The original Azurée is a glorious piece of work, although there's no doubt that some people now find it rather challenging. They read the gushing online reviews, they learn of its cult status, they find out that it's been a steady seller for decades... but when they come to smell it for themselves, they're left rather perplexed. Smack in the middle of the leather, the aldehydic sunshine and the heated mosses is a sizeable patch of sage, which brings with it, as many of you will know, an instant link to the diffusive, metallic, nostril-piercing note of urine. We were far more tolerant of such scatological suggestions in the 60s and 70s. Indeed, we almost demanded them: they were the very features that made a perfume meld with the wearer's body. More importantly, we hadn't yet been conditioned to find them borderline offensive. But then, in those days, cleanliness wasn't quite as close to godliness as it is today.
So now, in the second decade of the 21st century, we have Azurée D'Or. Yes, it's still a leather - very much of the modern, translucent, tangy variety - and it's still based on mossy woods and it's still an amply-proportioned diva. But there's no doubt that it has cleaned up its act, ditching the suggestiveness in favour of hauteur. In this iteration - which, despite its name, is more silvery than golden - the intrigue is provided by the likes of pepper and saffron, materials that hint at curves rather than placing them in full view, as it were. Yes, there's a plum note too - always redolent of boozy abandon - and a prominent dose of labdanum in the base, but they're never allowed to get out of hand, kept in check by the more well-behaved elements. If that sounds like a lukewarm assessment, allow me to make my view clear: I've thoroughly enjoyed wearing this and I am mightily pleased that Lauder didn't choose to turn it into one of the cynical, sell-out flankers we get from so many other brands. But in terms of originality, distinctiveness and sheer gumption, the prototype takes some beating. Still, maybe those frightened of its allure can work their way up to it via this commendable, or-covered pathway?
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Estée Lauder in 2017]