Chinatown in Venice or Vienna may be (do those cities have a Chinatown too??). Nothing new under the sun but a real "harmonious" surprise considering that this one is a Bond No.9's issue. This scent is based on a satisfactory harmony between fruity, floral, woody and musky-balmy notes. Chinatown is indeed a graceful and fragile spicy-floral chypre in which the (initially playing) "aqueous" floral elements (peony, may be lotus), gardenia and tuberose (as joined with a musky plain cardamom presence, light woods, patchouli and a touch of vanilla) play a central role in the subtle (really balanced) amalgam. Gradually an ylang-ylang/tuberose/cinnamon/fruits accord jumps on the stage so musky, soapy, ambery and peachy. Probably a minimal hint of plums and violets darkens the wake. The dry down is subtle, balmy (vaguely coconutty but absolutely not gourmand of course) and slightly fruity till the end (scents a la Giulietta Capuleti Soul Drops and -with all the proportions and in a lighter way- Ysatis, Femme or Absolu Rochas jump vaguely on mind). Unoriginal (I don't see the uniqueness some talk about around on the forums) but "gracefully" appointed. Appalling bottle.
Chinatown by Bond No. 9 is not really a fruity chypre; in fact, I am pretty sure it’s classified as a floral oriental. But I can only wear Chinatown without it turning my stomach if I think of it as a (very) distant relation of Mitsouko and other fruity chypres. I see it as being connected, tangentially, to Mitsouko via the peach-jasmine heart accord, highly spiced resins and balsams, and the smell of floor wax. Technically, Chinatown contains all the notes I most hate in perfumery – specifically, a very coconut-y tuberose, gardenia, peony, and a very pulpy, almost ‘canned fruit’ type of peach note. I find white florals difficult anyway, and Chinatown just pours lush white flowers on top of yet more white flowers, and then adds a can of Delmonte peach segments in their syrup, and it’s all so much that I almost have to look away before I gag.
But somewhere underneath this tidal wave of sickening sweetness, a nebulous backbone of chypre-ish elements begin to take place – a snuffed candle note, floor wax, and woody resins. Chinatown never feels like a chypre, though. It doesn’t have the requisite salinity of moss, the bergamot at the start stands absolutely no chance of stemming the tide of sickly white flowers, and the patchouli in the base is not present enough for it to register even as a poor man’s stand in for moss.
But, oddly enough, when I wear Chinatown (from a sample), I always wear a dab of Mitsouko on my other wrist, and the quiet but forceful presence of Mitsouko always helps me to pick out the slight connections in Chinatown. When I wear Chinatown like this, I experience more of the floor wax, incense, and spiced fruit in the fragrance, and this helps me to combat the nausea I have in dealing with the sickeningly sweet white floral aspects. In conclusion, Chinatown is not a chypre, but it is a fragrance that I can somewhat force to behave a bit like one by placing it in close proximity to Mitsouko. And this is how I make Chinatown work for me.
On my skin this is mainly a floral composition, with a white floral opening, and a floral drydown with mainly gardenia and peony on me, The base had wood notes added, mainly cedar on me, and a mix of cardamom and vanilla. I find this to be well blended, with a predominantly floral character throughout, with a pleasant sweetness that mellows over time. Adequate sillage, good projection and a longevity of five hours, combined with the high quality of the ingredients results in a positive score. Great in spring. 3/5.
Chinatown: sweet, silky vanilla roundness with hints of tonka and cardamom, a warm, almost caramelised resinous thickness, amber, and a white bright floral accord (ylang, peony and that type of flowers). Citrus notes on the aromatic/sweet side – like neroli and bergamot. Sandalwood on the base providing a "bold" support, but in line with the general sweetness, carrying its signature sweet-woody creaminess. In short, Chinatown is a gourmand on the amber-floral side suspended into a vanilla cloud, not cloying but rather pleasant, even if not that original nor particularly interesting. I guess gourmand lovers may love this one – for me it's only a bit more than decent, and surely better than dozens of others of this genre.
I love wearing this on the weekend. Some say it's too feminine, but for me it's interesting and exhilerating. It has great strength all the way through and the florals have enough counterbalance to avoid being too cloying. Beautiful bottle too