Modern Love


For anyone foolish enough to dismiss the world of beauty as “frivolous” or – as one diplomatic gentleman let slip to me at the launch of his new skincare brand – “just a load of women cooing over lipstick”, the original Mrs Estée Lauder might have a word or two say to them. The beauty world is a history of fascinating men and women, like Lauder, whose innovations have made it the billion-dollar industry it is today. Her company’s formidable reputation in the beauty world needs little introduction – and their latest scent: Modern Muse Chic, is reminiscent of its equally formidable founder.

Born Josephine Esther Mentzer, Lauder came from a hardworking family of humble background, she epitomised the American Dream of working hard to get what you want and reinventing herself as the glamorous Estée.

Modern love

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair

In a similar way to the likes of Harry Selfridge, this no-nonsense New Yorker was key in helping to revolutionise the way beauty products are sold today, which is no mean feat when you consider at the turn of the 20th century cosmetics and perfume were a “lady’s secret” bought by male admirers – and to display them on the counter was seen as a scandal. Lauder’s first fragrance (originally a bath oil) was Youth Dew in 1953 and was meant for women to buy for themselves – unheard of at the time (legend has it she got the buyers to stock the original bath oil by smashing a bottle on the floor and causing a commotion with customers demanding to know what it was). She was also the first person to pioneer “gift with purchase” and on-counter demonstrations to get customers interested.

Modern love

Youth Dew

Then of course the company famously branched out into cosmetics and skincare – including the now legendary serum Advanced Night Repair (the first skincare product created specifically for night-time), which was followed by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation founded by Lauder’s daughter in law, the late Evelyn Lauder.

Modern love

Modern Muse Chic

Since Youth Dew launched, there have been several successful (together with other more forgettable) scents, notably the popular Bronze Goddess and Pleasures and last year’s Modern Muse – which one could see as a fresh modern twist on the original Youth Dew, especially as both bottles are adorned with a pretty bow. Modern Muse Chic is described as “as about style on her own terms” – a punchier version of the original, boasting a pretty floral heart of jasmine and tuberose, while its intense patchouli base has been given added punch with suede musks and Madagascan vanilla. The bottle is the same as the original but with gold studs adorning the navy bow. It very much embodies the spirit of the original Mrs Lauder herself – feminine and glamorous, yet determined to make its mark.

by Viola Levy

Modern Muse Chic is £62 for 50ml available at Harrods