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Good packaging always gets me weak in the knees.
Add a killer concept and a product that lives up to the hype and I’ll likely sign over my heart, soul, and credit card number.
Bond No. 9 was the great seducer. It glimmered just out of reach, aspiration in a bottle.
I discovered it in the quiet safety of a friend’s Brooklyn apartment during a visit. The bottle sparkled in her hands and the fragrance, Silver Factory – and ode to Andy Warhol and smoldering with frankincense—leapt off of her skin with the nervous effervescence of seltzer when it first hits the glass.
The effect was mesmerizing. Intoxicating. I didn’t know if it was right for me, but I knew I had to have it, or at the very least, my own version of it.
A few months later I moved into my own New York City apartment. I stepped into the whirl of terror and possibility that draws millions every year, all of us with the same goal—to create something new among the masses, and in so doing carve out a miniscule corner of the city for ourselves.
Bond no. 9 encapsulates this sensation. To enter the shop on Bond Street is to be overwhelmed by color, energy and aroma. You could lose yourself in there. I left with two samples in my pocket and never felt richer.
I aspired first to a candle (which I purchased a year later), but the fragrance had to be earned. It had to be mine completely.
When the generous sample of Manhattan 2012 arrived in the mail, I wondered if this might be it. I had lived here for three years. I knew my way around and I had my own secret places. I even enjoyed some degree of small fame within my industry. I could comfortably call the city home.
I sprayed it on the tops of my hands every morning for a week and sat by an open window to let it work far from the olfactory distractions of Manhattan itself, stovetop espresso and fresh air its only competition. Manhattan was advertised as having a mélange of top notes: mouthwatering nutmeg … worldly saffron, evoking dried flowers … delicate coriander seeds—softened with the addition of luscious, mouthwatering peach.
I smelled a combination of just-dampened dry spices, cucumber and honeydew rind—an effect not unlike the aroma hovering over a steaming plate of curried rice, with its ornamental ovals of cucumber and carrots carved into roses. It was also Manhattan in the morning-hosed down sidewalks and the first stirs of cooking smells wafting from the street vendors that dot the street city hawking halal kebabs and plates heaped in meat. Allure and trepidation on every corner.
A rich and slightly dirty jasmine definitely comes through at the heart. It’s not so much opulent and blooming as it is striking. An impeccably dressed lady who brushes past you on Madison Avenue and leaves her scent hanging in the air for blocks.
The scent evaporates leaving behind a sweet and salty sandalwood and an ashy incense dry-down that lasts forever. I knew there was more to it, but the olfactory possibilities where overwhelming. I grasped for something familiar and tried my best to hold on to it and I’m not giving up anytime soon.
Ultimately, Manhattan doesn’t penetrate. It buzzes, like so many other Bond No. 9 fragrances. It overwhelms and intrigues, but refuses to settle, which is, quintessentially New York City. A successfully crafted scent? Yes. My New York? Not yet.