Estee Lauder Pleasures Bloom ~ fragrance review

Estee Lauder Pleasures Bloom advert

At its truest, a flanker is a riff off an original scent, a lighthearted and maybe even forgettable spin on the themes of its forebear. After all, most flankers are around for a year or so then fall out of production. They're not meant to be masterpieces. Sticking to this definition, Estée Lauder Pleasures Bloom is a textbook example of a flanker.*

I've felt so underwater on fragrance launches lately, that as much as I respect the brand, these days I wouldn't turn my head at an Estée Lauder flanker. But I was wandering through the mall with my niece in Billings, Montana, listening to the ways of dating among teens (Niece: "And so I texted him for, like, two months before I met him." Me: "You texted him all that time and he didn't even know who you were?" Niece: "Aunt Angie, that's how we do it these days. Anyway, I texted him and found out we were both at the mall at the same time...") and stumbled across the Estée Lauder counter at Dillard's. A tester of Sensuous Noir was on the counter. As I sniffed a tester strip, the sales associate handed me Pleasures Bloom. "Do you like florals?" she asked. "Try this."

In that moment, Pleasures Bloom struck all the right notes. I'd spent almost a week eating slabs of beef, walking across asphalt parking lots oozing waves of oily heat, and suffering the indignity of having a sparkly mauve tattoo of Piglet sprayed on my arm at the Montana Fair (I blame niece who insisted a background of barbed wire would "make it extra good.") The bottle of Guerlain Coriolan I'd packed was a miscalculation. Pleasures Bloom's fruity floral notes were a drink of fresh water.

The original Pleasures, launched in 1995, is a clean, diffusive floral that smells to me like a stainless steel soap dish in the downstairs powder room of a house in a nice Connecticut suburb. Pleasures Bloom takes the fresh, soapy feel of the original and feeds it a couple of grapefruit cocktails in the garden.

Pleasures Bloom Eau de Parfum, released in July, has notes of grapefruit, raspberry, lychee, violet flower, peony, rose, jasmine, green lily, musk, patchouli, and vanilla. On spraying it, first I smell a tingly pouf of pink grapefruit bolstered by wet rose and lychee. It's a drinkable, refreshing potion, like a sipped glass of chilled pink zinfandel from a box on the patio at a baby shower. It doesn't offend and it definitely refreshes. While it cuts the heat and takes the edge off those irritating baby games, it also doesn't inspire me to ask for a second glass.

After a few hours, the dew drops off the composition as a woody musk kicks in quietly, the same bugspray-like musk that infests so many new fragrances. I don't smell much vanilla or any patchouli. Pleasures Bloom lasts half a day before it's kaput.

In the end, I either want something more campy — maybe Yoo-hoo instead of pink zinfandel? — or something more satisfying and intriguing. Although I decided I don't need a bottle of Pleasures Bloom, it would make an easy gift for the aunt you don't know well. Almost everyone would like Pleasures Bloom even if no one loves it. Standing in that mall in Billings, I was grateful to Pleasures Bloom for reminding me I wanted something refreshing and easy to wear. In my case, though, it should have been a bottle of Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint.

Estée Lauder Pleasures Bloom Eau de Parfum comes in 50 ml and 100 ml bottles ($52 and $74 respectively.) For information on where to buy it, see Estée Lauder under Perfume Houses.

*Of course, not every flanker is a seasonal throwaway or even mirrors the fragrances it flanks. To name just a few examples, Christian Dior has made an industry of Poison flankers that don't smell anything like the original. Thierry Mugler has released parfum flankers to Angel that have become collector's items.

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64 Comments

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  1. halimeade says:

    Sounds like a flanker to me : ) I really don’t understand the whole ‘bug spray musk’ thing. It’s like a trap at the end of a perfectly good fragrance! Bleh.

    • Angela says:

      I know, what is the deal with the bug spray? The trend should be fading out by now. I eagerly await its demise.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Thank you Halimeade! Well said. That trap caught me at the end of the otherwise gorgeous VC&A Bois d’Iris. I was so disappointed.

      • Angela says:

        Oh, too bad! (But a big money saver.)

        • Rappleyea says:

          So true! I didn’t realize how expensive it was as I was testing. I only found that out later.

  2. Jill says:

    This sounds nice, and your time at the Montana mall and fair (and your niece’s dating strategies, LOL) sounded like fun! I’ll probably pass on this since in fact I do have JM White Jasmine & Mint to fill out my “refreshing” category (and in fact I’m wearing it today!).

    My favorite Pleasures flanker (well, the only one I’ve tried) is Pleasures Delight. It’s definitely more of a fall scent, though.

    • Angela says:

      I kept thinking I wish I had a bottle of the White Jasmine & Mint with me! It just seemed like the perfect thing for that trip.

  3. Suzanne941 says:

    Angela, will you be posting a pic of your Piglet-barbed wire rub-on tattoo? Please??? ;)

    • RuthW says:

      Seconding that picture request, especially if it sparkles!

      • Angela says:

        It definitely did sparkle!

    • Angela says:

      I do have it on my camera at home. I wonder if there’s a way to insert a photo in a comment? I’ll investigate later tonight.

      My niece used to be obsessed with Winnie the Pooh and named everyone in the family after someone in the book. I was Piglet, hence the tattoo.

      • miss kitty v. says:

        It’s cute that she gave everyone Pooh Bear nicknames. There are certainly worse things to be than Piglet. :) I had a therapist that used to call me Eeyore. Very flattering.

        • Angela says:

          Sure, but Piglet? And this from a messy 8-year old (who appointed herself Christopher Robin, of course.)

          • miss kitty v. says:

            Granted, any pig-related name is always a little on the insulting side… I don’t think kids realize what they’re saying sometimes. When I was a kid I had a babysitter named Peggy who I would call “Piggy.” She wasn’t overweight, it was just some stupid variation on her name I came up with. I felt really bad when I later found out she had an eating disorder. I probably contributed to it. :( Luckily I still know her, and she turned out fine.

          • Angela says:

            Oh man! That story could have had a very sad ending. (But it didn’t!) I hoped she squeezed extra cash out of your parents for that one.

  4. Chanterais says:

    Oh Angela! Prepare yourself for an unseemly display of affection and a slightly creepy sense of personal identification:

    I adore your reviews. They’re just these small, quietly wonderful pieces of prose that are ostensibly about carefully-calibrated odoriferous molecules, but end up being about a whole universe of memories and experiences. No seriously. NO SERIOUSLY. I just love them. They’re funny and tender and rueful and nostalgic in a way that makes me smile as I read them, and then keep smiling as I remember them throughout the day.

    Oh god. I’m so damn cheesy. This is terrible. I apologise for humping your leg in public like this. So embarrassing. Bad dog.

    • Angela says:

      Oh gosh, thank you! I’m so glad you like them! It’s been a crazy few weeks, and it’s so nice to get such a wonderful compliment.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Chanterais – don’t apologize. We all feel the same way!

    • Tama says:

      I couldn’t have said it better!

      • Filomena says:

        I totally agree. What refreshing and nostalgic reviews. I have been so busy at work the past 6 weeks, that I’ve hardly had any time to even peruse this blog let alone participate, but tonight I just felt compelled to look at it before going to bed. Angela, you write so beautifully and do so do many other women who always comment.
        It made me realize how much I have missed the past couple of months. Wishing everyone a great Labor Day weekend.

        • Angela says:

          I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend, too, and the chance to relax a bit!

    • damselfly says:

      That’s better than just lurking and thinking, “Dang, that’s good!” like, uh, some of us do…

      • Angela says:

        You guys are all so nice!

  5. Absolute Scentualist says:

    What a fun review, Angela. And there’s nothing like going to the fair with kids (or teens who haven’t yet hit the monosyllabic reply phase yet) to bring out one’s inner child.

    The only Pleasures product I really love is the Pleasures Delight flanker and its wonderful ancillary products. The original Pleasures was a close friend’s signature scent in my teens so while I liked it, I couldn’t wear it in good conscience.

    But when Pleasures Delight came out, it was like a gentle waft of Angel in a strawberry patch and I was instantly in love. This flanker looks nice, too, even if it ends on that less than pleasing musk/patch combo that’s so popular now. If it’s still there the next time I’m at Macy’s, I’ll have to give it a try.

    • Angela says:

      A waft of Angel in a strawberry patch is a great description of Pleasures Delight!

      I did enjoy the time with my niece at the fair, and I really enjoyed one of the fair’s signature food items: the Viking on a Stick, served up by the sweet, white-haired ladies of the Sons of Norway.

      • Jonette says:

        Angela, I was about to write you a fawning fan note, raving about your writing and how BRILLIANT and entertaining it is, but Chantarais beat me to it. At the risk of also being called a bad dog, I second all she wrote!

        Please enlighten me as to what a Viking on a Stick is. My mind is filled with strange images.

        • Angela says:

          It makes me so happy that people enjoy these posts!

          A Viking on a Stick is basically a corndog-shaped meatloaf on a stick served with horseradish sauce. (I could eat one right now!)

          • Tama says:

            That sounds like something I would eat with relish and feel a bit sick after and then want another one.

          • Joe says:

            That actually sounds quite good except for being deep fried… and I am the king of fried foods. Fair fare really makes me queasy just thinking about it, though.

          • Angela says:

            Really, the only fair food that is worth it (outside of Vikings on a stick, that is) are sof-serve ice cream cones served up by the Dairywoman’s Association.

        • miss kitty v. says:

          I just looked up the recipe! Yum! Battered meatballs on a stick? Sign me up! I know what I’m making for my next dinner party. (Maybe I can make some deep-fried Twinkies for dessert.)

          • Rappleyea says:

            Miss Kitty – go to Perfume Pose. March has posted a picture of the deep fried Reese’s Cups that they ate this weekend at a fair.

          • miss kitty v. says:

            Wow! I clearly have not tried all the fare that the fair has to offer. I still haven’t recovered from the year I got a fresh-out-of -the oven elephant ear, which dripped burning hot butter down my arms when I tried to eat it.

          • Rappleyea says:

            OUCH! I don’t even know what an “elephant ear” is, but it couldn’t have been worth it!

          • miss kitty v. says:

            You’re missing out! They really are good. Most times they are not disgustingly dripping with molten hot butter.

  6. Rappleyea says:

    I really did chuckle at your comparing this to a boxed wine at a baby shower. I hate both boxed wine and baby showers (sorry moms) and these notes don’t sound much more promising to me. But as always, I enjoyed your review immensely – I needed a laugh today!

    • Angela says:

      You and me both. I’m not sure which are worse–bridal showers or baby showers.

      • Filomena says:

        I have to agree with you. They are both equally boring and stupid.

  7. Ari says:

    Hmm… those prices seem a little high for an Estee Lauder flanker! And if those new eHarmony ads are to be believed, 20% of relationships start online now, so maybe texting is not such an outlandish way of meeting people- it might even be a little safer, since you (hopefully) have a mutual friend.

    • Angela says:

      Good point! My niece’s boyfriend seems like a really sweet guy, so it all worked out for the best.

  8. ceciliat says:

    Although I also love Angela’s reviews, I have to say that:

    “Oh god. I’m so damn cheesy. This is terrible. I apologise for humping your leg in public like this. So embarrassing. Bad dog.”

    just made me howl (I know, the worst of possible puns). Thank you so much for both the lovely prose and the laugh-out-loud moments I get from this list…

    • Angela says:

      As a dog owner, I laughed, too!

  9. Joe says:

    Hi Angela: I hate when I travel and don’t bring the right scent. That’s why last time I took many, many decants for a one week trip.

    I’m not sure I’ll ever get to smell this Pleasures flanker — and I’ve never smelled the original — but I don’t think I’m suffering. I do like when something simple and refreshing hits the spot though.

    How was the test of Sensuous Noir? I wasn’t a fan of the original. I do want to get myself a bit of Aliage, though.

    • Angela says:

      I found the original ho hum, and from what I remember of my brief sniff Sensuous Noir was the creamy, woody original with a healthy dose of purple fruit. Not really my thing, but I should probably try it again. Robin is doing a review soon–maybe tomorrow, even.

  10. alotofscents says:

    Angela, the following makes me a rube so be it…a perfumista rube.
    I love, love Pleasures, even though it does smell like expensive soap. I especially love Pleasure’s Exotic and Intense. They make me feel girly, flirty and fresh. Though they are not my HG fragrance (the closest I’ve came to that is Pure Poison-heaven forbid, and Guerlain’s Cruel Gardenia).
    It seems hardly anyone likes fresh florals, except me. Surely this can’t be true? I do like Envy, which is highly praised here. So this can’t be intirely true. In my defense, I don’t like fruity florals and I do love woody musks and some floral orientals. I even like Bulgari Black, which comes off as vanilla tea to me.
    Sorry for being so defensive, I know perfume snobs, in theory, don’t exist…but you know. Aldehydes smell too “wiffy” and choking to me, and certain resins…benzsoin? smell like feet to me.
    This makes me sad because I feel so foreign. I’ve been on this site for years and sometimes feel as if I’ve landed on another planet.
    O.k., rant almost complete. I think it’s because I’m a hopeless romantic, still looking for my white knight after 51 years. Nieve, right? Mia Culpa.
    I’m not blaming anyone. I’m actually mad at myself, or my damn nose.
    Pleasures; a charming little fragrance, better and more distinctive than most.
    Kinda like me
    Always love your gifted writing Angela, and thanks everyone who indulges me.
    Joy, Becca

    • Joe says:

      I think a fresh floral can be great! Don’t feel foreign!

      What are some of your favorites? I especially like PdE 3 Fleurs, IPdF Caterina di Medici, and Kenzo Flower and a few of its flankers.

    • Tama says:

      You’re hardly a rube!! If it makes you feel any better I *do* like some fruity florals, and fresh fun uplifting florals, and have a hard time with some aldehydes and some classics, and for a long time Tauer’s Incense Extreme just smelled like varnish. I’m totally happy climbing into bed coated with Midnight Fantasy. Remember our guilty pleasures poll? Well, I don’t really feel guilty about any of them.

    • Angela says:

      B, Pleasures gets a lot of love from perfume fiends! For my aldehydic-soapy-floral treat, I like Nocturnes instead, but there’s no shame in loving Pleasures or florals for that matter!

      • marielon says:

        Yay! Nocturnes! It really is beautiful– one of my all time favorites, For some reason, the EL fragrances don’t fly my kite–not sure why not. I want to love them–but don’t.

        • Angela says:

          I think we’re two of the few Nocturnes lovers, but that’s o.k.! More for us.

    • odonata9 says:

      Don’t feel bad for liking what you like! I like a fresh floral, and even a fruity floral, sometimes! Pleasures is one of the few bottles of perfume that I have finished, and while I’m not as crazy about it any more, it still smells really clean and fresh to me, which is just what you need sometimes.

    • Jill says:

      I agree with the others, no shame in loving Pleasures or anything else! I love a fresh floral when I’m in the mood! And as much as we tend to be down on fruity florals, there are some really nice ones in that category too. I don’t think there are any “bad” categories of perfume — it’s like what Roger Ebert said about movies, “It’s not what it’s about, it’s how it’s about it.” :)

      • Angela says:

        Fabulous quote! I’m going to start citing that one, too.

    • nozknoz says:

      Ah, I owned and enjoyed Pleasures when it first came out. After all the heavy scents of the 80s and early 90s, it was a breath of fresh air!

      • Angela says:

        The Perfume Guide calls it a groundbreaking scent, and I believe it. It’s so clean and fresh, but still pretty.

  11. alotofscents says:

    Oh you guys are so magnanimous! Thank you. Self esteem sufficiently stroked :) I like Penhaligon’s Lilly and Spice, Jo Malone’s Honeysuckle and Jasmine, Kodo Woods collection, Red Roses, Pomegranite Noir, and Orange Blossom. I love blending things too; like Micheal Kors with Demeter’s Cinnamon Toast and Incense. Kenzo’s Indian Holi with Profumum’s Amber Aurea. A lot of the clean florals I mix with Amber to sex them up(skank?).
    My HG would be a not too cloying or sweet mixed floral, with a citrus beginning, and a subtle but firm musky woody base.
    Ha ha. I once bought Bulgari Femme sight unseen, because it sounded perfect in Robin’s review, but it had benzion hidden in it and had that foot smell, that I couldn’t get past, or else I got a bad bottle? Who knows? Right now I’m ordering a decant of Guerlain’s L’Instant sounds perfect- magnolia and amber, citris opening…wow. I worry about the honey note though, and of course the dreaded hidden resins that I don’t know which one rubs me wrong. Anyone else smell it? Is it heavy?

    • Angela says:

      Hey, you should try Pleasures Bloom! It sounds like a good match. The pink grapefruit opening–nice and sweet, not sour and puckery–is delicious. The woody-musky drydown may not be the type of woods you like, though (I’m looking at the Kodo Woods in your list.)

      I would call L’Instant sort of a medium-weight fragrance and not particularly heavy at all–at least, not to me.

    • Karin says:

      Hey, alotofscents! Not knocking you for liking Pleasures (see my post below) – but the image that EL is trying to promote through it. So pristine and pretty. Is that bad? Hmmm…guess I just can’t identify with it at all!

  12. prism says:

    i’m so sad Pleasures Delight was discontinued. was probably my favorite flanker from Pleasures lol.

    • Angela says:

      People sure liked Pleasures Delight! Maybe they’ll bring back something like it.

    • breathesgelatin says:

      Pleasures Delight hasn’t been discontinued – it’s available for sure at the Macy’s where I work, as well as online…

  13. Karin says:

    You know, I never identified with the whole Pleasures line. Part of it is the Estee Lauder image – it’s just “not me”. I see EL as a bit too conservative and staid for my taste. The marketing for Pleasures showed women in flowery dresses with flowers all around them. Definitely not me. Love your reference to soap in “powder room” in a Connecticut household!!! Exactly the image. I mean, who has a “powder room”? Sorry, guess I’m just not that girl.

    Interesting, though, that image and marketing has a lot to do with it. There’s an implication that conservative women prefer soft florals, with no sex implied. Clean and flowery is critical if you want to maintain that innocent vibe. Hmmm. Sort of ties in with Elena’s somewhat controversial post over on Perfume Shrine about America’s weird obsession with clean. What happened? Didn’t we used to all love Poison and Giorgio??? And what about the patchouli-laden 60’s? This backlash is really becoming boring.

    • Angela says:

      It’s not a marketing campaign that speaks to me, either, but I can see why it’s popular. It’s a mature put-togetherness, too, I see in the ad campaign.

  14. ggperfume says:

    EL ads remind me of Ralph Lauren clothing ads: for those who would like to imagine themselves as wealthy preppies. Does Lauder actually make Lauren’s fragrance line? The tie-in seems so natural to me.

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