Thumbs up from a timid sprayer who never gets along with classics. I do enjoy this for all the well written prior reviews spell out in thoughtful detail. But oh my is this a big fragrance. I spent many of my summers near Montréal and some of the most indelible memories are playing croquet over freshly mown grass. After the heat from playing outdoors any number of Quebecois Frenglish speaking aunts served cold drinks for the kids to refresh for another few hours of running wild until sundown. Easy to love. Tough to wear. Salute to those who can pull this off.
This soapy and utterly green chypre perfectly encapsulates what the 70's was about at the women's perfume counter, and in bigger-picture thinking, what the 1970's in scent was about overall. Green was everywhere by the onset of the decade; but Private Collection by Estée Lauder (1973) was certainly next-level stuff even compared to what else was going around, and I'm talking amidst company like Paco Rabanne pour Homme (1973), Avon Blend 7 (1973), Charlie by Revlon (1973), Coriandre by Jean Couturier (1973), Cialenga by Balenciaga (1973), and even Lauder's own Aramis 900 (1973) all released that same year. Those who have followed the trajectory of Estée Lauder fragrances probably saw this crescendo coming, with Youth Dew (1953) perfumed by Josephine Catapano bringing the animalic patchouli chypre into the mainstream again, Aramis by Estée Lauder/Aramis (1964/1965) kicking off green leather notes for men in earnest as Bernard Chant adapted his Cabochard by Parfums Grès (1959) into a new "masculine" mold for Lauder's debut men's fragrance (then given it's own standout line the following year), and finally Azurée by Estée Lauder (1969) setting a standard for green floral chypres for the brand (and much of the industry) into the 70's. It didn't stop there of course, as the Clinque brand shimmered into existence and gave us Aromatics Elixir (1971) also by Chant, then Alliage Sport Spray (1972) again from Lauder the following year. Chanel, Patou, Dior, Givenchy, and so many others also gave us big doses of green, almost as if the whole of the industry organically in sync as a school of fish into the style, landing us here.
Private Collection was perfumed by Vincent Marcello, a man who would make a brief flash of brilliance in the perfume arena throughout the 70's for some very challenging or bold fragrances on both sides of the perfume counter, before disappearing at the beginning of the 1980's. He would follow Private Collection with Caron Yatagan (1974), then co-compose the "Halston Twins" of Halston Z-14 (1976) and Halston 1-12 (1976), before showing up one last time as perfumer for Nina Ricci Phileas (1984). Private Collection was actually composed before 1973 by Marcello as a bespoke fragrance to Mrs. Lauder herself, but was only eventually released to the public that year, in a similar move that echoes Chanel No. 19 (1972). However unlike No. 19, Private Collection is not primarily a green rose leather fragrance, and instead has far more complexity in the structure, smelling cleaner and a tad sweeter due to the soapy notes within. The opening is a blast of linden, neroli, hyacinth, galbanum, and bergamot. The green soapy clean notes lead into a kitchen sink white floral heart of rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, narcissus, honeysuckle, heliotrope, and the rarified mignonette/reseda, which has violet-like qualities. The base is pure oakmoss chypre with sandalwood and cedar, a sliver of patchouli, clean musks, and pure class. A guy who likes modern soapy fragrances could wear this if he didn't mind a hefty dose of garden green, and it smells timeless to me. Performance is too good to nitpick, and a little will go a long way, especially in vintage where "cologne" didn't mean cologne, and "perfume" didn't mean eau de parfum. I also think this is perfectly year-round too, although it doesn't have a single scandalous bone in its body, so I'd keep it to office or polite gathering usage.
Private Collection was an early step-up fragrance from the more-standardized Lauder/Aramis/Clinique lines and thus carried a premium, plus had fancy packaging and script writing, being something of a Prive/Exclusif line before that concept was ever born in the minds of designer perfumer marketing departments. The price increase wasn't double or triple like today's fleece-the-rich luxury exclusive niche/designer lines; but it was definitely more of the "banker's daughter" perfume versus "the frontline teller's fragrance", which was probably an off-the-shelf Revlon or ordered-from-the-neighbor's-wife Avon anyway. If you worked the back-office, maybe you were in Alliage then, but only the branch manager's daughter was rolling in with Private Collection on her lapel. As for the scent itself, time has been much kinder to Private Collection than some of the other Lauder scents that have since been discontinued and cost a kidney, or moved into uniform-looking legacy collections that no longer have the sparkle of the original presentation. You can still find Private Collection in a semblance of its original packaging, and the name itself has been expanded into a full range of flavors that only tangentially have any relation to this original entry. If you can find an older concentrated perfume dabber, you're in for an exceptional treat, but any version of Private Collection you can find will still deliver that crisp clean green goodness, making you feel like a Satyr that just jumped out of a magical spring, or something like that. Definitely one of the best 70's Lauders, and a decade-defining one at that, Private Collection is one for all lovers of the chypre genre to smell at very least. There isn't much else to say. Thumbs up
Whatever nymphs or goddesses or dryads live in the forest wear nothing but Private Collection in vintage parfum.
Lauder's ad campaigns did this scent a disservice. The last thing I think of in connection with this fragrance is wealthy WASPs hosting lavish patio parties or yawning with boredom in their box seats at Wimbledon.
This is a perfume for pagans with wildly tangled hair and witchery on their minds.
My vintage bottle has held up well. I've only recently discovered this (within the last year) as this one had slipped by my radar, when it was popular.
Very strong, with a big bowl filled with juicy, sour citrus, freshly torn big, green leaves, and huge blooms of hyacinth. Top notes border on bitterness.
The heart notes are just as bold. Heavy-duty flowers blended well enough that I'm not able to single out any one flower more than the other. I imagine some well-heeled crone wearing PC back in the day. She'd be full-on attitude with disdainful haughtiness. I wear it with a F*** Y** mindset.
I do think of this frag better suited for cold months with its lead-weight notes, the spotlight later shining on narcissus and jasmine. The heart goes on for hours before the base even shows a hint. When it does, it reveals a lot of oakmoss and green cedar. It becomes ever so mildly sweet, like a touch of honeycomb, from its amber and musk. Private Collection is a fragrance whose time has come and gone. But, I'll happily finish my bottle and be glad I got to experience her.