my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


A Special Woman Who Wore White Linen

Yesterday, as an adjunct to my birthday, I traveled to a town north of Seattle for a reunion that was very special to me.

Almost twenty years ago I worked for what was then an all-woman ad agency run by a force of nature named Peggy Doph. Unusual for a woman of her generation, Peg had come to the advertising business via banking; she had also been the "first woman" there, an executive vice president at a time when women just didn't advance that far.

If I can name one woman in addition to my mother who has had a tremendous influence on me, it would have to be Peg.

Always beautifully groomed, with her hair just so and her nails perfectly manicured, Peggy ran that ad agency like a general would run a sorority.

She would dispense fashion and etiquette tips, then instantly turn hard as nails as she discussed the need for new clients, billing and how we as an agency just did not do spec work.

The original Steel Magnolia, Iron Hand In The Velvet Glove and, I mean this in the nicest possible way, DragonLady. All without uttering one word of profanity ever. The most we ever heard from her was "Oh, Dirty Word!" or "Shoop de doo!" And yet ... those words, coupled with a hard glare, could inspire terror.

This was a woman who would be cooly at ease (or at least make you believe she was) with a congressman (one of our clients), national political operatives -- or the men who owned the grocery or auto supply chains whose advertising business she wanted.

I think she was my Estee Lauder ... who coincidentally created Peg's favorite fragrance, White Linen. I will never forget that fragrance, or Peggy. Her jewelry, her coiffed hair, immaculate suits, hosiery and heels. What a lady.

The dear woman now is 79 years old -- and yesterday showed me and my coworkers Jeanie, Cherie, Lori, Diana, Marta (and many thanks to her daughter Jan for sharing her with us) that she still wasn't missing a beat.

I raised a glass of white wine, her customary libation, in her honor and remembered her as the first person who ever really thought I could write. And make money at it.

Peg, thank you.

Estee Lauder White Linen topnotes: citrus, peach and jasmine; middle notes: lilac, rose and amber; basenotes: cedarwood, sandalwood and benzoin.


Let's turn to page 78 of our hymnal, Parfums le Guide Edition 1994 by Luca Turin and raise our voices in song:

White Linen (Estée Lauder)
Qui n'a pas souhaité, en tenant entre ses mains un gros savon de bain blanc tout neuf, pouvoir entendre en entier la petite musique de son générique? Estée Lauder comble ce voeu au centuple. Ce que l'on croyait être un refrain devient la première phrase d'une symphonie poudreuse et fruitée. Si No. 22 (Chanel) avait la luminosité d'un brouillard printanier, White Linen possède la radiance réfractée du soleil sur la neige.

Un très grand parfum. Lorsque l'on ressent le besoin d'un grand nettoyage de printemps.

White Linen (Estée Lauder)
Who hasn't wished, while holding in his hands a large bar of very new white bath soap, the capacity to hear in entirety the faint music of its composition? Estee Lauder fulfills this wish a hundredfold. What one believed to be a refrain becomes the first phrase of a powdery, fruity symphony.

If Chanel No. 22 had the luminosity of a spring fog, White Linen possesses the refracted radiance of sun on the snow.

A grand perfume. When one feels the need of significant spring cleaning.

Yes, Jacqueline, I translated this myself. Stop laughing.


Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

What a beautiful way to spend your birthday. You too are a very special women, and I am grateful to have met and continued our friendship in blogsville.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a first class lady@

7:07 AM

Anonymous Victoria said...

Happy belated birthday, dear M! I wish that all of dreams will come true!

Thank you for sharing the memory of Peggy. Having such rolemodels in one's life makes a world of difference.

7:22 AM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

I don't know Peg obviously, but I LIKE her!

8:27 AM

Blogger NowSmellThis said...

What a lovely post, M!

8:31 AM

Blogger cjblue said...

What a beautiful experience. And a very happy belated birthday to you!

9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well ok....

Now that the addendum is in place (thank you Mireille) I have the courage to tell all of you that I always keep White Linen Parfum in my linen closet, and yes I do wear it. I wore it at my father's funeral last year. I'll wear it again on Thanksgiving because it strums a song of "tradition" and I have so few traditions. It's fresh and yet sour..the way I like my roses, and it's really so unique. I don't think my cool skin brings out those fruity notes which seem drowned and smeared by the harsh & sharp green aldehydes.

I like to mix it with water in an atomizer and saturate my summer sheets. I like to put it on discreetly and run out into a spring rain shower. I like to wear it for ceremonies in cold weather.

I know this fragrance elicits comments of a repulsed nature over on the mua fragrance board and so I pretend over there that I don't own it. But it's in my linen closet.

Here's to Peg. What a woman she is and was.


3:48 PM

Anonymous Laura said...

Well, this has made me want to go sample 'White Linen,' an impulse I've never had before. You see the power of your words. Belated happy birthday, wordsmith extraordinaire.

4:56 PM

Anonymous Victoria said...

Oh, M! This is funny (not the translation, which is excellent, but the entire reference to LT). I think that White linen is a terrific fragrance, even though aldehydes are not as popular as they used to be.

5:34 PM

Anonymous janey said...

Your blog has opened up a world of perfume aficionados - it's amazing houw many blogs have perfume as a focus point. I don't have much of a palette - food or perfume but the names are so inticing, so ....paintable. Now that would be a good on line challenge - paint a picture based on a perfume scent. I think I've just been inspired. And I like how you thought you could just sneak your birthday in there. HAPPPPPPPY BIRTHDAY TOOOOooooOO YOOOOoooOOOO etc, etc, etc. Did you know my friends pay me not to sing to them?

5:56 PM

Blogger Tom & Icy said...

Happy birthday. And thanks for stopping by because I wanted to go to your blog but forgot the name of it but I did remember your name (or some of it) and that you were born in Cancer and would be having a birthday. So now I got you bookmarked. Ta da! But, really, what is this adjunct to your birthday thing? I didn't know we could do that. I mean, can we adjunct to the weekend and make it longer? I would be adjuncting to all kinds of days, and then find the antonym for it and do that to times I want to make shorter. I learn all kinds of things coming here. Again, happy birthdays

7:06 PM

Anonymous Bela said...

Sweet M, I did laugh, but not at your translation, which is great. People have been clamouring for a translation of Luca Turin's guide. Do you have any spare time... for the next couple of years? LOL!

Your friend sounds like an amazing woman. You're lucky to have her (and, actually, she's lucky to have you).

As for White Linen - I used up at least three bottles of the body lotion, back in the 90s. I used to layer it with Wrappings and anything green. It smelled so fresh and clean. I thought the actual EDP was too strong, though.

Thanks for the note. :-)

7:15 PM

Blogger Jonniker said...

I love this post. Love it. Thank you. (and I'll raise a glass to Peg, too!)xxoo

8:38 PM

Blogger Atreau said...

Peg sounds wonderful M, just as you are! I adore White Shoulders, my Grandmother wore it so well!

10:34 PM

Blogger Kyahgirl said...

You did a great job translating that LT review. M, you're always full of surprises!
I loved hearing about Peg and your birthday, and this bit of history.
Glad you had a good day.

7:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

awww.. I love this post! Happy belated Birthday!


4:05 PM


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