Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Estée Lauder Private Collection

Private Collection (1973) is named what it is because it was Estée Lauder's signature perfume, her own private blend. It was no doubt a reflection of her chic, elegant style and confident, assertive personality (Coco Chanel also loved a fresh green scent for her own signature, No.19). Although Estée Lauder had created Private Collection for herself, it soon gained serious fans, and became part of the commercial line. I was reminded of Private Collection today when I retested Caron Alpona. I actually liked Alpona much better than I did when I tested it this past winter, although I still wouldn't claim it for myself. The opening of Alpona is a crisp, green, bold and fresh scent like Private Collection, except Alpona reveals spices that veer towards something like Eau de Guerlain, and the rich woodsiness towards Parfums de Nicolai New York, all of which are marketed to men. Private Collection doesn't go the way of spices but stays clean and bright, as crisp as a starched white shirt, polished enough for a princess (literally, as it was a beloved scent of Princesses Diana and Grace) and still almost fresh and energetic enough for a quick game of tennis or golf. I like that it's a leading lady soprano of Chypres whose classically-trained high-pitched voice has tone and resonance so it's never too shrill.

I have a special place in my heart for this beautiful classic, for I am a jasmine lover and the heart of this fragrance features jasmine, although it's camouflaged beneath all the greenery, moss and woods as if to protect its most precious secret, a sacred part. I have some parfum on hand for those days when I want something devoid of sweetness, and instead, something nature-oriented yet sophisticated--by that, I mean green and foresty but complex with aldehydes lifting the composition to a cosmopolitan, champagne-like effervescence. The impression Private Collection has on me is an almost fastidiously soapy-clean sharpness, and it seems no-nonsense and professional, like a woman in uniform who's never seen with a piece of hair out of place. Aside from its potent strength and obvious retro feeling harkening back to the '70s when this type of green Chypre was popular and mainstream (the Gourmand or Fruity Floral of the time), Private Collection remains a uniquely elite classic that others in the genre can only come close to replicating. They should all only be this perfect, and it seems the Private Collection wearer knows this and demands no less.

I would wear it more often if it didn't turn extremely powdery-musky on me. Maybe it's the hyacinth, the sheer patchouli base or perhaps it's the rosy heart; whatever it is that I have a hard time wearing, I'm sure it works better on others whose chemistry brings out its true, pristine charm.

The parfum miniature is a great value and the bottle shape is a pretty teardrop shape.

PS: This classic perfume has nothing in common with the new Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia which to me smells like Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia and a bunch of other strong and soliflorish aqueous tuberose-themed fragrances that came out in droves recently.