One Thousand Scents

Friday, January 23, 2009

City Life: Bond No. 9 So New York

I'm going to New York!

Not for a while yet, but in a few months. I've never been, and naturally I have a list of things I have to do and places I have to go: in the fragrance world, I don't see how I can leave the city without having visited Aedes de Venustas, and I suspect I'm also going to want to go to Bond No. 9, which is a remarkably short distance from the hotel we've already booked (it overlooks Central Park!) So it seemed like an appropriate time to try Bond No. 9's So New York, which is described as having notes of "Mirabelle plum, espresso accord, cocoa powder". Sounds like my kind of thing, although I figured it was a good bet that that wasn't all there was to it.

I tried it for the first time about a week ago, applying a generous splash to the backs of my hands, as is my way, and I had two thoughts, one hard on the heels of the other: first, "Oh. Hm. Another fruity gourmand (and it's kind of like Nuits de Noho and Lexington Avenue)", followed quickly by, "What does this have to do with New York?"

A couple of hours later at my job, where I work with my hands and so occasionally send little wafts of scent towards my nose, I said to myself more than once, "Gosh, that smells nice!" (Yes, I say "gosh" sometimes. Also "Golly!", but that's a Futurama reference.)

As it turns out, there's a story to the scent: the espresso is supposed to represent a "whiff of New York’s consuming passion above-all-else for chocolate desserts and frothy lattes." Bond already has a coffee scent, New Haarlem (it was released the same year, actually), but So New York smells more like caffe latte candy than anything else. It's supposed to be espresso, but it's sweet and milky. The notes:

Top: Bergamot, Osmanthus, Mirabelle. Middle: Espresso Accord, Patchouli, Warm Milk Accord, Muguet, Peony. Base: Precious Woods, Tonka Bean, Musk, Cocoa Powder.

The opening is sweet and fruity (with a bit of the apricot overtone that osmanthus has), but it's not identifiably plummy in the way that Van Cleef and Arpels Gem was. At the same time, there's an intimation of the coffee beverage to come, with a chocolate aspect to it, but it's not the cocoa-powder dryness of Cocoon: it's more like a little splash of hot chocolate in your latte. The opening isn't dramatically different from that of a hundred other gourmand scents, which is why I wasn't particularly taken by So New York the first couple of times I wore it.

The middle of the scent, on the other hand, is charming: it's not a straight shot of caffeine the way New Haarlem or A*Men Pure Coffee are, but instead a lovely, complex construction on a scaffolding of milky coffee. The floral notes are the usual placeholders in a modern gourmand: they add body but don't have a big floral presence of their own. (You'd never smell this and think, "Ooh, peonies!") The drydown turns a little sour (on me, anyway), but is otherwise is the cloud of warm wood and vanilla that you expect in a gourmand these days.

A lot of people (Luca Turin, the folks on Makeup Alley) say that SNY is very similar to Angel, or a rip-off of it, with some going so far as to say that it basically is Angel. It isn't; it doesn't even call it to mind. True, it's a gourmand, a category which Angel more or less invented, but it isn't Angel, any more than every oriental out there is Shalimar. Whatever patchouli is in there is subtle and modern, unlike Angel's big, dirty, aggressive patchouli, and that's symbolic of the two scents' very different personalities: Angel is the loud, witty friend who grabs you by the shoulder and monopolizes your attention, while SNY lays a gentle hand on yours and laughs at your jokes.

If So New York is representative of anything, it's of New York on its very best behaviour, smiling and handing you a cup of coffee to welcome you to the big city.



  • New York is fantastic - such a sense of energy! Have a wonderful time, and be sure to tell us all about it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:39 PM  

  • Oh, I will! I may do more fragrance shopping than I have currently planned (it seems sort of likely, actually), and I expect there will be stories to tell about Aedes de Venustas, and other, non-scent-related things, too.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 8:32 PM  

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