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September 12, 2009:

I was sure my dalliance with Estée Lauder’s new Private Collection series scent—Jasmine White Moss—would be brief, would end in a dismissive shrug.  I hadn’t even planned to seek the scent out.  Fortunately, a wiser woman than I sent me a sample of Jasmine White Moss in the parfum concentration, and though I approached it with jaded skepticism, I was white-eyed with surprise by the time I finished my first long sniffathon with it.

Jasmine White Moss is a “modern chypre” (modern in that it does not contain oakmoss, the fragrance note long considered the pièce de résistance of chypre perfumes, but now largely restricted due to IFRA regulations).  As such, I was expecting the kind of fragrance that is impressively slick in the beginning, like so many modern luxuries, but which soon disappoints, becoming flat or one-dimensional due to either a lapse of quality construction or a lack of quality ingredients.  Happily, happily, that is so not the case with Jasmine White Moss!  While I’ve not yet tested it in the more popular, less expensive, and lighter weight eau-de-parfum concentration, nonetheless I’m thrilled to discover that the pure parfum formulation has all of the hallmarks of a great chypre fragrance: complexity, rich-smelling ingredients, and the kind of herbaceous drydown that provides a seat of stillness, composure, and understated refinement to the scent.

The notes for Jasmine White Moss include
            Top: mandarin, black currant bud, galbanum and bergamot
            Middle: jasmin sambac, jasmin India, ylang-ylang, violet, orange flower and orris
            Base: patchouli, vetiver and “white moss mist” (an exclusive Estée Lauder accord)

Most impressive to me is how the fragrance unfolds over its very long wear.  I love scents that embrace gentle changes and take you on a journey, and wearing Jasmine White Moss spurs me to think of it in terms of a meander through an intricate garden—the kind of garden composed of “rooms” and stepped or terraced paths. At its start, Jasmine White Moss smells quite crystalline and tropically green, as if you just entered the garden and are standing at its highest point, where the sunlight is most brilliant, flooding a lush lawn and bouncing off a few flowering trees. Very soon, a whiff of ylang-ylang from the garden room below lures you onto a narrow path that leads to a more dense enclosure, where sensuous jasmine clambers up garden walls and nods hello to orange flower.  Visions of Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West’s famous White Garden in Kent, England, dance in my head at this point of the fragrance, albeit a slightly more tropical vision of Sissinghurst. I can’t detect violet at all in the perfume’s smooth blend, and the orris is low key as well; the overall impression is of dense greenery over which a spill of white flowers float, with lightly indolic jasmine being the most prominent.  I should note here that Jasmine White Moss has amazing sillage for a pure parfum: as one would expect from a fragrance in the chypre category, it has great presence.

The scent’s mossy drydown is like a descent into a sunken garden that provides a respite from the selfish demands of luxuriant blooms.  Oh, you can still catch a whiff of them every now and again, but this place in the fragrance’s journey is full of hush and shade.  A bit of splintered sunlight still slips through the perfume’s base—the fragrance never fully loses its sparkle—but the “white moss mist” lends the scent a more contemplative bent. If you are in this olfactory garden with me, then imagine it hanging from a tree, providing a delicate scrim through which you can glimpse, or catch drifts, of former verdancy and floral splendor, but which grants you some remove from their riotous nature; reminding us, too, that like all great chypres, Jasmine White Moss is, ultimately, an exercise in reserve.


Estée Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss can be purchased from EsteeLauder.com. The parfum is $325 for 30 ml (one-ounce); the eau-de-parfum is $80 for 30 ml or $135 for 75 ml.

Bottle image of Jasmine White Moss parfum is from InStyle.com.

LIKE TOURING THE ROOMS OF A GARDEN:
Estée Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss parfum

Suzanne's Perfume Journal