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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Perfume Review: Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder never ceases to surprise me in that in their collection there still exist (not too obviously for an average Lauder counter visitor) alongside superficial little things like Pleasures Delight such Classics as White Linen, Knowing, Estee and Private Collection.

The continued existence of the latter is especially amazing. Private Collection is not what I would call lovable and approachable. It is an austere, dry green chypre with a lot of character. It wears sharply tailored suits, carries a Kelly bag, has sharp wit and a I-am-better-than-thou attitude. And you can't help but admire it, because it is a Real Lady. I adore and collect lady-like perfumes, and Private Collection is one of the most lady-like of them all.

Its juicy, earthy green beginning is what I love about it the most. It is the smell of grass, stems and hyacinths. Dark, deep green aroma that feels so wonderful in summer (and might be just a tad too cold in winter). The heart continues the green theme by adding a touch of spice and a pine-like accord to the luscious bouquet of jasmine, narcissus and rose. The base is mossy and slightly powdery...the proper, classic base, the kind of base all lady-like perfumes should have.

The question of what fragrance get one the most compliments from the opposite gender are frequently seen on perfume forums. Believe it or not, Private Collection and its younger, floral offspring many times removed, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, are among a tiny number of perfumes that get noticed and complimented by my other half. Which goes to prove that gentlemen prefer ladies.

Available at, $45.00 for 1.7oz.

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Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Love,love, love Private Collection. I must've smelled it a million times as a child (in Montreal in the 60s/70s, I guess EL was the only alternative to expensive French perfume. In fact, it's the only "familiar from childhood" perfume I can wear without feeling like an impostor.
That galbanum-hyacinth note is what I live for, as my applications of my precious vintage Vent Vert (another beast entirely: VV is a galbanum monster) are few and far between.
Any other suggestions for a galbanum top-loaded scent? Bel Respiro could be it, but it's such a wimp on me: 10 seconds of bliss, then pffff.

2:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

carmencanada: if you love galbanum, try Li Altarelli by Stephanie St. Aignan. Available at LuckyScent. It starts with a crisp light note then delivers a nice dollop of galbanum. It's not Private Collection, but then again, nothing else is.

3:53 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I only recently read about this and it sounded like PC would immediately enter my pantheon of HG scents - I was making positive "check" sounds all down the line w/ the notes.! :-( Sob! It goes to pure soap on my skin. What is *wrong* w/ my chemistry?! I am going to order a sample from TPC and see if maybe the mini I got from ebay was somehow "off" - hope springs eternal.

5:59 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Spot on, sister.

Ladylike they are...
Funny, isn't it ?

Too bad the reform version of VV is bitter, thin, and angry-
I loved the original.

7:47 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I really like this;I stop by EL counters periodically and ask to smell it. Now, I am usually given PCTG first, and have to explain. I haven't been moved to buy it yet, but perhaps someday. . .

7:49 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly, this AM I decided to dab from the vial of Tuberose Gardenia that's been awaiting sampling since winter. I'm not sure it's me but certainly it's well done & beautiful. If I were a floral kind of gal beyond the occasional light jasmine (& I may yet be, but maybe not this year) this is one I'd want.

8:04 AM EDT  
Blogger saralevy said...

carmencanada--Silences by Jacomo is a must-try for any galbanum fan. Thanks for the lovely review of ELPC--I will try it next time I'm having a retail experience. my fave Estee Lauder is Spellbound parfum in the dead of winter! cheers!

8:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

How about Chanel No 19? Murasaki, Amazone, Chamade, Givenchy III, even Miss Dior? And, of course, as Sara said, Silences.

9:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad to hear somebody likes Aignan(s) too. I am so fond of that line.

9:17 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I can see how it would go to soap. It does on me too, on a very bad day. But not as much as White Linen is capable of being soapy.

9:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am 99% positive I have a new version, and it came from the freshest source possible at that :-) I adore it. Maybe because I don't remember the old one.

9:19 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I "see" you in this, totally! Not in PCTG though, for some reason. :-)

9:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

From what I know of your tastes, just reading your comments...I can't quite imagine you loving PCTG :-) I can see you wearing Tubereuse Criminelle though.

9:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Lovely to see you! I adore Silences too.

9:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TC is also too floral for me. I really think simple light jasmine for a hot hot day is my limit for floral tolerance.

9:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

have you tried Malone's Jasmin and Mint scent?

9:41 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...


V V gets angry on MY skin-
Not yours... ;)

In the bottle, it smells good-
But the drydown , on me, isn't rich and full-bodied as I remember it.
[Of course- I'M full-bodied now- and I wasn't then...

10:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love green chypre, and I was completely taken aback by the power and elegance of PC. It is really a stunning fragrance. I also love the new PC Tuberose Gardenia.


10:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am sorry! You were talking about Vent Vert, right? And I was still banging on about PC :-)VV is not too fond of me either.

11:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Whenever I put PC on, I think of you, because you re-introduced me to it. :-)

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Existentialist said...

I am wearing this today! The first time I tried it, all I got was pine, and I think the tester had gone bad, because the decant I got from Nancy F.'s sale is all I had hoped for. This is one of those scents that makes me a better person than I normally am.

12:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Existentialist, what a great way to put it!

12:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I adore Private Collection. I started wearing it when I was in my late teens, early 20s because my aunt wore it. It was much too old for me, but I adored it completely.

12:49 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You were just sophisticated beyond your years.

12:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Ah -- I love Private Collection, and it is among the scents that I thought I could never, ever, wear, oriental gal that I am. Given everyone's characterization of it as such a Refined Lady I was expecting something more angular, but all I got was sunny green lawns, white linen, and the gentle sound of a tennis game in the background...("thock, thock, 2 -Love!") It was something of a revelation for me, and led me down the galbanum path. I am now the proud owner of No. 19 (quite luckily, an older version!), Silences, and Niki St. de Phalle and adore them all. (Well--actually I'm still warming up to Silences...carmen let me know if you would like some!)

Who knew?

12:59 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You painted such a WASP idyll, I love that :-)
I never thought I'd wear this either.

1:01 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carmencanada... for a super top-loaded dose of galbanum please try Cartier Must extrait... has anyone ever noticed how similar it is to PC? For the first five minutes it just offers the same sparkling green just a tad sweeter, before it starts to descend into vanilla territory... I just can't get enough of both PC and Must. Sometimes I spray test strips wet and let them hang around the house. The beauty is that I then keep catching whiffs of green metal for days. (Boy are they tenacious!)


4:06 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Marina,
Love Grace kelly and green chypres! Private collectionL'original was a burst of Spring in a bottle. I think it had that 60's scent asociated with Cabochard , the original Pucci Vivara , Miss dior MM,
The new Tub Gar by El is much too harsh and overpowering. Here's to nostalgia, Estee Lauder -a genius , Grace Kelly and You!

7:14 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again Marina, I , Madelyn E wrote the last comment !

7:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to try this! I adore No 19. I am fond of Bel Respiro (though it does leave so soon). I even got egged into trying Givenchy III by Le Guide (seemed like Bandit trying to be just a tad more ladylike). PC sounds quite loveable and more my style; plus the "thonk, thonk" of the tennis balls puts me in a summer mood...

7:38 PM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Thanks for all the suggestions! The re-edition of Givenchy III seems to me to be a bit thin, and that green note is just too Vitabath for me. Chamade goes to soap. But I definitely need to give a try to the Stéphanie de Saint Aignan, the Cartier and the Jacomo -- I keep reading about Silences but I've never sampled it. And maybe N°19 will finally reveal its true beauty to me!

7:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I need to try Must in extrait, perhaps it will change my opinion of it.

9:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you, I'd drink to that! :-)

9:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

i know! Alyssa's comment made me long for being on an English lawn, sipping Pimms. :-)

9:06 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Please let us know if you find some more galbanum-full scents!

9:06 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just tried this for the first time recently -- how could I have missed it? What an extraordinary fragrance -- it has the most arresting, improbable contrasts in it -- at least to my nose. I feel an FB coming on. Your reviews, by the way, are perfectly beautiful.


9:56 PM EST  
Blogger Nan5ku said...

My mom has this perfume, gotta love it. It's quite strong fragrance, but yet lovely and timeless.

7:15 AM EDT  

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