Bond Number 9’s Shelter Island (2014)

Bond No. 9 Shelter Island © Victor Wong
Bond No. 9 Shelter Island © Victor Wong

“Diana Was Still Alive Hours Before She Died”
“Statistics Show That Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly After Age 25”
“Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons”
“Bond No. 9 Puts Oud In An Aquatic Fragrance”

I guess no one was surprised? People say that it’s rare to find a niche perfume house that has an aquatic scent because a lot of men’s fragrances, particularly the inexpensive ones are aquatics. Those similar smelling marine notes can sometimes be found in $5 bottle of body wash, so unless you have a really great or creative aquatic scent, people aren’t going to buy your $200 bottle.

Amusingly, the retail price of a 100ml bottle of Shelter Island is $275, but it really is just a nice, quite standard aquatic scent mixed with some oud. Of course, I didn’t pay full price for it; I found it at a discount super store for much less than half its original price, and I regard it as my first “true” aquatic scent in my perfume collection.

Adding oud to an aquatic scent does “spice it up” and bring some novelty to a classic composition, like adding vodka to orange juice and suddenly you have a “screwdriver”. I enjoy wearing Shelter Island, and the lemon+seaweed+pepper opening karate kick combo is fresh and a little bit atypical, and the amber makes Shelter Island sweeter than most aquatic scents I have smelled. And finally the oud, although it is supposed to be a “dirty” scent, it is mixed in with just the right amount, never making the perfume smelling dirty, otherwise a dirty aquatic is really just sewage water.

Lush’s Ladyboy (2011)

Lush Ladyboy, 30ml, EDT
© Victor Wong

Q: Who would wear the perfume “Ladyboy” (2011)?

A. A transvestite
B. A feminine acting young man
C. Women who are curious
D. None of the above
E. It doesn’t matter

Actually, the question should be, why would anyone name a perfume “Ladyboy” when it should be named “Grandpa’s Banana”. “Ladyboy” is the first perfume that I have ever smelled that contains a banana note. I knew about this before smelling it, and I was expecting a gourmandy, sweet, ice-cream float perfume, but I was dead wrong. The perfume is serious, unexpectedly mature, and crazy strange. It has chamomile, oakmoss, labdanum, seaweed, violet leaf – the ingredients of a classic vintage perfume or a niche perfume that sells for $150, but due to the tragic incident of a technician accidentally dropped his banana while looking down the mixing tank, the perfume becomes a totally different concoction. It smells likes giant violet leaves losing their water content, Taiwanese prune tea and finely aged banana essence.

Bond No. 9’s Wall Street (2004)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

I remember reading a website on the topic of Bond No. 9’s perfumes: They think that Bond No. 9 are not really passionate about making perfumes, instead, they do market research on which perfumes are the hottest in the market and try to come up with perfumes that smell similar to those perfumes. Bond No. 9 sales people are given cheat sheets to help them sell; on one of those sheets is a table of perfume “equivalents” – say you tell a Bond No. 9 salesperson that you like Adventus, he can suggest a Bond No. 9 scent that smells similar to Adventus. That website faced some backlash and they eventually made a post trying to clarify that they are not bashing Bond No. 9, and they have given a lot of Bond No. 9 perfumes very favourable review scores as a proof.

Well, I think that Bond No. 9 have made some good and interesting perfumes (they hired Maurice Roucel to designed two), but they simply have introduced too many perfumes in a short period of time and many are really unoriginal and uninspiring. My coworkers think that the bottles of Bond No. 9 are vulgarly cheap-looking. I think those I Love New York perfumes look worse than a Chinatown knockoff of something. I never buy Bond No. 9 perfumes at their suggested retail price ($240, I think?) as I often see discounted ones at Marshalls and Winners stores. Every time I see a Bond No. 9 at Marshalls, I reach out my phone and go to Fragrantica to check the reviews and notes breakdown. If it is generally “favourable”, I will get it. If the perfume turns out horrible, I will return it (they allow perfume returns) and a few weeks later if they discount it even more and I will be that sucker and buy that perfume I just returned again because it’s $40. Because of this, it has created an association of “Bond No. 9 is very over-priced” in my head.

Wall Street (2004) is one of their earlier perfumes which I quite like. I visit Fragrantica again as I am writing this and some guy writes that it smells like Creed’s Millesime Imperial. Really? Millesime Imperial is chloroform to me. But Wall Street smells like money, literally. Newly minted, shiny pennies that smell so uniquely brassy metallic with a hint of sweetness. Imagine a Lehman Brothers banker who has been drifting in the sea for days after his billion dollar yacht capsized, got rescued, and given a bar of cucumber and lavender soap to clean up. After a long hot shower, he smells nice again but people can still smell seaweed and metallic notes on his body because of the prolonged marination. Wall Street is an appropriate name for this perfume and I will wear it whenever I wear a suit. (Which is very rare.)