Andy Warhol exclaimed one day, "My favorite smell is the first smell of spring in New York". With that, Union Square the latest Bond No. 9 in the Andy Warhol collection starts like a fresh spring bouquet redolent with visions of flowers colored like pastel Easter eggs and then puts on a light creamy white Chinchilla wrap around its shoulders to assuage the chill of too much sappiness too early. The textile of this impression weaves discreet floral motifs intertwined with soft green grassy accents.
Union Square, despite the psychedelic colorings of the Flower silkscreen paintings by Andy Warhol, which inspired it and which are reproduced on the bottles in all of their 10 glorious colorful variations is an ode sung to softness and restraint, perhaps timidity even, an unexpected interpretation of the universe of an artist known for its eccentricity and use of arresting colors and volumes.
But the truth is that Warhol’s favorite scent is known to have been that of the violet, whose characteristic delicacy reveals another side of Warhol, the shy one. If we look at it from that angle, the bottle becomes Warhol’s outer persona while the perfume itself or “jus” as it is sometimes called in the industry offers a glimpse into his interiority......
Warhol was a private person although he ascribed to fragrance an empowering effect, a silent means to say that he was bigger than life. As he said so himself, “Another way to take up more space is with perfume. I really love wearing perfume.” So significant was his connection to perfume that one of his close friends, Paige Powell, reportedly dropped a bottle of Estee Lauder Beautiful on his coffin at his funeral in 1987.
His second perfume embodiment in the collection presented by Bond No. 9 is actually very feminine and can be described as a light green and white creamy floral with discreet spices. It was composed by perfumer Stephen Nilsen. The creamy sensation is never heavy as there is an understated aqua, dewy (but not marine) facet to it. The composition is not original but effective, seductive and to the point like a piece of sexy silken lingerie.
Had this fragrance been bottled in a flacon belonging to a line like that of Tova Borgnine or Marilyn Miglin, it would have embodied perfectly the kind of clean sexiness that many women crave. It evokes an ideal of discreet soft femininity that clashes at first ostensibly with the visual impressions offered by the Bond No. 9 Flowers flacons and makes you realize how much perfumes are objects of psychological perception. Surmounting the slight disconnect however is key to appreciating this fragrance for what it is, a cool blanket of white violets, metaphorically speaking.
In a way it smells like an Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue that would have been laced with angel-skin cream and softly sparkly, scintillating amber. The latter impression rests in fact on a combination of amber and “silver-cloud musk accord” in the base notes. The sensation is made almost tactile and conjures up the vision of a blue silvery lunar rock that palpitates softly like a beating heart in the midst of an indefinable vaporous whiteness suggestive of angel's wings.
The progression of the scent offers little drama. It unfolds its white thematic with a crisp green edge and underlying feminine floral impression. The dry-down apart from what was mentioned above is vanillic and a bit resinous. The long dry-down is gently musky.
Union Square the perfume is much less of a show-stopper in an immediate sense than the bottle it is contained in is but it reveals perhaps eloquently a part of Andy Warhol’s personality that hid behind over-sized glasses and the vibrant show-off flowers he produced in 1964. Warhol was noted for being sly in his creative endeavors, mixing traditional references and new effects, and there is a little bit of that in the spirit of this perfume which slowly creeps up on you.
Texture seems to take over the discreet figurative motifs, and effect over contemplation as the scent has an enveloping sensual presence that grows on you with time. Despite its felt technical up-to-date sophistication, it is not a perfume that is very complex, but it is effective at affirming a certain brand of subtle, sexy yet uncomplicated gentle femininity and comfort.
Top notes of lily of the valley and green stems; middle notes of sweet blue freesia and white birch wood, and base notes of amber and silver-cloud musk accords.
Prices are $135 and $195. Pre-orders can be made through the Bond No. 9 website. With code MUA, you get a 15 % discount.
(Images: press release and Wikipedia)