Bond No 9 Chinatown

When I was in California for Christmas this winter, we saw the new Terry Gilliam movie, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It was strange, and very good, but mostly sad, because as everyone knows it was the last movie in which Heath Ledger appeared. As I watched, I really felt the loss.

British supermodel Lily Cole had a big part in this movie, and I can’t lie: I was pretty skeptical going in. When was the last time you saw a model do so much as a half-decent job as an actress? They gave Giselle all of, what, one line in The Devil Wears Prada? But to her credit, Ms. Cole was just fantastic. And more relevantly to this review, her character, Valentina, looks just like I imagine Bond No 9 Chinatown would if it was a person and not a perfume.

Valentina is a gypsy of a girl- flaming red hair, colorful, patched-up rags for clothes, a face that grabs and holds your attention. In my mind, Chinatown would be far from a conventional beauty (Lily Cole is actually quite weird looking). But like Valentina, some wild and indefinable quality about her compells all of the boys, even Heath Ledger, to promptly fall in love.

Chinatown is a juicy combination of peaches, bergamot, incense and sandalwood. It immediately reminded me of the most delicious plum tea that I once had. Unlike more “difficult” niche perfumes, Chinatown just plain smells good. One word of caution is that this “fruity chypre” is both very sweet and very strong. Although I think that the free spirited Chinatown is fabulous, it is a little too “hippie” for me personally. I fancy myself a little more polished, more of a Marilyn than a Brigitte Bardot. Chinatown would be perfect on some of the “boho” celebrities, like Jade Jagger, Sienna Miller, Erykah Badu.

Chinatown is often called the masterpiece of the Bond No 9 house, a line famous for gorgeous bottles and obscene pricing. It is not my personal favorite (that would be New Haarlem, which is essentially a wearable frappachino), but when I wore it for the first time in a while for this review, I was surprised and delighted by just how good it is.

14 thoughts on “Bond No 9 Chinatown

  1. Great review – I’ve not yet tried any of the Bond No.9 range (mainly due the pricepoint being FAR out of my reach) but I have always been curious about their fragrances.

  2. signature scent- I completely agree with your characterization of Chinatown as sexy and confident. It has an awful lot of character, it is just not exactly the right character for me, lol. Thank you for reading!

    Stefanie- you have got to try the Bonds! There are a lot of duds (there are 38 of them, after all!), but some are truly fabulous. I am a big fan of So New York (chocolate), New Haarlem (coffee), Fire Island (tuberose and sunscreen) and Bryant Park (sophisticated fruity-floral). I apologize, I have smelled very few of their florals, which I think you are a fan of. Is accessibility the issue? I am happy to send you samples!

    1. That’s really sweet of you Ari! I have access to them if I travel into the city, I’m just scared of falling in love with one and not being able to have it 🙂

  3. My 1st sample just arrived, along with your Andy Warhol style greeting card. (I love your handwriting!)
    I’m enjoying Chinatown for the very first time.

    1. What a funny thing to say! A professor actually called me in last year and suggested that I take handwriting classes (IN COLLEGE!!!) because it was so bad! I’m looking forward to hearing more of your impressions about Chinatown!

      1. … It’s pretty HARD to describe this… !!!
        smelled somewhat I already know and somewhat new at once… how to say?
        But finally, I think I got it!
        oh, forget your professor… I love your rounded ‘childish’ handwriting! 😉

    1. Well… here you are:

      Chinatown is the most odd and interesting thing I’ve smelled recently.
      It starts weird, and it turns weirder as it develops… becoming more close to an organic ‘odor’!

      Smells something damp, damp and its musty smell…..
      it smells oil… and it smells VAPOR !!!!
      … and it smells organic odor… like the atmosphere of a hot steamy badroom with living beings inside…

      and those spices… reminds me of a dense, creamy bar soap…. or maybe of a scented lotion applied to a man’s face after shaving…

      do you know when you’re washing your (furry) cats… in the hot steamy bathroom? something like this!

      it’s also like a familiar cooking smell…, the vapors of the kitchen, when you’re cooking vegetable/chicken SOUP ?… and that prominent spice… it’s cardamom-y!

      I can smell everything all at once, and separately. So interesting!

      only another fragrance reminds me of an spicy chicken ‘soup’: that’s Arabie by Serge Lutens

      And ………… now forget all the connotations that would make you think I get an uncertain/negative impression… because the more I smell it, the more I like it…
      I predict it’s truly addictive!
      I’m loving it…


  4. This perfume has a full-length DRAMA act: a FRUITY ‘nausea’ that almost made me feel sick followed by the most unexpected SAUNA spa-like bath effect /and/or the chinese chicken SOUP’s cooking effect / and then… the most ADORABLE of the drydowns, soft warm, spicy, edgy vanilla…!

    my only complaint = I think it is unfortunately short-lived on my skin. After 3 hours I can feel the fragrance has almost faded… maybe I have to spray it more liberally?

    What I like the MOST is precisely the drydown, so it’s a pity that doesn’t last longer…

  5. Last saturday during my regular crazy testings in the large perfume department I sampled Kenzo Jungle (elephant one) and Oh My!!!… that’s Chinatown!! It’s fun when you find a fragrance twin!
    – did you ever notice that?-

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