New Lauder Scent Explores Duality


Modern Muse 1
Modern Muse

In a bustling fragrance market, Estée Lauder’s eponymous brand is seeking to inspire.

Modern Muse, Lauder’s first flagship fragrance launch in roughly a decade, aims to capture the duality of a woman who is at once strong and soft—and features a wholly innovative construction befitting its dynamic premise.

“Our founder, Estée Lauder, was an amazing muse,” said Karyn Khoury, senior vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for The Estée Lauder Companies. “A heritage of inspiring and being inspired by women; of artistic creativity; of dynamic confidence; and of balancing strength and softness is part of Estée Lauder’s DNA.”

The Modern Muse collection of eaux de parfums will be available this September in 1.0, 1.7 and 3.4 oz. flacons—priced at $58.00, $78.00 and $98.00, respectively. Fragrances will be sold at Lauder counters and major airports nationwide, as well as


In the creation of Modern Muse, Khoury and her team have rewritten the rules of fragrance development.

The scent’s “dual-impression” structure means that rather than top, middle and bottom notes, Modern Muse is composed of two accords that complement one another in a subtle balance of creative tension: Sparkling Jasmine and Sleek Woods.

Khoury developed the fragrance alongside Firmenich’s Harry Frémont—one of less than ten master perfumers in the world and a close collaborator of hers for over twenty-five years.

Modern Muse’s Sparkling Jasmine Accord features exotic mandarin, honeysuckle nectar, dewy petals, two extractions of jasmine sambac, tuberose fleur and fresh lily. Its Sleek Woods Accord comprises two patchouli essences, Madagascar vanilla, amber wood and musk.

Frémont enthused about “using the perfumery palette to its full potential” in the creation of the fragrance—meaning top quality ingredients as well as the inclusion of multiple extractions of both jasmine and patchouli.

He also explained that a “dual-impression” fragrance encourages wearers to interpret its contrasting components on their own terms. “Someone might connect right away with its sparkling floral quality,” he said, “while another may be attracted to its warm, rich, woody signature.”


Muse ad
An Arizona Muse-starring ad visual.

The dualistic ethos of Modern Muse is also evident in its packaging—helmed by Estée Lauder’s senior vice president and global creative director, Richard Ferretti.

The Modern Muse flacon is tall and statuesque, but with rounded edges that suggest a gentle elegance. Its blush-hued juice is offset by gold hardware and the fragrance’s logo is written in deep navy—Lauder’s trademark shade.

Ferretti also chose to re-imagine a signature design element of Estée Lauder’s first fragrance, Youth Dew, which launched in 1953: its bow. This time, a dark navy patent bow flanks the bottle’s spray-through cap, so that it “is always fully dressed,” Ferretti said.

Modern Muse’s outer carton features a charming and whimsical sketch of the bottle within as a wink to modern art.


A multifaceted print, television and digital advertising campaign will support the launch, marking the debut of Lauder’s newly-minted (and aptly-named) spokesmodel, Arizona Muse.

Set within the Guggenheim—“a destination of art, creativity, beauty, light and inspiration,” Ferretti said—the commercial was directed by Craig McDean and shot by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer, Stuart Dryburh.

The spot—and corresponding print campaign, also photographed by McDean—follows Muse climbing to the top of the Guggenheim’s conical exhibition space, where she arrives confidently, bathed in a radiant pink glow. The fragrance’s tagline reads, “Be an inspiration.”


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