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Bond No 9 West Side: Does it tell the story you expect?

As with most of its neighborhood scents, Bond No 9 West Side tells a much different ‘West Side Story’, but is it the one we associate with reality?

As with most of its neighborhood scents, Bond No 9 West Side tells a much different 'West Side Story', but is it the one we associate with reality?
 

Bond No 9 West Side: Does it tell the story you expect?

In 2006, Bond No 9 commissioned perfumer Michel Almairac — the nose behind such iconic scents as Gucci Pour Homme, Joop! Homme, Dunhill for Men and a host of other fragrances for Bond No 9′s collection — to create a fragrance capturing the essence of Manhattan’s West Side. Give this a moment’s thought with word association, and pick the first thing that comes to your mind.

west side photo large Bond No 9 West Side: Does it tell the story you expect?

West Side Story. Carnegie Hall. Lincoln Center. Music seems to be the central note (pardon the pun) tying all of those together, so apart from the scent, the artistic rendition of the bottle is a decoration of musical notes (see picture inset). All of that seems logical, but as with many of Bond No 9′s creations, the question arises of whether you can distill a diverse New York neighborhood into a single theme and present it as a fragrance. Bond No 9 West Side is no different in that quandary, though the results can always be argued.

Fragrance Name: Bond No 9 West Side

  • Release Date: 2006
  • PerfumerMichel Almairac for Bond No 9
  • ConcentrationEau de Parfum
  • NotesPeony, Ylang-ylang, rose, musk, amber, vanilla, sandalwood
  • Availability: Bond No 9 Boutiques, Saks Fifth Avenue

From the outset, this is purely a floral affair. This is peony and yang-ylang, rose more in the background throughout. Everything else is a perfumer’s base line-up of accoutrements to round out the scent from gravitating too far from that central theme. The amber and musk become the dry-down, and the combination of vanilla and sandalwood at the heart simply help to maintain the stability and continuity of the piece. The result is, by-and-large, well executed as a nice, soft, floral scent with highlights on the proper accents. Softness is the key theme here, and when compared to much starker recent releases — Central Park West comes immediately to mind — Bond No 9 West Side is a study in subtlety. Soft, refined floral.

And that would be the end of the story were it not for the association chosen to the name. As with many Bond No 9 releases, the name often seems secondary to the product, leaving the wearer with the nagging question of what the composition truly means. What resemblance does this bear to a Broadway musical, a night at the opera or a recital at Carnegie Hall? It’s a difficult association unless you consider the possible target audience.

West Side Story movie poster e1297294326194 Bond No 9 West Side: Does it tell the story you expect?No, this smells nothing like the traffic or taxicab exhaust along Broadway or Columbus Avenue. There is little to suggest the concrete jungle or apartments with exposed brick, or the smell of fresh baked bread wafting from Zabar’s. But I stepped back a moment and let the scent wash across me until it hit me and I realized the linkage: Bond No 9 West Side is really intended for the person who wants a slightly refined floral for a formal occasion. Such as a night at the opera or a musical or recital.

Unisex? While marketed as such, I’d see very few men who would feel comfortable or at ease wearing Bond No 9 West Side.  This is a “ladies who lunch” fragrance, if you will, and unapologetically so. It’s feminine to its core. It’s soft and enticing. It’s not the music of Bernstein or the lyrics of Sondheim, which though a love story at its core is much more gritty and streetwise. It’s the “Maria” enticing “Tony” into his smitten state. But other than that, it’s still ladies who lunch and likely appeals to those seeking more of that vibe. For men seeking a deep, sensual and masculine rose note with the right augmentation…this isn’t it, despite the solid execution as a fragrance.

Rating: 2.75/5. Not recommended as a masculine scent. Those who follow me understand that I don’t often make the distinction between masculine or feminine, and usually rail against those who attempt to market specifically to each gender. This is definitely an exception.

Bottom-line: As with most of its collection, Bond No 9 attempts to entice through an affinity or association with a neighborhood, the scent or story of which is likely more fictional than fact. Bond No 9 West Side tells a much different ‘West Side Story’, not necessarily the one we might associate with reality or accept. While a perfectly good and perhaps great floral fragrance, this would be challenging for any man to wear…though it’s a very enticing gift for the refined lady who wants a great floral.

 

 

 

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About Andrew Buck

Andrew Buck is the editor-in-chief of Scentrist.com, 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.