Central Park occupies a very important place in the mental scape of New Yorkers (and cinemagoers); it is the heart and lungs of the city. Bond No 9, a brand I have not had much success with, apparently wished to pay homage to this island of chlorophyll with a fragrance inviting us to ‘commemorate New York’s grand oasis of greenery; a lush sensory landscape that simulates a walk in the park’; a park, as we have seen in countless movies and soaps celebrating the metropolis, with joggers in visors and white shorts running every which way but loose; tennis courts, basketball, dogs a-larking, you name it – this is a place for the lovers of the outdoors.
Lancôme’s Trophée, another celebrator of green (discontinued but easily found online) has a similar, pastime on the lawns theme; with a golfer on the bottle, and a golf ball as a stopper, its sporty, green-grass message couldn’t be more explicit.
Trophée, while not desperately original (a slightly more masculine version of the seminal lemon-leaf eau fraîche, Ô de Lancôme) is a great fragrance you just can’t go wrong with; citrussy, natural, minty notes of lawns, verbena, and a gentle, chypre finish; bright, clean, refreshing. It is liberating: you can imagine a man in newly laundered polo shirt, up bright and early, splashing it on before a day out with his friends on the greens. The citrus notes don’t last so long, but the base is lovely too; a soothing note reminiscent of cold cream that makes me think of the aforementioned tired golfer in bed, later, with his wife; clean white sheets, late afternoon, the hot sun outside kept at bay with breezing white curtains.
Bond No 9’s scent begins with a vivid technicolour panorama of Central Park; vibrant green, grassy notes of verbena and basil, and a neroli note similar to Thierry Mugler’s cologne. Impressive. A momentary, dazzling vista. And worn with Trophée on the other hand you might say it beats it, initially, in the lushness stakes. But Lancôme’s little known trophy has great subtlety. Bond No 9’s creation gets gradually worse, and worse, then even worse, as time passes.
Bond No9’s website informs us that
‘the park has its very own lawn bowling area. Here the terribly civilised pastimes of lawn bowling and croquet can be indulged without fear of colonial intervention.’
Translated into perfume terms, that would mean, then, eschewing the classic (European) template for perfumery which dictates that a perfume, like a person, should fade and die gracefully, yet be anchored with earthy base notes to let it stay as long as possible; not botoxed and plumped to eternity. The final accord in Central Park of ‘water jasmine’, ‘muguet’ and ‘cashmere musk’ sticks to the skin, irremovably, like a tattoo and is vile. If it is Central Park, then it is some obscure, forgotten corner; an oil-covered pigeon, stiff and festering, near some frayed, yellowing astroturf.
GUERLAIN’S HERBA FRESCA : a ball of just discarded spearmint chewing gum; still fresh and ever so minty, left lying, alone, among the long, tall grass.
29 responses to “THE GRASS IS NOT ALWAYS GREENER : Trophée by Lancome (1982), Central Park by Bond Nº 9 (2004), & Herba Fresca by Guerlain (1999)”
Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:
In the mood for green, and no one read it the first time so….
You are hilarious!
Actually I rather like O de Lancolme so I think Trophee would be right up my alley (especially that “cold cream note”)
Curious, is it marketed as a male fragrance?
Unfortunately Britt and Court love the Bond line (we have two full bottles- Chinatown and Little Italy)- and I say unfortunate because they are quite costly!
No you sent samples of them and they are pretty nice. This could only be portrayed by a desperate zombie on the grass in its last throes…..
And Eau De Lancome is enough I reckon. This is clearly just the men’s version, though it really does have its own appeal. Lovely, actually.
Hubby would love that picture (he is a sci-fi nut which made for a great challenge getting him to watch Downton Abbey with me!)
I prefer the Chinatown- there is something chemical in Little Italy but the girls adore those citrus notes.
Chemical – Jeezzaassss you should smell this motherfucker
am laughing hysterically (with kids looking on as though I’ve lost my mind!). Won’t even give it a try!
I read it the first time and loved it (did you blog it around this time last year?), but have a hiatus from writing sometimes and obviously missed putting my reopen north in on this little gem. It may well have been the golf balls. I have an aversion to these hard, cold and smug little objects, and have such an overkill of green living in the rural heartland of England’s green n pleasant, I probably just skipped it. I sometimes wonder whether it’s possible to be able to see New York afresh – it’s so photographed and filmed – so many preconceptions and emotions are evoked in advance of a visit. I like that your perfume description offer the possibility of experiencing it differently. I wonder how the park itself smells? My son has just returned from New York and I asked him if it was like we see in the films or different. He said, a bit of both. I think he found it incredibly busy, so much so that it left a space. He visited Central Park and had fun in it, but found it pretty similar to any park in a major city in the UK. I think he carried something of the river back with him though, and the welcoming leafy spaces of New Jersey. Anyway, fab review. Will give these perfumes a spritz.
Twopennorth! Not reopen north! Damn autocorrect!
Delighted he returned safely.
Giggling at your description of Herba Fresca. I have a bottle of this because when I tried it in the shop it actually smelt/felt like drinking homemade lemonade with freshly picked mint leaves on a hot day. Unfortunately that olfactory experience never repeated itself and I just get something plastic and nasty. I don’t mind it sprayed on my curtains in summer though.
I’ve not tried either of the others but now I’m wondering if I need to sample Trophee and Ô de Lancôme.
I’ve just recently subscribed to your blog by the way and am very much enjoying your evocative and witty reviews.
Delighted to have you in the fold. I love the community that is growing on here. Trophee is divine, but so is the original Eau De Lancome.
And It MUST be the original. The version I have smelled recently in Duty Free and the like is nothing like the beauteous lemon softness of the original. A brilliant lemon leaf vetiver but with a cold cream delicacy at the heart. Perfect, seriously.
Welcome to the best of the bet blogs around–especially for perfumistas
I meant “best” blogs around!
So far my dislike for the Bonds is mild and chronic in nature. Even when they’re okay, they’re not worth the money, and they seem to me to represent the most superficial and facile aspects of the NYC that I lived in and loved for a decade. But it sounds like this one could ratchet me up to the acute hatred level. Well, in a way I’m happy to hear about stuff out there that I have zero desire to try. Keep up the great writing, and recycle yourself whenever you feel like it. I love to get a chance to read good writing that I missed before.
Glad I wasn’t remiss in reblogging it! And glad I am not alone in the Bond ennui.
‘(mild and chronic)’ is a more than perfect way of expressing it, by the way
is Bond No 9’s Central Park really that vile?
Not on first application, no. And if you like those…….notes at the end, if you have grown habituated to that kind of base note, then no. But to me…yes. That picture, of the zomb in the grass, really did say it all.
Great post! LOL! I knew I’d avoided the Bond No. 9 line for some intuitive reason. Trophée does sound intriguing, I like Ô.
Thanks Forest Elf.
I find it disgusting in its later stages, that Bond. A man in Trophee would be a great thing, that’s for sure, though a woman could wear it just as well as it is extremely similar to O de Lancome.
I find Ô de Lancôme a refreshing change to my normal floral scents which I wear predominantly.
Do you have the new or original version? Am I being overly negative about the reformulation? I have smelled it in duty free and recoiled, as though it was a clone from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.
I have a sample of it and I’m pretty sure its the new one. I must admit I prefer Ô de L’Orangerie.
You must be younger than me then, in numerous ways.
I am with you regarding Bond No 9.
Though I would not regard me as having no luck with them, rather their cryogenic creations have had no luck in convincing me that I should take the house any more seriously than their unspeakably vulgar flacons demand.
Trophee though sounds quite tempting, a preppy, slightly darker version of “O” you say? Mmmh, says I.
Finally your description of the Guerlain is scrumptious.
The Perfumed Dandy
‘Cryogenic’ is a genius way to describe the house!
And I agree, the flacons are so gaudy one could pass out just looking at them.
Trophee is lovely. Truly gentlemanly. Ayez confiance en moi.
I cannot comment on the Bond No. 9 or any of their other numbers–because, despite the hundreds of perfumes I own, I have never owned a Bond. I had a minute sample of one many years ago and thought it pleasant, but not exactly in my radar. Not that I am against Bond in any way (I’ve never owned a Killian either or many other brands for that matter). But I do have so many, I will never use them all. I should have a living perfumed will so appreciative people would be the recipients of the fruits of my nose!