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Estée Lauder Sensuous Nude

This latest in a trio of aptly-named Sensuous fragrances from Estée Lauder has rather tickled The Scent Critic’s fancy.  And her nostrils.  Really and truly tickled her nostrils.  Because at first spritz, this is like putting your nose inside a bag of sherbet-y sweets.  Flying saucers, maybe.  Or the head-rush of poking your face in a paper bag in which your Sherbet Dab (paid for with your precious pocket money) leaked.  Or that strange mouth/nostril explosion of bliss that happens when the brittle tangy outerwear on a sherbet lemon finally bursts in your mouth (which probably owes something to the blast of citrus in the overture – bergamot and mandarin, so Lauder tell us).

Indeed, if you’ve ever stood beside a candy floss machine (cotton candy, to transatlantic scentophiles), Sensuous Nude has that same spun-sugar quality you breathe there, too – and since I live in a seaside town where candy floss is omnipresent you’ll have to trust me on this.  (Er, have you guessed by now that my specialist subject, in the unlikely event that I should ever be invited onto Mastermind, is ‘British confectionery from 1960 to the present day…?’)

Famously, Chanel No. 5 gives that same ‘head-rush’ when you unstopper the bottle:  a sort of champagne fizz (down to the heavy lacing of aldehydes).  Maybe it’s an aldehyde delivering the same effect with Sensuous Nude, but it dances out of the bottle like a 1920s flapper doing an absinthe-fuelled tabletop Charleston.

With whispers of lily of the valley and jasmine, there’s a slightly vintage floral Guerlain quality to phases of this, actually:  that softness which is such a signature of the legendary French perfume house.  (Since ‘Guerlain-esque’ is about as high a compliment as The Scent Critic pays, please take note.)  I’m faintly reminded of Vivienne Westwood’s Boudoir, too.  But after the initial honey-sweetened whoooooosh, the tempo slows and gradually, gradually, g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y, it acquires the come-closer ‘skin scent’ quality which the name alludes to.  And it does become one of those fragrances that has you slightly compulsively (and mortifyingly) sniffing your own body, if there’s no-one within nuzzling distance.

The ultimate lingering base notes, meanwhile, are angora-soft and – well, cuddly as a cashmere-covered hot water bottle.  If I say sandalwood and musk and Melted Woods NaturePrint® (that’s the note’s somewhat clinical proper name), it maybe sounds a bit butch.  And this is never butch, because the woods tiptoe around in the base wearing pale pink satin ballet shoes, alongside what here are almost gourmet-esque elements of amber, heliotrope and vanilla.

Sensuous Nude is a mwah-mwah-sweetie-darling of a scent, actually.  It will not, perhaps, be everyone’s cup of demerara-sweetened tea, but it’s as pretty and girly and flirty and organza-sheer as perfume gets, in its early stages.  With a name like Sensuous, that’s probably not quite what Lauder perfumer Anna Buzantian (who works alongside the legendary Karyn Khoury) had in mind:  was it designed to be more ravish-me-in-your-E-type than bat-your-lashes-at-me-over-a-milkshake…?

I’d say so, wouldn’t you?  But let’s not quibble, because the result is delightful, and very wearable by anyone who wants to feel instantly feminine. By which I mean:  you could stagger through the door after a bitch of a day in which you needed to draw on every bit of authority that your padded-shouldered pinstriped trouser suit, towering heels (and several assertiveness training courses) could help you muster, spritz on Sensuous Nude and basically feel the oestrogen surge through your endocrine system.

OK, I exaggerate.  But you get my drift:  swathe yourself in this and you’re in marabou mules and a satin dressing gown before you’ve so much as put down your briefcase and unbuttoned the pinstripes.  And it’ll work much, much quicker than gin.

Never mind a sherbet lemon…

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