I present the most popular fragrance of the Bond No. 9 collection, the house that builds a sensory homage to New York City: Chinatown. The fragrance is said by many to evoke images and scents of small, kitschy shops in Chinatown. What Bond No. 9’s website suggests is a contrast/comparison between China and New York. My theory is the fragrance studies contrasts, their tendency to merge and to form a creative, magnificent blend. The nature of contrasting and comparing elements pushes us to find what makes each different and unique and to find what they might have in common. Therefore, Chinatown generously gives us food for thought.
The burst of peach blossom opening Chinatown suggests power, prestige and cachet. According to Chinese Mythology, Taoists revere peach blossom as the elixir of life. This note awakens and arouses the senses powerfully. Not only is peach blossom redolent of New York City and its constant buzzing of activity, but also the power of China in its people, great thinkers and enduring culture. The mid notes include peony, gardenia and tuberose. Upon researching their symbols the contrasts of these flowers become evident. Peony represents love and luxury in Chinese culture, while gardenia symbolizes love, joy and happiness within American culture. Tuberose presents a multi-cultural symbol of sultriness, sexiness and dangerous pleasures. Ooh la-la! The combination forms an intoxicating accord that contrasts sweet with sultry and meets somewhere in the middle.
Continuing the yin yang theme, Chinatown’s base notes include patchouli, cardamom and dark woods. Patchouli adds some sharpness to the floral blend for interest, as cardamom grounds it. Cardamom has been utilized by the Chinese in food and spiritual ceremonies for over 5000 years due to its medicinal properties. The symbolism therefore is obvious. Cardamom provides a terrific contrast to the sweet, sultry floral heart. Finally, the intermingling dark woods (cedarwood and guaiac) recall intricate, artistic Chinese woodwork, specifically inlaid boxes. They also recall the resilience and power of New York City.
The common bond of all these contrasting elements produces a fragrance that is at once sweet, powdery, spicy, powerful and soft. Do you find this difficult to imagine? If you have not yet tried Chinatown, you must. It has become the holy grail scent for countless perfumistas. For my local friends, you will not find many others wearing this scent due to its lack of mass marketing, rendering it über distinct and prestigious, exactly the image projected by New York City itself.
Chinatown is available at www.fragrancesandmore.biz, Saks Fifth Avenue and other select department stores.
50mL retails for $120 and fragrancesandmore offers free shipping on all Bond No. 9 fragrances.
Image source: beautycafe