April 30 2011
Mark C O’Flaherty
I have a promiscuous relationship with fragrances. Although I’m fairly devoted to Comme des Garçons (Comme des Garçons 3 for summer and Avignon from the Incense range for winter), I’m also partial to Christian Dior Eau Sauvage when the mood takes me, and sometimes Costume National Scent. Then there’s Armani Eau Pour Homme – the original and best Armani fragrance – which I spray on myself whenever I pass through duty free in airports, but don’t own; it’s become a pre-boading ritual. And finally there is Bond No 9’s Chinatown, which is my all-time favourite fragrance, and which I use only when I’m in the very best of moods. I don’t just spray it on my skin, I use it as an extravagant (it’s $220 for 100ml) room fragrance, and I also use it in candle form ($90) when I want it to permeate my space with a slow burn.
Bond No 9 is the celebrated fragrance range based in, and devoted to, New York City – each individual scent is a tribute to a certain area or aspect of the city, with eaux de parfum named after Central Park, the High Line and Warhol’s Factory. When I first visited its flagship New York store about five years ago I tested every fragrance in the range. Many were impressive, but nothing captivated me as much as Chinatown. Curious, given that it’s named after possibly the most olfactorily unappealing quarter of the city, but this is an addictive scent. Soon after smelling it for the first time, I’d bought my first bottle.
Chinatown is billed as a unisex fragrance, but in that respect it’s challenging – it’s sweet and it’s a floral, but I know from friends that it has a strong following among men who were taken with it the way I was. It was created by “nose” Aurélien Guichard, who has previously worked for Nina Ricci, and it’s a complex blend of candy, peach blossom, bergamot, patchouli and vanilla. The smell of it lifts my mood and gives me the same feelgood hit as eating a particularly wonderful dessert.
Chinatown’s bottle is also irresistible – while Bond No 9 claims that the pink and white floral on the bottle is Ming-inspired, it looks more like Japanese cherry blossom to me. Cultural references aside, it’s a beautiful ornament as much as anything, and while I haven’t bought the Swarovski-adorned crystal edition ($410 for 100ml), I do keep my candle on prominent display all the time. It reminds of the fragrance inside, and cheers me on sight.