One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tropicana: Bond No. 9 Nuits de Noho

Yesterday I was writing tangentially about Bond No. 9 Nuits de Noho, not for the first time, and so it's high time I took a look at it.

The top is irrepressibly, irresponsibly cheerful, an amphetamine-fuelled chatterbox blast of citrus notes and pineapple. It's capital-F Fun. The pineapple--not particularly fresh or realistic, but recognizable--carries well down into the middle notes, which are mostly a fat garland of white jasmine sprinkled with sugar candy, leading into a sultry, sweetened vanilla-patchouli base. Nice patchouli, too: not too dirty, not too clean.

I couldn't tell you what any of this has to do with nighttime, or Noho, for that matter. It's more like Midday in Oahu: Hippies on the Beach. Sometimes I get the impression that Bond No. 9 has a list of New York neighbourhoods, and whatever scent the perfumer delivers to them gets the next name on the list, with the copy-writer then having to come up with with a compelling backstory.

But that is a minor quibble, a nothing. Nuits de Noho is delightful. It's big and a bit loud; it can wear you if you're not careful. But damned if it isn't Fun.

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Some of you will no doubt be wondering just how off my old sample of Nuits de Noho had gone, and the answer is: pretty far off. The top is acidic, almost vinegary, and this acidulousness extends down in to the middle of the scent, contaminating it and warping it almost beyond recognition, with the patchouli taking on a muddy, garbagey tone. It's not pretty. Into the trash it goes.

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Yesterday, reader Aparatchik had the following question:

I'm in the "use it now" camp. Seriously, what are we waiting for?

I don't know, either, but such people exist, for all kinds of things, not just fragrance, and one of them is my mom. Maybe ten years ago she showed me in a catalogue a fairly expensive set of china that she had ordered, Royal Doulton or the like, probably something like this

which is very pretty and which seems like the kind of thing she'd like. I noted that she already had a hutch filled with beautiful china which probably didn't get a whole lot of wear, and she said, "I'm not going to use it!" She couldn't make me understand that there was some sort of point to owning expensive dinnerware just to put it on display, and I couldn't make her understand that it was sort of crazy to spend a couple of thousand dollars for something that you were going to stick in a piece of furniture--and not even something that was meant for display, like a painting or a sculpture, but something that was designed to be used.

It's not just women. I'm not picking on my mom. Men do the same sort of thing with vehicles: buy an older car, spend enormous amounts of money and time fixing it up and perfecting it, and then never taking it out on the road. I don't get that, either.

I'm with Aparatchik. You're not going to live forever: the supply of sensual pleasures is finite, and you should take them where you can find them. If you have something and you love it, then enjoy it. If something happens to it--if you break a plate or get a cigarette burn on the upholstery or if that $300 bottle of perfume goes skunky--then so what? You've had a beautiful thing and you've enjoyed it, not just the pleasure of owning it--which I admit is not inconsequential--but the pleasure of using it and experiencing it in an immediate way, and isn't that better than putting it in a showcase where you can look but never touch?

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