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A faint note of horse piss

Discovering that entrepreneur Estée Lauder once rejected an entire scent because she detected a faint note of horse piss was not on my bingo card for 2024. But according to author Michael Edwards—who highlights this moment in his latest book, American Legends: The Evolution of American Fragrances—the colorful anecdote helps Lauder seem more relatable to those of us who know her exclusively as beauty royalty.

— Read more in American Legends Reveals the Backstories Behind Some of Your Favorite Scents at Harper’s Bazaar. (And you can see a partial list of the fragrances covered by the book here.)

It’s an interesting question. American fragrances, when you smell them close up, they’re not always that pretty, but in the air they resonate. That’s the American spirit. Estée Lauder believed that women expect American fragrances to start the way they end. She had little patience with this idea of top notes, of fragrances changing over time: It has to be straight, she believed. It has to be direct.

— Michael Edwards on the difference between American and French perfumes. Read more in Spotlight: Michael Edwards, Debuts American Legends at Fragrance Foundation Accords.

“To the French, perfume is liquid art; to the Italians, liquid style; to the Americans, liquid money,” Edwards said.

— Read more in A Journey Through American Fragrance with Michael Edwards at FIT Newsroom.

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