One Thousand Scents

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Keeper: Estée Lauder Private Collection

The mythology, straight from the Estée Lauder website:

In her private office, Mrs. Lauder kept a collection of the rarest, best and most expensive fragrance oils, extracts and essences from every corner of the globe. Over several years, she created a parfum from these precious ingredients that was deeply personal and for herself alone.

Uh-huh. Unless Mrs. Lauder also had a big collection of aldehydes and other synthetic aromachemicals in her private office, she sure didn't make Private Collection, at least not without a lot of outside help.

But never mind. People like their mythology.

Or maybe the scent has changed over the years. Who am I kidding? They all change over the years. I strongly doubt that the miniature bottle that I have is exactly the same as the stuff Lauder launched in 1973, and for all I know it's different from the bottle you would find on the department-store counter today: mine is a few years old, at least, and doesn't have a date stamped on it (although I am starting to think that they all should).

Whatever its origin, whatever its current state, Private Collection (my own personal batch of Private Collection, anyway, and how sad that I have to spell it out like that) has four aspects: a celadon-green version of the aldehydic radiance of Clinique Wrappings (also a Lauder product); a big soapy clean that is a dead ringer for a freshly unwrapped bar of Ivory; a lush white floral that doesn't make me want to brick up my nose (a rare thing); and a reserved chypre base that, if it doesn't contain actual oakmoss, does an excellent job of imitation. Terrific from start to finish.

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