I'm back, almost a week later, with Perfume Rampage: The Sequel!
Later that day after the I Hate Perfumes field trip, I hopped on BART to meet J in the City, at Saks. As I swung open one of the heavy glass doors, a gorgeous drag queen with a bronze up-do, a long, golden-brown mink coat and fabulous boots swept into Saks next to me. It was nice, like the spirit of the store saying, Hello darlin', welcome to my house.
I landed in short order in front of the Bond No. 9 counter. I have been very curious to smell some of the Bond No. 9 fragrances, because the discussions on perfume blogs I read have been full of them, with many raves. Bond No. 9 was started after (and partly in reaction to) September 11, by a French woman who has been a long-time resident of New York City. It seems to me as though these perfumes, named after different parts of the city (Chelsea Flowers, Bleecker Street, Nuits De NoHo), were inspired by that post-9/11 burst of feeling - of patriotism, humanism and fierce nostalgia. In a way, this line is the other side of the I Hate Perfumes coin - Bond No. 9 also evokes place, although in a style that is far more baroque, and one that operates at a higher volume. As we found out that afternoon, Bond No. 9 goes to eleven.
The guy behind the counter liberally sprayed sample cards for us of half a dozen different fragrances - here are some of my impressions:
Chinatown: a very sweet, strong, earthy floral. Not really my thing, from what I could tell from the scent on the card.
Scent of Peace: simple, clean, floral with a little bit of fruit (blackcurrant, I think), and some nice woods. As advertised, a peaceful scent.
Wall Street: if you like the way fresh, salty money smells, you will like this fragrance. I think it is supposed to smell more like marine air than a Benjamin, but I couldn't help smelling cash (maybe it's psychological). And I'm not particularly greedy or acquisitive, but I love the leathery paper smell of money as much as the next nose, and I really liked this perfume (which I think is aimed at men).
Andy Warhol Silver Factory: this perfume, whose inspiration was the studio where Andy Warhol lived and shot his movies, is one I've been wanting to try for a while. The "silver" in the title refers to the tin foil that decorated Andy Warhol's original Factory. I expected the perfume to be a whole lot funkier than it is - was somehow thinking it would smell of platform shoes, cigarettes and film stock, but it's really pretty clean. The notes, which include bergamot, cedar, and patchouli, form a seamless blend - one that somehow manages to be intense and smooth at the same time. Not so much the crumpled squalor of tin foil; more the aerodynamic elegance of fuselage. Very nice.
Chelsea Flowers: this one is a pale yet somewhat bracing floral, and smells great. Notes include peony, tulip, hyacinth and rose, as well as vetiver and musk. The flowers smell fresh, young, and very green - crunchy green - and I liked it enough to get a spray on my left wrist.
New Haarlem: the sweet flavor of this one hit me like a blast of air from a trumpet; I don't think I've ever smelled such an aggressive vanilla. New Haarlem's notes include chocolate, coffee, vanilla, patchouli and lavender, and I definitely also smelled some toasty coconut in there, as well, though it's not in the list of notes. To be honest, I sort of hated it at first (maybe because I am not really a coffee drinker?), but I am developing an appreciation for perfumes that are obnoxious right out of the bottle, and as I kept going back to smell the card, this one seemed to keep getting better after that first, noisy blast. It's an attention-grabber - a smell that seemed to perfectly match the visual and aural experience of listening to hot, loud, basement jazz. I got this one sprayed on my right wrist.
After we left, and during the hours that followed, Chelsea Flowers kept smelling good, but less and less, until it was just a faint wisp of scent on my wrist. New Haarlem, on the other hand, just kept belting it out. It stayed obnoxious for a while until it had won all of my respect, and then it softened into a nice, spicy, slightly woodsy caramel scent, and lasted until the following morning. I couldn't have predicted that it would have become my favorite scent of the day, but that's how it turned out.