Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Estee Lauder Wood Mystique: fragrance review

Estée Lauder does oud. The note du jour wasn't going to escape from the giant of American perfumery that is the Lauder Group and given that the company knows how to make appealing, polished and tenacious fragrances, Wood Mystique on the surface looks like an adequate entry to the portfolio, but it's rather predictable and lackluster, exactly because it fears to use that which is supposed to be the fueling power of its core: the complex, medicinal and nutty aroma of agarwood/oud. This wouldn't be entirely significant, had it not been advertised as an entry aimed at the Middle Eastern market, by the accounts of which it seems that market has been entirely corrupted by Western blandness. I think not, but if one didn't know any better, they'd think otherwise.

In fact, Wood Mystique is in the mold of previous Lauder launch Sensuous (with less patchouli and much more pronounced flowers) and the bland Belle d'Opium, thanks to the spice-florals axis that is highlighted just like in the YSL entry.

"Wood Mystique is not just our first fragrance influenced by the Middle East. It is also our first unisex perfume. And it is for the first time that I've worked so closely with the local marketing team in the creation of a perfume — to understand the culture and history of the region and the taste of the consumer. [...] The history of fragrance usage in the Middle East being so rich … people know to appreciate the emotional value of it," says Karen Khoury [source], the Estée Lauder perfume art director, who is responsible for many best-selling fragrances.

Wood Mystique by Estée Lauder is an "oriental woody" fragrance, according to the company, that is inspired by the tradition of the East and this is immediately apparent, as it uses all the cliches we have come to expect of an Eastern-type (i.e. oriental) perfume. Polished, silky, if resembling previous releases rather too much (there's a passing segment of Black Orchid as well), it's fashioned in the successful mold of Sensuous with a more gender-neutral spin that would make it a masculine fpr men not afraid of roses or an individual feminine for women who love somber and warm fragrances.
It uses three kinds of rose that are extracted in different ways: rose infusion, rose distilled, and rose de mai absolute. This technique was opted to relay texture and add dimension.Added notes are pink pepper, which complement the rose, the spice naturally having rosy aspects.
Egyptian jasmine absolute, orris Morocco, ylang-ylang and mimosa from Provence absolute are also included, which in my opinion give an indefinable bouquet that is rather more feminine and would have some men complain about it. The spice-flowers accord seems more prominent than the woodiness, making me think that spicy floriental would be a more adequate categorisation than woody. The woody backdrop is infused with a raspberry note thanks to synthetic musks, and includes natural patchouli, extraction of cedarwood, with benzoin resin and agarwood/oudh.

The concentration is Eau de Parfum and the bottles circulate in the 100ml/3.4oz size.


  1. Boo.

    Wonder if we'll ever see this in the US.

  2. Susan,

    I saw it in travel retail. I think they'll keep it an exclusive for now.

  3. Selina06:02

    Too bad it isn't available in the U.S. I like that a mainstream perfume company (especially such a female-centric one as Estee Lauder) is making a unisex scent. I'd really rather they just label scents in scent types than calling some male and some female perfumes. Hopefully they will keep up the theme.

  4. S,

    it's a good point. I think they would keep up the theme, since it's a trend among perfume aficionados.


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