West Side and Bryant Park are the latest two fragrances from Bond no. 9, the perfume house that is mapping New York City's neighborhoods in scent. Both were created by perfumer Michel Almairac of Robertet, and while neither is a soliflore, both feature prominent rose notes.
West Side launched last year, and was intended as an homage to the musical heritage of the West Side (you can see a picture of the bottle here). In addition to rose, the notes include ylang ylang, peony, sandalwood, amber, musk and vanilla.
Early reports that West Side had some affinity to Lancome Mille et Une Roses were intriguing, but on skin, their differences are perhaps more notable than their similarities. West Side opens rather sweet, and there is some sort of fresh water or fresh air accord, I am not sure which, that gives West Side a decidedly more modern feel than the Lancome. The peony is sheer, and the rose, while prominent, is tempered by the other notes; it does not, like the Lancome, strike me as primarily a rose fragrance.
After an hour, at any rate, the florals are a mere whisper. The dry down is a very soft blend of sandalwood, vanilla and musk, lightly sweet, with a velvety finish and just a touch of ambery warmth. It is a pretty fragrance, and probably more of a crowd-pleaser than Mille et Une Roses, but in the end, I prefer the quiet elegance of the Mille et Une Roses.
Bryant Park (bottle shown above*) was inspired by the scene in midtown's Bryant Park, long the home to New York City's twice-yearly Fashion Week. It is due to launch in March, and has notes of rose, patchouli, pink pepper, lily of the valley, rhubarb, raspberry and amber.
I did not expect to like Bryant Park — patchouli rarely pleases me, and I am about done with berries in perfume — but in the event, I find I like it more than West Side. The rhubarb adds a nice tartness to the top notes, and while the patchouli is not heavy (this is not L'Artisan's Voleur de Roses), it adds an earthy buzz that along with the pink pepper, counteracts the sweetness of the raspberry and florals. As Marina put it in Perfume Smellin' Things, it keeps things from "going all girly-swirly, cutesy and Barbie-esque". As with West Side, in character it is not quite a rose fragrance; you will notice the rose, but it isn't the center of attention.
The ambery musky base is similar to that of West Side, but where West Side's sandalwood and vanilla lend an almost comfort-scent vibe to the dry down, Bryant Park retains a more vibrant, energetic edge. Traces of the rhubarb and raspberry last well into the dry down, where (happily) they remain quite dry; you will not, as you will with so many fruity florals, be reminded of lollipops. To my mind, Bond has yet to best 2005's Chinatown, but I am betting that Bryant Park will find lots of fans, and hey, that bottle won't hurt.
For buying information, see the listing for Bond no. 9 under Perfume Houses.
*Update 5/07: the bottle for Bryant Park has been redesigned; you can see the new one on the Bond website.