3 Great Vintage Gardenias: Estee Lauder Private Collection, Houbigant Gardenia, Anne Klein

Hey guys, sorry for not keeping Smellythoughts updated as regularly as it should be – I admit I have concentrated on YouTube a little more. I’m not sure why, I guess I find it more of a fun way to get my personality across and just chat shit about the things I love, I feel as though this blog is almost more… formal? Maybe not formal, it’s never been that… but I dunno…
Let me carry on.

As some of you may know, I’ve fallen down the vintage hole, hunting out bargains and difficult-to-find gems on eBay and the like, and have stumbled upon some great things.
Three of these recent purchases have all turned out to be wonderful gardenia fragrances, something I’m always on a hunt for… so let’s start…

Anne Klein Parfum

Anne Klein Pure Parfum goes on the skin as a strong, thick gardenia soaked in galbanum. It’s a pungent, green thing, not mushroom-y or particularly earthy… more reminiscent of the green gardenia of Gardenia Exuberante by The Exotic Island Perfumer (minus all that fig!). There are hints of hyacinth, and a little bergamot up top, just a touch of berries – but as a whole, a very nice gardenia portrait. It has a slightly Poison-esque syrupy quality to it, but the heavy-handed greenery keeps it from having much of a similarity. There’s a hint of buttery tuberose, and a slightly spiced floral accord, that could just stem from the greens.

As Anne Klein begins to settle down, which is quite quickly in the parfum, it gets a little dense – a thick, dry (but muted) fruit smell, along with a de-sweetened amber and white musk. The greenery looses it’s punch pretty quick, and the whole fragrance reduces in minutes into something much more conventional, but still quite classical (and 80′s)… It has this papery texture to it, dominated by a half decent sandalwood. I much prefer the opening to the drydown (and tend to wear this to bed more than anything), but I still think the opening is awesome enough to list it as a hidden gem of a vintage gardenia.

Houbigant Gardenia

Houbigant Gardenia (not to be confused with Gardenia Concentree), goes on with a harsh, ugly overload of swampy green nail varnish, banana skin, and narcotics galore. There’s a hint of tuberose-y mouthwash, a rotten vegetal note of green peppers… and unlike more modern representations of this ugly side to white florals, this thing, is just ugly… not sexy. It is however, ridiculously interested, and doesn’t hang around in this phase for too long.

Now I can’t find a notes pyramid or anything about this online which is frustrating, it’s almost like it never existed. So trying to pull it apart is a little complicated… the overall impression is that of a gardenia, it develops a strong, sweeter lactonic quality reminiscent of Fracas by Piguet… but only from a distance. Up close, the fetid green quality seems to be a mush of gardenia, carnation, peony, lily of the valley, and hints of grass and wet leaves. It’s definitely perfume-y, not a “fresh” scent… but again, missing is the earthy, fungal quality reminiscent of mushrooms that alot of us gardenia lovers crave.

Still, it’s a hugely interesting fragrance, and one of the few vegetal takes on a gardenia I’ve smelt (also whiffs of raw carrots in the heart). A little hideous treasure that will probably get a lot more skin time in the summer <3

Estee Lauder Private Collection Parfum

Estee Lauder Private Collection Pure Parfum (not to be confused with Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia), opens with extremely bitter and loud greens, again, almost vegetal, as if pulled from the earth – dominated by a powerful and realistic hyacinth. Hyacinth tends to have a “swampy” smell to it, only here it is JUST freshened with hints of bergamot and lemon, it almost has a pinch of Shalimar’s opening in the top (when applied generously).

The hyacinth dominates most of the composition, but just how Bas de Soie is a hyacinth/iris duo that go hand in hand, Private Collection goes hand in hand with a decent gardenia accord. Sure it’s not the lead player… but it’s there. Maybe it’s a mirage? There is also some crisp green chrysanthemums, just a hint of jasmine – the whole green bouquet smells like a florists… the old, murky vase water and all. The huge bouquet is weighed down underneath by hints of powdery vanilla, a potent musk, a huge handful of oakmoss and other bits and bobs (patchouli, dry woods)…

Private Collection, is a massive green floral, encompassing the earth and soil, every flower you can imagine and the slight rot of them all too – all wrapped up in a big vintage smelling chypre. So I guess the gardenia isn’t really a big piece of the perfume when you really break it down, but it encompasses a lot of the aspects I love about gardenia notes, although very distorted and amplified… lactonics, green, white florals, earthy notes. I guess it’s just an all-round fantastic perfume and I wanted to include it in something :P But still, I cannot recommend this one enough.

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3 thoughts on “3 Great Vintage Gardenias: Estee Lauder Private Collection, Houbigant Gardenia, Anne Klein

  1. Melissa says:

    Watched your video on vintage and you really are “cute as a button”! That’s a phrase my grandmother used. I’ve been collecting vintage for a long time now and I have to say you’re on the right track. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, searching out the more unknown fragrances is the way to go. It’s like you said, people are paying big money for the famous fragrances in the fancy bottles and they have become so outrageous that I don’t even attempt to bid on them any longer. I finally started picking up the less known fragrances in the not so pretty bottles and have been amazed at how beautiful some have been. The truth is I love the pretty stoppered bottles, but I’m into collecting for the contents more than anything. Plus, when I find them at estate sales, antique stores, or thrift shops they are practically giving them away. On the subject of gardenia, you might want to look into Jungle Gardenia by Tuvach√©. This is a good one! Oh, and Anne Klein was a fashion designer in the 60s and 70s (she died in 1974) but I thing the line is still in production. :-)
    The very best of luck in your vintage searches!!!

    • Aw thank you so much Melissa! :D Yeh I mentioned the Tuvache but I just can’t get my hands on a bottle for a good price :( owwww, I’ll keep trying!
      Definitely finding joy in the smaller lesser known bottles… Ming de Dynasty is the best thing I’ve found so far – I have it now in parfum and EDP… both ¬£3.99 each woop! Hahaha. It’s fantastic. Give me any heads up on some cheapie vintages you think I NEED to try… florals galore please :P I think I have enough chypres for a while though…

  2. Vanessa says:

    Ooh, ooh, I have a mini of ELPC parfum and inspired by your review, I really should get it out and sniff it. My bottle is more austere than this and lacks the sassy tassle, but it should still smell as great…

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