Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang

The last time I bought an Estee Lauder perfume was in the very early nineties, when I went through a couple of White Linen bottles before suddenly having a complete change of nose on it and not touching the last bottle ever since. Not caring much for assertive chemical florals, I allowed myself to ignore most of their releases, with the occasional sniffing stop at the counter for the sake of shaking my head and wondering "What on earth was Luca Turin sniffing?". Sensuous didn't rock my world, either, though , though at least I could see the appeal (other than Gwyneth Paltrow in only a white shirt and black stockings).

But the list of notes for the latest Estee Lauder release, Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang (Ylang Absolute, Italian Bergamot, Geranium Oil, Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Cinnamon, Incense, Vanilla Bean, Sandalwood, Amber) sent me straight to the nearest Lauder counter as soon as I got word the bottles have arrived. I sprayed from the tester and continued my merry way to the Bobbi Brown makeup, thinking more about taupe eye shadows than of the happenings on my left wrist.

Ambery perfumes come in many shapes, forms and ideas. It's the ingredients making what we recognize as the "ambery base" (mostly labdanum-tonka-vanilla. More on this in Helg's fascinating article on Perfume Shrine) that determine the actual feel of the perfume. And our skin chemistry. Mine loves amber in almost all forms and makes it radiate and come alive. I get far less powder and much more of the warm glow with some animalic teeth from most amber scents. Amber Ylang Ylang is no exception to this.

That first testing has seen me going back to the mall the following day and buying a bottle. I just had to. That feeling of elegant warmth, rich and luminous is irresistible for me. While its a lot softer than the ultimate amber, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, it's a lot easier to wear because it lacks the edge and punch. I save the Lutens for nights out and knock'em dead occasions, and wear this one whenever the mood strikes. The creamy and pretty facette brought by the ylang ylang is making the scent less formal than Ambre Sultan, but also far less sugary than other ambers I can think of, like Balmain Ambre Gris or Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre Precieux. I can't say I smell much (or any) incense and even the sandalwood is less woody and more a soft light presence.

It's interesting to note how differently this perfume is perceived by others. Angela on Now Smell This was underwhelmed, while Kristen the Beauty Addict felt it's the scent for a homebody. For me, it's not a fuzzy scent. It glows and pulsates too much to be ignored. Amber Ylang Ylang goes with cashmere, as the others have mentioned, but I pair it with my favorite burgundy cashmere sweater dress, the one that flows close to the skin and shows some cleavage.

Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang is available from Saks, Neiman's and Estee Lauder.com. I got mine at my local Saks. The 1 oz bottle (perfect size) was $65, there's a 2.5 oz available for $120 and a gorgeous pure parfum bottle with semi-precious stones adorning the cap (above) that would cost you $300 for 1 oz. To put things in perspective, it's the price of 1 oz of Mitsouko extrait, which is just a little more on the masterpiece side of things, with all due respect to Erin Lauder and her vision.


  1. That good, huh? This goes to my "to sniff" list now, after your rec (we seem to share tastes on several things) and I was very pleasantly impressed with the previous Tuberose Gardenia one, so...

    And thank you for the compliment

  2. My experience with AYY was very similar to yours; I love ambers and I especially love this one. Great review! :)


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