To complement Olenska’s Estée Fun Facts, here are some fun facts and findings about Estée Lauder’s first fragrance, Youth Dew!
Two years before Youth Dew was known as a fragrance, Estée Lauder introduced Estoderme Youth Dew, a face cream “made from the whole egg” that promised to give one`s complexion a “lovely dewy freshness”. I know I’m not the only one who finds “Youth Dew” an odd name for a fragrance, but considering its heritage, the name makes sense.
Youth Dew was not created solely by Estée Lauder herself. The fragrance was originally formulated for a Russian princess by John Schotz, Estee’s chemist uncle. Although it was once good enough for royalty, Estée found the perfume “wasn’t exactly right” and set about reformulation with assistance from her associate Arnold L. Van Ameringen (who would later become President of Intenational Flavors and Fragrances) and American perfumers Josephine Catapano and Ernest Shiftan (bothcredited as mentors to Sophia Grojsman, who also developed fragrances for Estée Lauder).
In 1953, Youth Dew was launched as a bath oil. Bath oil was a product American women would buy for themselves as opposed to a bottle of perfume, an expensive item usually purchased by a spouse or lover as a gift. Youth Dew “doubled as a skin perfume” and came in bottles free of cording and wax seals thus inviting those who visited perfume counter to sniff and sample freely. Besides its captivating fragrance, the other secret of Youth Dew’s success was its low price point. Fifty-eight years later one can buy 2 oz. of Youth Dew bath oil or Eau de Parfum for about $32.00 USD.
Profits from Youth Dew in its first year were $50,000 and by 1984 those profits swelled to 150 million! In 1993 Youth Dew celebrated its 40th year in production, by which time 200 million bottles of Youth Dew had been sold. The fact that Youth Dew had not been advertised on a national level since 1967 makes those numbers extraordinary.
The 40th anniversary of Youth Dew was a relaunch of sorts, accompanied by a new advertising campaign featuring model Paulina Porizkova. Wrapped in a body-hugging black lace dress, she persuaded a new generation of women that Youth Dew, despite its age, is “simply the sexiest fragrance ever.”
Apparently, Youth Dew was a favorite of actress Joan Crawford and her husband Alfred Steele, past VP of marketing for Coca Cola and CEO of Pepsi Cola. Smelling the fragrance dabbed in her hair, he exclaimed “I can`t stop dancing with you, you smell so exquisite”.
It’s no surprise to me he loved the scent of Youth Dew – the first time I smelled it, I thought of my mother, a dedicated cola drinker who starts her day with a glass of Coke on ice. I bet, to Mr. Steele, Youth Dew was more than a spicy perfume -wafting from the tresses of Joan Crawford, it was the heady scent of money, sex, and power.
Stay tuned for my take on Youth Dew. If you haven’t already visited Parfümieren, go there now to read Olenska’s wonderful essay on this timeless elixir!
Estee: A Success Story by E. Lauder
Ahead of its time: Estee Lauder`s classic Youth Dew was launched 40 years ago with an innovative marketing concept from Cosmetics Magazine, author unknown
Estee Lauder, Pursuer of Beauty and Cosmetics Titan, Dies at 97 by Richard Servero, New York Times
Image: Ebay seller adenthusiast