Private Collection strikes me as darkly exhuberant, if there is such a thing, and it smells truly American, big, blunt, unabashed and unaffected. Estee Lauder was undoubtably influenced by the the fierce French perfumes of the 20's and 30's, Bandit, Tabac Blond and En Avion, as well as Vent Vert from the 40's, and Cabochard from the 50's, all of which feel linked to both Private Collection and the original Azuree. Diorling, Dioressence and Diorella also fit the bill. All of these are scents for women with strong senses of themselves and their abilities, which was a perfect evocation of what was happening to women here in the 70's. I wonder if women of those earlier periods wore perfume aspirationally as I did? I often say that some people wear my shoes as symbols of the people they want to be, perhaps perfume is an expression of this desire as well.
I'm continuing to explore the original scents of the 70's, Coriandre is very appealing to me, as well as Lauder's Aliage, and I adore my sample of Piguet's Futur, but neither Cinnabar nor Aromatics Elixir hit the spot, the former is a bit cloying, the latter the opposite, a bit too cold. I'd love to get my hands on more Futur (in my dreams), the original Sikkim, Amazone, and Calandre for more exploration of this period. I've got a bit of Rive Gauche, for which I have the same ambivalent fascination as I had in the 70's, I guess I'm still just not that kind of gal. Givenchy III and Chanel 19 were the scents I wore easily in those days, wonderfully bracing and galvanizing for me as a young woman, still lovely but not nearly as appealing to me now as Private Collection, which I've finally grown into.
It's the dark green/dark floral quality of this composition that makes it so unusual, particularly the use of Pine (I keep thinking "forest floor") which it shares with Aliage, which is brighter and more floral without losing its earthiness. Original Private Collection's notes are listed as: Citrus Notes (Bergamot?), Green Notes (definitely Galbanum), Hyacinth, Narcissus, Rose, Jasmin, Pine (!), Oakmoss, Cedar, Amber, and Musk. Now that I see them I realize that it's the Galbanum, Narcissus, Oakmoss and Pine that sing out to me, all with matched intensity, breaking out like rays of light through a pine forest, which is another salient image from my early life, voila!
I was 16 in 1973, the year Private Collection came out, and to me it smelled like the grown up woman I wanted to be. It wasn't easy for me to wear in the 70's, I often wore it alone, and on special evenings out, a bit leery of its intensity. It's still pretty demanding, but it is no longer an aspirational scent for me, when I wear it, I know that I'm finally "there" 37 years later, ouch!
Almost all of the scents mentioned in this post are covered on the wonderful blog Yesterday's Perfume, which I have linked in a few spots, and I encourage you to check out if you are a Vintage perfume lover as well. If you are interested in seeking out original versions of the Lauder scents, I suggest you go for the darkest juice, as they are the closest to the ones that were on my mother's perfume shelf at the time.