Under the Radar: The Party in Manhattan- Chypre Mash-Up

I’ve been having more real-time conversations about perfume lately over social media. Sometime last month I was part of one where we were talking about our favorite skanky perfumes. For those who don’t know the term it first cropped up on the Perfume Posse blog back in the beginning to describe a perfume full of animalic musks and indoles. In other words, all the filthy dirty ingredients of perfumery. When it comes to skank you either love it or hate it unless you’re unable to smell some of the musks then you might just be wondering what all the fuss is. I associate skankiness with a certain style of perfumery as it was practiced back in the early days in the 1920’s and 30’s. It is the perfume equivalent of a throwback jersey with a garish design in provocative colors. It is so ugly it is beautiful.


As we get to these first sub-freezing mornings there is something which draws me to the red-light district of the perfume vault where all the bad girls congregate. When I was having the conversation online I mentioned The Party in Manhattan was one of my favorites. Which was met with a lot of questions; which then made me realize it needed to be an Under the Radar entry. It also has a great backstory to go with the fragrance.


Paolo Borgomanero

When Acqua di Parma was sold to LVMH in 2007 one of the founders of that line was not ready to quit making perfume. Paolo Borgomanero moved on to found a new brand of which The Party in Manhattan was the first release. The stated purpose of the brand was “to appeal to the discerning customers who appreciate the luxury and charm of old times.” Sig. Borgomanero claims he was inspired by a specific perfume from the 1930’s. When you wear The Party in Manhattan you might wonder whether it was just one because if you love this style of perfume it is hard not to pick out aspects of many of the classics of the genre. It makes The Party in Manhattan just like a chypre party where everyone is invited.

The Party in Manhattan is like opening the double doors into a soiree where everything is already revved up to max. From the very first moments a spiced citrus courtesy of tangerine and sage lead the way into the party. Carnation provides the beginning of an ever-insifying garland of power hitting florals. Jasmine, rose de mai, ylang-ylang, and orris. In any other perfume one of these would be out front with the others in support. The jasmine is nominally the leader of this boisterous pack but the others are surely not wallflowers. Then the chypre accord comes together over a selection of filthy musks, vetiver, patchouli, and oakmoss. For all that the oakmoss should bite instead the musks take more of a leading role and the chypre accord curls its lip to show you its fangs without leaving marks.

The Party in Manhattan has 24-hour longevity and nuclear sillage. One spray is more than enough; seriously one spray.

As I mentioned above if you have a favorite chypre from the great houses of the early 20th century you will find something of them in The Party in Manhattan. Sig. Borgomanero wanted this to be the ultimate chypre conclave which is exactly what is delivered. If you are a skank, or chypre, lover The Party in Manhattan needs to be on your radar.

Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke