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I recently reviewed Bond No.9’s Manhattan, the latest jewel in the Bond family and a tribute to the city’s most sought after borough. Conceptually it worked for me, seductive and impersonal as it was. It was glamorous too, but not quite home.
Interestingly, French fragrance designers Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel of Atelier Cologne, have created something that brings me closer to my New York City.
Their scent, Rose Anonyme was recently released in conjunction with Vetiver Fatal. The fragrances were inspired by a fictional tale of a diamond thief who leaves a single rose in her wake and the globetrotting detective who delights in the pursuit.
While I loved the story of a jewel heisting heroine and her exotic travels, the fragrance took me right back to my corner of Brooklyn.
The oud comes through delicately and has a warm wet quality. Barely perceptible, yet present, as if a woman wearing oud oil had moments ago just left the room. It reminds me of browsing Atlantic Avenue where stores sell incense and scented oils along with hemp oil and natural black seed oil soap. Women in headscarves rush past and there is always a hint of oud in the air, though you’re never quite sure where it’s coming from. African men crowd the counter, their beards scented with something sweet and musky. I found the same scent in incense sticks and burn them incessantly in my bedroom. Some people smell baking spices. I smell warm skin.
Rose Anonyme doesn’t end there. Chinese ginger intrigues. It’s a different take on spice, something raw yet fresh and connected to the earth. Walk west on Atlantic Avenue and you’ll find Sahadi’s market, a paradise of dried fruit and spice aromas, and if you’re lucky, the warm damp scent of bread baking at Bien Cuit, a local patisserie. The scent of wet earth, grass and sea water wafts through Brooklyn Heights, and if you cross the East River into Chinatown, the olfactory mélange intensifies with the scent of dried mushrooms of a million varieties, potpourri, and over-ripe litchi fruit, mounded onto street carts and swelling at its spiky little seams.
Rose Anonyme encapsulates this exotic journey to me. An hour and half on a warm Saturday morning right here in what is my new hometown. Mysterious and twisting yet somehow still familiar.