Monday, April 8, 2013

Estee Lauder Celadon & Pavilion: fragrance reviews & history

Part of the New Romantics collection in 1978, Celadon and Pavilion are two of the three fragrances which could be layered with one another to produce unique effects for the wearer. The third one was destined to go down as a true classic, White Linen composed by Sophia Grojsman, while the rest were eclipsed by its radiant aldehydic floral sheen. It has been said that perfume trios never really work out, one inevitably outshining the others, and that may be why the other two were soon discontinued. The sales numbers were merciless.

Celadon in particular smells like something that could proudly sit in a niche brand's portfolio today; not really overpowering, this green floral by Estee Lauder fuses a sweetly grassy note with flowers shimmering on aldehydes (synthetically produced notes with an intense profile), a combination which recalls a garden in full spring bloom. In reverse order than is usual for green florals, the progression becomes ever greener, as the bitterish, bracing scimitar of galbanum (the resin off an exotic grass) bites. The soapy aldehydes take a metallic nuance, reminiscent of Metal by Rabanne or Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent and it is here easy to see how men could borrow Celadon effortlessly. The heart is reminiscent of the hyacinth floralcy of Guerlain Chamade. The greenness adds an outdoorsy, spring-buds and herbs quality, yet the soft, powdery scent background is wrought with whispering woods and musk rendering a glaucous patina.

via ebay

Pavilion on the other hand is a Lauder perfume in the floriental mold, more of a hothouse nursing nocturnal and exotic blossoms than a green impromptu garden with herbs and greenery the way Celadon is.
A more consciously graceful and ladylike fragrance, it ties with some of the elements of both Celadon and White Linen (but much more florals), while remaining its own thing. The sugared violet peters out in powder. The orange blossom takes a grape-like quality.

In retrospect it's hard to see how it would generate low sales, being all around likable, yet perhaps its very pleasantness might have signed off its death certificate; next to the blaring noon and hot metal rails of White Linen, this postcard sunset is too sentimental to really distinguish itself.

White Linen when faced with the zeitgeist's crossroads, vampy a la Magie Noire (Lancome) or innocent a la Anais Anais (Cacharel), chose the road less travelled by and that's why it's still among us today.
Celadon by Estee Lauder has notes of aldehydes, galbanum, rose, green notes, floral notes, woods and musk.

Pavilion by Estee Lauder has notes of aldehydes, jasmine, orange blossom, violet, sandalwood, vanilla.


  1. Thanks for your informative posts as usual. I did not know about Celadon. Yet, anything compared to Metal (one of my very favorites) can only stimulate my curiosity.


  2. Anonymous20:54

    am i the only one on the planet who does NOT like white linen? it remains one that i just do not get. and it's not because i don't like the type.

    would love to try these other two just out of curiosity.


  3. Anonymous00:02

    Oh dear - I really like the descriptions you've given for Estee Lauder's "Celadon" and "Pavillon"; what a shame that they were overwhelmed by the huge swell of enthusiasm created by "White Linen".

    I'll keep those names in mind, in case any old bottles come to shore here in the future!

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  4. juicejones03:52

    I loved these when they came out. Celadon was my favorite. I thought then, and now, that White Linen was just too pushy.
    The other threesome from that time was Ecco, Fiamma, and Andiamo from Borghese; Fiamma being my favorite. Why does there always have to be a favorite?
    I actually appreciated all of them.
    Only that bully, White Linen remains. Not fair.

  5. M,

    these are quite obscure, but since readers here appreciate the background I thought I might give them a whirl. Celadon was pretty good! (and lovely name)

  6. C,

    oh, rest easy. *shameful admission follows*
    I can't do WL either!! But I do appreciate it very much, it's a masterful, exceptionally well done perfume (a straight shooter) even if as it's sprayed I feel knitting needles piercing my brain. (There must be some trigeminal nerve stimulation, I only feel that with ammonia and highly undiluted full-force Dijon mustard)

    I think the fact that there are gentler, more refined specimens within the genre which we prefer as a personal fragrance showcases our own nuancing of taste; to the average consumer of the time (and this is the brilliancy of the composition) WL was a stealthy force that resembled Superman; you didn't see him, more like felt his influence - like a 100 blades flying over the enemy's side. There's something "barbare" about White Linen. :-)

  7. Anna,

    they were much nicer than many things out in niche nowadays, you know. :-/
    I do see Celadon cropping up on Ebay from time to time, though it's hard to come across the sane pricing for it.

  8. Juicejones,

    welcome and thanks for sharing!
    I have only tried Fiamma so far (I think it's the best known too, right?), but what wonderful additions Ecco and Andiamo would make.

    As to White Linen, please my reply above to Minette/C. This describes how I feel about the "pushiness" factor of the WL fragrance (you're so right! great way of putting it!)

  9. Too bad I can't experience those discontinued wonders for myself

  10. KP,

    hey, don't despair! Sometimes one can find the odd bottle in the most unusual places. As long as one isn't interested in a new, sealed bottle, one can hope.

  11. Every time I run across a mention of Celadon I'm overcome with longing to smell it.

    White Linen has always smelled faintly of mildew to me, though I generally do well with aldehydes. And I tend to have bad luck with Lauders on my skin - there's something in the base that tends to make me feel extremely queasy about two hours in, even if I like the smell. I do fine with them on, say, a scarf, but while I'm desperately tempted by Celadon I don't hold out much hope that it wouldn't share the common queasy-making mystery ingredient. Sigh.

  12. Miss Heliotrope02:54

    Celadon sounds lovely - I adore greens.

  13. M,

    it's understandable what you say as, boy, are they STRONG!
    Wish I could send you some Celadon, but I only have a mini and have already gone through half of it to study it properly for the review (This was all I could do with the prices around, though if one persists one can find something more logical). If I come across it again I will mail you!

    WL mildew-y? Ha. I hadn't heard this before, but I suppose there's something there. I wonder whether it's the rosy note, sometimes this is what gives me that impression in other scents (and the reason I avoid some rosy fragrances; they turn into stale
    pot-pouri) I wonder whether it's carrot seed too, though that one is used for its iris-nuanced vegetal qualities usually.

    I can't really wear WL on my person (it engulfs me, though I do wear Estee which is not wildly different), but enjoy smelling it on inanimate objects on my desk once in a while. It's a great composition.

  14. C,

    you would adore this. It's such a quality , niche-deserving fragrance for something so mainstream and in that time frame.

  15. Anonymous17:47

    I rembmer the name as Papillion not Pavillion, because it had a butterfly on th box. I bought my first White Linen for Mother's Day 1978 at B. Altman in NYC. With a purchase they gave a white/cream color umbrella with the blue white linen shell on it.

  16. Anon,

    hi there and thanks for chiming in!

    I believe although what you say might sound logical enough, the name was indeed Pavilion (evocative of summer hunting "kiosks" I should think). It's rather odd that Lauder chose rather incongruent images as "signs" to mark these fragrances: White Linen doesn't immediately remind one of shells, though one could imagine it if so prompted, I guess. :-/
    According to this image, I don't see a butterfly myself, but I could be mistaken into seeing it as a flower? I haven't seen the box in person, only the small bottles of this trio.

  17. Anonymous06:44

    I have not been able to find any fragrance that I can wear since Celedon. I loved it and have mourned its loss while I tried lots and lots of others. Everything gives me a terrible headache; something Celedon never did. I wish EsteƩ Lauder would bring back this delightful fragrance. I can't find anything I can wear in its place.

    1. Anonymous00:11

      I agree. Celadon was my favorite and everyone who encountered me asked what I was wearing. Bring it back

  18. I was gifted a bottle of Pavillion for my high school graduation. I had admired all three at the Estee Lauder counter, and my second mom picked out Pavillion to give. It was my grown - girl scent and it made me feel feminine.


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