Estée Lauder : White Linen

Created by : Sophia Grojsman

Date : 1978

Genre : Aldehydic floral

Concentration : eau de parfum

I went to the store and tried White Linen several times before I decided to buy it.  I found White Linen very hard to love, even like, at first sniff.  Eventually, I purchased a bottle because I needed an example of an overly aldehydic floral for a perfume conference I was giving.  On a scent strip White Linen repelled me, particularly during the first 30 minutes, but when I wore it to the office the following day, I liked it.

My previous Estée Lauder purchase was the sublime Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and so the bar was very high but I found that as an everyday fragrance, White Linen is perfect if you like soapy white florals sparkling with aldehydes.  To describe what aldehydes do to a perfume, Jacques Polge, Chanel’s nose, describes it best… “les aldéhydes concourent à brouiller les pistes.”  In English, aldehydes blur the notes which is why Chanel No. 5, although made up of rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang smells like no one particular flower.  In the case of White Linen, with its overdose of aldehydes, the floral notes of rose, jasmine, lilac, orris, lily of the valley and ylang-ylang are totally unrecognizable… but you do get an impression of a blurred white floral bouquet.

In addition, you get a big white soapy note, Ivory soap to be exact, which lasts throughout the day… up until the laundry musk drydown.  This is not my favourite finale but White Linen’s musk is not too bad… however check out Dane’s review from Peredepierre for a different take on the drydown.  There may be something that I’m missing.

You know… I can’t help but be impressed with Estée Lauder’s mission to provide women and men with luxurious perfume at everyday prices which would explain why Estée Lauder is over-represented in my collection.  I think White Linen would be particularly fun during the summer and I see no reason why men can’t wear it… especially with that ultra-clean Ivory note… which if you believe the early advertisements, is great for depression.

This one may be not be in my current top ten… but I bet it moves up as the days get longer and the weather warms up.  Try this one.  At this price, it would be a shame to miss out… just don’t judge it on the first 30 minutes.


Top image : Anna Pavlova in The Dying Swan (1905)

Bottom image : Vintage advertisement for Ivory Soap

Leave a comment


  1. Musks are funny little creatures…some get soap, while others get bum. I get the later in this case…but obvious it’s named for the former, so it may just be me.

    • Some drydown musks are alot worse. I’m thinking L’Interdit by Givenchy (the last formulation). But if you’re getting civet as indicated in your review, others might too. It depends on the musk as well. Some are so animalic… and then all of a sudden, it smells soapy.

      I enjoyed wearing White Linen. I suspect it really opens up with a little heat and humidity… like Chanel No. 19.

    • Like Dane, I find the drydown of White Linen distinctly dirty — even a little sweaty. And I normally dislike strong aldehydes, but WL has one of my favorite openings of all time. I think it’s a love-it-or-hate-it accord — I happen to love it to pieces. Nice that it’s dirt-cheap, too.

      • Absolutely! The opening is very love-it or hate-it… it certainly makes a statement.

  2. Normand, thank you for writing about Lauder perfumes. I am thinking about doing a series as I just purchased a set of 5 parfum from a miniatures collector. I am really enjoying them.

    I tried White Linen EdP for the first time last week. I sprayed it on a card, not skin, as I was on errand. The blast of aldehydes caused me to jerk my head away! The sensation is what I imagine it feels like to have a bottle of vigorously shaken bottle of champagne sprayed in your face.

    The parfum is much softer upon sniffing in the bottle, but I have not yet tried it on skin. It blows my mind (and nose) how powerful her fragrances are. You only need a little bit, no matter the concentration! Perhaps that was part of her mission…if you only have to use a little, the bottle will last longer.

    I’m reading her autobiography and a biography right now. She was quite the salesperson and knew how to keep clients coming back for more. I believe Estee Lauder Inc. was amongst the first cosmetic companies to give a “gift with purchase”.

    Okay, I’m done hijacking your comments now. Thanks 😉

    • Hijacking? Those are great comments! Which autobiography are you reading? I’d love to read more about her.

      When I held a scent strip up for my cat Tiger to take a sniff, she literally did a moonwalk! Those early aldehydes take some getting used to…

      Her perfumes definitely are powerful. All of them. You have to go easy on the atomizer.

      I look forward to your take on her fragrances.


      • JoanElaine

         /  January 17, 2011

        Her autobiography is Estee: A Success Story, published in 1985.

        The biography is unauthorized and titled Estee Lauder: Beyond the Magic. It was written by Lee Israel and was published between 1995-1997.

        Unfortunately, there isn’t as much information about her perfumes as I had hoped.

        It doesn’t suprise me your cat did a “moonwalk”. 🙂
        I think my cats, dog and husband would be very upset w/ me if I subjected them to such a tsunami of aldehydes.

      • Thanks! I’ll see if I can get them at the library.

      • Lee Israel! I knew the name was familiar. She stole letters written by Fanny Brice from the New York Public Library and sold them. Later, she would forge letters from several authors. She openly admitted to her crime in her own autobiography “Can you ever forgive me?” Amazing…

      • The Israel book, at times seems based on opinion rather than fact. It definately adds to the “unauthorized” effect.
        Why do people steal from libraries?? May the ghost of Fanny Brice (and every wronged librarian) haunt her! 😉

        I tried the White Linen parfum last night on skin. It’s really bubbling w/ aldehydes but I don’t feel like I am being slapped in the face.

        I fell asleep before I could experience the dry down (not because it’s a boring was late!) so I don’t know if I got soap, bum or soapy bum. I’m hoping I have the same experience as Dane from Peredepierre, who I must add to my blog roll! I’ll keep you posted!

  3. I bought an EL mini set, and I think it has White Linen in it, so I’ll give it a try. I wonder if I’ll get soap or bum? I agree, they’re good quality perfumes for the price. I do love PC Tuberose Gardenia, and the Original Private Collection.

    • Hi Krista! I bought PC Tuberose Gardenia based on your review. One of the best perfumes in my collection… beauty!

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