One Thousand Scents

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time is Money: Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Success is a Job in New York

I am going to finish up the Chanel Exclusifs, but first, something else with a Chanel connection.

The newest Bond No. 9 in the Andy Warhol series has the wordy name Success is a Job in New York, the title of an illustration by Warhol for an article by that name and also a book about him. The bottle, as usual, has a Warhol motif: this time, a big, cheerful dollar sign in shades of blue and orange on a shiny black background.

At its heart it's a dark, rich floral oriental, and it seemed familiar to me, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first. I thought it was similar to the previous Bond Warhol scent, Lexington Avenue, but I wore them side by side and there isn't much similarity at all. After racking my brains, I finally realized that Success is a Job reminded me of Coco, a Chanel scent launched in 1984 and a huge success. (I bought a bottle of it not long after its launch, one of the first women's scents I had ever dared to buy for myself.) I haven't smelled it recently because I know it's been reformulated at least once, and I'm afraid that the new reality of it won't match my memory of it. Some things are best left the way the are. Success is a Job shares with Coco a rich, lush rose-jasmine middle and a dark, ambery base.

The comparison between Success and eighties-era Coco is apt in more ways than one. Coco was a big, impressive floral oriental which showed up as the Western economy was beginning its huge late-century boom, and it smelled like power and confidence and, of course, success.

Success is a Job isn't exactly like old-school Coco. It's also something like Spellbound, another power floral oriental that wasn't nearly as successful as Coco because it was introduced in 1991, when the tide had already begun to turn against massive oriental scents and towards paler, gauzier things. Success is reminiscent of Spellbound because in addition to their floral oriental structure they share notes of coriander and pimento in the top, tuberose in the middle, and of course amber and vanilla in the base. (Spellbound, I'm happy to say, doesn't seem to have been reformulated at all: Estee Lauder is very good about leaving their scents untouched, or, if reduction in the availability of ingredients necessitates it, making the changes subtle and unobtrusive, bless them.)

But Success is a Job in New York isn't just a throwback; it has its own very modern qualities, particularly in the middle, which is streamlined and slightly clean, considerably less heavy than its forebears. It smells very much as if the perfumer, Laurice Rahme, had made serious notes on an armload of eighties power fragrances and then brought the whole thing into the twenty-first century by introducing the newest aromachemicals to a classic scent category. The economy may not be what it used to be, but if you want to smell eighties-wealthy yet still modern, this is the way to do it.

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