Bond No 9 Wall Street

Those of you who have been with us from the beginning know that this blog was originally called “Get It Together, Serena”. The Serena in question is Serena van der Woodsen, the main character of the rapidly declining show Gossip Girl. Serena began life as a subtle, complex character, a sort of modern-day Daisy Buchanan. By the time I got around to naming the blog, however, Serena was running around stealing horses from polo matches and canoodling with married congressmen and dooming a man to a lifetime of working the oil rigs after losing a high-stakes game of poker with several Texan politicians and just generally needing to get it together. Well, the new season of Gossip Girl has recently started, and YOU GUYS IT IS EVEN WORSE. What’s wrong with the following outfit, you might ask? Oh, nothing really, except that she wears it TO A MORGUE.

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TAKE THIS SCENE SERIOUSLY???

Because you couldn’t really see the full extent of the crazy in the first picture. Why yes, those ARE bright blue harem pants.

At this point, I continue to watch Gossip Girl for one reason and one reason only: the delightfully devious Chuck Bass. As untrustworthy as he is irresistible, the billionaire Bass epitomizes what I suspect is Bond No 9’s target customer for Wall Street. We’re talking New York new money, the type that would find the Wall Street bottle to be elegant instead of hopelessly tacky.

There’s just one little problem: Chuck Bass would never wear this aquatic dreck. Bond lists “sea kale” as the first note, and that’s just what Wall Street smells like. Wall Street is terrifyingly strong and utterly lacking in charm and appeal. Not recommended for career advancement. Knowing that some aspiring investment banker is probably spritzing this on as we speak makes me very depressed. I do believe that a little Chuck Bass is in order to cheer me up.

Ahhh, much better.

CB I Hate Perfume At The Beach 1966

When I first encountered CBIHP ATB 1966 (which will henceforth be referred to as “1966”), I concluded that it was a fairly blatant knockoff of Bond No 9 Fire Island. However, Basenotes informs me that Fire Island was actually released a year after 1966, making Fire Island the copycat. The two scents are not identical, of course, but both are based on the cheap-and-cheerful smell of sunscreen. Fire Island was famously modeled on the French sunscreen Ambre Solaire, while the sunscreen note in 1966 smells a bit more down market, probably Coppertone or Banana Boat.

Is anyone else super confused by this ad? I mean, are they not essentially admitting that their product is defective?

1966 takes its beachy notes to their logical conclusion, adding aquatic notes to evoke the ocean. In my opinion, this is where 1966 stumbles. The ozone muddles what was otherwise a great-smelling scent.

The key difference between 1966 and Fire Island lies in the general feel of the two scents. To me, 1966 seems too literal-minded, more of a good smell than a perfume. Fire Island takes a more abstract approach to the “beach in a bottle” concept, and as a result it comes closer to fine fragrance than 1966 does. 1966 may be a more authentic representation of the beach than Fire Island, but I find Fire Island’s gardenia note to be frankly more pleasant than 1966’s marine effect. Full credit goes to CBIHP for originality, but as far as I’m concerned, Fire Island constitutes an improvement on its predecessor.

Sonia Rykiel Belle en Rykiel

I have a long-held, no-longer-very-secret desire to be the kind of whimsical gamine who could pull off the Sonia Rykiel look. You know the type: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Audrey Tatou, Michelle Williams. Alas, I have what the Monty Python boys termed “huge tracts of land”, so I rarely fare well with such gamine fare. I imagine that this is what the poor 1920’s gals who had to bind their chests to achieve the flapper look felt like.

The official notes for Belle en Rykiel, according to Fragantica, are: lavender, mandarin orange, red currant, coffee, incense, heliotrope, amber, patchouli, vanilla and mahogany. At first sniff, I was ready to write BeR off as a Lolita Lempicka clone. However, BeR has a delightful trick up its sleeve. The coffee note is quite prominent, and mingles beautifully with the lavender and patchouli. I would describe BeR as the missing link between Lolita Lempicka and Bond No 9 New Haarlem.

BeR is far more robust than I would have expected from a fashion house that I mainly associate with glamorous French waifs. While I will likely never achieve the look of the Sonia Rykiel ingenue, her fragrance suits me just fine. It’s also ridiculously cheap, $31 for 3.4 ounces on fragrancenet.

Bond No 9 West Side

Bond No 9 West Side is a strange little creature. I’ve never encountered anything quite like it. The official notes, from the Bond website, are: rose, ylang-ylang, peony, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, and musk. Rose and vanilla are the most prominent notes, but there’s also a curious “boozy” vibe, as if you were still wearing the clothes from last night’s party. This rose knows how to have a good time.

If Stella McCartney Stella is a prim, stuffy rose, West Side is the roommate who stumbles in at 3 in the morning and promptly throws up on the cat. However, West Side is more than just a party girl. All that vanilla makes this an excellent comfort scent as well. The bottle is… exuberant, if a bit cheesy. West Side, released in 2006, is a good example of Bond’s earlier, more innovative work. I’ll be reviewing one of their more recent rose scents, Bryant Park, later in the week.

Disclaimer: I asked for a sample of West Side at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Chocolate Perfumes

I was watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory the other day (the original, not the new one- although the new one is not without merits, I haven’t been able to watch it since MJ died *sniffle*) and it got me to thinking about perfumes with chocolate notes. So today, we’re gonna have ourselves a perfume contest the likes of which have not been seen since the Spears-Timberlake dance-off of ’02. I currently have, on various parts of my body, three different chocolatey perfumes: Vera Wang Princess, Bond No 9 So New York, and (god help me) Thierry Mugler Angel. I do it for you, dear readers. I do it for you.

Princess: Vera Wang claims that Princess contains a “dark chocolate” note. I hate to be contrary, but this is more like the Eminem of chocolate notes. The chocolate in Princess is white, and extremely sugary.

So New York: The chocolate in SNY is supposedly a “cocoa powder” accord. It comes across as high-quality milk chocolate, accompanied by a tart plum note.

Angel: HULK SMASH.

Ten minutes later…

Princess: Eminem has exited the building. There is no longer any chocolate in this scent whatsoever. All that remains is a very thin, very sweet lily-ish floral.

So New York: The chocolate’s still here, but it’s moved to the background. A more generic, albeit pleasant, fruity melange takes center stage at this point.

Angel: There’s definitely chocolate in here, but it’s hard to detect beneath A BUTTLOAD of patchouli. Oh my God please get it off my skin.

One hour later…

Princess: This is the most synthetic lily I’ve ever smelled. It’s barely identifiable. Needless to say, the chocolate is long gone.

So New York: Not much chocolate left here, either. Just that enjoyably tart plum note.

Angel: *Whimper*

Of the three, So New York is the clear winner for me- it is both the most pleasant and most chocolatey. What are your favorite perfumes with chocolate notes, dear readers?