Bond No 9 Manhattan: For the city that’s always changing…

Bond No 9 Manhattan is a transforming experience that encapsulates everything Bond into one summarizing and sophisticated experience.

Bond No 9 Manhattan is a transforming experience that encapsulates everything Bond into one summarizing and sophisticated experience.

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.

background new collections Bond No 9 Manhattan: For the city thats always changing...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.

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  • Harry

    Well-written review, but I was surprised to see you mention Bond’s founder, Laurice Rahme, without mentioning her recent troubles with former employees and accusations of racism. With all the customer service problems I’d had with Bond, it’d been off my radar for some time. In fact, I’d never heard her name until I read it in the story about her alleged racist policies at the flagship store. While I’ve had a few favorites in the collection — Chinatown, New Haarlem — I’m kind of done with Bond. Racism or no, the company seems to have a history of nastiness.

    From what you’re saying, I can get something similar (and more unique, perhaps) but less expensive from a company (Montale) that isn’t so fraught with controversy. Not a hard decision for me.

  • Andrew Buck

    Hi Harry, great to hear from you and thanks for the comment.

    While I will gladly comment on a fragrance, I’ll note the key word in your comment: “alleged”. I’m not familiar enough with the allegations to express any opinions, nor would I do so in this blog. Those, in my view, are disputes to be resolved between the individual parties and there are forums for that, including legal ones.

    The Montale – Black Aoud — is pretty close to the dry-down for Manhattan. My only issue with that is (1) the Montale could clear a room with a single spray, where the Bond is more subtle, and (2) the Montale is only giving you the punch-line rather than the entire story. Get Black Aoud over Manhattan only if you understand everything before the following line:

    “$50, same as in town.”

  • Harry

    I understand, you want to focus on the juice and not get into the controversy. Me, I can’t not address the controversy. That’s why I wrote about this one and Jean-Paul Guerlain’s antics on my blog. I can’t look at the product in a vacuum, detached from its creator/marketer, its packaging and marketing, and its retail context.

    It’s interesting to me that Rahme would release a fragrance celebrating marriage equality, but have such a bad reputation with racial issues. Is she racist? I don’t know. But she’s got a long history of making enemies in the fragrance business. I’ve yet to see her address the mess outside of the Daily News article. For a company with such a well-oiled PR machine, this seems like a missed opportunity to win back some customers. But then it’s precisely this machine that’s gone after smaller fragrance businesses for perceived infractions, like similar perfume names and decanting.

    So when I see her name, I think of all of this. I can’t avoid it.

  • Andrew Buck

    So Harry, have you tossed all of your “pre-Thierry Wasser Guerlain” out in a big bag and set it at the curb then? I’m sure you get the reference, but for those who do not…

    Submitted for discussion: Jean-Paul Guerlain, October, 2010. Was his comment racist? Well, the French public and courts answered a resounding “oui” and fined Mr. Guerlain 6000 Euro as an outcome. Racism? Yes. Does it detract from his talent? That depends. I still consider Heritage, Coriolan and others magnificent works, among the many inspired releases from the house. Would I be dissuaded from replenishing Heritage, or even further, purchasing a new bottle of Spiriteuese Double Vanille, because of one remark? Not really. And that’s a rather clear case where the perfumer stepped over the line.

    But I’m losing the common ground between your contention of racism and the release of a fragrance celebrating marriage equality, Harry. One is a position on marriage rights, now a matter of legality in New York; the other a clear denigration of an entire group of people based on racial or ethnic background. It’s a bit of a stretch for me, though I understand the case to which you’re making reference. While there’s a legal action in progress, I won’t put that in trial in my little blog. :)

    On a different note, you made reference to her “making enemies in the fragrance business” and “perceived infractions”. Give this Friday’s article a read, I think you’ll find the topic interesting.

  • Harry

    Haha, no, I’ve not tossed out my Habit Rouge. Nor will my wife throw out her two or three Bond bottles. Talent isn’t the issue. Degas had great skill as an artist, but he was a lousy human being. The Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun won the Nobel Prize before he sided with the Nazis in WWII. And hey, in the days of Lethal Weapon, I thought Mel Gibson was a great guy! If I’m going to compartmentalize the disappointing person and the beautiful art, I’d rather do it consciously and thoughtfully instead of just ignoring the bad because I’m too enamored with the good to give it up. That’s how I handle this stuff.

    And my comparison between the marriage equality fragrance and her battling allegations of racial discrimination — these are two civil rights issues, at least broadly speaking. I’m saying that it’s sad that she champions one while making the news on the wrong side of the other. I’d think it was ironic if I weren’t so cynical; I figure she thinks she can make money by putting her name on gay rights.

  • Andrew Buck

    Similar sentiments have been levied against Bond on the co-opting of the Marriage Equality Act, but the one I thought had the most merit (and with which I agree) is that sale of the product should benefit some LGBT cause-celebre rather than simply market a product on the back of the act’s passage. I’d venture that donating a small percentage of the sale to something that furthers gender/sexual equality would be a positive step in bridge-and-image-building, and serve to increase sales.

    It’s an altruistic approach that delivers bottom-line benefits. Sad that it was such a missed-opportunity, and I say that as one who liked the fragrance.