Andy Warhol Success is a Job in New York is the fourth fragrance in the Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol series, which has proved not only incredibly creative in concepts but also has produced some of the best scents in the Bond No. 9 lineup (Lexington Avenue & Silver Factory are both gems). This brand new addition changes the order of my top three in the brand, claiming a spot alongside Silver Factory and Chinatown. Yes, it’s that good.
The dollar sign on the bottle might well prove a cause for dissonance for some; we are after all raised to value money, to want and need it, and an abundance of it is irrevocably linked to success indeed. At the same time, we are also raised to regard it as vulgar and something better left unspoken when not in the company of immediate family. Flashing it is simply not done, while admitting to not having it, perhaps even more so. Money, almost any way you look at it, is taboo. But while perfume has never skirted the world of taboos, there are only few frontiers left unexplored and even fewer that might still be considered taboo in today’s world. Examples like Opium and My Sin come to mind as taboos (drugs & sex) already broken and shattered. But money? Here’s a new thing to take the niche perfume lover out of his or her comfort zone. And it cannot be argued that it is done in the most deliciously devious way: Yes, there is a huge dollar sign on both sides of the bottle, confronting our need, our greed each time we pick it up. But the valid merit of its concept too, its image being one of Warhol’s most iconic and thoroughly explored subjects, is undeniable! And if one thinks that the name is indeed a mouthful (albeit a catchy, playful one) all that needs to be said to appease, is that it too is thoroughly fitting and thought through conceptually by virtue of the fact that Warhol’s first assignment as an illustrator in the ‘50s was for an article titled “Success is a Job in New York”.
You might expect the scent of success and money to be aggressive, but Andy Warhol Success is a Job in New York (hitherto referred to as ‘Success’) explores the theme with subtlety. Success is a gourmand (!) of all things, and a rather cuddly one at that. Its power comes from its tremendous sillage: two drops of the small sample on my arm were actually detected across the room by friends only a few minutes later, my scent wafting all the way to them! Well, what a pleasant surprise, I guess this scent can already save us money from the moment we start wearing it, since we’ll be needing to apply less of it! A major plus in the present economic climate! It opens with a marvelously exotic citrus-fruit note, bringing to mind cumquats and sweet oranges (the notes list mandarin & bergamot instead). The exotic opening is further enhanced by spicy, alluring cardamom, green this time (as opposed to Lexington Avenue’s black) befitting the color of money. Another spice, nutmeg, warms the composition putting the first stamp of alluring comfort in this beautiful gourmand. Coriander leaves lend an aldehydic freshness, while its seeds ease us gently into the heart with their flowery component. The heart presents a simply gorgeous pimento pepper note, sweet and naughty, yet with a certain ‘savory’ bite which elevates the fragrance from pleasantly comforting to artisanal. In a composition far less strange than its predecessor (Lexington Avenue), it is the pimento that adds the surprise that takes Success from simply beautiful to extraordinary. The most dominant (to my nose) floral note in the heart is that of jasmine, bringing immense sensuality to the table with its balmy-summer-night feel. The May Rose in turn is expertly blended, serving almost like a pillow soft base upon which the jasmine blooms. When it does waft in stronger, it feels laced with sugar crystals, almost edible in fact. I also get a beautifully gentle neroli note, although this is not listed among the official notes. All the while, the gourmand base weaves itself through the composition with a scrumptious, deep vanilla in the lead anchored by balsamic amber and sensuous patchouli.
The end result is at once baffling and magnificent. Success is an absolutely delicious gourmand yet at the same time it manifests chypre tonalities like those of the marvelous modern chypre, Chinatown. Surprisingly, the two share a strikingly similar cord, a candied aspect common to both, over their modern chypre base. And still more surprising, even though we are still talking about a gourmand, the modern chypre accents find purchase in the past as well: It is as though Bond no. 9 has ingeniously explored the theme of money and success with a subtle reference to the early ‘80s era of power, money and charged trade, for this does at once smell like chypre new and chypre old. Smelling it, my mind races, trying to catch up with the scent’s reference to both modern chypre construction and the power-dressed chypres of the ‘80s: think predominantly American chypres, like those of Lauder in the decade. Confusing or exciting? Both! You really have to smell this. What’s left to wish for when it comes to this fragrance? Nothing, except perhaps Bond no. 9 releasing a limited edition bottle in black, where the dollar sign is encrusted with Swarofski crystals. Just so we can experience an extra frisson of dissonance every time we reach for the bottle due to the delicious vulgarity of the dollar sign we all crave. Oh yes.
Official Notes: Top: Bergamot, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Mandarin
Heart: Pimento, Tuberose, Rose de Mai, Jasmine, Plum, Iris
Base: Patchouli, Vanilla, Benzoin
Release Date: October 1st, 2009
Pricing: $220 for 100ml & $145 for 50ml EdP
Images: Image of Warhol dollar signs via eu.art.com, available to buy as a Premium Giclee print.