Bond No 9 Chinatown

I don’t recall why Chinatown popped into my head recently. I don’t own it and my treasured sample is long gone. But it did. So, we’ll go down that rabbit hole today.

Bond No 9 as a perfume house had a very big moment more than a decade ago. I recall it launching a few things and then just exploding … so many perfumes. And the Swarovski crystal thing. Plus, there was a collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts regarding which the licensing agreement ended in 2013.

The house launched in 2003 with 16 “neighborhood” fragrances. The original shop is at number 9 Bond Street in the NoHo area (north of Houston Street) of New York City. Per Wiki, in 2013, Bond had 60 scents. Here, you can get the products at Harrods in London.

Bond is not a house I’m really familiar with or love. Some years ago, I did a sampling trip to Harrods with a friend and we did some Bonds but nothing stuck in my mind.

I don’t remember how I ended up with a sample of Chinatown – maybe from a fellow perfumista during the height of swapping on the Makeup Alley fragrance board. In any case I did.

I adore Chinatown and totally agree with Turin and Sanchez in Perfumes: The Guide that it is a masterpiece. I guess it’s nice for a perfume house when they produce at least one thing that is truly brilliant.

Fragrantica calls Chinatown an Oriental Floral. It is just so much more than that and is among those fragrances regarding which the notes list is just that, a list, which doesn’t give a real sense of what happens when this hits the skin. (Notes: peach blossom, bergamot, tuberose, gardenia, peony, orange blossom, cardamon, vanilla, sandalwood, guaiac wood, patchouli and Virginia cedar. Launched in 2005, the nose was Aurelien Guichard.)

There’s a comment that stood out for me on trying this in The Guide from Luca Turin which said something to the effect of it having a weird aspect like the place in a French corner grocery where the floor wax meets the peaches. It was certainly a big, lush, fruity floral on me (among the very best of that genre), but to my joy I got that weird almost medicinal aspect of things. I can imagine getting something like that from the small groceries in NY’s Chinatown – maybe not the exact same thing but certainly fruit and idiosyncratic items wafting together.

I can’t imagine buying a bottle of Chinatown (Bond stuff is just way too expensive and I don’t want a full bottle) but I wish you could find the smaller sized ‘bonbons’ here (maybe you can on eBay, but I haven’t been near eBay in years). I would definitely love to be able to smell this again and wear it every once in a while.

What about you? Is Bond a house you love? Which fragrances are favourites?

  • Melanie says:

    Oh I adore Chinatown. Huge fan of the bottle/design.
    I was lucky enough at first to find a tester bottle that was nicely priced, and then very lucky to find a bottle online here in Oz that was priced incorrectly so I got a bargain with a capital B.
    On me, it’ s a big, musky, sort of floral powdery number that lasts for ages. I also have Washington Sq and Eau de Noho. Happy with these three as nothing else from samples tried have grabbed me as worthy to outlay all that money.

  • rosarita says:

    Bond 9 isn’t a house I love, I quite agree that they are way too expensive and I haven’t liked many that I’ve tried. However, my favorite coffee scent ever is New Haarlem, which of course is discontinued. I have a few drops left in a travel spray. And Silver Factory, the Andy Warhol one, was a wonderful fizzy incense scent, like incense and champagne. My decant is long gone.

  • john says:

    You can purchase scent by .oz in some Saks Fifth avenues. I’ve always loved Hot Always, a dry spice in the same vein as Epices Noir. I hate the bottles from bond, I liked doing some decants from Bn9 shops.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I thought the Chinatown bottle was lovely. I think Hot Always might have been something I tested years ago at Harrods but have absolutely no memory of it.

  • Dina C. says:

    I remember that our local Saks Fifth Avenue relentlessly pushed the Bond No. 9 line to the exclusion of all other scents that you might be interested in. Didn’t like that and it turned me off of them. I liked the Andy Warhol Silver Factory one that had iris and incense, but that’s the only one I can remember. A non-perfumista friend who had drunk their kool-aid loaded me up with sample bon-bons, but I admit I haven’t tested them. Chinatown isn’t among them unfortunately.

  • AnnieA says:

    The Chinatown body cream was less expensive and even slightly nicer than the perfume. Might have a bonbon sample about somewhere.

  • March says:

    Chinatown! Bond was having A Moment when I first got into perfumery. But in a portent of things to come, they overwhelmed us with the sheer number of releases. I thought the bottles were pretty in theory but found them very tippy. I haven’t been into my nearby Saks in ages (they carry them, or carried them) which as far as I know is still open, although during COVID I’ve not been in there. Now I’m feeling a bit weepy, sorry. Trips to Saks during this time of year, just to walk around and bask in the luxury for an hour on a gloomy winter day, was always a pleasure.

    • Musette says:

      that’s what I said (sorta) to Cinnamon below. Apparently it’s grimAF to go into a luxury store right now because the eerie grim aura is in direct contrast to the luxe vibe. It’s not as bad in mid-level beauty such as Ulta because in a lot of ways they feel ‘glam-utilitarian’ (like that made any sense but it’s me on a Monday, sorry)


      • Tara C says:

        I’ve been to Nordstrom’s and Neiman Marcus in the past month, not so bad at Nordies but NM was spooky. The biggest problem is they have instructed the SAs not to spray a customer’s skin, only paper test strips, and they won’t give samples. I argued there was no possible way to transmit Covid through the air by her spraying a tester on me, but she was adamant. WTF.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Well, we can’t really go anywhere currently except food shopping, picking up takeaway food, medical appts (I went to the dentist recently — that was interesting; when my son went over the summer they were all in hazmat suits — now, it’s just aprons and masks with visors over them), and exercise. I’m sorry I made you weepy. I’m actually having a sads day — getting a bit fed up.

  • Musette says:

    My SFA used to carry the Bond line – I loved Chinatown (for the same reason you and Luca/Tania love it). Didn’t get too excited about the rest of them. xoxoxo

    ps. I say ‘used to’ because I haven’t been in Saks for 2 years? Is that possible? Seems like all the days/weeks/months/years are all blurring.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Has Saks now closed (gone into administration) or am I imagining it? I’m looking forward to one day being able to visit fragrance shops to sample again. I miss going on perfume jaunts with fragrance friends. Sigh. When travel is possible again (ie, safe) Paris and the Palais Royale are on the list, though I’m getting thoroughly perplexed by the Lutens lines now. So many things gone.

      • Musette says:

        I don’t think they’re closed – just ‘closed’ to me; it’s a bit of a jaunt to get back to Chicago and by all accounts it’s still pretty eerie and grim. And I’m not willing to leave The Girl for an entire day in Winter (she’s not the kind of dog you can just walk in on, as you might imagine).. certainly not for an ‘eerie/grim’ experience.

        • Cinnamon says:

          If I’m going to be out longer than 4 hours Joe goes to camp. And clearly that isn’t happening right now (45 mins if I’m going to both the farm shop and the bakery). So much closed last year I’m not sure what’s still a going concern. We have a John Lewis in the ‘big’ town nearby (quite a decent department store). Both the other ones there are now closed. Lord knows what they will become (well, one is supposed to be a hotel, but don’t see much point in that).

          • Musette says:

            I only go to Peoria for groceries, so I take her with me, figuring if something happens at least I don’t have to add worrying about her to the mix. I did have to go to a plant walkthrough last week – left at 6:30a and was back by noon – but her Plus One (her Auntie K, who is the only person who can safely come into the house on her own) was made aware.

            Winter with a Giant Predator. Challenging.


        • rosarita says:

          I haven’t been to Chicago in years and it’s not that far; we had a long weekend in Oak Park planned for our anniversary last year that obviously didn’t happen. I used to visit my best friend in Indianapolis frequently but the downtown Nordstrom closed and blah blah blah what month is it again? You’re right, Ms A, the days are a blur now.

  • MMKinPA says:

    We have a local high end clothing store that apparently stocks Bond – a friend regularly gives me samples from there. I enjoyed Chinatown but none of the others I tried. I would never buy a bottle – too huge and too pricey.

    • Cinnamon says:

      It appears that you can only get the bottles at Harrods here. So, samples only available from the weird online sample ‘shops’ I’m not partial to or other perfumistas (well, and eBay).

  • Tara C says:

    I bought a bunch of Bonds when they first launched but slowly sold them off until I got down to the only two I really loved, Chinatown and Silver Factory. I haven’t worn them in years but plan to pull them out this year and wear them again. Love the bottles for those two, there were several other pretty ones but the scents didn’t hold my interest.

  • taxi says:

    I tried with Bond many years ago & Chinatown was a favorite, along with Manhattan Soiree. None of them last long enough on me to warrant the price tag. Lovely, but so fleeting.