Memory Lane Monday: Estee Lauder Private Collection

private collection
While trolling around looking at all the luscious treasures on offer at Surrender to Chance a while back, I happened upon some vintage beauties that had me strolling down Memory Lane. Among them was Estee Lauder’s Private Collection.

I know it’s still out there, so not technically vintage, but it came out in 1973, so it’s definitely an oldie but goodie. I remember wearing it in college and feeling very chic and sophisticated in it. Not to mention classy. Its green floral chypre vibe strikes me as timeless and classic. Wearing it even now makes me sit up straighter and reach for my red lipstick and pearl earrings. It still manages to take me back to a happier, less complicated time in my life when the whole world seemed open and new and anything was possible.

Apparently at first, Private Collection was the grand dame Estee Lauder’s personal scent, and it was later released for sale, so that speaks volumes, most obviously that the lady had great taste. The nose for this fragrance was Vincent Marcello.

Notes per Fragrantica: green notes, honeysuckle, linden, jasmine, orange blossom, Bulgarian rose, chrysanthemum, reseda, ylang-ylang, coriander, sandalwood, heliotrope, amber and musk. Mr. Marcello kept the gray matter (and olfactory senses) hopping when orchestrating all those notes, I’m thinking.

Anyhoo, so often we go into department stores and think, “Oh, the same-old, same-old; more junk, celebrity scents, etc.” But we forget that there are a number of gems hiding in plain sight (or tucked away out of sight, in some cases) at the Estee Lauder counter. They may have been reformulated and are not quite what they once were, but most still are pretty nice.

Did you ever wear Private Collection? Was (is) there an Estee Lauder scent that you love? Or did your mom or another family member wear one and it’s an instant reminder of them?


  1. I wore this at my 1971 wedding. It was new & my bridegroom had given it to me for my birthday, a couple of months earlier. It was the parfum, in a beautiful sterling silver filigree-encased flacon, whichI still have.

  2. Sorry for above typos – it’s Taxi, typing from my bed during day 10 of cold/flu. Can’t smell a thing!

  3. Knowing was my college scent about 20 years ago. It’s not part of the private collection or particularly old since it still can be easily purchased and is still marketed in Sephoras. But it’s not a newcomer either. I like the Estee lauder line and I think that joining forces with Tom Ford was particularly brilliant.

  4. I love Private Collection! But green chypres are some of my favorites. I remember when I first sniffed it, it made me think of Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development, for some reason — but it really grew on me. I also love their Tuberose Gardenia and Azurée, which are usually tucked away behind the counter too.

  5. Azuree was the first perfume I fell in love with, upon its release in 1969. I’ve been wondering if it’s been reformulated since its repackaging.

  6. YUM Ann,
    You were bloody sophisticated for a college student. I bet there’s very little chypre going on in their hallowed halls nowadays.
    Even though I have and love a bunch of Estee Lauder the one that always pops into my head is Beyond Paradise.
    Portia xx

  7. I was always looking for this (PC) to sample but they never had any testers at the Estée Lauder counters so I ended up getting a sample online. While I do love green scents this one struck me as a bit harsh? Maybe I’ll try it again when the weather starts getting warmer and see how it is. Big fan of Azuree and I also like Knowing. My daughter loves Bronze Goddess!

  8. My mum used to wear EL’s Private Collection back in the eighties. It fitted her perfectly. She was very elegant. I liked it a lot but considered myself “too young” for it. A few years ago I bought an old bottle on ebay and realized that the beautiful green opening was gone. It was such a disappointment for me because that was the most beautiful part. Now the honeysuckle note is very prominent and the perfume feels heavy so I don’t wear it.
    I remember wearing White Linen in the nineties and I went through more than one bottle of it. Nowadays I’m afraid to try the reformulations so I don’t know if they are worth the buy.

  9. I don’t recall that I ever smelled EL Private collection. But I wore Aliage back in the day. Wore it for quite a few years in fact. I smelled it first when I was around 10 or 11 – about the time it came out. A co-worker friend of my mother, wore it and I thought I was SO yummy, even at 10. So I had some in college and the mid 80s but then it kind of fell by the wayside as some of our previously treasured scents do. I sniffed it at the EL counter not too long ago and of course, it was reformulated beyond recognition and was pretty meh.

    But not to worry! Ebay to the rescue! I found a small vintage purse spray from the 70s. Luckily I knew exactly what everything should look like and was very clear on what I meant by vintage, since eBay’ers often claim vintage for only slightly vintage or not at all: it’s a jungle out there. Anyway, it is vintage enough to be full of evil fluorocarbons. So I’ve been reacquainting my nose with a scent I haven’t smelled in a very very long time.

    The open is not as bright as I recall, but that’s to be expected. But the middle and base is all totally non-sweet and green, mossy, and brown. It’s so different from nowadays, that I’m actually amazed I wore this. I like it but I feel my sniffer has gotten lazy and it feels challenged by this now. That and of course the whole world now seems to treat people who wear scents in public that project more than a millimeter from skin, about the same as they treat people carrying typhoid. Unless they smell like a fruit salad of course. AnywayI’m pretty careful to only wear it around the house. Maybe one day I’ll be feeling particularly devil-may-care and wear it out, and let the chips fall where they may. 🙂

    I also wore White Linen many many years ago, and have vintage of that too. Man, the aldehydes are really almost too much for me now. But it’s sill nice to crack the bottle and get a whiff of memories. 🙂

  10. I’ve never tried the Private Collection nor smelled it on any family member. My mother once in a while wore White Linen or Pure White Linen.

  11. I’m old enough to have worn PC when it first came out – I worked in the Ad Dept of Marshall Field’s (and omg that launch was such a BIG DEAL) – and do you know, I just had one of those scent-memory moments, of the first time I smelled it? (I’m probably making that up but I dunno) – anyhoo, I remember thinking ‘omg. this. is. AWESOME!!!’ – it was persackly as you described. I have a bit of the vintage – and it is still AWESOME! One of those amazingly crafted scents that has stood the test of time.


  12. I’ve never had the pleasure of sampling EL Private Collection. My long-time favorite EL is Youth Dew. I’m never without the perfume, powder, and bath oil. I wore Knowing while in University when it was new and recently sampled again for nostalgia. I had Beautiful years ago but it was never a favorite.

  13. My grandmother always had a bottle of Youth Dew in her super-luxe bathroom suite, so that one smells expensive to me.

    When I was in middle school one of my music teachers wore Cinnabar. I loved that scent, it clung to her clothes, and she left a gorgeous trail. I should see if there is a Cinnabar tester bottle next time I walk through Macy’s.

    I sniffed around the EL counter as a young-ish adult but didn’t click with any of the fragrances. I tried wearing White Linen. It was too much perfume for me. I did love to sniff a White Linen mini bottle I got in one of those gift with purchase make up bags. They used to be so generous with perfume in those. Now, I wonder where that mini went? I probably gave it away.

    Fun memories. Thanks!

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