I´m not sure exactly what I was expecting when I sniffed the new Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss, but it wasn´t what came out of the bottle and landed on my arm. I scuttled home and did some online research, which made things clearer – the scent is (allegedly, I take all this with a grain of salt) an unfinished formula of Estee Lauder herself from the 1980s, completed by granddaughter Aerin – and can´t you just see her huddled there, over the beakers?!? Anyway, once I had this info, things started to fall into place.
Upon my first sniff of Jasmine White Moss, I thought: hello, Azuree! (The 1969 original, not the new Soleil one.) I dug some of that up, but that´s not quite it. The opening notes of Jasmine White Moss are closer, I think, to the original Chanel Cristalle EDT.
Notes are mandarin, blackcurrant bud, galbanum, bergamot, jasmine sambac, violet, orange flower, orris, ylang-ylang, patchouli, vetiver and white moss mist (a Lauder exclusive) and it’s categorized as a green floral chypre. If “white moss mist” is the Lauder secret sauce that´s going to replace bad old oakmoss, hey – it´s gorgeous. Congratulations, chemists hidden behind door number three!
The opening of Jasmine White Moss is astringent and dry, dry, dry, reminding me both of Cristalle and Azuree´s drydown. Like the other fragrances I´ve named, it makes me think of an elegant woman smoking a cigarette (did Estee smoke? Coco did. A lot of their classic scents go great with cigarettes). Then I dug up my Van Cleef & Arpels First, and while Jasmine White Moss doesn´t have quite the same everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel to it, I definitely get the same balance between the mossy elements and the sweet ones. Indeed, a quick check of First reveals many of the same notes as Jasmine White Moss – although, what isn´t in First? Also, First is spicier and sharper and … wow, people, someone stage an intervention, because First is really growing on me. First is the sort of big-shouldered 1970´s Statement Fragrance I have admired rather than wanted to wear. Until now, I guess. (Six hours later: my goodness, First’s drydown is gorgeous, it needs its own review.)
Which leads us back to Jasmine White Moss and my ultimate lack of enthusiasm. As it dries down, I lose most of the moss, galbanum, patch and anything else that would evoke a green chypre. The jasmine (which is very clean), orange flower and ylang dominate the drydown, which is soft and sweet and, I´m afraid, a little tepid for me. It smells “modern” in that peculiar, safe way mainstream perfumery does – a little spicy, some sweet florals, a slightly sour finish that makes me wonder if their Lauder musk is lurking in there. It´s also, and this is weird, the teensiest bit edible – orange almond shortbread?
EDIT IN AFTER THIS WAS POSTED, PROMPTED BY COMMENTS: in theory this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway — we perfume freaks are clearly the target market for this scent, and I for one am incredibly grateful (and a little surprised) that something this “mature” was even made. My daughters backed away from me in the car when I waved my arm at them the first time I tried it, which is an excellent sign; why the hell should everything smell like it was made for high school girls? I hope the thing sells like hotcakes, and fake oakmoss (fauxmoss?) becomes the new pink pepper, although I’m not holding my breath. Anyway, Estee Lauder — thanks for the pleasant surprise I received when I sprayed it on my arm.
In the end, it´s my head-to-head (arm-to-arm? nose to nose?) comparison to good ol´ Azuree, Cristalle and First that leaves me shrugging my shoulders at Jasmine White Moss. Whether you tilt your tastes towards aldehydes, galbanum or oakmoss, this particular vein of beloved old-lady fragrances has a signature, and that signature, ladies and gentlemen, is moxie. It is assertiveness. It is trouble on the hoof. It is take-no-prisoners, stiletto-heeled attitude. Starting off smelling like Liquid Danger and then drying down to a cross between Mariah Carey M and a plastic scented My Little Pony reeks mostly of disappointment. I bet you can get Azuree and/or First online for less than fifty bucks. Or how about some Norell? Or the original Private Collection, or Jacomo Silences? Feel free to name your own additions, but any of these scents have more personality and interest than the Lauder after the first half hour. It´s not that the Jasmine White Moss is terrible. It´s just been done, and done better, elsewhere, for less money, in my opinion. No offense to those of you who’ve found a new love; remember, I really liked Amber Ylang, which most everyone thought was a snooze.
Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss is slated for release in July, but is already at Nordstrom and I assume will pop up at Saks and wherever else they´re selling the other two scents in the Private Collection.
PS Lipstick Freaks — come play on yesterday’s pink lipstick post, In the Pink!