Friday, January 18, 2008

Estée Lauder White Linen

Consider, if you will, the following scenario.

You have a good friend you’ve known for many years. You have much in common with this friend, from life experiences to tastes in music, books, or movies. You share similar values, you see the world through a similar lens.

There’s just this one thing.

Your dear friend has this other friend, with whom she has also been friends for many years. She loves her other friend in the same way that she loves you. She thinks this other friend is so funny, so intelligent. She thinks this other friend is a great dresser. She believes this friend gives honest and sound advice when it’s warranted, support when it’s necessary.

You, on the other hand, cannot stand the friend of your friend. You think she’s boorish and a bore. You think what others refer to as her "eclectic style" is really just a symbol of the chaos of her personality. She's flaky and unreliable. And what’s more—she doesn’t like you either. She rolls her eyes when you make a joke. If you say you like a book or movie, she loudly contradicts you and lists all the reasons why no one should ever read that book or see that movie.

Because you love your mutual friend, you put up with this person, but you go out of your way to avoid her. When you see her at parties you do everything you can to be civil. Sometimes, you even convince yourself that maybe, eventually, something will click between the two of you, and you’ll become bosom buddies. After all, people like you, and those same people like her…why shouldn’t you like each other?

This scenario pretty much sums up my long, tumultuous history with White Linen. My love for Lauder products, both beauty and fragrance, goes back a long way. For about ten years through the late Eighties and into the Nineties, White Linen crashed every gift with purchase party I had. I tried it dutifully for years, until I finally got to where I’d break open the obligatory GWP makeup bag and toss the little white-capped bottle into the trash. Yes, that’s right—the trash.

The notes in White Linen are as follows:
Top: Bulgarian rose, jasmine, muguet
Heart: violet, orris
Base: vetiver, moss

Now, how lovely does that sound? And it’s Estée Lauder. How bad could it be? Well. On my skin, White Linen becomes what I call “screaming green.” It shouts at me all day long, “I am green, do you HEAR me? I’m green and FAB-U-LOUS! [three snaps] Do you think I’m going to let a couple of flowers crash my party? Oh no! They can prop themselves up against a wall, sister, because green is IN DA HOUSE!” There’s no sweetness to the rose, no depth to the jasmine, no delicacy from the muguet. I wait. I think maybe, maybe I’ll get a little candy off the violet, but no. This is close to the same crisp violet that makes CB I Hate Perfume Wild Pansy so amazing, except in this case it has fallen in with a bad crowd. Do I need to even discuss the vetiver? It’s GREEN baby! GREEN!

A note on Estée Lauder’s site proclaims that readers of Allure voted this the best classic fragrance for 2007. White Linen makes all sorts of top ten lists. Everybody loves White Linen, and I have tried. I have given it my all. I trust those of you the way I would trust my good friend. If you say it’s fabulous, I’ll take your word for it. That’s the best I can do.

*image from