Sunday, June 21, 2009

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss: fragrance review

Private Collection Jasmine White Moss will be the "closing chapter" of the Private Collection series which includes Tuberose Gardenia and Amber Ylang Ylang, a collection above and beyond the run-of-the-mill fragrances of the mainstream sector while at the same time remaining unintimidating and utterly modern in feel. The series managed to inject an upscale touch to the Lauder giant with its limited distribution and its ornamental bejeweled flacons & solids compacts, yet it is the essences hidden inside that prove it's still possible to produce quality jus in those days of rationing and dumping down of the market at large.

While Tuberose Gardenia went for a remarkably alive white floral with gardenia unfurling its waxy petals in front of your very eyes and Amber Ylang Ylang enhanced the familiar amber's unguent with soft lappings of powdery sexiness, Jasmine White Moss goes for the kill and proposes a nouveau chypre. Much maligned as a term that last bit might be however, the resurgence of the august family of chypre fragrances is a market fact: The mossy earthy bases (focused on vetiver & patchouli, often along with synthetic Evernyl, cedar and treemoss) in several fragrances launched in the last few years prove its durability as a genre, even in altered states. Estée Lauder herself seemed deeply enchanted with the abstract harmonies of the typical chypre formula, supervising several in her lifetime: Azurée (1969), Alliage ~also spelled Aliage for the US market~ (1972), Private Collection (1973) and Knowing (1988).

Now comes Jasmine White Moss: Inspired by the spirit of Estée (née Josephine Esther Mentzer) and categorized as a floral, green chypre, being the closest of the trio in terms of fragrance family ties to the original Private Collection. Aerin Lauder, supervisor of the new scent and depicted in a white jersey vintage Halston dress with a white flower in her hair in the print ads says:

“…there is a lot of Estée in this project. We chose the blue stone accents [of white jade, dark and light lapis, sodalite, black agate, mother-of-pearl and blue lace agate] because blue was her favorite color; a basket weave design on the cap, since that was one of her favorite textures; her signature is on the lower right side of the bottle, and of course the juice began as her project.”
According to official press: "Private Collection Jasmine White Moss began as Formula #546AQ— conceived by Estée alongside the International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) team in June 1989. Never completed in her lifetime, it remained untouched in the IFF archives for decades, until Aerin decided to revisit the juice a year and a half ago". (source)

First of all it is refreshing to see that in an age when divulging has become synonymous with the ad serviendum demand of the buying public the Lauder team admits that all those Estée Lauder scents, which have made fortunes and have catapulted the American perfumery tradition like no other, have been harboured by labourers of the prestigious IFF company and not by Estée herself as was the myth for years (Despite that, it is undoubted that she had a discerning and tasteful veto on the creations herself; after all she ranks among the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century). Indeed American perfumer Josephine Catapano, working with Ernest Shiftan, is the true creator of the mythical and trend-setting oriental Youth Dew (her other well-known creations include Fidji for Laroche and Norell's Norell, later sold to Revlon); she also paved the way for Belarussian by birth Sophia Grojsman who in turn composed several Lauder fragrances to great aplomb (White Linen, Beautiful, Spellbound)!

While Tuberose Gardenia was composed by Firmenich's Harry Fremont, the baton is taken again by IFF for Jasmine White Moss injecting the fragrance with a new material of which they are having the exclusive rights: "white moss mist". The ingredient is quite elegant and provides much of the success of the soft and refreshingly mossy composition. Let me mention in passing that White Moss is also the name of a 1997 Acca Kappa fragrance (Muschio Bianco, although muschio means musk in reality) as well as a L'erbolario fragrance by the same name. The "white moss" ingredient has been fearured in I am King by Sean John (another IFF fragrance) while IFF perfumers have also added it to Estée Lauder’s new Michael Kors limited-edition scent ~Island Capri (source). It is intriguing to contemplate that in this frame there is a hybrid of the Rosa Damascena family called Quatre Saisons Blanc Mousseux, which is known in English as 'Perpetual White Moss' or 'Rosier de Thionville'. Its inclusion seems plausible, especially given the background that reminds me of Chanel No.19 with its powdery rosy greenness, delicate petals amidst the emerald plush, and IFF's headspace technology.

Azurée and the original Private Collection provide the consanguinity. Yet while I had included the original Azurée (NB this is NOT the recent beachy Azurée Soleil) to my Big Bruisers article, as part of my Leather Series, and while Private Collection can be said to be another handsome powerhouse of strident proportions, Jasmine White Moss proves easier to wear than both even with a distinct late 60s-early 70s vibe. However her dainty foot is firmly placed in the modern Jimmy Choo peep-toe of a fiercely smart secretary rather than the classic Roger Vivier pump of the coiffed boss. The opening is nicely old-fashioned, perfumey, comprised of a non-indolic jasmine which oscilates between freshness and tonic dryness. Concerns about regulations to the use of jasmine or moss shouldn't concern: the wizardry at IFF suggests everything is possible with judicious use of small amounts of naturals alongside man-made essences. Its aura of mossy depth appears at once luxurious and reserved. Jasmine White Moss is soft without appearing meek, elegant without pretence and would be the perfect introduction to even wilder, bitter arpeggios for those willing to take the plunge. The gratification from the latter course would be even greater!

Notes for Private Collection Jasmine White Moss by Estée Lauder:
Top: mandarin, black currant bud absolute, galbanum and bergamot
Heart: jasmin sambac absolute (Aerin’s choice), jasmin India absolute (Estée’s choice), violet, orange flower absolute, orris and ylang-ylang
Bottom: patchouli heart absolute, vetiver and white moss mist (the latter is an ingredient exclusive to Lauder.)

Lauder's Private Collection White Moss is available as 30 and 75ml of Eau de Parfum, as 30ml extrait de parfum and as a solid in pendant. It will be featured in 260 U.S. specialty doors in July, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. Internationally, the scent will launch at Harrod’s in August. Testers have already appeared at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstorms for those willing to test it.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Jasmine Series, Chypres Series, Lauder reviews & news.

Photography by Guy Bourdin via Life Lounge


  1. Well, gorgeous-
    This one is FBW, no doubt.
    I was able to get the edp; the parfum hasn't yet arrived on the scene- but I've reserved one.

    This harkens back to the days of Diorella and other lovely chypres; my DH went wild for it [ something he is not often wont to do].

    The parfum is really rich and deep.

    I am NOT one to shell out Amouage prices for Estee Lauder; this will be my first time.

  2. It's funny how they managed to do this so well, eh? The Private Collection Series is quite well-made and although I usually turn up my nose at what I perceive as efforts of "upscaling" (there is no need) who can resist the quality of the compositions? I bet that the parfum would be incredible. The Tuberose Gardenia one is lovely, so I assume they went the whole hog with this one too.
    Is it as expensive as all that though? (don't know an exact price yet)

  3. Thanks much for the background on the noses for Lauder scents. Your trail has personal associations, as it connects some open threads for me...Norell, the scent that started me down the perfume path, is unmasked, shown to share a parent with Fidji (a scent I have enjoyed dancing with but not yet established a partnership with), and associated with Aliage and Azuree (two scents I have absolutely partnered with).

    Your review guaranteed it that it would get a test drive as soon as it becomes available; Chaya's feedback only heightens the expectation. While a new release often benefits from the first flush of excitement, this one definitely sounds like it has potential for the long haul.

  4. Hi, E. I quite enjoyed this too, when I tested it yesterday. My initial reaction was that it bore some similarity to Cristalle EdT. I'm curious to try the parfum version. *sniffs hopefully over chayaruchama's shoulder*

  5. S,

    you're welcome and thanks for chimming in with personal experiences. I quite like Fidji and should review it soon, it's summery and yet...poised. And Norell has a very American vibe to it, in the sense of wasp moneyed ladies. (at least to me)

    JWM is quite sample worthy! I think it will be quite popular.

  6. I cannot wait to smell this! I really do need to get a bottle of the Amber Ylang Ylang.

  7. Hi J! How are you?

    It's quite good and I am anxious to try the parfum as well. I have been quite jaded with so many new releases but they did a good job on this.
    Personally I find Cristalle a bit more lemony in the edt and in the vintage, non reformulated version it quite packs a wallop in the oakmoss department! But these greener chypres are definitely related, you're right: I can see the link with both this and Diorella as Ida mentions. (Which is a very good thing in my books! I believe in yours too)

  8. Jen,

    I think they're all well made but I predict Amber Ylang Ylang might be more suited to your tastes (from what I know of them, at least).

  9. E, I am loving your review!

    I have Tuberose Gardenia. I admit it took me several testings to finally "get" it, but once I did, I fell heartily.

    And JWM sounds just as lovely. I'm loving your reference to the sixties-early seventies vibe that the fragrance exudes, because I am a true child of that era.

    So, I think I will tool on over to Nordies later this afternoon to test it.

    Hugs, and thanks again for your wonderful post.

  10. Hi darling R!

    Oh I fell for TG right away, but then I love gardenias (and tuberoses) and this was so life-like! (the YR one is too, but it's so fleeting...)

    Thanks for the compliment, it does seem like a modernised version of everything that was good in that era (although myself I can't claim personal associations with it, but I am learning through your experiences!)Hope you enjoy!

  11. Fiordiligi18:36

    Well, your review is of course wonderful as always, dear one, but I am NOT a Lauder fan at all. Then again, if Chaya loves it....maybe I will have to swallow my pride and try it. I am scared of the Lauder saleswomen though - they are a throwback to the 70s with their blue eyeshadow and laquered hair!

  12. Fiordiligi....

    Know what you mean about the salespeople at many of the Lauder counters...yet, ironically, they always steer me away from the "old" scents. Hence, I feel lucky that Ulta stocks Aliage and Azuree, as well as Private Collection (original). But off to department store land I shall go for nouveau PC...despite eyeshadow and Aqua Net.

  13. Rappleyea21:07

    Can't say I've worn any of the Lauders since coughjuniorhighschoolcough, when it was Youth Dew. But I have high expectations for this one, and Chaya's comment amped them up a notch.

    I doubt I'll find it here in lil' ole Ky., but maybe I can talk my SA at BG into sending a sample. If not I'm sure the PC will get it.

    Great review; I loved the history as I also wore Fidji and Norell back in the day. Have either of them survived relatively intact?

  14. Norell has changed a bit, as has Fidji- but some older bottles for sale on'line are in pretty good shape.

    Fiordi- I fully understand your reservations, my dear.
    I have them too.
    But they got this one right....

    Is it edgy as PC oroginal ? NO.
    But it feels beautifully blended, harmonious, and classy; I get a touch of 'divine decay'in the jasmine-
    Along with a truly lyrical feel.

    It's not a superficial scent, by any means.

    By Amouage $$$, I refer to the going rate of $325 for the 1oz. perfume spray...
    Perfume has gone up by $25 since Amber Ylang Ylang came out.
    EDP is $80 and $135 [ or thereabouts], I believe.

  15. Rappleyea22:25

    Thanks Chaya! I have some pretty fond memories of Fidji.

  16. And to think that I was out shopping this weekend and forgot to look for this! *Smacks head* Oh well, next weekend?

    I'm not a Lauder fan, but I have gone through a couple of decants and samples of Tuberose Gardenia. I like it quite a bit. AYY, didn't really do much for me, which was surprising, given that I like most warm amber-based scents. But this new one sounds lovely. Even the name is compelling me to try it.

  17. Dear E: Another wonderful and fact- and history-filled review, as always. I am VERY excited about this one and seem to be becoming more and more enamored of chypres and moss in all its varieties (I recently fell hard for Lancôme Sikkim and had to buy a mini).

    I love your comment about how really almost anything is possible by the wizards at IFF (and the other fragrance companies, really) in the laboratories.

  18. D,

    dearest, I know what you mean re:the scents (although not the saleswomen, here at least> they seem like ever other saleswoman in cosmetics in dept.stores). Still they are a couple of cute ones and a couple of very good ones (I highly recommend you try Youth Dew in the body cream version; the only version for me)

    This one is well-made and it's got potential. Try it!

  19. S,

    it's funny but this is my experience as well! (that even when the salespeople are old-fashioned themselves, they push the latest thing; I guess that's what they have been told to do).

    BTW, I just saw the fragrance online.

  20. D,

    don't distress yourself, this one will make you forget the associations and begin afresh.

    I haven't smelled Norell in a recent batch and it's been a while, though Fidji has been readjusted slightly most definitely. Not terribly badly nevertheless. And like I see Ida says above, it's easy to find online.

  21. I,

    ah...they raised the prices since the last one! Figures....why do they feel they have to do that? It's like the domino-effect: one of them raises the prices, then one by one they all do!!
    And yes, that's a bit much. ;-)

  22. M,

    I think it's got potential to win you. Sampling is the way to go as with everything. I loved TG and have went happily through some last summer, so I'm happy to have found another one that is to my taste.
    Do let me know how you feel when you try it!

  23. Thank you J!

    These days there is some serious sophistication into what goes behind closed doors in those big companies and nothing is simplistic. A high degree of expertise is needed. And the restrictions are amplifying that.

    I find that the family of chypres is quite exciting to explore because although the classic archetype is a given, there are numerous twists to be given, producing infinite variations, and it's always exciting to see the nuts and bolts inside.

  24. Cool, I can't wait till this reaches the stores in Asia. The PC thus far hasn't quite hit the mark for me yet, so I hope this one will fare better. It's also heartening to be on the receiving end of a more open approach to perfumery by EL, instead of the smoke-and-mirrors excuses game of Guerlain.

  25. Link works...interesting! Thanks. I mean I *think* I say "thanks"--you enabler you. ;) Now to test my fortitude.

  26. D,

    hope you enjoy! I assume it will hit Asian shores at some point. Certainly it's not seasonally bound there!!

  27. S,

    you're most welcome darling! I hope it proves to be what you want it to be. It's quite nice for a modern release, I have come to expect nothing much and get a little crazy when something is nice.


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