Smelling Estee Lauder's Private Collection* is like being presented with a flower genetically engineered for maximum impact, the perfume equivalent of a beautiful face Photoshopped to erase imperfections and magnify beauty.
But this isn't just any beauty; it's angular, a little harsh, and definitely mature. I remember turning my nose up at Private Collection as a kid, wondering why anyone would want to smell so...bitter. This doesn't smell like perfume should, I said in my innocence.
Top notes: Green accord, Citrus Oils, Hyacinth
Heart notes: Jasmine, reseda, narcissus, rose, pine needle
Base notes: Oakmoss, cedar, musk, amber
At once inviting and formal, Private Collection is poised somewhere between Vent Vert in its orchestral floral nature and Inoui in its piney, woody verdancy, like a white flower whose face is toward the sun while its back buttresses cool, dark woods.
The greening of Private Collection by galbanum (no doubt part of the "green accord"), pine, and citrus oils serve as the Photoshop tools that perfect, sharpen and enhance what's natural about this perfume, raising it to an almost scary level of beauty. PC is like a beautiful woman who catches your eye and who you cannot look away from, etiquette be damned.
And what floral notes! Private Collection features hyacinth; jasmine; rose; the difficult, sharp, almost urinous narcissus; and the new (to me) floral Reseda.** Reseda isn't, in this case, a suburb of Los Angeles, but rather the flower also known as Mignonette and whose scent is described as "ambrosial." The cumulative scent effect is akin to ripping a white flower bloom like Datura from its tree and taking in its peppery, bright freshness for a split second before it dies away.
I've been on a sort of green perfume kick, but Private Collection just upped the ante on beautiful green florals. Perfect for a formal night out in spring, which is in heartbreakingly gorgeous bloom here in New Orleans.
*Thanks again to Qwendy of Notes on Shoes Cake & Perfume for inspiring me to dig deeper into Estee Lauder's library; this sample is from her vintage collection.
**"[A] genus of fragrant herbaceous plants native to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia...the flowers are produced in a slender spike. Each small flower can be white, yellow, green or orange." A Victorian favorite according to this source.
A Basenotes review from Caltha: "A very green floral, but not green in the contemporary, fresh and light, often quite synthetic-smelling, citrus/tea/grass kind of way. No, this is the pungent, poisonous, green of days gone by. It's not entirely unpleasant though - not like Joy which turns into pure compost on my skin - it's more challenging, fascinating yet possibly sickening if you're not in the mood for it."
Fragrantica reader review from lemonlavendergl: "I just smelled this the other day and i was turned off by it.It smelled like heavy chemicals!! It almost smells dangerous to wear!! I just can't get that heavy unsafe smell out my mind,its almost like gasoline mixed with marijuana.It smells horrible!!"