Modern Muse by Harry Fremont for Estee Lauder 2013

Heya Perfumed Posse Peeps, Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies in the Posse. Estee Lauder has long brought us better than decent fragrances at an affordable price point. They know their market and rarely does an Estee Lauder fragrance not capture the hearts of their intended. They are also huge, owning such brands as Tom Ford, MAC, DKNY, Donna Karan, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone and others that I can’t remember. It’s a beauty behemoth. So back in 2013 when I heard there was a NEW Estee Lauder fragrance to be launched I was cautiously excited,

Modern Muse by Harry Fremont for Estee Lauder 2013

Modern Muse Estee Lauder FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Mandarin
Heart: Tuberose, fresh lily, honeysuckle, Sambac jasmine, Chinese Sambac jasmine absolute
Base: Patchouli, Madagascar vanilla, amber, wood notes, musk

Here’s a slightly edited version of what I wrote at the time of Modern Muse’s release: This was touted as the first stand alone release by Estee Lauder since Beyond Paradise in 2003, though they have had the Sensuous range since then. Harry Fremont, the perfumer who brought us Polo Sport, CK One and Sensi for Armani has created this one. Modern Muse has all the hallmarks of an enormous modern Estee Lauder success. It is sheer but has hefty sillage and scent bubble. Sweet but not cloyingly so, pretty, wearable by men and women and reminds me a little of L’Artisan’s Velour de Roses and SJP Lovely (without being exactly like either). It’s a musky, jasmine, honeysuckle fragrance that will lure your intended partners. Promise. MMMMMM

 Modern Muse Pink Cabbage Jun FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

The reason I’m writing this post is two fold. The first reason is that one of my dearest girl friends Mum’s smelled incredible the other day, both sweet, floral, a little dirty (I think the patchouli) and clean musky. When I went in to hug her I was bathed in a very beautiful and elegant scent. At the time I noted it but we were full of Hello’s etc and I forgot to mention it. Later in the day, after lunch we were chatting and I could smell the fragrance again, cleaner now but undeniable the same waft. Still with a sparkle in it and very appealing. Knowing that I knew the smell in my head I was expecting to hear that she was bathed in a Lutens, Rance or a L’Artisan. On my asking what fragrance she was wearing, the answer: Modern Muse by Estee Lauder. SURPRISE!

The second reason is that having run through about 5ml of it in a very short time when Modern Muse was first released I hadn’t given it a though till this incident and felt I needed to get back to grips with it. So off to Surrender To Chance I went and ordered a 5ml decant. It arrived a few days ago and upon opening my order it was the first thing to really catch my eye. So, what do I think a year on?

Modern Muse Estee Lauder Pink Cotton Candy Meffet1 DeviantArtPhoto Stolen DeviantArt

I love the pithy mandarin opening that seagues quickly into a white flower samba, very hot Latin holiday nights. Good projection and sillage for the first 30 minutes. The Estee Lauder team has made a fragrance that is lovely, wearable, pretty and unchallenging. Modern? Voleur de Roses was released in 1993, Lovely 2005, Guilty 2010, Elie Saab 2011, so though it’s not new the general feel is still quite modern. The clean musks are very laundry but in Modern Muse it seems to work, even though usually they annoy me at this level. My skin gives me about 3-4 hours of noticeable fragrance but then my nose becomes anosmic to what’s left, though Jin can still smell me clearly. Next morning I can smell it clear as day and continue to be able to for about 3 hours till I shower, interesting. I can see a bottle of Modern Muse in my future, it’s another thing I love about the scent, the bottle is great.

Modern Muse is available at all Estee Lauder counters
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $3/ml

What did you think of Modern Muse? Did Estee Lauder hit a home run for you?
Portia xx


  • Ann says:

    Howdy, Portia! So, so glad you’ve written about this — I knew there was something mainstream that I needed to try, but once I got into the dept. store, I keep forgetting what it was. So I’m writing this down on a big card in my wallet and taking it with me the next time I go into the big city.

    • Portia says:

      Oh Ann,
      This is something I dealt with tODAY! Went to the store to grab a sample of Bottega Veneta: Essence Aromatique. Got dazzled by the CHANEL new counter with Exclusives and Parfums ( Swanned away in No 22 EdT & Parfum), Guerlain’s new Terracotta Le Parfum and Robert Piguet has a couple of new ones too. Got home and was like, DAMN, so annoying.
      So believe me when I say I hear you.
      Portia xx

      • Ann says:

        A new Chanel counter with the Exclusives AND parfums! Wowza!! What lucky store in Sydney got that bonanza?

        • Portia says:

          It’s the oldest still operating under the same name in the same address Department Store in the world Ann:
          David Jones. Cnr Elizabetgh & Market Sts Sydney CBD.
          It is our loveliest store and often very competitive pricing too.
          Portia xx

  • Peppermoon says:

    While it’s not a very original combination of notes, it definitely “smells good”, a concept which we sometimes get away from in our lofty niche perfume sampling. While I love trying and wearing scents with challenging and odd combinations of notes, I think something like Modern Muse can command a place on the perfumista’s shelf. Comfort food, as it were.

  • Elena says:

    I will try it again. I have a carded sample and was pretty underwhelmed, but one try shouldn’t make up my mind. I did try the Magnolia Grandiflora Michel that you had recommended a while back, and I REALLY liked that one, so thank you.

    • OOOH!! Elena, I am so glad you liked Magnolia Grandiflora Michel. It’s a superstar isn’t it? Glad to share my special finds.
      Try Modern Muse again, you know if it’s no good on you it doesn’t matter, chuck your sample to a girlfriend and go to your sample box. There will be something else to tempt you I bet.
      Portia xx

  • Jennifer Smith says:

    I have a sample of this and the top floral part is nice but then they try to be ” Modern” by doing a NR musc-ish thing with some sorta weird ” woods accord ” which on me is a utter fail . Smells a bit like moldy rotten wood ( talking rotten pine firewood not the Oooh Agarwood Oud )mixed with the NR musc .
    To clarify though, I find Lovely only semi tolerable on me I passed it on to my Mom.NR Musc got returned as did the reformulated Lanvin Ruemur which I thought to be far too screechy . I like and have at least a mini of most of the rest of the older big ones at the Lauder counter . I’m gradually getting FB of ones I like ,plus backups ,in case of reformulation.

    • Hi there Jennifer Smith,
      I am surprised that so many are finding a real disconnect with some ingredients in Modern Muse. So interesting how differently we all wear fragrance and how it reacts to our chemistry and brain.
      Portia xx

  • Janice says:

    I’ve worn several Estee Lauders over the years but somehow haven’t tried this one… shouldn’t be too hard to find a tester, though.

    There are a couple of scents that do that strange “disappearing act” on me too, although others can still smell them and I can sometimes smell them again after a while. It would be interesting to know if they have something in common—a particular kind of musk, maybe?

    • Hey Janice,
      I have a mate, Michael, who has a theory on this problem.
      The aromachemicals used nowadays have a single molecule that blasts out its fragrance for as long as it does, naturals can be made up of hundreds of different molecules. Our brains are hardwired to search new scents in case of danger,. when a single molecule is noted as no threat the brain closes down on that molecule and can’t smell it anymore till it hasn’t smelt it in a while. Your brain finds it infinitely harder to shut down on something with hundreds of molecules that all give off different extremes of scent over time, so you get a more smellable fragrance for a longer time.
      This is a theory but it sums up the experience enough for me to think it may be at least true enough to be my line.
      Portia x

      • Janice says:

        Wow, that makes a lot of sense, thank you for taking the time to explain it. Would this be Michael who was with you at the Osmotheque course?

        • Portia says:

          You’re welcome, yes it’s that Michael. He is very clever and knows so much about the way scent works, sadly he has been eaten up by the corporate banking world.
          Portia xx

  • malsnano86 says:

    I typically do Very, Very Badly with Estee Lauders – they smell fine to me all the way through, but somewhere around the 2-3 hour mark of wear, I become nauseated and must scrub. It’s strange, I tell you. I can wear the scents on fabric with no problems, but I ask you, WHY would I buy something I can only wear on a scarf? Silly. All three of my aunts are Lauder devotees, and they smell great (Aunt Doris in Beyond Paradise, Aunt Becky in Pleasures and Aunt Cindy in Knowing).

    In any case, I actually picked this bottle up several months ago and sprayed it on a card. I liked the waft in the air very much, and I loved the smell of the spritzed card even two days later, so the next time I made it to the department store I spritzed my arm, two good spritzes. Let me just say, it was considerably less successful on my skin. No nausea, but boredom + a chemical screech, and I even compared my skin to the scent card I still had in a plastic baggie… the card was far nicer than what was on my skin. I don’t know what it was, but unfortunately I can’t do this Lauder either, after having high hopes for it.

  • Musette says:

    Estee Lauder owns everything! They’re the Skynet of Cosmetics. Which isn’t the worst thing that could happen – they are smart enough to keep their paws in their pockets when it comes to the higher-end stuff (like Tom Ford). And they own two of my favorite brands, Prescriptives (Clinique-owned and they own/founded Clinique) & Bobbi Brown (best lipglos EVAH!)….Alas, most of the eponymous scents are unwearable for me – the laundry musk they use just rips the hell out of my sinuses (I remember wailing because I couldn’t wear the gorgeous White Linen) – and they put some scent in their lipsticks that renders it unwearable which also makes me wail, because they have some stunning colors for mid-tone women. WAIL! I tellya.

    But this sounds pretty! And I LIKE pretty!


    • Portia says:

      If you can’t wear the Estee Lauder laundry musk then this is going to kill you Musette, it’s here in spades.
      Do they use those scents in the MAC, Tom Ford or Jo Malone?
      Portia xx

  • eldarwen22 says:

    My starter house for perfumes was Estee Lauder and this is when I was still in high school. I was wearing Pleasures for men and women and then I was wearing Clinique (part of Estee Lauder) Happy for women. After a while, Estee Lauder just fell off of my radar.

    • Portia says:

      Hi Eldarwen22,
      One of the down sides of falling down the perfume worm hole is that many of the things we loved are completely engulfed by the sheer weight of choice once we get reading a few blogs and going to some stores, not to mention the constant sampling. It’s no wonder Lauder fell by the wayside.
      The good news is that a free spritz is only a department store away.
      Portia xx

  • teri says:

    I was surprisingly taken by this one, too. I got a sample at Nordie’s a while back with a makeup purchase and it grew on me enough to go back and get a bottle. It’s an excellent work scent, too, which many Lauders aren’t.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there Teri,
      Yes I can see it being under the radar enough for work, so pretty, I bet you smell fabulous in it.
      Portia xx

  • solanace says:

    Yesterday Elisa wrote about Knowing, and now you make me want to try Modern Muse! Gotta find an EL counter…

  • poodle says:

    I didn’t even bother to try this one because I didn’t see any really favorable reviews on it. Now you’re making me think I should give it a spritz. I generally like Estée Lauder perfumes.

    • Portia says:

      It’s a mainsream fragrance made for general public consumption, sure plenty of people who are used to smelling some of the best fragrances on earth will be less than wowed, I get that. I think it very well done, it smells great on others and I also like the way it smells on me. Estee Lauder is not a cheap brand and that is reflected in the price but 50ml is still cheaper than a Serge or a Rance and about on par with 50ml of L’Artisan.
      Portia xx

  • Jaime says:

    I will have to test MM again after reading your review. I liked it the first time I tried it, but I think I was anosmic to the drydown. Must give it another chance. 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Jaime,
      Yes, I was super surprised when I could smell it next morning, my skin is usually so hungry for fragrance it eats it up quick,
      Portia xx