According to Woman’s Wear Daily, Elizabeth Arden released its new fragrance, Untold, to attract a younger audience to the fusty brand. To many, Elizabeth Arden is known as the prized cosmetics line of American matrons and for its tubes of eight-hour cream. Elizabeth Arden wants to change that. WWD quoted E. Scott Beattie, president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Elizabeth Arden as saying, “This [Untold] is a modern interpretation of a woman, which will bring younger consumers to the franchise. We believe this will be a gateway for those consumers to show the brand is relevant to them. And we believe the concept — which is downtown New York cool — is universal enough that it will play well globally.”1
The article also notes that fragrance comprises half of the brand’s business, and Elizabeth Arden hasn’t had a major fragrance launch since Red Door in 1989. They must be expecting a lot of Untold.
And how does the fragrance hold up? Is it the young, New York cool fragrance they’re counting on? For my take on it, let me refer you to the episode of Sex in the City where Carrie insisted to her boyfriend, Berger, that she could identify a real Manhattanite by looks alone. Berger denied it, and pointed to a woman in a bar. Carrie was sure the woman was a tourist, because she was wearing a scrunchie in her hair. Carrie ended up being right. To me, Untold is a scrunchie in the perfume world.
Perfumer Clément Gavarry developed Untold. Elizabeth Arden came up with a clever gimmick to describe the perfume: Untold’s notes represent different facets of a woman’s femininity. Pink pepper and bergamot signify the “vibrant” facet of a woman. Pear and blackcurrant bud LMR2 are the “unpredictable” part. Gardenia petals and Egyptian jasmine LMR are “refined,” and patchouli heart LMR and sandalwood are “mysterious.” Finally, “heated” ambers and “hypnotic” musk are “sensual.”
Untold’s pear wafts up the instant the fragrance hits skin, with pink pepper and jasmine not far behind. The pear fades quickly and melts to sweeten the generic white floral mix that takes over Untold’s heart. A hint of woody musk reminds you that Untold is another mall perfume of the 2010s, but it isn’t insistent enough to trigger a migraine. Eventually, the fragrance quiets into a nicely behaved vanillic wood. In short, Untold smells like a lot of other department store fruity florals.
With two squirts from the sample vial, Untold’s sillage isn’t loud, but I’d hesitate before wearing it to a cubicle farm. It lasts about four hours on me — not long, but decent.
If you love pear and consider yourself a romantic, try Annick GoutalPetite Chérie. If you’re intrigued by the pear-jasmine combo but like a leaner composition with maybe a little moss thrown in, seek out a bottle ofBill Blass Nude. Finally, if you’re fine with apple rather than pear, and you’re young and on-trend — possibly the market Elizabeth Arden was going after — try See by Chloé. If you really want New York (or anywhere else) cool, start digging around in niche lines.
There’s one group, though, that I bet will love Untold: the traditional pearl-wearing, manicured Elizabeth Arden customer.