Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia : Perfume Review


Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

In many ways, perfumery has to build upon its past—within every new and groundbreaking idea there is a kernel of tradition. Over the past few years, we have seen Guerlain, Chanel, Robert Piguet, and Lancôme opening their archives. Although Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia is not a re-issue of the classical Estée Lauder Private Collection introduced in 1973, its clear connection with the great Lauder legacy makes it an exciting launch. Whatever expectations I had of this fragrance, they were more than exceeded when I finally had a chance to try it….

While the floral family in perfumery counts the largest number of offspring, it is also the trickiest one. The difficulty lies in creating a floral composition—especially with white flowers–that would sustain a luminous, opalescent character without allowing for the blossoms to fade too rapidly into the predictable base notes of woods or vanilla. Tuberose Gardenia is one of these rare gems. Its floral quality retains its luminescence, from the bitter wintergreen of tuberose to the animalic sweetness of orange blossom and the crystalline fragility of lily of the valley. As one experiences the fragrance, one marvels at the ingenuity with which the nocturnal white flowers of Tuberose Gardenia are turned into an opulent, yet airy tapestry.

Another fascinating quality is that the composition does not evoke the usual floral images—dew covered petals, spring blossoms or bucolic vistas. Polished and airy, it conjures the intensity of light one feels when looking at the sky from inside the Louvre Pyramide. Its form is smooth and precise, lacking the baroque elements one is likely to find associated with tuberose. At the same time, Tuberose Gardenia is a story in which sensuality and drama are the important characters.

The characteristic richness of tuberose is softened by the green notes, which are threaded through the composition. While the wintergreen accented opening of Tuberose Gardenia might seem unexpected against the radiant and luxurious heart, I find it intriguing. Slightly reminiscent of Serge Lutens’s Tubereuse Criminelle—that veritable white floral bolt of lightning—the medicinal and great prelude to the rich tuberose makes the rest of the story even more alluring.

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia includes notes of neroli, lilac, rosewood, tuberose, gardenia, orange flower, jasmine, white lily, carnation and vanilla bourbon. It is available from Saks5thAvenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, as well as Holt Renfrew.



  • Robin: Yay, a V review! And it is perfect, as always. This is one of my favorite releases so far this year. August 7, 2007 at 6:53pm Reply

  • Flora: Oh, I hope my Saks has this now! I stopped by a couple of weeks ago and they did not have it in yet. I must stop by very soon to try again, this sounds so wonderful, and just my style too. A very lovely review, you make it sound like white flower paradise! 😀 August 8, 2007 at 1:49am Reply

  • Linda: Dear Victoria,
    Thank you for this lovely review. I admire fragrances which invoke light and air, especially in summer, and I like to gaze upwards when in modern buildings to experience a kind of elation and joy which I feel when in beautiful surroundings. It is a stunning flacon, too! I hope that it will soon be available in England…
    Warmest wishes,
    Linda August 8, 2007 at 7:33am Reply

  • Flor: Fantastic review – like always! We missed you. August 8, 2007 at 9:35am Reply

  • Marina: I love PCTG very much, in fact wearing it today in honor of your review 🙂 The creators managed to make the scent rich without making it heady, which is a great thing in my book. August 8, 2007 at 9:32am Reply

  • Olga: Hi Victoria, I’m curious about how Tuberose Gardenia fares in relationship to the original Private Collection. I find Private Collection one of the most fascinating compositions, at once -to use some of your own words- bitter green and luminous… each time I wear it I feel both clashing accords and harmonies racing each other in a crystalline way that very few perfumes are able to achieve (the best example Chanel 19). What is your opinion? August 8, 2007 at 8:04pm Reply

  • rosarita: *happy sigh* So nice to read your beautiful descriptive phrases! Thanks for a lovely review. August 9, 2007 at 8:07am Reply

  • March: Hi, V — I haven’t smelled it yet and now see I need to. I’m wondering how you would compare it to Carnal Flower? I’m guessing more complex… how about the wintergreen aspect? August 9, 2007 at 10:43am Reply

  • Tigs: Welcome back, V, we missed you. Hope all is going fabulously with your new job and home. August 9, 2007 at 7:00pm Reply

  • Flora: Update – I went to Saks last night and they had just put up the new PCTG display. I sprayed with abandon. For the first 5 minutes it was heavenly – and then my skin ate all the white flowers. My skin does NOT eat white flowers, it amplifies them! This was very puzzling. Within 10 minutes all I could smell was the basic “Lauder accord” and a little bit of weak jasmine, and all that was left of the gardenia was a faint aroma of stale buttered microwave popcorn. I had it on in 3 different places and it disappeared from all of them. After a couple of hours I could hardly smell anything, and I got no trace at all by the time I went to bed. On the paper tester strip it’s still quite nice, but it has lost its initial brilliance, of course. I was very disappointed. I don’t know if it’s just me or if anyone else has had this experience. If there is one thing I can count on it’s white flower perfumes coming to life on me, so I must regretfully scratch this off my list. Sob! August 9, 2007 at 11:19pm Reply

  • sweetlife (ahtx): Hello! I was just missing your voice and then stopped by to find a new review — happy day. I hope this means you are settling down a bit into your new place/city/job…life!

    So glad you are continuing…

    A. August 10, 2007 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Laurna: Loved It !! My husband can’t get enough of me or It!! Shop Mall of America baby! Thanx for the upvibe rufffffffffffff. August 12, 2007 at 12:22am Reply

  • greeneyes: Lovely review Victoria! I’m ready to whip out my credit card, and I haven’t even sniffed this yet. I love the description of looking at the sky from inside the Louvre… August 17, 2007 at 2:13pm Reply

  • Campaspe: Sounds lovely, although I have never yet found an EL fragrance I wanted to wear … perhaps this will be the One. August 24, 2007 at 11:16am Reply

  • moi: It reminds me of Balenciaga’s Michelle – what I remember of Michelle, at least – only without the staying power on my skin.I had a very similar experience to Flora’s. August 25, 2007 at 9:52pm Reply

  • Grace Rovegno Fleet: Please tell me that it was a typo error, when you said that this new Tuberose/Gardenia perfume has a base of EVIL VANILLA. Again with vanilla… this the only base note that people use now, when they “compose” a new perfume? Wouldn’t something like sandalwood have been better/softer? I can always smell vanilla in a perfume bottle, and no matter what the top and middle notes are, it always smells
    like pound cake to me.

    And if I actually dare to put “anything vanilla” on my skin, it turns into (please forgive me) the lovely aroma of the Fresh Kills Land Fill; the former site of the New York City garbage dump. (Patchoulli, too.)

    Well, it looks as if Robert Piguet and I will “Fracas Forever.”
    Thank you for your review…although you made me cry. Boo Hoo. September 19, 2007 at 7:10pm Reply

  • Lily: Have recently rediscovered this fragrance, despite it being the middle of Winter in Sydney somehow its radiant chill is just as striking as I remember it.

    A gorgeous scent. June 23, 2011 at 6:21pm Reply

  • Kathy Mateer: I mix an equal share of Beautiful and PCTG on my skin. Everyone who comes close tells me how fabulous I smell and ask what I am wearing. August 13, 2013 at 10:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like a fantastic layering combo! Thank you, Kathy. August 13, 2013 at 12:27pm Reply

  • Marianne: Never fails to leave a lovely trail – the body lotion is luscious too. October 6, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

  • Shannon: My 11 year old son picked this for me…he says I smell just like the jasmine that’s blooming right now here in Florida. It does not change much over time…no pyramid roller coaster ride, just the wintergreen zing at the top, then sweet green-white loveliness that lasts and does not overwhelm in the heat. May 9, 2014 at 6:17pm Reply

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