Bond No 9 Manhattan: For the city that’s always changing…
Manhattan, the September 2012 release from Laurice Rahme’s Bond No. 9 pays homage less to a neighborhood as do many of her other creations, a la Chinatown or Little Italy, than it does to the notion and ambiance of a city that never sleeps in its ability to continually transform itself. Bond No 9 Manhattan is a tribute to New York by night. The release continues Bond’s trend of Oud as an element in the heart or base of recent compositions.
If you’re about to suggest, “Wait a moment, we’ve been here before, right?” Perhaps. Manhattan — the perfume in this context — does lend itself as much to deja vu as it does to a sense of ‘Je ne sais quoi’, although that requires a more detailed exploration.
Bond No 9 Manhattan (2012): Bond No 9 Manhattan is a challenging fragrance to aptly describe given the complexity and diversity of its components. While described as a ‘spicy top-note scent’ based on the nutmeg and coriander elements, peach and bergamot form another part of the equation that is ultimately dominated by the presence of saffron. The transformation into the heart notes is marked by the sweetness of chocolate, gingerbread, honey and plum, augmented with Moroccon jasmine, beeswax and immortelle. As the saffron transforms, the immortelle and jasmine are the more dominant initial notes here with the more gourmand fruit and bakery notes present but less influential as the scent continues transformation.
The base is a melange of woody, musky and gourmand elements combined with Oud and suede. Vanilla, patchouli, Cashmere and Sandalwoods, Labdanum and animalic elements round out the composition, which by now sounds as if it’s far more than the oriental-woody creation described from an academic distance.
Bond No 9 Manhattan is more an experience outlined by exotic florals and soft woods. The elements of this are neither new or uncommon to other Bond scents — each has been done before in other combinations. Seeking something sweet with plum? So New York handles those notes. New York Oud covers many of the others. Cashmere, nutmeg, plum (again) and sandalwood? I Love New York for Marriage Equality. Chocolate? Coney Island. Layering? Your Bond options are nearly unlimited, and Manhattan would seem a composition that removes the need for layering given the sheer range of notes.
Here is where the story changes a bit. Despite the “kitchen-sink” quantity of elements, Bond No 9 Manhattan does not come across as indecisive at all. It isn’t a set of notes seeking a purpose or theme, but a refined and subtle experience. Longevity for a typical Bond EDP was roughly average, sillage was moderate, and the dry-down was a soft yet elegant experience. It’s perfectly unisex, and works very well as both a men’s and women’s scent. My deja vu experience with this? This is a more elegant, more refined, less in-your-face rendition of Montale Aoud Leather in its eventual dry-down, so if you found the Montale too linear and overbearing, Bond No 9 Manhattan is an experience more fitting of Manhattanite sophistication.
Rating: 4/5. Recommended. While Bond No 9 Manhattan is not a genuinely original experience, it’s perhaps the perfect definition of “everything Bond” in that it is a melange of everything Bond has done in one composition, albeit more subtly done. Despite not being unique, original or groundbreaking, it’s a well-executed experience that speaks to the heart of the Bond line using its most key elements. While close to one or two oud Montale fragrances, it’s more accessible than either Black Aoud or Aoud Leather, albeit more expensive as well. Price: 50 ml $190, 100 ml $270.