Bond no 9 Manhattan, 2012

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(image Rich Kids of Instagram)

Perfumer Claude Dir

Bond no 9 have set of ‘bad penny’ notes. They are identifiers and if they were pleasant, they’d be considered signature notes, like Guerlinade. They seem to fall within a gourmand, oriental, woody ambery range. They have an unsettling quality of hitting  a point in your head, toward the back of your sinuses, that feels like a crossroads of the central nervous system. This tone, this confluence of notes manages to assault your physical senses, your mind and your soul simultaneously. To borrow very loosely from ayurveda, it’s an affront aimed at your higher chakras.

I won’t entirely rule out preference in this case. I do dislike this particular range of neo-gourmandery, but the problem runs deeper. Reliance on the same set of aromachemicals that have a broad common denominator of volume, pervasiveness, legibility/recognition, and force starts to look lazy. As if someone stumbled on a quick fix and is now using it in every situation possible for maximum profit. This tone is less a signature or an olfactory emblem and more of a tendency run amuck, a habit that’s both unrecognized and unbroken. Bond may just have run into a problem that I imagine afflicts many of the affluent customers they court:  they haven’t ever heard the criticism they need. Nobody ever tells them no.

OK. I’ve read Bond and their customers. Easy shot, easy target. Ridiculously so, actually. Makes picking on Creed seem the work of a trained assassin.

But the perfume, Manhattan, and the others that fall into this range (Coney IslandNew York MuskSag Harbor, Nuits de Noho) are flawed. Reliance on this tone and range of notes, let’s call it Bond-ade, has lead to a line of perfumes that all smell the same in the way that all muzak sounds the same. Manhattan has the impenetrable sweetness of a combined musk/fruit/amber/oiliness that, when combined with “spicy notes” (ie. a chemo tuning fork held to your head) drive the chakra-spear home.

The dull, lingering sweetness of the drydown comes as a reprieve after the direct attack of the topnotes.

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