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Friday, September 16, 2016

Estee Lauder Pleasures: fragrance review

Can there be a fragrance "fit for every woman in every season and at every moment"? A long, long time ago, this held true through the notion of the "signature scent", the olfactory equivalent of a calling card. During the 1990s - smack in the middle of which Pleasures was launched by American champion of the cosmetics counter, Estee Lauder - this notion had fallen sideways in favor of the cash-bringing concept of a "fragrance wardrobe".

photo by Edward Steichen via

Much as the hereby contradicting brief therefore foretold of a foible in capturing "the moment", the commercial success of Pleasures was cemented in reinforced concrete. And even the scent somewhat hints at the smell of concrete itself. But let me explain.

A fragrance for every season and every moment, for every woman, is by definition somewhat inoffensive, crowd pleasing, middle of the road. No big ripples, no histrionics, but no soft whisper either; it should be recognizably shared, coveted as the mark of the Aristotelean kalos kagathos. Alberto Morillas is the perfumers' equivalent of kalos kagathos, in the very best sense. Or maybe he's just got the touch of Midas, everything he touches turns to gold; there's that, too.


Pleasures owes its immaculate sheen to a preponderance of aldehydes, those frothy, citrusy, soapy materials handed down from mother's and grandmother's perfume, soaked into copious amounts of musk for clean starchiness that recalls the smell of wet concrete after the rain. It's Morillas's Spanish background (with a hand from Annie Byzantian) that is the rock-bed on which the double notion of clean yet piquant rests, and which forms the reigning glory of Pleasures. The rising peppery warmth (highlighted on an already warm skin) thanks to the unusual but tiny addition of the mesmerizing and pricey karo-karounde extract and the soft pink pepper (i.e. baie rose) add to the more prim aspects to create something that is beyond scrubbed clean, it's handsome.

You can also read about one of the print advertisements of Pleasures seen through an Art History lens on this link.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous19:35

    I used to bathe in this scent -- literally as I had only the bath product. I think I have a mini somewhere and will have to have a spritz. Never tried any of the gazillion flankers, though the Intense seems to be around still. I had completely forgotten the very pretty ads.

    -- Lindaloo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ads were incredibly pretty. Especially when they didn't insist on GP but were the older LH ones. (Paltrow is OK for Pure White Linen though; the feeling of a preppier existence and posh sailing).
      I only tried the lotion and it smelled powerful; it was a good product.

      Delete
  2. I remember the time it launched here.... I was in my local shopping center/ mall and the Lauder girls were going around giving out nice samples - you have to give it to Lauder - they do give samples ( cosmetic companies here are so mean here!) and I loved it at first spray but ..... after about a hour ... Oh sicky and it would not wash off. That top note is fabbo but when it calms down and goes into its "thing" ... its not for me. It drives me crazy as Lauder scents do last on me !!! If only the Goutal's did --- they need to talk to Lauder! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Lauder people are fabulous with giveaways, GWP and samples; if only all companies were so! It's respecting the customer and wanting them to live a bit with the product: it shows trust in the product itself.

      I think that they (EL) use powerful musks and they do use them by the bucketload. I was wearing a very musky clean floral by another company the other day and I was getting very potent whiffs of the drydown of Pure White Linen throughout the day. Uncanny, but there you have it. Could it be it? (I think you can layer any Goutal you want with their Musc from the Les Orientalistes line and it should provide good anchoring; it's a very vegetal and close to the skin musk that is not really dirty, but isn't laundry material either, so maybe try it?)

      Delete
  3. annemarie11:28

    Yes, Pleasures prolongs clean and fresh for hours. By coincidence I wore it today, as I always do in the first days of spring. That green peppery opening is so vivid - perfect for spring. But the musky development annoyed me a tad, and I think that after years of wearing Pleasures, I'm finally moving on from it. I wore the heck out of after it launched. And it is a great fragrance; I have all the respect in the world for those who love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely love the pepperiness in Pleasures; it's subtle but there and the implication that it comes from a very powerful natural essence that I love is delicious. I think Pleasures suffers if a bit (if indeed it does) by its prim image as projected by the looks of the bottle and the print ads. It looks like church material when in fact it's less chaste than that.

      Delete
  4. Ohhhh....all I remember were the ads for Pleasures with Gwyneth Paltrow and a puppy.
    Estee Lauder used to be the only decent makeup you could buy in India so that's what I wore. I received a very generous samples of the original Pleasures and Pleasures Gwyneth Paltrow Limited Edition with my purchase, I'm sorry but they both just smelled like bug spray initially then went absolutely rank.
    I don't know what it is about EL perfumes but they always turn to this rank and rancid note after an hour. I bought my husband a sampler box of men's EL fragrances and they all had that nastiness in an hour too. Is it just the way my olfactory bulb is wired or is there some Estee Lauder-ade base they use in all their perfumes?
    EL's line of Double Wear makeup is fabulous, even in the humid Monsoon heat here in India.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an interesting observation. Lady Jicky above makes a comparable comment and I think you're both onto something. I believe it has to do with the weather and the intense muskiness that comes through their perfumes within the hour. Maybe it's a common thread because they do last extraordinarily long (and musks do last longest than anything else).

      I did not like the GP ads. Very "I'm such a nice girl, my shit doesn't stink"... for a better choice of words.
      I only liked the ones with the flowers and the LH ones, especially the Swing one (linked at bottom of review).

      Delete
  5. Ohhhh....all I remember were the ads for Pleasures with Gwyneth Paltrow and a puppy.
    Estee Lauder used to be the only decent makeup you could buy in India so that's what I wore. I received a very generous samples of the original Pleasures and Pleasures Gwyneth Paltrow Limited Edition with my purchase, I'm sorry but they both just smelled like bug spray initially then went absolutely rank.
    I don't know what it is about EL perfumes but they always turn to this rank and rancid note after an hour. I bought my husband a sampler box of men's EL fragrances and they all had that nastiness in an hour too. Is it just the way my olfactory bulb is wired or is there some Estee Lauder-ade base they use in all their perfumes?
    EL's line of Double Wear makeup is fabulous, even in the humid Monsoon heat here in India.

    ReplyDelete

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