When Estee Lauder launched this it was part of a fragrance trilogy--wear them alone or layer them. Of the three (Celadon, Pavillion and White Linen), this is the only one to survive and what a shame, because I always thought that it was the worst of the lot. Screechy sharp laundry detergent smell amplified by an overdose of aldehydes, this reinforced that Estee Lauder was good at putting out over the top screamers. Sophia Grojsman found her perfect match with Lauder--they both go to eleven. The notion of a collection of light, ephemeral summery mix and match fragrances was ahead of its time--Ellena has been doing this with greater success at Hermes in the last few years with his Hermessence line. A pity that the name White Linen (great for a man's or a woman's scent) has been used up on this scrubber.
When I hear the words "old lady," "staid," "crisp," and "clean" applied to this scent, I just scratch my head. To my nose, it's a sexy woody floral with just the right smack of greens in the middle to give it guts, and just the right amount of civet-ey/saliva/cat pee at the end to give it rawrrrrr. I imagine it as the kind of scent one of Helmut Newton's Teutonic blondes with the mile long legs and disdainful smirk would wear as she struts her stuff along the Croisette in a plunged-to-there maillot and big ol' cat eye glasses.
This is one of those perfumes I can no longer wear; my body chemistry's changed over the past five years. However, it is a very crisp, clean, poised fragrance. No, it's not what you'd want to wear if you were going out clubbing, but it is what you'd want to wear if you want to be clean and classy and understated. It's the perfume version of the simple but flattering summer dress.
What I find amusing is that I used to wear it in my 20's and it wasn't at all an old lady fragrance to me. It just smells clean and bright. I have no problem with this.
I find it interesting that this is referred to as an 'old-lady' fragrance, and 'not sexy'. I started wearing WL when I graduated from nursing school, about 30 years ago. Let me tell you, the medical interns, and residents trailed along after me, telling me how much they loved this fragrance.
Well, it certainly is white and crisp. Demeter's Laundromat was an as appropriate name for this scent.
Barbara Herman gave it a slew of adjectives, all completely apt: "Detergent, ironing, sun, garden, woods, crisp laundered white linen on a summer day."
Turin called it an "aldehydic floral" and gave it 5 stars. He also gave it the dubious distinction of representing the "ideal of American sex appeal."
Herman gives three more notes to those in Basenotes' above, Calyx in top, Orchid in heart, and Benzoin in base.
It's for me an exercise in aldehydes, fun, pleasant, useless. When Basenoters believe the ideal of scent is to smell like nothing at all, it's time to pack up.
For what it tries to be, it is well done, but like cotton candy, it is gone in a flash and cannot compete with chocolate, marzipan or strawberry shortcake.