When I was regularly attending New York Fashion Week there was one show I always looked forward to, Nautica. The reason was they almost always had a bottle of perfume to give away. Nautica is known for its sportswear inspired by the water. When it comes to fashionable American beachwear Nautica is one of the leading brands. Once they began producing fragrance in 1992 you will not be surprised to know the original Nautica perfume was a classic aquatic. Unlike the clothing, it didn’t stand out from the other aquatics on the shelf in the department store. They would sort of stumble along for years imitating whatever was popular in competent but uninspiring ways. That would change in 2005.
When I attended a Nautica show around that time I was given a bottle of Nautica Blue as a giveaway. By this time, I can say I wasn’t excited to receive it. It took weeks, maybe months, before my curiosity got me to give it a try. I received quite a surprise as Blue did something completely different than the other mainstream aquatics. Perfumers Maurice Roucel and Patricia Bilodeau added in a watery violet at the heart of the aquatic bracketed by pineapple and basil. It was an evolution of the boring to something invigorating. Consumers seemed to also enjoy the change and Blue has become the evergreen tentpole for the brand. I admire Blue so much when my press sample of the new Blue Sail arrived I wondered whether it would be as innovative for 2017 as Blue was for 2005.
Laurent Le Guernec
Perfumer Laurent Le Guernec wasn’t looking for innovation it seems like he was more intent on working within the classic fougere architecture with a few contemporary flourishes. While not boundary pushing, Blue Sail is a good mainstream aquatic fougere.
Blue Sail opens with an orange rind in place of the typical orange pulp. Paired with the very typical rosemary the rind has more pronounced green facets which allow the rosemary to intersect with it more smoothly than if it was just the fruit. The heart is lavender supported by the light woody cypress and the acerbic juniper berry. The juniper gives a transparent gin vibe to the citrus herbal lavender traditional core. Sandalwood and vetiver finish Blue Sail off where many fougeres find their base.
Blue Sail has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Blue Sail does feel a bit like a throwback to the early days of the fragrance part of Nautica except I like the modern twist M. Le Guernec adds to the fougere more than I liked any of those. If you’re looking for a good fougere to throw into your beach bag Blue Sail is a good choice.
Disclosure: this review is based on a press sample provided by Nautica.
It is a familiar gripe when I receive a massive new debut collection. I wonder why more time wasn’t spent in designing this many perfumes along with the necessity for so many. The latest brand to irritate me in this way is Derek Lam 10 Crosby.
Designer Derek Lam designed this collection with the Millennials in mind and maybe that group wants unfinished poorly thought out fragrances. The cynic in me says nobody has quite figured out this market sector and they are throwing everything they have at finding out what will sell. The Derek Lam 10 Crosby collection is ten perfumes done by four perfumers. It is a broad exercise in box checking as nearly every fragrance style is represented except aquatic. Maybe they have some bit of research which informs them Millennials don’t like them. Nine of the ten releases feel like perfumes caught in the act of being created. They are ideas which never go anywhere. Notes which should have more to them than just a single accord. I was well along the path to dismissing the whole line when I picked up my sample of 2AM Kiss.
All of the fragrances are supposedly inspired by things Mr. Lam observed while looking out of his 10 Crosby office in SoHo. On the website there are little films to go with each fragrance but they seem to have little to do with the way any of these smell. If you like visuals with your scents you can check out the 2AM Kiss film above. I am divorcing myself from any of the imagery because it has nothing to do with what is in the bottle. That is a luscious salted caramel gourmand by perfumer Laurent LeGuernec.
M. LeGuernec creates a sticky caramel which he then adds salt to. It is gourmand-like but it also has some lift to it which keeps it from just being a viscous gooey blob. That lift comes from some woody aromachemicals which provide a foundation for the candy to spread out upon. One of them is a spicy woody synthetic I don’t recognize. The piquancy comes through almost like adding a bit of heat to the sweet. The end is a cozy amber accord.
Derek Lam 10 Crosby 2AM Kiss has 6-8 hours longevity and moderate sillage.
I am hopeful that Millennials have the same desire for quality that I do. If they are going to give the Derek Lam 10 Crosby line a try I hope 2AM Kiss is the one which sells best. It might encourage the next releases to be a bit more fleshed out and complete. If you like caramel gourmand fragrances 2AM Kiss is definitely worth trying out next time you’re at the mall.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sephora.
There are few perfume houses as prolific as Laurice Rahme’s Bond No. 9. Since she founded it with sixteen fragrances based on New York City neighborhoods in 2003 there are currently over 70 Bond No. 9 fragrances to choose from. I am going to suggest five of those to start your exploration of this uniquely New York perfume house. Bond No. 9 has some exclusives for Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrod’s and I’m not including any from those collections because of their exclusivity. The main collection Bond No. 9 fragrances are some of the most accessible niche perfumes to be found and they should be easier to find than many other niche brands.
Chinatown is arguably the best perfume in the entire line. Perfumer Aurelien Guichard was a rising star in 2005 and his modern chypre underneath a soft fruity floral opening is incredible. If I was making a list of the best perfumes released post-2000 Chinatown would be near the top.
New Haarlem was one of two perfumes by perfumer Maurice Roucel for Bond No. 9, the other is Riverside Drive. M. Roucel creates an abstract version of a coffee gourmand fragrance. There is definitely coffee at the core but he adds in things no barista would think of like lavender and patchouli. The latter is really what turns New Haarlem into one of the better gourmand fragrances on the market.
2010’s High Line by perfumer Laurent LeGuernec is inspired by the recaptured railroad line turned into urban green space in downtown New York. M. LeGuernec composed a fragrant sonnet to springtime and growing things. The opening freshly cut grass accord is joined by a fresh bouquet of spring flowers most notably tulips. This is all laid over a base accord of sun warmed concrete after a spring shower. The smell of nature in a big city setting makes High Line one of my favorite spring fragrances.
In 2007, Aurelien Guichard created Silver Bond (aka Andy Warhol Silver Factory) it is a sheer incense fragrance with a metallic twinge throughout. It opens with a very sheer citrus, lavender, and incense opening. A combination of violet and iris are used to enhance their sharper more metallic facets which adds the sort of weirdly artistic flourish to what could be a straightforward incense fragrance without it. The base notes go towards a much deeper incense vibe.
Success is the Essence of New York (aka Andy Warhol Success is a Job in New York) is a grown-up version of Calvin Klein Obsession for Men. Perfumer Claude Dir takes a softly spicy opening centered on cardamom into a floral accord of tuberose, rose, jasmine, and orris to fashion a depth form those notes without becoming cloying. The warm base of amber, vanilla, and patchouli serves to round this out.
If you’ve been itching to take a perfumed tour of New York courtesy of Bond No. 9; grab the olfactory subway and make your first stops on the five suggestions above.
Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of these fragrances I purchased.