Perfumer Laurent le Guernec
I’ve sampled a couple dozen of the Bond no 9 perfumes. There is a sameness to their mixed floral perfumes. They smell the same, yes. That’s the subjective part. But I recognize that I dislike their sweetened-floral fragrances in general, and I must question how this colors my judgement. Dislike aside, to look at a prolific perfume line, patterns develop, and while Bond do make some traditional, innocuous mixed florals of no particular note (Chelsea Flowers, Park Avenue, Madison Soirée) they also have a stock style that they are apparently under a spell to release every third perfume or so. This style is the hazy, musky, boozy, lingering-sweet floral. Examples included Fire Island, NY Musk, Bleecker St, Nuit de Noho, Andy Warhol Lexington Ave, NY Amber.
Some of these perfumes are less ‘floral’ than others, but the floral screech is the seasoning that allows the corn-starch-pancake-syrupness to shine. These perfumes ride on an overwrought, thick, lingering sweetness that requires any other note to shriek at top-volume to be heard. Which brings us to the peony in Sad Harbor. The peony note in perfumery is famously uncouth and abrasive. When paired with a base that requires a shouting match in the first place, peony note is actively unpleasantly.
The name works, though. Sad Harbor evokes the collapsed end of a Hamptoms-climber drinks party. Flotsam and wounded vanity strewn around cocktail tables scented with abandoned, spilt fruity cocktails. Hints of salt air and sick.
I take back everything I’ve said about perfume being a weak tool to evoke a complex narrative.