It’s called Modern Muse. Estee Lauder’s Biggest Launch in Years

by Katie on September 18, 2013


The Estee Lauder team are always so on-brand that the message is delivered consistently and thoroughly leaving a body never in doubt of the ins-and-outs of the latest launch. None more so that Estee Lauder’s biggest fragrance launch in years, since Beyond Paradise, in fact, in 2003.

Described as a ‘lush woody floral’, Modern Muse (released today) is described as having two contrasting accords like the dual persona of the modern woman. A woman who is described as being both ultimately feminine but also in control. The premise is good for inspiration. I just don’t know if I buy it, personally. Does the ordinary Joan Schmoan in the street want her perfume to reflect her modernity and to reflect the 21st century roles she has to juggle of homemaker, social butterfly and caring, sharing heroine as well as career-maker? Or does she just want to smell nice? If it’s the latter, the Modern Muse is in for a win. And, if she buys into the creative story behind the fragrance, well she’s just become the epitome of the Estee story moodboard and bully for her. Even if she isn’t Arizona Muse who appears in the ads. Modern Muse will certainly rock her world if not her carefully straddled boat.


Created by perfumer Harry Fremont, Modern Muse is a thoroughly delightful, very typically Estee, very lovely but very nondescript fragrance. That may sound harsher in black and white than it should as I’m certain this is going to be a phenomenal hit for the brand as it straddles its appeal (or hedges its bets) by combining two often contrary moods – overriding floral jasmine Sambac absolute (from China allegedly, not India), tuberose, lily and a brisk, fruity mandarin and a juxtaposing yet complementary wood accord of patchouli, Madagascar vanilla, musk and amber wood.

When told that on smelling Modern Muse I would be drawn to one facet or the other, I raised a brow. All I could smell was the the ever so light, sparkling chiffon quality of the fragrance with jasmine and lily ramped up as the base line. This was like smelling silk organza sprayed with fine hairspray. A haze of not unpleasant, cholky, tacky sparkle landing on gossamer light fabric. The patchouli and musk is so faint as to be barely there. Like nude lipstick on bronzed face. As it dries down, you do get the softness of the vanilla and musk but it’s all in a very low-key way. Like wearing natural tones and Tory Burch flat pumps for lunch at an uptown diner.

There’s certainly a finesse to Modern Muse. I just wonder if, in It’s appeal to every woman, it’s downside may be that it becomes too run-of-the-mill. You can’t please all the people all the time. Mr Fremont will no doubt know this well.

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