Monday 25 February 2019


When a company decides to launch a new fragrance, the decision faced is whether to branch out in a totally new direction or to trade on familiarity. A scent that is already well known has the advantage of being recognisable and, with careful branding, you can really capitalise on this. One company that have built an entire series around this idea is Estée Lauder and their Beautiful collection. The quote, “You are never too old to reinvent yourself” could have been written about Estee Lauder’s Beautiful Belle, the latest addition to the series, but will it be a permanent addition or a merely a two-year novelty?

When Estée Lauder launched Beautiful back in 1985 it was the company’s first new release for seven years, although 1978 had been a busy year for them. That year they launched Josephine Catapano and Bernard Chant’s famous Cinnabar, an oriental that was aimed at the Opium market, and also the groundbreaking New Romantics collection that was made up of three fragrances, White Linen, Celadon, and Pavilion. The concept was that they could be worn alone or combined to create a bespoke scent. In the end only White Linen would survive, but it definitely sowed the seed for fragrance combining.

The original Beautiful was created by Sophia Grojsman and Bernard Chant and was a contrast to the oriental style that was so favoured in the eighties. It was reportedly in development for seven years and was described as “the scent of a thousand fresh flowers.” It would be the last fragrance that the founder, Estée Lauder, actually worked on which is why it’s such an important one for the company, and why it has been revisited so many times. With Bulgarian rose, jasmine, tuberose, and iris featuring heavily in Beautiful, it definitely fit the feel of “feminine” at the time.

The Beautiful collection initially began limited edition releases in 2003 with Beautiful Sheer, not so much a reworking as a reinterpretation using green notes and fruity aspects, and the range would see a further seven novelties before returning to just the original. However, 2018 was the year that, potentially, a permanent companion arrived in the form of Beautiful Belle. Described as a floral oriental, it came with the direct instruction that “Love breaks all rules” and launched in time for summer. With one Christmas now behind it, let’s revisit Estée Lauder’s newest creation to see whether it truly is “romantic, carefree, and irreverent.”

Beautiful Belle opens with a very definite lychee note but the fruitiness is offset by a watery rose petal accord and a wash of citrus. The star florals from the original Beautiful are still here, in the form of gardenia and tuberose, but they sit firmly behind a shimmering orange blossom that provides a contemporary take on the classic. As the fragrance develops you get, what can only be described as, a soft oriental accord. The combination of amber notes, powdery iris, and “marzipan musk” provides a subtle sweetness which continues to support an ever-present floral blend as the scent subsides.

Beautiful Belle is available as an eau de parfum from all fragrance stores priced at £52 for 30ml, £72 for 50ml, and £99 for 100ml. [Sample provided by Estée Lauder]

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