If I handed you an unlabeled vial of Estée Lauder Azurée to sniff, you might be puzzled. It certainly smells niche, with its strange opening and complex sillage. Could it be from Serge Lutens? Not likely, given its aldehydic sparkle. Maybe something new from Parfumerie Générale? No, no that, either. Estée Lauder probably wouldn’t be your first guess.
Azurée opens with a burst of bergamot coupled with a lightly caramelized smell, like brown sugar. A blush of aldehydes amplifies the effect. The bergamot fades in a minute, followed by the brown sugar after five minutes or so. When the scent settles, it is warm and herbal, grounded by leather and moss, giving the feeling of sitting in an old leather armchair in the summer on a mineral-y Provencal hillside in a wind full of lavender, thyme, and sage.
Azurée reminds me of the ocean, too, but I might be influenced by its name and its story rather than its actual scent. The Estée Lauder website says that Azurée was “inspired by the blue of the Mediterranean near Mrs. Estée Lauder's vacation home in Cap d'Antibes, off the coast of France. The scent is radiant and earthy, with the subtle tang of citrus as if carried in from a neighboring orange grove”. There’s nothing watery or salty about Azurée, and I wouldn’t call it a beach scent except for walking along the ocean, maybe, in the afternoon or early evening, in warm weather. (What would be a good stormy beach scent? L’Artisan Voleur de Roses, maybe?)
Azurée was introduced in 1969, a big year for perfume — Dioressence, Chamade, and Calandre were also created that year. Poking around on the internet revealed a list of notes that feels right to me: top notes of aldehydes, bergamot, and gardenia; heart of jasmine, cyclamen, ylang ylang, and orris; and a base of patchouli, leather, oakmoss, amber, and musk. The Estée Lauder website lists Azurée’s notes as having a top of basil, jasmine, and citrus; a heart of armoise, vetiver, and rose; and a base of patchouli, moss, and amber. It also lists Azurée as a “woody/citrus” scent, but I would call it squarely an herbal leather chypre. I’d love to smell it on a man, too.
At the Estée Lauder counter at my local Macy’s, Azurée is hidden in a cupboard, and you have to ask a sales associate to fetch the tester. (Aliage and Private Collection are hidden, too.) Also behind the counter is a flip chart listing each of Estée Lauder’s fragrances along with its notes, and if you get a friendly sales associate who will let you, it’s fun to look at the flip chart, too.
Besides the actual fragrance, the best part of Azurée is its price: $33.50 for a 60 ml bottle of Natural Fragrance Spray, which wears like Eau de Parfum. (Beat that, Serge.) The bottle is really stylish, too — tall, molded, and gently geometric with a brass collar and cap. The juice is an ambery-green color. If you’re interested in leather scents at all, do yourself a favor next time you’re at the mall and stop by the Estée Lauder counter and ask to smell Azurée.