Old Versus New: Estée Lauder Youth Dew

IMG_1268Okay, first we will get the latest of the building follies out of the way. This one isn’t even about the painters.

This past weekend was pretty glorious after may rainy ones so I took off for a drive. This time was down to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which just out between the south bay cities of Redondo and Manhattan Beach and sort of curls around to Los Angeles and the port of San Pedro to the east. It’s a spectacular piece of real estate, with hills gently rolling down to the sheer cliffs that line the beaches and views of Catalina Island in the distance. It’s also the home of some interesting architecture, including many works of Frank Lloyd Wright’s less famous son Lloyd. Most of them are residential and rarely open to public view, but the Wayfarers Chapel is a lovely public place, especially since the surrounding trees have grown in as the architect envisioned them. I also drove over Portuguese Bend, are area of RPV that has been slip-sliding for about the past 40 years. The road dips and twists like a bowl of fettuccine and the ground is so unstable that sewer lines have to be above ground.

So anyway, I came to my building to find the following pencilled in on the stairway wall: Tom (heart) penis. Now mind you, as far as I know I am the only Tom in the place and one of my neighbors took me aside to tell me how hurt and appalled she was for me that I had to face that. But you know? It didn’t matter to me in the least.


Well. A) I am a gay man. While it’s not completely accurate that I (heart) penis, they sort of come with the territory of being attracted to men. Kindness, humor, wit, intellect, strength and about a hundred other things come, for me before the old penis, but still, facts are facts so that could be construed as merely reportage. B) It likely says a hell a lot more about the writer, because although it may be self aggrandizing to think so I feel that there is an unspoken addendum to “Tom (heart) penis” that would read something like “except mine, which works my very last nerve enough to make me take a Faber No. 2 to the West stair hall and C) It isn’t really something that cuts me, were that the intention, nor is it something that embarrasses me. “Tom Parks in the Handicapped Spot” or “Tom Jumps the Line at the Onramp of the 405” or “Tom wears AXE” would really hurt.

So anyway..

As some of you may know I have had an enemy teensy baby bottle of Youth Dew bath old for so long that I no linger have any recollection of where it came from. I have been parcelling it our for years now and telling myself that I must, simply must pick up some of the newer stuff. Now apparently Estée Lauder is more than willing to sell it to you, but tend to hide it in their mall stores if they have it at all, perhaps because it’s considered to be kind of an “old lady” scent. I suppose that’s because the spicy/woody/powdery thing has been done to death in other scents so this is tarred from the same brush.

For the three of you who may not have heard, Youth Dew was not originally made as a scent Per Se. It was a bath oil, but ladies who used it loved it so much they started wearing it as a perfume. Ladies like Joan Crawford, who was said to have hooked her fourth husband while dancing with him wearing it. He was so intoxicated by her (and her perfume) he refused to let her dance with anyone else that evening and married her soon after (which may have more to do with Joan than the perfume, but hey.) Madonna is supposedly one of the more recent devotees. For a scent that is close to 65 years old it still packs an almost Lutensian punch to it that only gets better with the wearing.

I can’t really speak to the real differences between the two since my vintage sample is so very old and in a clear bottle. But the new one I purchased at Nordstrom’s while slightly sweeter and less threatening at the opening that the vintage still settles into the slightly heady and vaguely threatening vibe that I love.

It maybe an “old lady” scent, but that old lady rocks..

Your Dew is available at the usual suspects, I bought mine online from Nordstrom’s: 2 ounces for $42

Image: my iPad Weirdly on it’s side..

  • Doreen says:

    I love Youth Dew! Ever since the early 1980’s. So glamorous…

  • Christine says:

    What a dick. Although I won’t lie, it’s hard to be insulted by someone who uses x y statements, ya know?

    Also, I recently purchased some vintage dew – perfum, not oil and I love it. But then, I always did love an old lady scent.

  • Brenda Pace says:

    I’m sorry that someone was so juvenile to put that on your wall, but I hope you know how much we appreciate you and your wonderful reviews. I hope your life is filled with love.

  • julia123456kj says:

    Are you thinking it was one of the workers? It seems like such a bizarre thing for a grown person to do.

  • Musette says:

    ooh! I heart the hell out of penis. But I would beat the penis off any guy wearing Axe! So you’re in excellent company. xoxoxoA

  • Jen says:

    Ha! ‘Axe lover’ would be bad, absolutely! I have a small bottle of bath oil y.d., must get it out before it gets too hot.

  • fragroom says:

    Funny! Really enjoyed this post, penis and all. Great writing and observations. R

  • Tiara says:

    Best laugh of the day = Tom wears AXE.! Youth Dew was my mom’s perfume. Worn only on special occasions when I was a child and then daily when I kept her in a year-round supply. It smelled unbelievably good on her and she was often asked what she was wearing. People often didn’t believe her because it smelled quite different on her. I still have her last bottle tucked away in a dresser and it’s about as dark as blackstrap molasses.

  • shiva-woman says:

    I heart penis too! And I really love Youth Dew, so poorly named. My mother wore this, and when she wasn’t looking, I swiped it. She always had the bath oil as perfume, and it was the most amazing scent even in the Big Scent Era 80s, my formative youth. I was wearing this when I was 10. Now that I’m in my late forties I still love it. Shortly before she died my mother gifted me with an actual bottle of the perfume, rather than the bath oil. I’ve squirted the juice a few times but I really can’t say I love it. It smells distinctly different from the bath oil. I have bought the bath oil year after year for a few decades now. Though I don’t wear it everyday I sometimes use it as a base for other similar spicy perfumes. And I love pouring it into a hot tub (scents the bathroom for days). There really is nothing like it. It was, and is, the original. I can’t take seriously the line “old lady perfume” when my mom was wearing Dana Tabu…and I was too in 6th grade. There was admittedly a “Loves Baby Soft” year in which I attempted to be as alluring and non-threatening to the opposite sex as I could be. That didn’t last! Thank you for the Cali trip. I miss PV! That’s my parent’s territory when they were courting and then married.

  • HeidiC says:

    I had a grad student who used to work the EL counter at Macy’s, who said that they only had a couple bottles of it tucked in a storage drawer because they only sold 1 or 2 a year — that’s kind of a shame!

  • Meg says:

    Your descriptions of the L.A. area are so wonderful. They really evoke the heart of the region, and that clash in my head I feel when I visit: half of me wants to never leave, and half wants to run away as soon as possible. But I love that about it! It’s not a neutral, bored feeling. That city has personality.

    And you can count me in the society of people who both (heart) penis and love Estée Lauder’s hidden “old lady” scents. I always feel like I’m asking for contraband or drugs at the counter (“No, no, it’s probably in the dark drawer of things that don’t get sold to young people…”), but it’s kind of fun that way. I feel no shame. LOVE Youth Dew. And a person hasn’t really lived until they’ve spent all day poolside wearing Azuree. It bakes down into this great, sexy aura.

  • Rosemary says:

    People can be really juvenile and dumb, ugh. But as for Youth Dew, I wear my “old lady” loud and proud! My Mama wore it while I was a baby, and last year for my 40th birthday she gave me a bottle. When I first tried it, I was thinking no way, but it was very warm weather. When autumn came, I tried again, and LOVE it! So intense on the open, but my goodness, the heart and dry down are intoxicating, and it lingers on me all day. Maybe it’s the silver growing ever more populous in my hair, or my 40+ years, but Youth Dew steals my heart when I wear it!

  • Bill Tse says:

    “Tom wears AXE” LOL!
    I smelled (current) Youth Dew in a mall once. I find it really similar to Opium (vintage), or should I say Opium is similar to it. So I didn’t bother to get one since I have already hoarded 3 bottles of vintage Opium.
    Speaking of Joan Crawford, the recent TV show Feud is very good!