Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

I´m staying true to my promise of introspection (and also filling in for Patty whilst she suns herself in warmer climes) by writing about one of my favourite Bond No. 9 concoctions, Andy Warhol Silver Factory.

I am not what you would call an art aficionado by any stretch; I consider my greatest piece of framed art (besides my diplomas) to be the poster of Elton John´s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album. I´ve carried that LP with me everywhere since I moved out of my parents house, and finally took the plunge and had the poster framed last year during my short stay in the DC area. It’s not quite a Warhol or a Picasso, but it is the original poster from the record album I bought when I was all of 8 years old. Yes, I´ve been an Elton John fan since the tender age of 5, when my brother used to make me sing “Crocodile Rock” into his tape recorder.

I do love to wind my way through museums, gazing at paintings of just about anything, and checking out knick-knacks and treasures from centuries past. My biggest artistic epiphany came in the Sistine Chapel, risking permanent nerve damage to my neck from staring up at Michelangelo´s breathtaking ceiling.  I still want to kick myself for the utter cluelessness that doomed my trip to Paris from London on a Tuesday, sans the pertinent factoid that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.  That was over 5 years ago and I still cringe when I think about it. I will get back there one day even if I have to fly naked and handcuffed in order to satisfy whatever security regulations will be in place when I finally get around to boarding an airplane again.

I´ve never been very knowledgeable about Andy Warhol save for looking at pictures of him, Halston and Bianca Jagger  on Page 6 of the New York Post, as they sailed past the fabled velvet rope into Studio 54. I didn´t understand why he always had such a vacant expression, and his shock of white hair was startling to my 11 year-old eyes. I had no idea that he painted pictures of soup cans and flowers in a studio called The Factory. The name Edie Sedgwick meant nothing to me, and the only time I ever picked up a paint brush was every other week in grade school, usually to paint something that I thought resembled the shade of the Tiffany lamp that resided in my parents´ living room. I was not a prodigy by any means.

Years later, I watched the film Factory Girl in rapt fascination. If the depictions of Warhol and Sedgwick, his poor-little-rich-girl muse played by Sienna Miller, were anything close to reality, then Mr. Warhol belied his vacant facial expression with the narcissism and vapidity of the quintessentially tortured artist. Again, I´m no art critic, and I think I´m experiencing a bit of adult-onset rebelliousness, so please pardon my judgement.  Maybe one day I´ll have a different take on the soup cans, the flowers, and the psychedelic portraiture, but right now I´ve got nothing.  I even pored over the Andy Warhol Foundation website, and the site for his museum in Pittsburgh, and I´m still a bit, shall we say, unimpressed. I´m guessing that anyone from the art world who might read this won´t be flooding my e-mail with job offers.

As for Silver Factory the fragrance, I´ve got lots to say. First of all, it is one of the best scents Bond has ever done; it cemented my love of incense and woods, and even gave me a newfound appreciation for the austere beauty of iris and violet. Silver Factory was an artistic revelation of a different sort for me, even if the actual scent has little to do with its namesake other than its moniker. It has been written that Andy Warhol was buried with a bottle of Estee Lauder Beautiful, so he was obviously a fan of feminine floral scents.  Silver Factory is not especially feminine, and the iris and violet woven through the composition give the scent a metallic quality; though not in a cold way. The incense and woods are tempered with a slight sweetness, but not so much that it overwhelms the rest of the notes.  It is haunting and beautiful, the way the most beautiful incense scents are, but I also like to think of it as interesting. It doesn´t smell like anything you would find in a department store, even though Bond is sold in some high-end department stores.  Silver Factory is a scent that needs to be in the collection of every fragrance lover who counts incense among his or her favourite notes.

I feel as if I´ve stumbled inarticulately through this essay, because when you talk about an artist and something that was inspired by his life and work, the opinions about the artist and the object in question become even more subjective. What would Andy Warhol have thought about this scent? What was it about Warhol and/or his work that the perfumer used as inspiration? How would Warhol feel about the critiquing of a fragrance just as one would critique the kind of art he created?

I´ve reached for Silver Factory so many times over the course of the past couple of years to try and write something about it, but I could never get it quite right. I still don´t think I´ve done it justice, but having made the attempt, I appreciate it even more than I used to. I can now add the following to my list of “what ifs”: What if Andy Warhol was still alive to bear witness to the current trends in art, fashion and fragrance? What would he think of all the celebrity scents that are being churned out in such copious numbers?  Finally, what would he think of Bond No. 9´s interpretations of what he is best known for: his flowers, shoes, soup cans and workspaces have all been used as inspirations for fragrances. I used to think that “Success is a job in New York”; I never knew Andy Warhol was the man behind those words.

43 Comments
chloefpuff January 17, 2010

Wow, so many great comments. Isn't fab that a perfume can inspire such a spirited discussion on the arts, creativity, capitalism? My take on it all is that Warhol would have LOVED the Bond line because he loved capitalism, and he loved making money. He did ads for Japanese products and walked the catwalk. He worshipped popular culture and its celebrities so he would have loved today's "reality tv" age and it's faux stars. He was a star fucker, for sure. Remember, this is the guy who said that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes!

Kate January 13, 2010

Hi Nava, Thanks for posting about this beloved Bond. I get a gorgeous iris and warm incense from this one, my first incense love. I read a wonderful biography (bought at The Strand during my NY days in the 80's) about Edie Sedgewick and found her more interesting that Warhol. I give Bond credit for nailing it marketing-wise with the Andy Warhol, though. Money-mad &*#$ that they are.

Robin R. January 13, 2010

Nava, I so know what you mean about the austere and metallic beauty of iris and violet, and yet Silver Factory is anything BUT, isn't it? That's one of the fascinating things about it, to me: that contradiction of austerity and richness that really works. It's easily one of my favourite small handful of incense, and one of the most feminine, at least to my nose. I'm not a huge fan of Bond No. 9 by any stretch. There are just so many misses, and so few hits. But the hits are amazing: Andy Warhol Silver Factory, West Side (a fab rose), H.O.T Always (great unisex patchouli, especially for men) and Chinatown (Juicy Fruit gum gone wild). :x

Bev January 13, 2010

This is the only Bond that I really like. Does it stack up in comparison to Andy Tauer's incenses? No, but it's very wearable and non-demanding. I "get" Andy Warhol and think he is one of the 20th century's preeminent artists. Great review Nava. I enjoyed it as always.

Tara C January 12, 2010

I haven't smelled it at the store recently - Laurice Rahme said that Silver Factory and Wall Street were the only two Bond fragrances that had to be reformulated due to the Jan 2010 IFRA regulation changes, so I bought a backup bottle last summer as insurance in case I hated the reformulation. My favorite Bonds are Silver Factory, Success, and Chinatown.

Winifreida January 12, 2010

Yeees Warhol was certainly the full embodiment of American Pop art, but I wonder if he would rather his name on a bottle of Etat Libre d Orange??? The Dada intellectualism happening over there is quite incredible...

DinaC January 12, 2010

Hi Nava! I went over to Saks today at Tysons II and gave myself a squirt of Silver Factory just to check it out. I've been wanting to try it anyway, since I'm a fan of iris scents. I agree with your description of it as austere and metallic. I think it's well named. I'm new to incense scents -- my Baptist church doesn't ever use it! ;)To me, it's very dry woods. Almost like the ashes of a fireplace with a bit of that acrid, bitter tang that settles in the back of your throat. But the drydown is serene and lovely. I agree that it's unisex. Never smelled anything else like it so far. That's fitting for Andy Warhol -- he was a character, too.

Shelley January 12, 2010

Lots of times, with Warhol, I feel like I need to be an arch puzzle inside a wry enigma. I have been surrounded by friends who are fans all my life...lovers of Joe Dalessandro, of Edie, of The Velvet Underground...but I sat through "Sleep," and the thoughts went something like this: "Emperor's New Clothes/wait, am I a fake?/Emperor's new clothes/okay, I get it...but must a human really sit through the whole thing to get it?/zzAH! chest rise/zzzzzzzzzzzz... So, like with perfume, when it comes to Warhol, I'm never quite sure if I'm a pretender or "in." :(|) b-) OMG, Captain Fantastic...stealing time to pore over that album cover...I hid the poster long ago, meaning to preserve it for the ages, and have no idea where it went to. But the mention of it rekindles summers at the pool, listening to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" over and over...later, in high school, arguing with my best friend over the supremacy of Elton vs. Billy. He was in favor of Mr. John, I, Mr. Joel. Do you think any of this dorky reveal will illuminate whether or not I would like Silver Factory???? :">

Musette January 12, 2010

Art really is everywhere! Even in your basement!:) I have never quite cottoned to the Bonds but Silver Factory comes the closest to something I would wear, if I had to choose a Bond. Your review was so much fun to read! I am not that fond of Warhol's art but find the idea of him and what he embodied endlessly fascinating! xoxo >-)

Disteza January 12, 2010

You get iris? Am sooo jealous! :-w I liked this so much initially that I sprung for the big bottle, and somehow it has turned into, of all things, spice gumdrops. Mind you, spice gumdrops with the occasional whiff of incense, but it still reminds me of the crusted bowl of said candies that my grandmother used to leave out for months on end. Silver Factory was supposed to be my peppy clubbing perfume, but there's no way I can wear grandma's candy bowl out to "get ma' drunk on."

ScentRed January 12, 2010

Woods, incense, and iris - oh my. Nava, you've done a great job in bringing this fragrance to life. So much so that now I can't wait to try it.

chayaruchama January 12, 2010

Ain't THAT the truth8-| So far, I'd say that I've seen it in : art, literature [ journalism], perfumery, medicine, research science, business. However- Warhol, in all forms, was /is / continues to fascinate. [Happy New Year, dear Nava ;-)]

Nava January 12, 2010

Art is a world I am woefully unfamiliar with. And it's not just the artists who will arbitrarily toss you to the curb; I know of what I speak, unfortunately.

chayaruchama January 12, 2010

Good or no, I found Factory Girl to be very affecting. I enjoy Warhol's art, without having to approve or disapprove of his personal behavior. Unfortunately, I have personally witnessed many artists turn aside those who helped make them successful. Discarded, as it were. Silver Factory is both visually arresting, and a very delightful fragrance.

Melissa January 12, 2010

Silver Factory remains my favorite Bond, for the scent, the bottle and what I believe to be the (perhaps unintentional) irony of using his name to sell a fragrance. And I completely agree with Olfacta. I believe that he would have approved. Thanks for taking on such an interesting topic.

Monski January 12, 2010

"Factory Girl" is such a terrible film! Warhol's book "From A to B & back again" is wonderful & has one of the best ever passages on perfume. He was a truly passionate & knowledgable perfumista!

Olfacta January 12, 2010

I think he'd love it all. The giant hunk of cheese our culture has become. His inner circle called him "Drella," a combination of "Dracula" and "Cinderella." I also think that, in terms of 20th century art, he was the most important figure since Picasso. He "got" us long before we "got" ourselves. Many people think, though, that he really died when Valarie Solanas shot him in 1968; died as an artist anyway, and that he became a cultural vampire. He was buried with a bottle of EL's "Beautiful," btw. The Andy Warhol Foundation now works to fund alternative arts organizations who have trouble getting corporate or other strings-attached money. They do good work. I though Bond No. 9 was just okay, Not sure that it had anything to do with Warhol other than the use of his name to sell product. My guess is that he would've loved that too.

Silviafunkly January 12, 2010

This is also my fav Bond but somehow I kept purchase at bay, will definitely revisit after your charming review, thanks !

Louise January 12, 2010

Silver Factory is the only Bond I enjoy. Sadly, because the bottles are so much fun. I'll pull out my week bonbon of the Factory today-but it smells far better on my son-who is now galavanting around London, undoubtedly wearing the decant of the Warhol perfume mum sent along with him. Beautiful scent :x

Lee January 12, 2010

I'm not especially a Warhol fan, though 'appreciate' his time his place etc. (I am a Velvet Underground fan...) and I'm not sure I've ever smelled this (it came out about the time I was giving up on new releases and allowing other obsessions to rule the roost for a change), but it's nice to be reminded of something I need to smell...