Friday, October 21, 2011

Fragrance Friday: Bond No. 9 West Side Review and Pictures

After trying Bond No. 9's Andy Warhol Lexington Ave. thanks to a friend, I was hooked.  Yes, the perfumes are obscenely expensive, and the scent-associated-with-a-New-York-neighborhood/landmark theme is a little kitschy, but after discovering that there are 0.057 oz vials of perfume on eBay for ~$6, I can discount the first issue (and I personally like the themed perfumes!).  After many hours of research and reading too many reviews (there may have been a spreadsheet or two, no judging), I decided to order West Side.
Image from Bond No. 9
Bond's description of West Side is full of fluff and sparse on content: "a melodious full-bodied coloratura perfume, with dark-light, high-low, sweet-sharp floral and woody notes".  That's great, guys, thanks for nothing.  They list the notes, though, which is more helpful; rose, ylang ylang, peony, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, and musk are all in the perfume, which I thought sounded nice for colder weather.  Users on Fragrantica and Basenotes classify it is a (floral) oriental, and give overwhelmingly positive reviews, which is another reason I chose to try this one first.  Herewith, my thoughts (and some rambling other information):

The Bond sample vials come wrapped like candy, which would seem to be why they're called "bon bons" on the Bond website.  You can choose a selection of 6 samples with any order from Bond for an additional $15; unfortunately, the cheapest thing they have is an $80 t-shirt (speechless), which is why I turned to eBay.  Anyways, the packaging is very cute, and you feel like you're unwrapping a present!
The vial itself is slim, glass, and filled almost to the top, where it's stoppered (no spray mechanism).

Sorry for the blurriness, my camera decided it would rather focus on the grain of the wood, but see how full it is?

I find I have to be careful about removing the stopper, because I'm paranoid that I'll pull it out too quickly and accidentally dump the perfume everywhere, but so far I've had no issues.  The nice thing about having a non-spray vial is that it goes a lot further, as no product is being wasted in the air or getting stuck at the bottom, out of reach of the straw.  I find a little bit is plenty, and after using it probably 12 or 15 times, I've still got more than 3/4 left.  The scent has good projection (this is a word I learned from reading perfume reviews, which are almost as much fun as wine reviews), and I don't feel like I really have to work to smell it, but it's not too strong or overpowering, and it lasts all day, though it is faded somewhat by the end.

Okay, so the actual scent (as in, the only thing you probably care about, whoops): expensive cocktail.  It smells very boozey, though sweetly so, like a sweet Riesling (or, as Francop on Basenotes said, "rosé wine and Italian vanilla ice cream in a sweet French gelaterie") with a hefty dose of vanilla to warm it up.  I don't really get that much rose, honestly; the floral top notes all blend together to give a flowery overlay to the whole thing.  It's quite nice, and I would be fully on board with it if not for the dirty notes I sometimes get when I wear it.  I'm not sure which part of the scent pyramid is the source of said schmutzig, but I'm thinking it's either the amber or the musk, but sometimes, instead of anchoring the scent and giving it depth, they clash––and not in a good way.  I think I would compare it to rotting rose petals in a musky distillery attached to a bakery.  It just smells like something's gone bad, and gives me that visceral "ew, what is that?" reaction.  The weird thing is it doesn't smell like that all the time, though I've yet to figure out a pattern to it (I thought perhaps it went off when I got hot and perspired, but then I wore it on a cold day and still got whiffs of the dirtiness, so I'm quite at a loss).  When it's good, I do really like it, but it's bad too often for me to be able to say I love it, and the unreliability of it means I tend to reach for other perfumes because I don't want to risk smelling off all day.

Bottom line: I like it, I don't love it, and I wouldn't buy again.  Also, it's supposedly unisex, but it's so sweet that I have trouble believing a dude would want to wear it.  Maybe I should make my brother try it and see what he thinks...

$5.99 for 0.057 oz on eBay, $160 for 1.7 oz, $220 for 3.4 oz, available from Bond No. 9 and Saks Fifth Ave

Have you tried any Bond perfumes, or West Side in particular?  What's been your impression of the scents?  Do you think they're worth the high price?  And which ones should I order next??  (I've got a vial of Lexington Ave. now, which I'll be reviewing next week, but my obsession has not abated, so I welcome any suggestions you have!)
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