Estee Lauder Aliage ~ fragrance review

Aliage advert, fishingAliage advert, horseback riding

Estée Lauder touts Aliage as the first fragrance for sports. One sniff, and my guess is hockey and motocross aren’t the sports Ms. Lauder envisioned. A round of bridge or maybe an hour in the cutting garden are more like it. Nonetheless, Aliage is fresh, tart, and clean — the perfect accompaniment to tennis whites.

Aliage hit the market in 1972 when a bevy of delicious green chypres graced department store shelves. Yves Saint Laurent Y, Givenchy III, and old-timers Carven Ma Griffe and Balmain Vent Vert jostled for the attention of the woman looking for unfussy modern elegance. Aliage stands apart in its G-rated playfulness.

Perfumer Francis Camail developed Aliage, and the Estée Lauder website lists its notes as jasmine, citrus, nutmeg, rose, armoise, oakmoss, vetiver, and cedarwood. To that list I’d add a whopping dose of galbanum.

The result is a bright, spring-like fragrance. Bursts of soap and powder lather its sugary rose. I really can smell the pinch of nutmeg complicating Aliage’s galbanum-vetiver body for its first twenty minutes. As Aliage wears, it becomes almost a spa fragrance. Not as sheer as, say, Cartier Eau de Cartier, but with a galbanum-wood-moss that smells like cold water on rocks. Cold, soapy water, that is.

Aliage’s green isn’t as floral-stemmy as Y or as mossy-elegant as Givenchy III. Instead, it’s optimistic, uncomplicated, and unabashedly American. Think of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, but a little OCD about hygiene. Or maybe Reese Witherspoon doing her junior year in Paris. She might have worn Aliage well. Aliage would be a terrific fragrance for people working professions where they're supposed to smell clean but not wear perfume. I defy anyone to distinguish a light misting of Aliage from a top-of-the-line guest soap.

Aliage in its “sports fragrance spray” formulation (the only formulation available now) lasts a respectable four hours on my skin. My new sample of Aliage smells lighter — in the lofty sense — than my vintage bottle from the 1990s, but the juice in my older bottle has darkened and oxidized to a more caramelly first few minutes. (Note to vintage perfume scavengers: green chypres don't seem to age as well as other fragrances.)

I love it that Estée Lauder hasn’t discontinued Aliage, but in the end I prefer Estée Lauder Private Collection (released a scant year later than Aliage), Yves Saint Laurent Y, Givenchy III, and the occasional Niki de Saint Phalle for my green chypre fix. But then again, I’m not particularly sporty. If I were, it would probably be something like horseshoes or lawn darts — sports that skew trashier than Aliage merits.

Finally, is it Aliage or Alliage? I’ve seen it spelled both ways, and a google search turns up photos of bottles with both names. From what I can tell, in the United States, Estée Lauder’s trademark on “Alliage” expired in 1992. (It’s available now if you hanker to own it.) “Aliage” with one “l” is currently registered to Estée Lauder, and that’s the spelling the company currently uses.

Estée Lauder Aliage is widely available at department stores, although you might have to ask the sales associate to find the tester behind the counter. A 50 ml bottle of sport fragrance spray is a bargain at $42.

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77 Comments

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  1. datura5750 says:

    Aren’t Estée Lauder’s classic fragrances wonderful though? I consider them the equal or superior to many hard to find modern niche offerings, and you can buy them at your local store……

    • Angela says:

      They are wonderful! I really have to hand it to Estee Lauder for keeping Private Collection, Azuree, Youth Dew, Aramis, and others in production. They’re interesting fragrances that would probably flunk out at a focus group these days, but are terrific nonetheless.

      • theluscioushellcat says:

        Aramis was my late dad’s scent. When other idiots were wearing Old Spice, there was my Dad, being all classy.

        • Angela says:

          Lucky you! (Although I do have a fond place in my heart for Old Spice….)

  2. ceelouise says:

    I wore Private Collection a couple of days ago. That perfume just lasts forever and ever, like Azuree and some other Lauders. What do they do to make their perfumes last so long? PC is almost too much, but to me it would also make a good “sport” fragrance. Tennis, probably. It’s soapy and green. Today I’m wearing Cristalle EdT from a very old mini bought at a flea market in Germany. What a treasure! It does seem more substantial than my memory of today’s Cristalle, which is fantastic itself, but perhaps because today’s Cristalle is just that, a memory. I regret giving my large bottle to my sister. Cristalle smells like hyacinth right now. So spring.

    • Angela says:

      Cristalle EdT is really wonderful! And you’re right–it’s perfect for spring. Wish I had some on right now.

  3. cressetma says:

    Remember White Linen? I never much liked it (but did own a bottle once) and was always astonished by the recognition.

    • Janice says:

      Yes, I wore it as a teenager. It couldn’t have been out more than a few years at that time but it was already very recognizable. Haven’t worn it for years and years (and can’t imagine wearing it now), but I should get a bottle just for old times’ sake.

      • Angela says:

        It would be worth sniffing the next time you pass the Estee Lauder counter, at least. I wonder what memories will surface?

    • Angela says:

      White Linen is a classic! It truly is one of those perfumes you recognize in a single sniff.

      • datura5750 says:

        I just bought a bottle last week, it’s really great stuff!

        • Angela says:

          It will be nice for spring, too.

    • L says:

      White Linen is my mother’s fragrance and it smells just wonderful on her.

      • Angela says:

        Your comment encouraged me to dash to my perfume cupboard to find my sample. White Linen is so well named. It doesn’t suit me very well, but I love smelling it on others.

  4. mutzi says:

    Thank you for mentioning the wonderful original Private Collection. It was one of my mother’s two signature fragrances (the other being Arpege that my father brought her from France after WWII) and it was a delight on her. I wear it now to feel casually elegant and closer to her.

    • Angela says:

      You’re welcome! Private Collection is a good one, for sure.

  5. Cornlily says:

    Do any of you wear Vent Vert, either original or new versions?

    • Angela says:

      I’ve smelled it, but I haven’t worn it enough to have an opinion on how it differs from other crisp green chypres.

    • Bela says:

      I used to wear the original – years and years ago. It was the driest perfume ever. Absolutely wonderful. I smelled the reformulation and didn’t recognise it. Why does everything have to be edulcorated?! Grrr.

      • Angela says:

        That’s exactly what I feared! (Insert curse words here.)

    • annemarie says:

      Victoria has a marvellous review considering vintage and newer VV, if anyone is interested. Just search for Vent Vert at the Bois de Jasmin home page.

      I bought a mini of the newer VV once and my daughter asked me why it has celery growing out of top of the bottle. Good question. Balmain needs to take that design back to its focus groups!

      • Angela says:

        Great recommendation, and that’s so funny about the celery observation!

      • victoriaf says:

        Thank you, Annemarie! And thank you (and your daughter) for a laugh. I read your comment on the train and started laughing out loud. Yes, the top sure looks like celery sticks! Balmain has been struggling, I believe, with keeping this one alive. The packaging has suffered badly in the end. :)

        • annemarie says:

          Ah yes, children always call things as they see them!

  6. victoriaf says:

    We are on the same page–I like Aliage, but Private Collection is my favorite Lauder chypre. Its green notes are laced with so much jasmine and other floral notes that they feel more romantic. On the other hand, the vibrancy of Aliage’s green accord is so uplifting. It makes me feel energized the moment I smell it.

    • Angela says:

      I need to handwash some lingerie, and I was thinking a dash of Aliage in the water would be perfect!

      I love your description of Private Collection, too.

  7. sinnerman says:

    Thank you for a smile inducing review on a EL classic! Madame Lauders fragrances truly are special and timeless, Azuree has got to be my most loved EL, I also love and a wear YD Amber nude! As a male these two fit well into my wardrobe when I want to smell like flowers or be reminded of smells gone by ! I really admire Estees vision of what she thought femininity was !

    • Angela says:

      I agree! Azuree is one of my favorites, too. It feels squarely unisex to me.

  8. moon_grrl says:

    I’m more of an Aliage woman than a Private Collection one; PC feels too fussy most days for me. And I’d probably throw them both over for Azuree or White Linen, which are my favorite leather and favorite aldehyde, respectively. Bless Lauder for continuing to make them all!

    • Angela says:

      I’m grateful, too, they keep these classics in their lineup. I really like the new Private Collection fragrances, too.

      • Poppie says:

        I only have one Lauder fragrance right now, Private Collection, which I still love, but only wear very occasionally as it’s running very low. When I looked at the web site to see about ordering more, I was confused by the new ‘Private Collection” offerings — are they like different new flankers of the original, or are they special bottle editions of the same juice?

        I’ve gotten discouraged about replacing old favorites because some of the reformulations are absolutely (and sometimes horrifyingly) different from the originals.

        • Angela says:

          The last time I smelled the original Private Collection, just over a year ago, I thought it smelled pretty good. So there’s hope!

          The new Private Collection fragrances (PC Amber Ylang, etc.) aren’t really flankers to the original Private Collection, but are rather their own “curated” fragrances. I like the Moss and Jasmine one a lot.

  9. annemarie says:

    What a great bunch of fragrances under discussion today! Oh to be able to step into the Tardis and zap ourselves back to the 1970s (let’s make it 1978, so as to take in both Private Collection and White Linen) so that we could browse the fragrance section of the nearest department store.

    Shall we all go together? How fun! What would you want to bring back Angela? I’d be on the lookout for some Ma Griffe, if it was still there. If not, we could go to that old fashioned perfumery around the corner. They will have Ma Griffe for sure. And Bandit!

    Let’s all meet back at the big store for coffee and cake, to show our purchases. We’ve left the Tardis just outside, where it will fit right in. Don’t go to the wrong police box, or you’ll be stuck in 1978!

    • Angela says:

      Oh boy, my mind spins. What year did Dior Dior come out? Because I’d have to have a jumbo bottle of that. I just want to stand at the department store and stare. Then let’s hop the Tardis for a few more stops and do some more perfume shopping! I’m dying to smell some early Guerlains, Carons, and Chanels. I need a couple of gallons of Lanvin Scandal, too.

      • annemarie says:

        1976 on that Dior Dior – see – there it is, over at the Dior counter.

        After coffee we will take you to L’Artisan (let’s pretend this is Paris, why not?) L’Artisan had several interesting releases in 1978 … You need to sample the new as well as the old.

        • Angela says:

          Excellent! And I bet the fragrances are at a good price, too, thanks to inflation (think they’ll check the printing date on my currency?). Dior Dior will at last be mine! And certainly, a trip to Paris is in order.

  10. Poppie says:

    Oh, my. My favorite fragrances during the 70′s — Aliage, MaGriffe, Vent Vert. I must have been on a ‘green’ roll back then, when I was in to a lot more sports and outdoor activities. But Cinnabar, too, was wonderful around Christmas apres ski …
    I have to get to the perfume counter to see if the current iterations are as good as they were in the past.
    Is the new Aliage close to the original scent? Just about everything else that I loved at that time doesn’t smell as luscious to me — is it the oakmoss that’s gone? Or is it the cederwood that is more overstated now?
    Just noticing that lately, anything with a cedarwood note seems to project a sour or bitter undertone from my skin — a kind of “old clothes from the cedar chest” aroma that I don’t enjoy. It seems to be in a lot of the woody outdoorsey fragrances that I otherwise would like.

    • Angela says:

      I don’t find the cedar in Aliage to be super pronounced, but if your skin amplifies it you might want to try a modest few drops at first. I hope it smells to you as good as you remembered! You certainly did love your green chypres.

  11. Rick says:

    It’s funny about dropping the extra “l”. When I see Alliage, I think allium, which is Latin for garlic, and the generic name for plants in the onion family. But maybe that’s just me.

    • Angela says:

      Ack, garlic! Not the best association with such a crisp, clean fragrance. Allium flowers are beautiful, though.

  12. maggiecat says:

    Aliage was one of my first great perfume loves – I sniffed it when I was a junior in college and spent all my Christmas money on the cologne and a candle. It didn’t smell anywhere near as good to me when I tried it again a couple of years ago, but maybe a re-sniff is in order. Thanks for the memories!

    • Angela says:

      An Aliage candle would be terrific! I wouldn’t mind burning one right now just to freshen up my winter-stuffy house.

      • ggperfume says:

        I still have an Aliage candle! I’d light it tonight for old times’ sake, but our weather is turning rather summery this week – not conducive to candle-burning.

        • Angela says:

          Lucky you! It’s cold and rainy here.

  13. juicejones says:

    I remember when White Linen was introduced with Celadon and Pavilion. I would have put my money on Celadon as the one to stick around. All Lauder fragrances make me sneeze; WL, worst of all.
    I wondered at the time if bringing out a trio was a response to the three from Borghese – Ecco, Fiamma and Andiamo. All winners!

    • Angela says:

      I’ve never smelled Celadon and Paviiion! Long gone now. As are the Borgheses.

  14. bookwyrmsmith says:

    I have a purse spray of Celadon and Pavillion in my collection Angela.

    • Angela says:

      Do you like them? Or is it best that they’ve passed into oblivion?

      • bookwyrmsmith says:

        I can find Celedon -it was with the green scents. From sniffing the bottle I’d say Celedon’s closest kin are probably Cristalle (competition)and Private Collection(competition within the brand).
        I know that I have Pavilion but it’s hideing from me right now (and driveing me NUTS! I know it’s SOMEWHERE in my room!Grrrr.
        I vaguely recall aldehyde-floral?? I think?
        I thought they were nice and that Lauder should probably re-issue as a LMTD ed sometime .I’d buy.

        • annemarie says:

          That’s really interesting. It sounds as if White Linen survived because it was (and is) so different. I’d love to smell Celadon though. And it’s such an interesting colour. Well, its celadon …

          • Angela says:

            A really lovely color!

        • Angela says:

          I’m a sucker for a nice green fragrance, so I’ll cross my fingers with you that Estee Lauder does a reissue someday. And I’m sympathetic about losing perfume–my cabinet’s a disaster.

          • bookwyrmsmith says:

            Yeah ,I just reorganized/dusted recently and as I hadn’t worn it much I can’t remember what catagory I stuck it into.One of these days I’m gonna have to break down and do a word doc /spreadsheet thingy that I hear some of you do.

        • ggperfume says:

          Celadon sounds fabulous!

  15. cressetma says:

    Interested reading over this thread to understand the context of scent fashion in the late 1970s and how it influenced what I liked at university and the young professional years that followed. YSL Y, Chamade, Amazone and Vent Vert featured then and are suddenly back on the radar after a twenty year gap… Am I developing early onset scent dementia, or is this the perfume companies revisiting their back catalogues to match the austere economic mood?

    • Angela says:

      Maybe *we’re* the ones revisiting green chypres–I can’t remember too many recent new ones. It’s a good theory!

  16. Bradamante says:

    Green chypre – it’s my middle name. Almost every scent mentioned above takes part in my collection. Y, Chamade, Amazone, Vent Vert, Alliage, Private Collection, Saint Phalle, Ma Griffe, Silences (not mentioned I believe, but part of the group nevertheless, just as:) nr 19, . And a very small bottle of Givenchy III. Did anyone say Bandit? Also, vintage Mademoiselle from the house of Venet.

    Ah, ce chypre, une fee envoilee de chartreuse.

    • Angela says:

      Nice! Your list of fragrances makes my mouth water, chartreuse fairies and all!

      • Bradamante says:

        Love the photographs too! The seventies, they could be really ugly, but also very, very elegant. Chic.

        • Angela says:

          I agree. The 1970s did have elegance, especially if you look beyond the Brady Bunch and more toward Bianca Jagger, for example. I love the caftans, chignons, suntans, and pants suits.

    • ggperfume says:

      Ah, I’d love a tour of your scent collection.

      • Angela says:

        Doesn’t it sound great?

  17. ringthing says:

    I’ve enjoyed this post and the comments; many happy memories with EL scents. My mother wore Aliage in the 70s and her sister wore Azuree. Throw in backyard family cookout smells, add a dash of bourbon and cigarettes, and there’s my teenage years. :)

    • Angela says:

      Sounds like a good time!

  18. Celestia says:

    Azuree and Aliage are not available here in Canada. I have to go to the States to get them. Aliage is my favourite and one of the few scents in my huge fragrance wardrobe that I replenish. I especially love it in the fall when it makes me think of moss green wide-wale cords, an Aran-knit sweater, and brown leather brogues. I have discovered Givenchy III is a good alternative. The Aliage bottle has changed from the original shape to a sleeker version. Thanks for clearing up the spelling mystery, Angela.
    A EL SA once told me that EL does not discontinue her fragrances but I found out that this is not entirely true since my beloved White Linen Breeze was.

    • Angela says:

      I’m so surprised Aliage isn’t available up there! It’s such a nice fragrance, it seems like it would sell all right in Canada. I’m glad you’re able to get it when you need it, though.

  19. ggperfume says:

    I’m glad to get your take on Aliage, Angela. It was my first signature fragrance after a great-aunt gave me a charming special bottle (shaped like a long narrow spiral seashell) of it for Christmas one year. I went through lots of it in the next few years – fragrance, bath powder, soaps – assisted by my mother, who kept the gift sets coming at birthdays and holidays. (Mom was a Youth Dew loyalist, so we were supporting our local EL counter buying each other scented presents!)

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like your family is firmly grounded in Lauder! Well, it could definitely be worse.

  20. ggperfume says:

    Almost forgot to give you all my particular recommendation of Aliage: if you live in a climate with dry HOT summers – Arizona, say, or California’s Central Valley – Aliage is a winner. The only fragrance I can enjoy when the thermometer goes past 104F.

    • Angela says:

      I can totally imagine that.

  21. Emily says:

    Love your reviews of vintage/classic perfumes, Angela. I have a soft spot for the older Lauders — I believe I own every Youth Dew–scented product in existence, and the original Private Collection is a spring/summer staple — but, sadly, I shall never wear Aliage with a fabulous fly-fishing ensemble. It turned musty and funky on me in much the same way that Azuree did. And I hate fishing. But man, what an epic ad.

    • Angela says:

      There really aren’t enough perfume ads these days featuring fly fishing!

  22. SmokeyToes says:

    Hi Angela!
    I’m waaay late to this party but I couldn’t resist commenting. I adore Aliage, and have a vintage bottle from the late 70′s. Reading this article made me drag it out and spritz a bit. I’m a huge fan of green scents, Y, Givenchy III, Chanel No 19 and Cristalle edt, and of course vintage Amazone is one of my absolute fave fruity/chypres from back in the day. Removing the oakmoss really stripped this scent of it’s beauty, oakmoss made the cassis note more ‘juicy and pulpy’ which is what I loved, that and the lovely vetiver drydown.

    • Angela says:

      It’s the perfect time of year for green chypres, in my opinion! I wonder if your bottle from the ’70s is spelled with two l’s?

      • SmokeyToes says:

        Hi Angela!
        It is! It’s the old 3 oz bottle with green top-in my book, I love the vintage formula. All of the ladies in my family are long-time Estee Lauder customers, for both perfume and makeup. I grew up playing with my grandmother’s White Linen or Estee, the other grandmother wore Youth Dew. My first EL scent of my very own was Cinnabar, I thought I was very sophisticated for a 14 year old.

  23. mezzodiva54 says:

    Can anyone tell me the difference between “Eau d’Aliage” and the so-called Country Fragrance (or Country Cologne)?

    • Angela says:

      Good question! I’m not sure how many people will be checking back on this review, but maybe a long-time Aliage wearer will see your question and have an answer.

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