Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue (Bond no.9)

Franco Scalamandré's "Zebras" wallpaper, seen in the iconic and now-defunct restaurant "Gino" on Lexington near Sixty-First Street.

This fragrance is one of the prettier things I've worn, tucked neatly between the usual designer fare and some better scents (Creed, Guerlain). Let me say this about Bond: their image is all that stands between me and fandom. I've heard all the horror stories about their lawyers ganging up on a poor little indie niche label for daring to use the apparently-trademarked word "peace" in a fragrance name. I've read the possibly-scurrilous accounts of Laurice Rahmé's allegedly racist ways with customers and employees (anyone need a light bulb changed?), although the word "hearsay" keeps popping into my head whenever I ponder these tales. It isn't their bad rep, but rather their entire design aesthetic that holds me at arm's length and prevents me from purchasing. The sometimes tacky names. The downright awful bottles. The gaudy colors. It's all a major turn-off.

In fairness, other brands are guilty of the same crimes. I mean, seriously now, Royal Water? Really? Doesn't get more vulgar than that, even for Creed. And Guerlain's bottles go down in history as some of the ugliest things ever placed within the immediate vicinity of Catherine Deneuve. I once saw a vintage container for Derby - two Tylenol and several eye drops later, I was still traumatized. So it's not like the external design sensibilities are an anomaly. One could reasonably argue that Bond's bottles are beautiful, or at least easy on the eyes. I'd agree that their shape isn't so bad, but still get queasy at the idea of a star-like thing showing up in my luggage. And the graphics are generally abysmal. Lexington Avenue's "boots 'n shoes" theme is no exception. This isn't class, this isn't style, this isn't chic. This is just wrong.

Fortunately, the fragrance is oh-so right. It opens with a lovely lemon-citrus accord, which swiftly shimmers into crisp star anise and cypress, a sweet, camphoraceous, green, and utterly delightful feeling. They maxed out the budget on those top notes, allowing for natural materials and top-shelf synthetics to provide extra "pop" and depth. This simple two-note opening gradually melts into a warm and spicy patchouli heart, full of pink pepper's fruitiness, cardamom's zinginess, an amber touched by fleeting hints of peach and vanilla. Different people smell it all differently, and come away with various interpretations, but I smell the archetypical Christmas candle here. Even after it fades into a soft melange of precious woods, Lexington feels rich and cozy. Applied judiciously, and you get a sexy-by-the-fire come-hither effect. Overdose it, and you may as well wear the word Yankee somewhere on yourself and carry a wick. 

Despite the ingredient quality, the excellent note separation (all things accounted for, but working together successfully on the bigger picture), and the cheerful vibe, there's still something a tad off-pitch here. It's a bit too much, like the olfactory equivalent of Phil Spector's famous "Wall of Sound." If Creed did Lexingtin, it would smell a little more transparent, a touch weaker, and probably just a few hairs better. They'd likely use slightly better ingredients, or perhaps just fewer synthetics. If Guerlain did it, the citrus top would be more vibrant by a few shades. Still, it's good stuff, and something to look for when the holidays draw near, which they're doing as I write.