On the heels of a perfume and exclusive holiday gift collection launch, Laurice Rahme, founder of Bond No. 9, visited Saks Fifth Avenue at the Town Center at Boca Raton late last week. Her brand features an extensive line of luxury women’s, men’s and unisex fragrances as well as candles and body crèmes inspired by New York neighborhoods.
Bond No. 9’s latest scent is Washington Square, channeling the elegance-meets-rebellion of the urban spot. Rahme says the scent is most distinguished by a nontraditional mix of rich purple rose and leather accord. “It’s the new generation of fragrance,” she says. Also inside the bottle, which features a blue, photo-negative image of Washington Square’s arch entryway, are notes of tarragon, Italian bergamot, geranium, honey, vetiver, musk and vintage amber. The fragrance retails at $230 for 3.4 ounces, $170 for 1.7 ounces and $95 for a gold pocket spray.
Among the holiday gift collection are gold pocket spray sets. A box of six best sellers (West Side, Hamptons, High Line, Nuits de NoHo, Astor Place and The Scent of Peace) is $320, box of three (Nuits de NoHo, Astor Place and The Scent of Piece) accompanied by a white pouch is $200 and a solo boxed fragrance with pouch is $85.
Rahme, who moved to New York in 1974, founded Bond No. 9—named after the address of its headquarters in NoHo—in October 2003. In the United States, it is sold exclusively at bondno9.com, at the four Bond No. 9 New York Boutiques and at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Born to a French mother and Lebanese father, Rahme grew up in Paris and studied art at École du Louvre at the Louvre Museum. “I would buy and sell antiques while I was at the Louvre,” she says. The founder of Lancome became a customer at her antiques shop, and in trying to bargain with her on a table, recognized that she was a fantastic salesperson. He invited her to join Lancome, and for 11 years, Rahme became the international training director, spreading the brand of skincare, makeup and fragrance throughout the Middle East.
She went on to introduce French perfume companies Annick Goutal and Creed to America during the next 16 years before deciding to found her own brand of perfume in order to work with products she could keep off the gray market. “When you do your own [line], nobody is going to come and sell it half price across the street,” Rahme says.
The September 11 attacks also inspired the startup of Bond No. 9. “It smelled really bad—the smoke—and it lasted for months and months and months. So I decided to make New York smell good again,” she says. “In this venture, it’s not about fragrance. It’s really about New York.”
In concocting each fragrance—from Coney Island to Wall Street to Riverside Drive—it’s just a feeling,” Rahme says. “You have to stick with your instincts … ‘What’s happening in the neighborhood?,’ ‘What is the attitude?'” She also considers the people in the neighborhood: “‘Why are they there?,’ ‘What are they doing there?,'” she says she asks herself.
This also influences the imaging on the perfume bottles, the shape of which Rahme says is designed to look like a person. Why? “Because once you have a person, then you can dress her up in different outfits,” she says. “The same bottle, the same person, but it looks different.”