In the beauty world, there are some hard and fast rules that are generally considered non-negotiable — bright lipstick and heavy eye makeup are usually not a good combination, washing your face at night is a must for perfect skin, BB creams will eventually take over the world. But, this fall, Estée Lauder is looking to shatter one of these edicts — that every fragrance should be comprised of a top, middle, and base note — with the launch of Modern Muse.
The first new scent for the storied brand in nearly a decade, Modern Muse plays off the "duality" of the modern woman by focusing not on the industry standard of a top, heart, and drydown, but on two scent accords that showcase that multi-faceted nature. There's the soft and feminine "Sparkling Jasmine" accord, balanced out by the strong and independent "Sleek Woods" accord.
Created by master perfumer Harry Fremont of Firmenich along with Karyn Khoury, senior vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos., the scent is also unique because each accord features two different facets of the same ingredient: jasmine sambac in Sparkling Jasmine and patchouli in Sleek Woods.
"For us, the dual notes was a way to add some different quality, texture, and depth to the fragrance," says Fremont. "For example, for the jasmine sambac, the extract sambac is beautiful, but it doesn't have the richness and the body of the extract from China that we used. So, when you combine the two of them, you have the best of both worlds. When you use two products of the same ingredient, you get this texture that, for us, makes a difference. Just as the quality of a fabric makes a difference in the way a suit wears, it's the same for fragrance."
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Photo: Courtesy of Estée Lauder
And who better to convey this softness and strength than the one and only Arizona Muse — the brand swears the name of the fragrance matching their spokesmodel's last name was pure coincidence, but we say it was fate. This marks the first campaign for Muse since signing with the brand just over a year ago. In the ads, she's depicted running through the streets as passers-by stop and do double takes. It culminates with her running into the Guggenheim and pausing to reflect at the top of that iconic staircase.
"Arizona has a really modern look — a memorable face and she's different," says Richard Ferretti, senior vice president and global creative director for Estée Lauder, when asked what Muse brings to the brand's already healthy roster of spokesmodels. "Our models are high-fashion models — they have that model-celebrity status, but they are also formed human beings. That fashion connection is very important to us, because makeup, fragrance, skin care — it's all fashion. When you're using a celebrity, they're in and then they're out. Arizona, Liu [Wen], Joan [Smalls], and Constance [Jablonski] are a part of our brand — they're family. They're a part of our lives, they have a responsibility, and they are proud of the products they represent. They're not representing it on a superficial level — it's much deeper, and I am really proud that that's how we approach it."
While the fragrance itself may be thoroughly modern with all its talk of duality and texture, the bottle calls on the brand's history for inspiration. It's reminiscent of Youth Dew — Lauder's legendary first scent launched all the way back in 1953 — and features text and a bow accent in the brand's signature navy blue. "The message of this fragrance is one of incredible optimism and empowerment," says Khoury. "I think that there have been messages of femininity and empowerment [in fragrance] that tend to be maybe stronger and more serious. It's not that this isn't serious, but it's very optimistic — it's very positive and embracing." The scent will be available starting in September, with the Craig McDean-shot ads featuring Muse dropping in August.
Photo: Courtesy of Estée Lauder