New York and the Nile: Scents & Scentsibilities

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April may be the cruelest month, but I love it. All of a sudden, spiky gray tree limbs are bursting with pink and white blossoms, and crocus and daffodils are peering out of the earth, defying the possibility of a return to winter weather. In April, I start casting about for scents bursting with life and the promise of spring—and both of this month’s fragrances fit the bill for me.

Bond no. 9 Andy Warhol Union Square

Photo courtesy of Bond No. 9

Andy Warhol Union Square is the second of Bond no. 9’s Andy Warhol-inspired fragrances, following 2007’s Andy Warhol Silver Factory. It has top notes of lily of the valley and heart notes of green stems, sweet blue freesia, and white birchwood. Base notes are amber and silver-cloud musk accord.

Union Square opens with a sharp metallic tang that quickly dries down to a warm, delicate floral that retains a hint of coldness underneath. It reminded me of an April day in New York, the chilly breeze carrying the scent of spring flowers budding in the park. I couldn’t decide at first sniff if I liked it or not, but after wearing it several times, I was won over. I really like the bite under the floral and found myself smiling whenever I caught a hint of the scent on myself. My scent double also enjoyed wearing Union Square, finding it light and fresh, but warm, too. This is a very wearable scent, pretty without being insipid or boring like many light florals. The staying power was good, and Union Square is light enough to reapply if you need a burst of spring during your day.

The bottle is fabulous. Hip, fun, and definitely collectible, it’s a testament to Warhol’s enduring pop art genius.

Eau de Parfum, 50 and 100ml bottles, $135–$195, available exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bond no. 9.

Also available in April, a limited edition Robert Lee Morris sterling silver Warhol-inspired necklace and 100ml Union Square bottle, $575.

Hermes un Jardin sur le Nil

Photo courtesy of Hermes

The second in Hermes’ “Jardin” series, the fragrance was introduced in 2005. The notes are green mango, lotus flower, aromatic rushes, incense, and sycamore wood.

Hermes had me at the mention of the Nile, and it only got better from there. Imagine sailing down the river Nile in a Felucca under an ancient blazing sun, when you chance upon a small cool island filled with fragrant green mango: this is Un Jardin sur le Nil.

It opens big, with a rush of green mango, tart and full of citrus, and with just a hint of floral underneath. As the mango fades, it gives way to a watery green fragrance, which is given a bit of smoke and spice by the incense and sandalwood. I ended up with a couple of scent doubles for this fragrance as the combination of mango, citrus, and a little spice proved irresistible to everyone who smelled it.

Un Jardin sur le Nil smells totally unique and amazing. It’s a fragrance that elicits, “Oh, you smell wonderful” whenever I wear it, which is all the time now that spring is almost here. Suitable for both sexes, it has great staying power, lasting all day on me.

Elegant and heavy, the bottle is the standard Hermes squared column with rounded shoulders and is the color of Eau de Nil, a watery yellow green made popular around the time Hermes was founded in the 19th century.

Eau de Toilette, body lotion and shower gel, $45–$125. Widely available at department stores and at Hermes.

If you are interested in the creation of this fragrance, and the perfume industry in general, Chandler Burr, the New York Times’ perfume critic, has written an excellent book called, The Perfect Scent. I highly recommend it as a fun and informative look into the perfume industry in general and specifically, the creation of Un Jardin sur le Nil and Sarah Jessica Parker’s first fragrance with Coty, the hugely successful, Lovely. If you are interested, please read my review of the book.

Parting note: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland

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