Aerin Lauder launched her own lifestyle brand, Aerin, in 2011, and she's already selling all sorts of random lifestyle stuff, which is, after all, the whole point of a lifestyle brand — license your name out to all sorts of manufacturers, rake in some dough. So they've got lamps, lipsticks, shoes, eyeglasses, candles and whatnot, and more is on the way. Her beauty and fragrance license, as you surely have already surmised, is with Estée Lauder, and the first collection of five fragrances was introduced last month, with the outer boxes decorated with designs from her Aerin fabric line. Today I'm smelling three of the perfumes: Lilac Path, Ikat Jasmine and Gardenia Rattan. I will try to get to the others, Amber Musk and Evening Rose, next week.
I had sort of imagined that for her debut fragrances, Lauder would do something similar to the upscale Private Collection scents she designed for the Estée Lauder brand (and which are now designated on the Estée Lauder website as "Aerin Lauder's Private Collection"): Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang and Private Collection Jasmine White Moss. In retrospect, that was wishful thinking. Those fragrances were never meant to appeal to a wide audience, and when you're building a lifestyle brand, you want to appeal to a wide audience. So if any of you perfumistas were thinking along the same lines that I was, time to recalibrate.
I had perhaps the greatest hopes for Lilac Path, not because lilac is absolutely my favorite floral note — I don't really have a single favorite floral note — but because really good lilac perfumes are so terribly few and far between. This one features notes of lilac, galbanum, creamy jasmine, angelica seed and orange blossom, and it opens on a beautifully realistic lilac, nicely counterpointed with green. It gets softer and fuzzier as it dries down, but there isn't much movement after the first 20 minutes or so, and there's no real point of interest in the base to hold it all up. It's not quite dryer-sheet-clean, but it teeters awfully close to the edge.
Verdict: awfully pretty, but even without going in the direction of "a touch of odd" like the wheat notes in Frédéric Malle En Passant, they could have made it more interesting than they did. It's too clean, really, to call it old-fashioned, still I could not shake the idea that it was basically old-fashioned without any of the fun of old-fashioned. Regardless, worth a try for lilac fans.
Ikat Jasmine was "intended to personify a modern woman", so you can already probably guess that it's likewise clean despite all the white floral notes; this one features jasmine, tuberose, honeysuckle and sandalwood. And the opening is very much white floral, but very much in the modern style. When I reviewed Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, I said that...
...all the raw, exotic edges of the tuberose and gardenia have been polished down and smoothed over. So while it is full-bodied, it has none of the edginess of Frederic Malle Carnal Flower or the sparkling playfulness of Robert Piguet Fracas, and I don't find it as sexy as either of those fragrances.
All of that goes double or even triple for Ikat Jasmine, which is as clean and polished as jasmine can be and still be jasmine. It's much lighter and softer (and more office-friendly) than any of the Private Collection fragrances — I would not call it full-bodied — and it fizzles out to a pale, bland base much sooner.
Verdict: again, pretty, and perfectly wearable, but not as much personality as I had hoped. If your tastes in jasmine run closer to Acqua di Parma Gelsomino Nobile, Guerlain Jasminora and/or Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint than the gold standard of jasmine-bombs, Serge Lutens A La Nuit, it might be perfect for you. If you like your jasmine clean but want more oomph than Aerin Ikat Jasmine, you need Private Collection Jasmine White Moss.
Gardenia Rattan is "intended to capture the spirit of summer", and the notes include marine notes, gardenia, tuberose, Tahitian tiare and amber. And of the three, it is the most summer-y. Surprisingly, since I rarely care for marine notes, I found it the most interesting of the three under consideration today, and even more surprisingly, that's entirely due to the marine notes — the gardenia here has been de-clawed to within an inch of its life, and if you had asked me to smell it blind and guess the main floral note, I would never have come up with gardenia. But the marine notes, which are salty rather than melon-y, give it a liveliness that is lacking from the Lilac Path and Ikat Jasmine, and there is more warmth in the base to maintain interest past the first 30 minutes.
Verdict: arguably more interesting but less pretty than the other two, which is sometimes the way it works out. Still, worth a try if you aren't after gardenia anyway. If gardenia is what you're after, I immediately thought of Strange Invisible Perfumes Lady Day, but I don't know if it is still made. For a fresh gardenia, there is Ineke Hothouse Flower, for clean gardenia with some oomph, there is the already mentioned Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. If you want some skank, try Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia; if you want sweet, try Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia. I have not tried Isabey Gardenia lately, but it used to be lovely.
Do comment with your favorite lilac, jasmine or gardenia perfume, or tell us all three.
Victoria reviewed all five of the Aerin fragrances yesterday at Bois de Jasmin, do read!
Aerin Lilac Path, Ikat Jasmine and Gardenia Rattan are available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, $110.