May Melange Marathon: Beyond Paradise

“Melange” is an apt word to use for Estee Lauder’s Beyond Paradise, as it is truly a melange of different florals. In their book “Perfumes: The Guide A-Z”, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez not only gave it five stars, but also close to three full pages of discussion (most perfumes got a paragraph). He calls it a “symphonic floral.” Calice Becker was the perfumer who created it; Beyond Paradise was launched in 2003. The bottle I have is the teardrop-shaped, rainbow-tinted original. The batch number on the bottom suggests it dates to 2013. Fragrantica lists that version’s notes as: Top notes of Hyacinth, Orange Blossom, Grapefruit, Bergamot and Lemon; middle notes of Jasmine, Gardenia, Honeysuckle and Orchid; base notes of Hibiscus, Plum Wood, Ambrette (Musk Mallow) and Amber. The 2015 version in the rectangular bottle is described as having top notes of Blue Hyacinth, Orange Blossom and Jabuticaba; middle notes of Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Orchid and Mahonia; and base notes of Ambrette (Musk Mallow), Plum Blossom, Paperbark, and Woody Notes.

Both versions of Beyond Paradise are meant to be “fantasy florals” with a tropical theme; part of the length of Turin’s review is a long digression into the nature of abstract floral fragrances and how challenging they are to create, with a tip of the hat to perfumer Calice Becker, an acknowledged master of the art. According to contemporaneous press and PR coverage when it was launched, it included “proprietary notes” gleaned from a collaboration with The Eden Project, a fascinating conservation site in Cornwall, which involves massive biospheres located in and above an abandoned quarry and which I’ve had the privilege to visit. It does in fact house many rare and tropical plants, so it must be a great resource for unusual smells.

I know many people love Beyond Paradise, and it was a blockbuster fragrance hit after its launch, but I have to say that I just don’t find it to be that special. And I’m a big lover of floral fragrances, so I would have expected to like it very much, if not love it. It’s not unpleasant or anything, it just doesn’t “wow” me. To be fair, that could be partly because of the age of my bottle, though the opening is still very clearly citrus-dominant. Of the middle notes, and keeping in mind that these are all abstract florals and meant to combine for an abstract whole, I smell honeysuckle more than any others. I don’t smell jasmine, gardenia, or mahonia at all, and I have both gardenias and mahonias growing in my garden so those are smells I know. I do get that tropical vibe that others mention; it evokes less beach and more rain forest, to my nose.

Tania Sanchez’ diplomatic commentary on Beyond Paradise more nearly approximates my reaction, though unlike her, I’m not qualified to opine on the expertise needed for its creation. She wrote: “I confess I admire this fragrance mostly without loving it …In the last analysis, what often leaves me cold with squeaky-clean BP-style modern florals is that they smell perfect and lovely but not alive — I grasp into space but there’s no one there.” Just so.

Have you tried Beyond Paradise in either the new or old versions, or any of its flankers?

2 thoughts on “May Melange Marathon: Beyond Paradise

  1. The best thing about Beyond Paradise was undoubtedly the bottle. The perfume to me was a bit meh. Nothing special at all. I thought Beautiful was a stunner.

    Liked by 1 person

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