Last summer, I became obsessed with perfume. Armed with Turin & Sanchez’s Perfumes: The Guide and a credit card, I began ordering samples. Not satisfied with the 10-15 day wait for my samples to arrive, I headed to the perfume counter at the local Sears for some instant gratification. It was there I first encountered Youth Dew.

If not for the high praise heaped upon several Estée Lauder fragrances in The Guide, I probably wouldn’t have given any of them a second thought or a single sniff. The only Lauder fragrance I could remember smelling was Pleasures for Men, my brother-in-law’s scent of choice in the late ’90s. My mother and sister didn’t wear any Lauder fragrances, so I had no choice but to trust the advice of Turin & Sanchez.

I didn’t have much time to linger at the perfume counter. I had already spent a significant amount of time shopping for a bra (a legal form of torture overlooked by Homeland Security) and the time I agreed to meet my husband at was fast approaching. With no time to waste, I grabbed the bottle of Youth Dew and sprayed.

BAM! That perfume hit me so hard, I smelled stars! After the air cleared, I took a good whiff. My unsophisticated nose, detecting powdery urine and coca-cola pulled the alarm. I grabbed a wad of tissues and attempted to rub the perfume off my skin. Instant gratification wasn’t on the menu that day. Heaping portions of dissapointment were served in its place.

The main course was followed by desert – a piping hot blob of betrayal that burned in my belly. Had I not been standing in the middle of a brightly lit department store, I would have thrust my fist in the air and yelled “Curse you, Turin & Sanchez!”

Knowing I smelled of pop and pee, I wanted to run out of there like the place was on fire but I still had to pay for my bra. While the cashier rang in my purchase, I explained to her I had just sprayed perfume and apologized for my overwhelming odour. She laughed and said “I wondered what that smell was”.

Since my first encounter with Youth Dew, I’ve come to love a number of Lauder fragrances. Last January I purchased a collection of mini parfums (Youth Dew wasn’t included) and sampling them made me wonder if Youth Dew wasn’t such a big bad beast after all.

Proving that P-ESP (perfumista extra sensory perception) does exist, a package from Olenska soon arrived. Inside, laying alongside a number of fragrant treasures was a decant of vintage Youth Dew eau de parfum. After gleeful examination of each treasure, I sprayed on the Youth Dew. Inhaling deeply, I smelled narcissus, patchouli, licorice and spices. Not only did Youth Dew smell good, it felt good. Basking in olfactive afterglow, I realized it was time to let Turin & Sanchez off the hook and face facts: I had betrayed myself.

The eau de parfum opens with the aroma like apples that have languished in a bowl for weeks, their skins drying in the sunshine. That sweet heady smell will have you wanting more and Youth Dew delivers, bringing forth notes of rose, jasmine, peach, cinnamon and cloves, benzoin, vetiver, oakmoss, musk….all of this (and more!) can be yours with one simple spray.

Youth Dew is a multifaceted fragrance that suits my ever-changing moods. It’s autumnal, yet of no season. It’s like Christmas – joyous and uplifting, yet dark and reflective. It smells edible, yet…you get the picture.

For me, Youth Dew is also a functional fragrance. It brings me comfort when I can’t sleep and warms me when I feel distant and cold. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee you’ll get those benefits unless you spray from my decant which came from a generous soul who spent hours coaxing the perfume from a broken bottle so she could share it with friends.

Youth Dew: a fragrance of beauty, function and friendship. Youth Dew: My “Holy Grail”.

Image: A Plate of Apples by Henri Fantin-Latour