Shopping at Bond No.9 in New York: Stuck Up Clerks, Do Not Buy Bond Online & More

One of the great parts about living in New York, is the ability to visit Flagship stores or boutique locations of fine fragrance retailers. In my opinion if you truly want to understand the values and essence of a brand, there is no better option short of maybe meeting the founder in a private shopping experience followed by question and answer. In the case of Bond No. 9, I have had the luxury of both. Today’s post will focus on the shopping experience at Bond No.9 as a regular off the street customer and perhaps in a later post, I will detail the latter experience.  I did not disclose that I was a perfume blogger or whether or not I intended to buy a perfume that day.

Stuck-Up Store Clerks, Bond St. vs. Bleecker Street:  There are four Bond No. 9 stores in New York proper however, I have only been to two of them, the flag ship store on Bond street and the location on Bleecker Street. Most people seem to prefer to the flagship store due to it’s grandeur, size and of course iconic status as the place where it all started but I personally much prefer the Bleecker Street location despite it’s much much smaller size.


For starters, it’s located near several other fragrance stores (including Jo Malone and Annick Goutal which is right next door) so if you’re not committed to purchasing a fragrance from Bond or even if you are, it’s nice to be able to explore other options and compare shopping experiences.  Another reason, I love this location is the customer service experience. Unlike at the flagship store, which perhaps due to it’s status and visibility, where it seemed that the sales people only cared about closing the deal and were extremely stuck up in my opinion, both store clerks at Bleecker Street were laid-back but friendly. It felt like going over a close female friend’s house and looking through her perfume collection. I felt like a person not a customer. Having said that, if you do find yourself in New York, I highly recommend purchasing a scent from Laura, she is such a genuinely happy and calming spirit. She’s very knowledgeable about fragrances (Bond and otherwise) but never pushy or sale-sy.

Do Not Buy Online I know especially nowadays it can be tempting to smell perfumes in store than purchase online but with Bond I strongly suggest purchasing in store or at least off of the official Bond website if you must shop online. Why? Once you purchase a Bond perfume, you become a member of the highly coveted Bond Insider’s club. This means free samples, personalized invites to exclusive in-store events and even previews of scents not yet released. Another perk to shopping in store, is that there is a lot less oversight over samples and freebies if you catch my drift. For example, a few weeks back Bond had a promo for a free purse spray with the purchase of any full-size fragrance, and a little bird told me, that there may be some excess purse sprays lying around just waiting to be gifted (for free) to the right perfume enthusiast…you can thank me later hahaha!

Buy With Caution:  Be warned, items bought in store can only be exchanged or returned for store credit. Given the price tag on Bond No. 9 Perfumes this might seem a little scary, but the store clerk at the Bleecker street location was more than willing to give me several samples to ensure that I had adequate time to test the scents on my skin before purchasing. Having said that, this is definitely a drawback. Sephora in contrast, allows returns of anything no matter how much you have used. This type of return policy sounds costly to retailers but in the long run I actually think it’s to the benefit of the store because it encourages consumers to spend more impulsively and I read somewhere that this also has the dual benefit of bringing consumers back into your store (return one item buy four more).
Lotions: While in store, I had the opportunity to try the Bond No. 9 Queens Body Lotion/Cream and it is AMAZING. I can only attest for that particular formula but it is honestly one of the best lotions I’ve ever tried and definitely the best perfumed lotion hands down. It was fragrant, creamy and melted absolutely MELTED into my skin. The smell lasted ALL DAY like literally six plus hours of walking around New York and unlike other perfumed lotions I’ve tried it didn’t leave sticky residue on my skin. I bought a perfumed body cream from Jo Malone a few years ago and this blows that’s out of the water HANDS DOWN.


My first visit to Le Labo & Santal 33 (Justin Bieber’s Cologne) Review

I walked into Le Labo a bit frazzeled the Monday after attending my dear friends wedding where I was a bridesmaid. Initially, I had no intentions of perfume shopping (or really doing much of anything other than recover from the weekend and read Kinfolk before rushing to my bus (yes I take the bus, what can I say, I’m a grad student and I spend all of my train/flight money on perfume). Alas, as I sat on my boyfriend’s couch and passively watched television, I googled perfume shops near by (as I always do) and what to my wandering eyes did appear but a Le Labo store less than a mile away.

It was obviously fated.  I quickly made myself decent (which consisted of attempting to comb the remnants of my bridesmaid updo into a presentable top bun, adding a dab of mascara to combat the naked mole rat look I seem to always have in the morning) and rushed out the door.

There is shopping for perfume and then there is visiting Le Labo. To put the Le Labo shopping experience into anything but a cateogory all on its own would do a disservice to both the brand and its lovely employees. I walked in the store and loudly proclaimed “It’s my first time here!” unable to hide my excitement. The lovely perfumer running the store at the time (Olive) said “welcome! I’m so glad you’re here.” The period on her response is intentional. The period implies what I felt- that Olive was genuinely glad I was here and that this wasn’t a sentence recited from an HR guidebook (which we all know would have ended in an exclamation point and come across a lot less genuine).

Olive then asked me what type of scents I normally wear (in my head I was thinking “girl if you only knew! I wear like five scents a day, often different scents each day”) but I told her I was a lover of perfume and wanted to smell them all. She laughed good heartedly and explained to me how I could try all the perfumes I wanted and that she suggested I compare the different forms they offer (solid, candle, oil etc).

After several minutes of smelling and spraying and laughing with Olive, I decided I liked the Jasmin 17 the best. I also couldn’t resist the discovery kit which allowed me to sample several other scents as well.  As I told Olive I wanted the Jasmine, I casually mentioned that I was visiting DC from New York.

Olive incorrectly but sweetly assumed I was flying back to New York (see previous bus comments) and inquired if it would be better to opt for a smaller size (perfume oil) to serve the dual purpose of avoiding checking a bag and sampling the fragrance longer.  I really appreciated both thoughts and loved that she wasn’t trying to pressure me into buying a larger size or a fragrance I couldn’t love. Other perfume sales teams could take a few notes. That’s the kind of customer service that keeps customers going back!

Review: 

If you’re unsure which scent to buy I highly recommend the discovery kit, that’s what I did- you get to try five of their most popular scents and at $30 bucks it’s a significantly lower price point than the larger sized bottles.  You can also order samples of any of the scents in quantities of one off the website.

Santal 33: This is probably Le Labo’s most famous scent. I was told that Justin Beiber (rolls eyes) wears it. I’ll be honest, when I smelled Santal in store on the sample paper I did not like it at all. I thought the woody notes completely over powered the rest of the fragrance and thought to myself- who wants to smell like campfire wood. This is what the hype is about? However, in preparation for this post, I sprayed this on myself one morning and wore it throughout the day.  I could not stop smelling my skin. As is the case with most Le Labo scents (and to be quite frank any scent worth anything at all), you must must must test it on your skin before drawing any conclusions. Having said that, now I am completely enamored. The iris and violet blend seamlessly with the sandalwood, papyrus and cedar wood. The cardamon adds a nuttiness and depth to the dry down that is simply divine. This smells like the guy at the bar your mother warned you about but you smile at anyway. Better yet, this smells like what happens when said guy at said bar defies your mothers expectations, becomes your lover and takes you out for a smoky cocktail in the East Village.  It’s a bit too masculine for me but I will definitely be trying to convince my boyfriend to give this a go.

Notes: Cardamom, iris, violet, ambrox, Australian sandalwood, papyrus, cedarwood

The discovery kit also includes: Bergamote 22, Rose 31, The Noir 29 and Veltiver 46. Please let me know if you would like a review. 

In addition to the discovery kit, I also purchased Jasmin 17, which was my favorite of all the scents I tried. Please let me know if you would like a review. 

Have you tried Le Labo? Which one? What did you think? How was your shopping experience?

Perfume Paradoxes: Preservation, Options and Artistry

As much as I love perfume there are a few things about being a perfume collector I just can’t reconcile…


The Paradox of Preservation: Any good perfume aficionado knows that the best way to preserve scents is to store them in a dark cool place. Having said that, I’ve never understood why if I’m supposed to keep it locked in a drawer or cabinet why they make the bottles so pretty? I mean really, how could I store this in a closet and not on my dresser.
The Paradox of Too Many Options: Too many scents, not enough wrists. What I’m about to say is the epitomize of privileged first world problems so just know that I know that but sometimes I wish I could wear two fragrances at once (which I often do a la fragrance layering, but that’s not what we’re talking about here, I’m talking about here. I’m talking about wanting to have different scent vibes on the same day.

The Paradox of Layering vs. Respect for Artistry: As you can tell from my previous posts and our Instagram page, I am a huge fan of Jo Malone perfumes. One of the things that initially attracted me to the brand, was the emphasis placed on perfume layering, that is mixing and matching to create your own unique scents. Following the success of Jo Malone, other emerging brands like Pinrose scents are also emphasizing this approach to their customers. On one hand, I find layering to be extremely appealing. I’ve always hated the idea of smelling like someone else or having someone immediately be able to guess what fragrance I’m wearing. On the other hand, I find something deeply respectable about brands like Creed and Bond No. 9 that invest heavily into the complexity and crafting of their scents. A scent like Nolita (the latest release from Bond No. 9) is not meant to be layered-doing so would only dim its beautiful beautiful light. Alas, I am torn. I’m going to following up on this in another post as I could certainly explore this tension further.

Review: Creme D’Nude by MAC

Fragrance Type: Musky amber

Price: $57 for 1.7 fl oz

Fragrance Description: “A scent capturing the vibrant sexiness of clean, radiant, glowing skin through a cocoon of velvet musk.”(from maccosmetics.com)

Fragrance Notes:

First Impression: Hmmm this reminds me of warm vanilla sugar by Bath and Body works (which I loved in middle school, eh who am I kidding, I still love it!)…however despite the initial association with my beloved middle school favorite, as it wears and drys down it reveals a much more sophisticated scent than WVS.

Where to Wear: Definitely a great winter scent, I would wear this with a nude lip on a night on the town with your significant other or a group of girlfriends. It’s a bit musky so I’m not sure if this would be my go-to for a night of dancing, but for a more chill evening..perhaps sharing a booth with a lover…it’s perfect.

Who Loves This: Women who loved warm vanilla sugar…kidding not kidding…college students, young professionals. Someone who is not yet a complete perfume snob (I say that endearingly).

Lasting Power:  Very good.

You Might Also Like: Warm Vanilla Sugar by Bath and Body works (obvi) and Hanae by Hanae Mori

Overall Rating: 3/5, good for what it is but nothing to write home about. It’s pretty but not sure if it’s pretty enough to justify the price…then again I’ve bought it twice so maybe take that with a grain of salt … Pretty simple straightforward scent.

 

Review: Crystal Noir by Versace

I really should seek therapy for my perfume addiction. I ventured to my local CVS to get ammunition against the  army of chills, runny nose, dry cough, and fever currently attacking my body and couldn’t help but stop on the fragrance aisle (a fragrance aisle at CVS who knew?). I was expecting the normal tacky cheap impression fragrances and was not dissappointed. I quickly ran past an ad for “Hola! Our Version of Lola!” somewhere Marc Jacobs is doing a shot for the memory of his beloved fragrance…anyway as I was turning the aisle looking for Echinacea pills I noticed a small black box of Versace “Crystal Noir.” After trying, Bright Crystal, and Amber Crystal I couldn’t help but try one more Versace Crystal in hopes of finding one that was sultry enough to fit me.  Crystal Noir does not disappoint.

Fragrance Type: Floral Oriental

Fragrance Notes: Gardenia, Tuberose, Amber.

Initial Impression: hmmm this is sexy! It’s like Bright Crystal’s sultry older sister

Where to Wear: Date night with your boyfriend whom you hope to turn into your fiance.

Who Loves This: Women in their mid-twenties-thirties. Mature enough for women ages 40 and up.

Lasting Power: 5/5 will last all night long, and leave a lingering scent in the sheets.

You Might Also Like: Versace Amber Crystal, Ralph Lauren Romance, Chanel Coco Noir