I’ve sampled more than a dozen of the Bond no 9 perfumes, and I’ve smelled another 10 or so more in passing. There is a sameness to their mixed floral perfumes that concerns me. They smell the same, yes. That’s the subjective part. But I recognize that I dislike their sweetened-floral fragrances in general, and I must question how this colors my judgement. Dislike aside, to look at a prolific perfume line, patterns develop, and while Bond do make some traditional, innocuous mixed florals of no particular note (Chelsea Flowers, Park Avenue, Madison Soirée) they also have a stock style that they are apparently under a spell to release every third perfume or so. This style is the hazy, musky, boozy, lingering-sweet floral.
Examples: Fire Island, NY Musk, Bleecker St., Nuit de Noho, Lexington Ave, NY Amber,
Some of these perfumes are less ‘floral’ than others, but the floral screech is the seasoning that allows the pancake-syrupness to shine. These perfumes ride on an overwrought, thick, lingering sweetness that requires any other note to shriek at top-volume to be heard. Which brings us to the peony in Sad Harbor. The peony note in perfumery is famously uncouth and abrasive. When paired with a base that requires a shouting match in the first place, peony shows itself not to be a pleasant note.
The name works, though. Sad Harbor evokes the collapsed end of a Hamptoms-climber drinks party. Flotsam and wounded vanity strewn around cocktail tables scented with abandoned, spilt fruity cocktails. Hits of salt air and sick.
I take back everything I’ve said about perfume being a weak tool to evoke a complex narrative.
Nice fun summer beach scent. Very surprising.
Very strong aquatic floral. The main notes are honeysuckle and magnolia. THe main theme is aquatic, like a flower garden by the ocean. Nice smelling and long lasting, but not something I would wear. Definitely feminine.
A confusing mix of feminine and masculine...
Despite the crazy notes list (oud? really?), Sag Harbor is basically one of those sweet fruity florals that smells like a "strawberry fields" scented fabric softener. It's got that cheap strawberry shampoo note that Bond seems to but putting in everything lately, along with some juicy apple over a big slug of fabric softener smell. As is the usual for this style of perfumes, it's got a round, vaguely aquatic rose supporting the candy fruits, and also takes things to a slightly elevated level by including a nice powdery aldehydic quality that classes things up just a little bit.
With time, a dark green smell slowly wells up underneath all this, which turns out to be that 90's "seaweed" aquatic note that used to be so popular, but much darker than usual. When this phase passed, I was left with dull sweet leftover strawberry rose.
So, here's what confused me so much. With anything more than a couple of sprays, the powdery laundry smell dulled my nose and the masculine dark green aquatic heart felt really strong and manly (while the people around me smelled the feminine powdery fabric softener smell that I couldn't detect any more). With only a little spray, the perfume made more sense and the aquatics were kept in check, but it was dull and faded too quickly.
Honestly, this took many days of wearing, and spraying on cards and spritzing on as I went to bed to figure out (seriously, the super-mainstream feminine topnotes and the super-dark-but-still-mainstream masculine middle made NO sense together), until I finally decided that I don't like Sag Harbor enough to care any more. Meh. It's like a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde that seems avant garde at first but then just morphs between Katy Perry and Justin Beiber, so it's not actually saying anything we haven't heard a million times before.