Saturday, August 23, 2008

Private Collection, Estee Lauder : Vent Vert, Balmain

Private Collection extrait is a striking, elegant green chypre that in perfume reminds me quite a bit of vintage Vent Vert, but with a hint of pine trees and moss instead of that purely peppery snappiness of galbanum. So I thought I would compare them.

I just scored some PV extrait minis at an antique store, and I've had the VV edt for a while. I went through a phase last summer in which I felt the need to huff on that VV every morning, although I find it a bit difficult to wear until it dries down quite a bit. I love galbanum and dislike evergreen scents, generally speaking, and had tested PV in stores before and didn't like it, so I was surprised at the antique store to find the PV so compelling in extrait.

Sniffed side by side, I'm struck again by how effervescent the Vent Vert (Germaine Cellier, 1947) is. I've got a vintage eau de toilette, and I've never smelled Vent Vert extrait, but the edt has such charming I-don't-give-a-damn quality (I love that galbanum!) that I can't but imagine the extrait would be extraordinary indeed. After the green peppers subside a bit, it smells like the most delicate and wild meadow grass and a smidge of pampered lily of the valley. There's no aldehydic sparkliness; instead, it's as if these elements become a straightforward, refreshing ether to take in, like you'd take the waters at Bath. Wholesome but not boring. How does it do that? The floral quality gets more intense in the heart notes, and I think I can discern the hyacinth and jasmine, as the murmur of oakmoss and musk gets louder. The notes (for the original, which I think is what I've got) are sometimes listed as galbanum, citrus, gardenia, peach, lily of the valley, rose, hyacinth, jasmine, iris, oakmoss, vetiver, styrax, and musk. Sniffed at the same time as the PV, they aren't as similar as I thought they'd be. VV seems suddenly a bit more floral in comparison with the slight astringency of PV.

As is to be expected with a high-quality extrait, Private Collection (Vincente Marcello, 1973) is much deeper, with an initial fresh-air and mossy-pines vibe that mellows and becomes more floral (the jasmine and chrysanthemum?) over the next half hour or so. It is the smell of distances and horizons, and has almost the same peaceful, analgesic effect as looking out over a vista of pine woods in the White Mountains from a luxurious mountain-top cabin's balcony. But this is not a sporty scent, in the least. What is so surprising about the extrait is that there is a velvety quality to the bottom notes. I smell the sandalwood, certainly, and perhaps the sweet heliotrope is what makes the base so velvety. Although all the sources I've read disagree, Osmoz says that the top notes are green notes, orange blossom, linden; heart notes are jasmine, reseda, chrysanthemum, rose; base notes are sandalwood, heliotrope, musks. No galbanum? How can this not have galbanum?? The more research I do on this perfume, the more I think it must be the chrysanthemum that is the unique element here, adding a raspy quality to the greens that is slightly smoother, less juicily vegetal than galbanum. Gosh, I'm liking this. Isn't Niki de Saint Phalle supposed to have chrysanthemum in it too? Drat, this is where you can see my OCD coming out to play. Now I've got to try other chrysanthemum perfumes.

Vintage Vent Vert is of course available mainly on fleabay. I'm afraid to find out if Private Collection is available anymore in extrait. Anyone know?


ScentScelf said...

Zeitgeist? I came home from my appointed rounds and was just ahead of a package from the Bay which included Private Collection. It's on my inner elbows right now...Azuree on the wrists. A little taste test.

What I had read so far suggested a "pure fragrance spray" was perfume-concentration-like and the densest (?) available. Currently available at department stores.

The pine in there is something...really gives it an edge and a unique stamp.

On a side note, I've had pretty strong feelings about Left vs Right side effect on me...not just in lasting power, but sometimes even with the way a scent will ultimately smell on me...this Private Collection sampling is raising the same issue.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

How funny! I think it must just be a perfect August scent--green, but deeper and more elegant as we yearn for fall... I know I'm yearning, anyway.

Let me know what you think of it, and Azuree! When I've been able to convince SAs to take the testers out from their hiding place at Saks, I've liked both, but neither stuck with me in the store. Everything smells better when it's 1.99 at an antique mall, I guess!

Yes, I feel like my mouse-pad wrist smells different from my non-mouse-pad wrist! Or maybe it has something to do with something I read about right-nostril vs. left-nostril smelling, and sides of the brain. Or something.

ScentScelf said...

:)! I also first thought of mouse pad when I first discovred I was having this "hemisphere" effect, but then I realized I hadn't been at my computer either of the two days I was tracking it. Hmmm. I am also thinking dominant/non-dominant side, blah blah blah. I'll bet a cranio-sacral therapist/chiropracter/attentive massage therapist would have a field day with this.

I'm doing back to doing yoga...WiiFit style right now...we'll see if better balance affects the different side perception thing...

PC outlasted Azuree on me, but it also was alpha scent in the comparison huffs. I had to be sure to remember to smell Azuree first after an hour; otherwise, I wouldn't really get any of it.

Divina said...

Hi! Just linked you, how cool to have found your blog. Another fragrant read for my mornings :) Indeed those are chrysanthemums in the opening of private collection, I smell them very clearly too. (aren't they stunning in this composition?) I've been very scared to try PC lately since I've heard that it's changed. I really hope it isn't so, but feel apprehensive :( Any thoughts on that? How nice to have found PC extrait btw, never seen it, never smelled it!

Aimée L'Ondée said...

thanks, divina! Yes, I'm a bit jittery until i've made the rounds of all the perfume blogs, so happy to contribute!
I did try PC at Saks the other day (the "spray perfume," since I don't think they provide more detail than that) and it smelled very nice -- a little anemic compared to the extrait, maybe, but not so anemic as, say, the recent Miss Dior edt.

Divina said...

I have a teeensy tiny bit of my old PC left, so I am in the market for a new one and this is heartening. (of course if I found an older bottle I'd snatch it up no questions asked!)

brian said...

What great writing. And my God, entries on Magie Noire, Estee, Goupy, Le Dix...these will keep me busy for a while.

I'm irrationally fond of galbanum and love to smell how it works in different perfumes. It's a different bird altogether in, say, Envy and Chamade. And Alliage of course is the Mother Superior of all galbanum scents, stern and commanding.

Private Collection is amazing, I think. I asked the Lauder Salesperson when I bought PC whether they ever offer the perfume extrait. She said at Christmas. Who knows whether to believe this or not. If true, they might materialize soon, as last time I visited the mall they had all the gift sets out, gearing up for the holiday season.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Thanks, Brian! You know, I hate to say this, but I just bought a recent Private Collection parfum on fleabay (maybe one of those Christmas releases), and I don't think it's as good as the older minis I got at the antique store. I little less interesting. So sad!

Rose said...

I would love to try the vintage Vent Vert. My mother used to wear it and raves about it. She wears the reformulated one now (as well as No 19 and L'Air De Temps) which she enjoys but she says it's not a patch on the original.

I nearly won some in an auction but the price got a bit beyond my reach. I think I need to track some down!