't found any reviews of it either. The tough part for this fragrance, I suppose, is that for one thing, Dior had already done a scent like this, and really had done it better all things considered. And so had Fendi (1999) and so had Givenchy (1999). By the time Intuition launched in 2001, the world had plenty of ambery Orientals from which to choose, especially on the mass market. Still, it survives, and it's well done. I wonder if its anonymity is as simple as this: that by 2001, except for the classics, Estee Lauder had been lost in the rise of mass market perfumes. Is it possible? Because although her fragrances still sold like hotcakes, it seems that it was Youth Dew Amber Nude (i.e., Tom Ford) that really put Lauder back on the perfume map. That release, followed by Azurée Soleil and then Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, seemed to spark renewed interest in the Lauder line. Although the classics never went away, they seem now to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and I for one am happy to see it.

*image from esteelauder.com