How to Smell: White Classic Edition




First impressions: Top notes

Prepare to be surprised.

Spray your wrist once and quickly smell the top notes. What’s the first feeling that comes to mind?

Why might you be surprised? Because the combination of coconut, mint, and aldehydes in the top notes is an unusual one. The mint is cooling and breezy. The coconut is not the sweet, tropical kind, but neutral, nutty, and coarser. The aldehydes give White a sparkling soapiness. In this sense, the effect of White matches its name: cool, clean, and crisp, like a sheer white cotton shirt flowing in the breeze.

What note do you sense most clearly? White is a fascinating creation in part because it elicits so many different responses. Some people feel strongly that the opening is all about coconut; others are most drawn to the mint; others come away with only an abstraction. This makes smelling White an especially engaging experience. Focus on the different notes in turn and see whether your can isolate any. 

Another reason White is fascinating is that it is 100% natural and 100% luxury. The Undergreen line hails from Grasse, the mecca of modern perfumery and birthplace of fine fragrance. White and its siblings stand out here, because there aren't many all-natural perfumes created in the French tradition and sold alongside fine fragrances in some of the world's most exclusive boutiques. So keep that in mind as you experience White: Everything you smell here comes from nature herself.  

Sensations and scenery: Middle notes

As the mint and coconut fade away, flowers come forward. Close your eyes and see whether you can separate the different floral notes: jasmine, ylang-ylang, and orange blossom are all here, but they are in soft focus, like an abstract painting of a bouquet on a misty morning.

Soon, the tuberose enters the picture. Tuberose is generally a dominant flower that demands attention wherever it appears. It is sweet but a bit dark, almost pulsating, and is a peculiar, intoxicating combination of light and heavy. Tuberose isn’t just a pretty white flower; it’s a complex plant that exudes a dozen different facets throughout its lifecycle. The same is true of tuberose in perfumery, too: Depending on how it’s used, it can be sweet, vegetal, green, buttery, metallic, or even nose-tinglingly camphoraceous. Perhaps because of its unpredictable character, tuberose is a polarizing note. But in White, the tuberose is showing its well-mannered side, presenting as pretty and slightly sweet.

Smell your wrist again. Do you notice that the mint and coconut have disappeared? Perhaps now you can also sense something under those flowers, something closer to your skin’s own smell.

Integration: Base notes

White Classic Edition is a study in contrasts. Despite its cool name, its crisp white opening, and its loyalty to the theme with all white ingredients, White ultimately draws itself closer to the skin and turns surprisingly warm in the dry down.

This warming is due to the presence of styrax and amyris wood. Styrax, also called benzoin resin—obtained from the bark of trees in the genus styrax—and amyris wood bring a warm, vanillic scent to the base. Orris butter, which is a rare, expensive oil from distilled orris root, adds a soft, floral woodiness. From this point, the dry down gradually descrescendoes into a lovely whisper. 

Many people come away from White feeling like they’ve experienced something elusive because the individual notes rarely come forward and make themselves known. It's the sort of perfume that—long after you've gone about your day and focused on something else—will grab your attention after a mindless flourish of the wrist and make you think,  wow, what smells so good? 

Read more How to Smell guides or get your full bottle of White Classic Edition.