Bond No. 9 Central Park West: Is subtlety an art or science?

In Bond No. 9′s 2012 release of Central Park West, attemptihg to capture the essence of a place leads to one question: Is subtlety an art or science

In Bond No. 9's 2012 release of Central Park West, attemptihg to capture the essence of a place leads to one question: Is subtlety an art or science

Bond No. 9 Central Park West: Review

I recently read a comment that Bond No. 9 was” the Octomom of the fragrance world“, having released a staggering 64 different fragrances since 2003, some of which are slightly derivative.  It isn’t surprising to see the house has its fans and detractors alike as a result of such a broad-based range and appeal.

This began with the Andy Warhol collection in 2007, continued last year with the I Love New York range which is due to expand over the next several months, and continues to grow its Classic or Signature line, the bulk of its collection that began in 2003 (a.k.a. the line named for the city’s neighborhoods, beaches, and places of interest).  Central Park West is the latest addition to the Classic line, released in time for spring, and its focus is capturing the essences of a park-like setting in a fragrance.

Bond Central Park West 231x300 Bond No. 9 Central Park West: Is subtlety an art or science?Bond No. 9 Central Park West (2012): Adorned in a hounds tooth checked purple and white atomizer with a green blocking border and pink rose, a subtle nod to its composition in all but one respect. Top notes begin with Ylang-ylang, Narcissus and pepper, complemented by Iris, Jasmine, Lime blossom and Gardenia as the heart of the scent, and finished in the base by oakmoss, musk, oak and Vetiver.

The subtle nod added the rose adornment to the bottle, absent in the fragrance itself. The key player in this composition is the Gardenia. Stop reading if Gardenia scents aren’t your style or preference. In fact, you might stop reading even if you like Gardenia since it becomes so dominant and overwhelming from its first spray straight through to dry-down and evaporation.

So the subtle nod I mentioned above isn’t quite that subtle. This is unapologetically Gardenia, a ”Ladies who Lunch” Gardenia at that. It sucks the air from a room, replacing it with a suffocating component. Simply calling it ‘heavy’ is a summary but not the entire story. That element would be best tempered, which it is not in this fragrance, nor in the concentration, and it works to the detriment of the entire piece. I would hope to pick-up on the whispers of Iris, Pepper and Narcissus which are drowned out in the noise. Even Jasmine and Lime Blossom — two worthy elements, or perhaps overused in the case of Jasmine — cannot hold a candle to the Gardenia for fear its oxygen might be extinguished.

Sillage and Longevity are astounding! That can be both a good and bad thing, obviously, so your views on an already dominant note becoming even more the mark of a fragrance will best determine your own views. I’ll simply note that this is not a fragrance for the faint of heart and could easily be overdone despite a sparse application. In many ways, it is a perfume reminiscent of the heady scents of the 70′s and 80′s when powerful combinations were more in vogue. Perhaps this would be relevant in that context, though it seems terribly quaint and dated now.

So all that is left in this opera is for the fat lady to sing, and that she does with extreme ease.

Rating: 2/5. Rather than giving a recommendation level for this, Central Park West is definitely a polarizing scent and something one must try before purchase. In our view, it’s much too suffocating a scent and the Gardenia only acts as the dominatrix in its leading role. And for a house that already has many park-themed fragrances in the line-up — Madison Square Park and Central Park being just two highlights, High Line a third and excellent green/floral — Central Park West is now just a neighborhood I’d rather not experience.

There is a difference between subtlety and screaming. With Central Park West, even the Ladies Who Lunch would probably suggest some decorum and to lower its voice in polite company.

Pictures courtesy Bond No. 9 and Creative Commons License.

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About Andrew Buck

Andrew Buck is the editor-in-chief of, and a lifelong appreciator and aficionado of fragrance. He's also the author "(Not) PMO-in-a-Can", a practitioner's perspective on project management, in addition to several articles on the topic. When not writing or discovering new scents, he is a technology manager in New York's Wall Street financial sector. You can read more about him on the "About" page, or say hi to him on Twitter @scentrist.