The Legacy Collection launches today.
Youth Dew. White Linen. Azurée. It goes without saying that businesswoman Estée Lauder was a fragrance visionary. From masterminding an array of iconic scents that captivate the imagination to pioneering the very notion of a fragrance wardrobe, the trailblazing beauty figure has left an indelible mark on the world of fragrance.
The same can certainly be said of perfumer Frédéric Malle, whose Editions de Parfums scents, like Carnal Flower and Portrait of Lady, have also become the stuff of legend since he burst onto the scene in 2000. So who better to reimagine a stable of Estée fragrances for today’s scent landscape? It’s a cross-century meeting of the minds that has perfume lovers abuzz, to say the least.
The Legacy Collection, a reinterpretation of five of Estée Lauder’s landmark creations, including Azurée, White Linen, and namesake Estée, arrives today. For Malle, the collection's creation was all about refining and streamlining the originals. He harnessed new cutting-edge ingredients (painting with “new colors of the rainbow,” as he puts it) and meticulously tweaked the scent profiles for today’s fragrance wearers.
Recognizing the stakes of reviving such classics, Malle likens the revamping process to restoring the world’s greatest artworks in The Met. “It’s a bit like working in the archives, cleaning up a Picasso or a Rembrandt with various needs,” says Malle. “It’s just magnifying those perfumes and really showing how good Estée was.”
Below, Malle takes InStyle on a journey through the quintet of Legacy Collection fragrances, revealing how he preserved the spirit and essence of the originals while tailoring them for a new generation. Any great fragrances lives many lives, after all.
Nothing captures the magic of the Mediterranean like 1969’s Azurée, and Malle builds on its legacy by giving the spicy and herbaceous scent a new “more contemporary base.” The foundation is laid with earthy patchouli and creamy sandalwood before aromatic clary sage and cardamom burst through to round out its warm, woody bouquet.
The ‘70s floral masterpiece gets an update worthy of the MoMa thanks to its “magical green accord,” explains Malle. For that unmistakable verdant touch, the herbs basil, tarragon, and galbanum are harmonized and grounded by sandalwood and patchouli.
White Linen is reimagined more than 50 years later with a deeper yet still-as-crisp-and-clean scent. “It sort of embodies this all-American blonde, a Hitchcock or Grace Kelly type of woman,” says Malle of the floral classic, which he remixed by adding new facets to its amber base notes. While rose and jasmine comprise its blooming core, there’s musk, vetiver, and cedarwood, plus aldehydes for that unmistakable powdery touch.
“It’s basically one of these perfumes that one wears, enters the room, and says, ‘I smell like this naked,’ so it’s beyond sexy,” says Malle of 1988’s Knowing. The feral fragrance, known for its lush, fruity chypre essence, sees a new dawn with the introduction of orris and black currant. These notes, along with rose damascena, patchouli, and amber, come together to conjure up a sultry feel that’s, according to Malle, “all about skin, fire, and a long night.”
One of the most storied floral musky fragrances of all time, Estée — which Estée herself once described as a “glass parson’s table on a white fur rug” in a nod to its alluring dichotomies — was injected with a subtle sensuality. Described by Malle as a “quiet addiction,” it’s led by sweet, soothing jasmine and heady ylang-ylang, and dries down with delicious notes of honey and sandalwood.
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